Watchmaking  Lessons

by E. L. Fasanella, PhD

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We have written a series of lessons for watch repair using modern methods and techniques.  Most of the watch repair courses and books were written 50- 100 years ago.  The techniques described are often outdated, and the chemicals used could easily damage your health!  For example, benzene is often recommended for cleaning watches.  Benzene is a known carcinogen with links to leukemia, etc.  

These lessons were designed for hobbyists, dealers, and for anyone would like to be able to repair their vintage wrist and pocket watches.  The techniques described start with simple, but effective methods.  You can advance as far as you wish with the advanced lessons, which are in progress. For example, I have an entire lesson on the balance wheel.  This lesson will provide modern methods to replace or repair the balance staff, hairspring, roller jewels, etc.  Also, sources are given to help you find that elusive part.  Many people spend more time looking for parts than working on the watch.  Thus, methods to find parts that are slightly oversize and to adjust them down are described.  The lessons will be sent to you on a CD in Adobe Acrobat format, and unlike buying a book, you can ask questions by email.  Lessons are being developed, so keep checking back. 


Combination Special - Lessons 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10 for only $84.95 (If bought separately almost $200) Read below for complete descriptions

Complete set of lessons


Lesson 1 - Vintage Mechanical Watch Repair- The Basics  $29.00

Cd-lesson1.jpg (46559 bytes) Designed to teach you how to repair mechanical movements, pocket and wrist.  How to disassemble a wrist movement, inspect, clean, reassemble, and adjust.  Descriptions of staking sets and other tools and how each tool is used.  Information that cannot be found elsewhere.  Getting started, tools needed to repair vintage wrist and pocket watches, proper use of tools, reference material needed such as lists and pictures of parts, nomenclature, systems of measurements used by watchmakers, identifying the actual movement maker, determining the approximate age of the watch, names and descriptions of various watch parts, locating hard to find parts, ordering parts, diagnosis of watch problems illustrating bad and broken parts, how to remove the wrist or pocket watch from the case, how to adjust watches to keep time, recognizing quality in mechanical movements, delicate parts that require extra care such as the hairspring, balance wheel, escapement, and dial, etc.  Over 80 pages of information.  Also, tips on how to restore watch dials, both metal and glass enamel.   Save up to $30 on your first dial restoration job.  On CD.  Written in Adobe Acrobat format, so you can print out your own copy.  This is a newly written course for today's hobbyists and prospective watchmakers.

  Lesson 1 now has over 200 pages including diagnosis of mechanical watch failures!! 

Chap 1 - Getting Started

Chap 2 - Tools and Equipment Needed and Their Care and Use

Chap 3 - Watchmaker Schools and Old Correspondence Courses

Chap 4 - Watch Company Technical Bulletins

Chap 5 - Nomenclature - How to Identify a Movement

Chap 6 - The Lever Escapement Watch

Chap 7 - Removing a Pocket Watch from the Case

Chap 8 - Removing a Movement from a Wrist Watch

Chap 9 - Dial Removal

Chap 10 - Dial Restoration and Refinishing

Chap 11 - Diagnosis of Mechanical Watch Failures

Chap 12 - Determining Quality of Watch Movements

Chap 13 - The Balance and Timekeeping

Chap 14 - Disassembly, Inspection, and Cleaning of a Elgin Wrist Watch Movement

Chap 15 - Material Supply Companies

Chap 16 - Watch Parts Schematics

Chap 17 - Staking set information

Also newly added- 1) Videos on how to remove the movement from the case

                                  2) Cleaning machine instructions

                                  3) Hamilton repair notes on regulation, friction jeweling, rusty hairspring,  temperature compensation

                                 4)  Elgin factory watch repair information

  Lesson 1 -$29.00

Lesson 2 - Disassembly, Inspection, and Cleaning of the 18 size American Pocket lever with Lever Escapement Second edition- This course was designed for the collector, watch dealer, as well as the professional watch repairman who would like to delve into this profitable area.  The old 18 size American watch is "the" watch for collectors of old Americana.  The 18-size watch was perfected by E. Howard, and later by the geniuses at Waltham who spawned numerous watch companies.  The variations are extreme from the early Keywinds to the 18-size railroad watches.  This lesson takes you through the details of disassembling, inspecting, and cleaning of 18 size American pocket watches from the old keywind to the lever set railroad watch.  Emphasis is placed on the proper removal of delicate parts such as the hands and the dial.  The course describes various types of 18 size mechanisms including keywind and keyless.  A discussion of the various American companies and how their 18 size movements varied in construction.  Inspection includes identifying problems and their resolution.  Cleaning methods including hand cleaning and cleaning with commercial cleaning machines, solvents, and precautions.  Timing and adjusting of the 18 size movement.  Don't look for this course elsewhere, as it was written by the WatchDoc himself!!!  

