Auto chrono 1 pt2

The world of tiny is upon me as I was tweezering along with the tiny hands for my seconds and Chrono dials. Everything looks so big in a picture, but then even under magnification, my eyes were squinting just trying to pick the things up. I’ve realized now that is partly because I’m only at 3.5x magnification and I need to be at 10x. It’s ok, I still look googly eyed….


However let me take a step back and show the little bits that’ll be making up this second watch assembly.  I have a case, dial, and hands all supplied by Ofrei.  The strap is from amazon by a company called Barton Watch Bands.  it has a nice easy access spring bar, making installation tool free.  The dark brown I felt paired well with the blue bezel & dial theme I was proceeding with.

The movement as noted in my Pt 1 of this was sourced off eBay.  The unit is an asian replica of the ETA 7750 movement.  First things first were to get it up in the holder and strip off the provided hands and dial.  I pulled a major facepalm on this and failed to remember that there were retention arms for holding the dial to the movement.  The dial still easily removed, but I felt quite silly once I had it off and forgot to flip the little arms out.

From here I wanted to pull the rotor of the rear so I could hold the movement a little better.  Sadly, I don’t have a legit 7750 movement holder, otherwise I could be a bit more secure in what I do, but it is what it is.  Assuming I do more like this, I’ll certainly make something.  With the dial off, and flipped over, I quickly heard the slip out of the Day Dial.  I didn’t nab any pictures of this, but I quickly realized how I needed to reinstall this, as it’s held in place with a bit of pressure from the rotating gear.

Oscillating weight removed

From here I placed my dial (making sure to open the dial feet retention arms) and began the daunting (for me) task of placing hands.  I quickly realized that a few things I have are quite inadequate.  My tweezers weren’t delicate enough.  My movement holder doesn’t hold the movement as square as I’d like.  And worst of all, my hand press tool, while the main unit isn’t bad, the business end details are utter garbage.  The plastic is mushed over, so they definitely aren’t pushing on the hands squarely.  It’s close, but when you’re staring at these tiny things, zoomed in to the moon, you want precision.  I’m sure a more seasoned hand works well without this stuff, but different strokes for different folks.


One down, five to go.

Once I got the subdials done, the main hands went incredibly quickly.  It felt like I was zooming along.

My Chronograph Seconds hand was a bit long for my case & dial, so I had to do some trim work.  Super secret tool used here was a nice set of nail clippers.  Where the hand rests in the case, you’ll never see the bare end.

It was around here, when I went to begin adjusting the length of my stem that I realized that the stem included with my movement was NOT what it was supposed to be.  The diameter of the stem is 0.9mm, and my case requires a 1.2mm stem.  NOt much, but enough to have a minor hold up with things.  I’m still waiting on a new shipment of one off eBay, as it seems USPS has lost the stem.  Such is life.

In the interim, I added some personal details to the oscillating weight, though I’m a bit bummed in what happened with our Laser.  I had modeled up the weight in solidworks along with our old family name & a logo representative of my daughter.  All was well in 3D, however when I lasered onto the weight, the scale was not quite right.  I’ll know for future ones, and likely order a replacement so I can do it correctly.  Despite this not being an exhibition back case, it still kinda bugs me.  Still looks nice though otherwise.

So while I couldn’t finish my stem, I decided I’d still wind the watch up, set the date and assemble (sans stem) just so I could get a feel for the watch assembled, and see if anything else unexpected creeped up on me.  The finish of it all was something that I quite enjoyed.

Unfortunately it was about 10 minutes after this, that I realized there was a fatal issue.  When resetting the chrono, the second hand would slip on its shaft.  Annoying, but I knew I could remedy.  I brought out the staking set and went about to compress the mating shaft on the second hand.

I should note that by this point, I’ve also snagged a 10x loupe as well as some much better tweezers.  Yah, the tweezers were still amazon specials, but for the 12$ they cost, I figured I’d give them a shot.  I quickly realized as well that I am terrible at holding a loupe to my face.  I also realized that while my staking set went to very small sizes, it didn’t get small enough.  Some quick research turned up that my options were to either compress the tube somehow, or glue.  I opted for the latter, as I felt I could get a tiny dot of superglue on the face, and given that the stem was a press fit on the shaft, it wouldn’t allow the glue to wick down into the movement.  The result was a second hand that stays put.

I’ll update this with some pictures & such when I get the new stem in…..if it ever shows up.



Automatic Chronograph 1 pt1

The story behind this watch is quite simple.  I really love the look of a Rolex Daytona, but something I haven’t been able to bring myself to plunk down the money for.  I did however find a very nice looking Victorinox Swiss Army Chronograph.  My wife got me that as an anniversary gift.  I love that watch and enjoy just how well detailed everything is.  I can’t however deny that my mechanical mind longs for it to be an auto.  Yes, I love listening to the stop watch gears clicking away, but the heart of the watch is still a battery, and I realized that the dials of the VSA only count up to 30 minutes, and the upper right sub-dial is for 1/100ths of a second.  Not the most useful for me in any way.  Measuring time in Hours\Minutes\Seconds would be best.  Thus my quest to go auto-chrono began.

The details of this Victorinox 241509 Chrono are outstanding.

