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Troubleshooting Damaged Pocket Watches

I think I have overwound my Pocket Watch

This is a common query but it is very difficult to over wind a watch so to speak as the movements can't be overwound internally, however you must be careful not to force the watch past the natural winding point as this can cause damage to internal parts.

When you feel like this has happened it could point to a separate issue.

My pocket watch does not fully wind up

1) It's possible there is a broken winding mechanism

In this instance you will need to have the watch inspected by an experienced watchmaker or reputable jewellers for full diagnosis as this could point to other possible damage but generally repairs can be made.

2) Your watch may have a broken mainspring

When winding the watch you may notice a little resistance and you may hear it click periodically as you wind it which is the releasing of the tension you can feel. In this instance the mainspring will be more than likely damaged and in need of replacement.

My pocket watch fully winds and then ticks momentarily but then stops

One of the following three reasons may be the cause:

1) Your Pocket Watch needs servicing

The movement here may well just need servicing as over time the pivot areas can become sticky or clogged and seize up. A relatively easy fix by having it professionally cleaned by an experienced watchmaker or reputable jewellers. 

2) Your Pocket Watch has damaged or shattered jewels

The jewels may stay in place even when they are broken or damaged or they may come loose. Depending on what happens the pocket     watch may run for a while before stopping. The problem jewels need to be replaced by a watchmaker or reputable jewellers.

3) Escapement Issues

Escapement results when the movement is not correctly aligned or the watch has suffered from chipped or skewed stones that can cause the watch to stop running.  Escapement is difficult to diagnose and would need to be inspected by a watchmaker.

My pocket watch fully winds but doesn't tick. (Causes are different based on the balance wheel, see below)

The following are potential causes if the balance wheel inside the watch swings freely when you encourage it:

What is the balance wheel? 'The balance wheel is a weighted wheel that rotates back and forth returning to its center position by a spiral torsion spring, the balance spring or hairspring'

1) Your pocket watch needs servicing

Over time the inner workings of the watch can become sticky and the pivot points can seize up so it will need to be inspected by an experienced watchmaker or reputable jewellers.

2) You may have damaged or missing impulse jewels

The balance within your watch may not be engaging the pallet fork correctly and the impulse jewel will need to be replaced if this is the case.

3) The pallet jewels inside your pocket watch may be broken or missing

In this case the pallet fork is unable to engage the escapement properly resulting in the pallet jewels needing to be replaced.

4) The watch may have bent gear cogs or pinions (a gear with a small number of teeth)

If this has happened the watch will have seized due to the issue with the gear train. The gear train should be inspected by by an experienced watchmaker for problems where they will be able to replace them.

5) Your watch has damaged or shattered jewels

The problem jewels need to be replaced by a watchmaker or reputable jewellers.

The following are potential causes if the balance wheel inside the watch swings freely when you encourage it:

'The balance wheel is a weighted wheel that rotates back and forth returning to its center position by a spiral torsion spring, the balance spring or hairspring'

6) Your watch may have a broken balance staff

If this is the case then you will need to have the watch staff replaced. 

7) Your watch may have whats known as a collision issue

Collision occurs when parts of your watch rub against other parts preventing free movement, Typically the hairspring or balance wheel/screws are the culprit and should be inspected by by an experienced watchmaker 

8) Your watch has a bent or damaged hairspring

The hairspring is responsible for the correct movement of the balance wheel and this may need to be serviced to repair it or replace the hairspring.

9) Your watch may have a disengaged or missing hair stud

The hair stud attaches to the balance wheel and may have disengaged so the hairspring will need to be reattached. If the hair stud is missing then it will need to be replaced.

10) Your watch may have cracked, shattered or broken jewels

The jewels may stay in place even when they are broken or damaged or they may come loose. Depending on what happens the pocket watch may run for a while before stopping. The problem jewels need to be replaced by a watchmaker or reputable jewellers.

 

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