1. Introduction

2. About this Course

3. Watch Company Parts Catalogs

4. Diagnosis before Disassembly

5. Removing Movement from Case

6. Setting Mechanisms

7. Setting/Winding Malfunctions

8. Refresher on Watch Train and Function

9. Calculating Proper Beat Required by Balance for Timekeeping

10.Inspection During Disassembly and upon Reassembly

11. Dial and Hand removal

12. Removal of Balance Wheel and Hairspring

13. Balance Staff

14. Letting Down Power

15. Removal of Barrel Bridge and Top Plate

16. Removal of Plates and Gears

17. Hand and Machine Cleaning

18. Assembling and Oiling

19. Beat and Escapement Checks

20. Oiling, Replacing Dial and Hands

21. Regulating the Movement

22. Checklist for Disassembly and Reassembly

23. A Repair Story of an 18 size 1883 Model Waltham


Lesson 2 -$29.00 2nd edition February 2005

lesson3.jpg (64403 bytes)Lesson 3 - $19.95  - 16-Size American Railroad Watch  This lesson provides  instructions on servicing the 16-size watch from the 7 jewel Elgin to detailed instructions on servicing the Hamilton 4992B military and the 992B Hamilton Railroad watch.  The entire Hamilton 4992B service manual is included plus repair sheets on the 992B.  In addition, we have included information on disassembly of high-grade Swiss watches with illustrations of Patek Philippe disassembly for cleaning.  Over 40 pages of instructions. JUST released February 2006.

Chap 1.  Introduction

Chap 2.  About this Lesson

Chap 3.  The 7-Jewel or low-jeweled movement - problems with wear

Chap 4.  High Grade Swiss Watches - Patek Phillippe

Chap 5. Elgin 16-Size Dissassembly

Chap 6. Hairspring manipulation and troubleshooting

Chap 7.  Typical 16 size High-Grade Movements

Chap 8. Hamilton Repair Manual for 4992 B and Repair notes for 992B

Chap 9.  Hamilton Repair Notes

Lesson 3: 16-Size American Watch Repair & Hamilton 4992B manual $19.00

Lesson 4 - Timing the Lever Escapement Watch -  New Lesson!!  Sometimes it is easier to repair a watch that does not run at all, than to repair a watch that runs poorly.  Many times a watch that will not run at all only needs cleaning, a new mainspring, or perhaps a new balance staff.  Although a watch may tick and run, it may run very erratically.  It is “buyer beware” when a seller says he does not have any idea of whether the watch keeps time.  It is likely that some watches at auction that are advertised as “running but no guarantee to timekeeping” were taken to a watchmaker first to adjust.  This lesson of over 20 pages is filled with illustrations and actual examples of watches that did not keep good time and how to remedy their problems. 

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2.  My watch ticks, why doesn’t it keep good time??

3.  Watch Escapements

4.  The Verge, Cylinder, and Duplex escapements

5.  Chronometer escapement

6.  Adjusting the Lever Escapement to Keep Good Time

7. Checking the Lever Escapement for Proper Depthing

8.  Overbanking

9.  Overview on Regulating the Movement

10. Calculating Proper Beat Required by the Balance for Proper Timekeeping

11. Problem Example 1 – Lever Set 18 size Elgin

12.  Other Considerations
Lesson 4: Timing and adjusting your lever escapement watch $10.95 on CD
Lesson 4: $9.95 emailed to you (this lesson is about 700K and can be emailed if you wish to save postage - postage will be refunded)