So where did I need to begin for my Auto Chrono quest.  That was pretty simple.  Since I have yet to fully design a watch case, I needed to find something off the shelf.  eBay was an option, however I wanted to go with a known, so it was to Ofrei for what they had.  Blue bezel, sapphire glass crystal, and a very attractive buy in price.  Not only that, but they had an assortment of dials and corresponding hands for this project.  I’ve never had a a blue face watch, so I ordered an assortment of hands in various colors to see what I will feel looks best as everything is brought together.

However as I’m still waiting on delivery, I’ll backup to the heart of the beast.  While I know many fine things come from the land of the Swiss (chocolates….my favorite), being my first major build, I opted to source an Asian 7750.  Basically, if I botch something up, I’m not out the 400$+.  Not that I plan on screwing up, but hey, I’m relatively new at this.

More to come as I really begin digging into things.


Invicta Mod 1

In 2007 or so I had heard about Invicta Sunday Run.  I was boggled by the fact that you could get an apparently Swiss Made watch for rock bottom prices.  At the time I still didn’t want to plunk down any money on a watch, so to the back of my head went the fantasy.  Fast Forward 7 years and I find myself wanting to scoop up an automatic watch.  By now I knew that while the Invicta’s were nothing to rave about and by the look of most….a bit gaudy or over the top, I still wanted one.  At the sub $100 buy-in, I figured worst case I’ve got some auto beater and that’d be that. Enter my 12385 Pro Diver.  An interesting off color blue bezel & crown with well, let the images state the obvious. All wasn’t or isn’t really bad with the Invicta.  Yah, the strap sucked especially given it had hollow end links, but the heart of the beast is a Seiko NH35 which has kept impeccable time.  The time has been been consistent despite the fact that I have literally chucked this thing across a skatepark, with it landing on concrete after the springbars failed.  This failure led me to trying a handful of configurations as I quickly realized that in its stock form, this was anything but an ideal daily wear watch for myself.

I tried alternate straps, but still the emblazoned INVICTA logo and mismatch strap just wasn’t working for me.

I even printed a watch molder to mount the Invicta to my motorcycle. It worked, but still did not seem right.

                          With a pile of straps tested and still not feeling right with this watch, it was banished to somewhere in my sock drawer.  Too cheap to resell, but still something about it kept drawing me back.  Winter of 2015 I was living with my in-laws, while all my garage & technical possessions were nestled a few miles away in my parents basement.  What was also nestled in their basement was my great-grandfathers watchmakers bench.  Something I had looked at since early childhood.  I will post more on this later, but it was there as I was contemplating life that I knew I had to get to my family roots and do something with my watches.  The Invicta was the perfect choice to start out with, as I knew I essentially had nothing to lose. My plan was a simple, with little overall plan other than “modify to improve looks”.  When you’re at the bottom, your only way is up, so off I set about to disassemble and gain access to the case itself.  Out came the inners, and off I went to the shop.

Bezel off.

With the Bezel off, it was time to get rid of the shine. I also needed to get rid of the giant INVICTA logo on the side. I hammed myself up to the belt sander, and then realized that I needed a matte finish. I didn’t have a tool for removing or installing the glass, so I did what I could to mask these critical areas.  For now I was done and had to start looking into dials & hands

Taking shape, though that cyclops is unsightly.

From here, the watch sat for nearly 3 years.  I moved and then from there brought my first child to the world.  I decided finally the finish and buckle down.  It was then that I realized pretty much no one makes a dial to properly fit.  Dial posts in the wrong location, and on top of that, date window not in the right location.  I’d hoped some other dials would work, but it just wasn’t to be.

Small and stout

I then found myself a dial on ebay straight from China.  I had intended to continue with a red\black theme I generally do, but the green dial spoke to me.  I’ve never had a green dial watch, so I thought I’d give it a go.  Unfortunately, the dial feet don’t match with the watch, nor does the date window line up perfectly, but I figured I’d roll with it.  I clipped the feet, sanded the backside and found some info on adhering the dial to the movement.  Things were starting to take shape.  I should note somewhere along the way that I torched the glass and removed the cyclops……..mucho bettero. And with that, things began to take shape very quickly. With the first time wearing the watch, I realized I had a problem.  I hadn’t noticed during assembly, but it seemed the time was skipping.  I assumed I hadn’t hit some time warp with this watch and found that the minute hand shaft on the movement was slightly undersized from the hands I had purchased.  I proved this theory when I tried a second set of hands with the same issue.  Frustrating, but I quickly realized that I could fix this with a staking tool I have.  A real quick press of consecutively smaller punches and I had the ID where I needed it to be to work.  Another reminder to be slow and methodical.

Finally taken shape.

I’ll have to snag some new pictures, but I am really enjoying this newly modified watch.  It was far more straight forward than i was planning, but there are many details that I feel are needing to be addressed, though I’m not going to.  I feel these will be a good reminder of things to fix.  The hands are not perfectly flat.  The glass has some issues from when I sand blasted the case.  The strap I’m not thrilled with.  The weight still has Invicta branding on it, which I still am going to modify and laser with something new.  A couple other things, but as a whole, it’s exciting having something that no one else will ever have.  It’s a cheap watch, but one to forever be in the collection. Andrew Side note – Hands were purchased from Ofrei and the dial from eBay.  I used 0.005″ thick double sided tape to adhere the dial to the movement.