Lesson 5 - $29.00  - The Balance Assembly, its Care and Repair - This lesson is one of the most detailed instructions available on replacing staffs and on repair of the balance assembly. It applies to both wrist watches and pocket watches. In addition to specific instructions on balance replacement and repair for both wrist and pocket watches, there are many illustrations to help the beginner and "pro" alike. As an example, the Illinois Bunn Special balance wheel is disassembled, inspected, and the balance staff measured. Then, a new staff is found and the staff is riveted in place. Many large pictures and illustrations were made showing details of these operations.  Also, a section is included to detail repivoting a staff and making a staff both from adjusting a staff that is oversize to making one from "scratch." The lesson includes factory information from Hamilton, Waltham, Elgin, and other watch companies on balance staffs and how to install them that was made available to watchmakers many years ago. Different types of staffs are discussed including staffs that are riveted into the wheel and staffs that are friction fit. Various shock resistant jewel systems are discussed. A listing of measurements of some common American staffs is also included.  Over 50 pages of instructions.

Table of Contents

1.  Introduction

2.  The balance wheel

3. Considerations before restaffing the vintage watch

4. Proper fit of balance pivots to balance jewels

5.  Single roller table and double roller

6.  Shock-resistant balance jewel settings

7.  Riveted Balance Staffs and Friction fit staffs

8.  Disassembly of the balance wheel

       8a. Removal of the balance wheel from the balance cock

       8b. Removal of the hairspring from the balance wheel

       8c. Removal of the roller table

 9. Illustration of roller removal using 16s Illinois Bunn Special pocket movement

10.  Removing the Illinois balance staff from the balance wheel

11.  Removal of balance jewels    

12.  Replacing the balance staff of a 16 size Bunn Special

13.  Determining the factory number of your staff

14.  Measuring the dimensions of the old balance staff

15.  Installing the new staff into the balance wheel

16.  Checking the new staff’s fit and the motion and shape of the balance wheel

17.  Installing the roller table(s) onto the balance staff

18.  Installing the hairspring

19. Testing the newly refurbished balance wheel

20.  Special tools suited to wrist watch staff replacement

21.  Measuring and fitting a roller jewel

22. Repivoting a balance staff

23. Genuine vs generic balance staff

24. Making a Complete Balance Staff

25. Making a balance wheel and the science of good timekeeping

Appendix A.  Factory Leaflets on Staffs and  Balances

Appendix B – American Staff Dimensions


Lesson 5 -$19.95  released February 2005

Lesson 6 - $19.95  - Repairing US Military Watches WWI though Viet Nam (SOLD SEPARATELY)  This lesson of 438 pages contains detailed instructions on repairing US military watches. It covers the 16 size AN5740 Master Navigation watch (complete repair manual), the Hamilton model 22 Chronometer Watch (complete repair manual), the Hamilton/Elgin multi-dial aircraft clock, Seth Thomas Navy clocks parts catalogs, and timers.  In addition, military specifications for various watches are included as well as specifications of parts for the various military watches with part numbers.  If you ever get any old military watch parts in the original government packages, you can use this information to determine exactly what parts you have.


1.  Introduction

2.  AN 5740 Master Navigation Watch

3.  Hamilton Model 22 Chronometer Watch

4.  Hamilton/Elgin 5471-1 Aircraft Clock

5.  Seth Thomas Navy Clocks

6.  Waltham Timers

7.  Specifications

Appendix A – Parts lists

  Over 400 pages of instructions, out latest,  released February 2007.

Lesson 6: Repairing US Military Watches WWI through Viet Nam $19.95 - released February 2007

les7pic.jpg (33606 bytes)Lesson 7 - The Watchmakers Lathe -Care and Use of the Watchmakers Lathe 2nd Edition July 2004

Lesson 7 – Use and Care of the Watchmaker's Lathe, revised and expanded 2nd edition, July 2004, by E. L. Fasanella, the WatchDoc. This newly revised and expanded edition of Lesson 7 by the WatchDoc adds additional information on using the lathe to make watch parts. Also, the use of the lathe in restoration of wrist watch and pocket watch cases is described. Over 30 8.5-in x 11-in. pages of highly useful information for a very low price. Included in the Introduction section to the lathe are the topics: dead-center lathes, live-spindle lathes, sizes of watchmaker's lathes, suggestions for purchasing a lathe, adjustment for end shake, oiling and maintaining the lathe, alignment of head (Spindle) and tailstock of lathe, the correct use of wire chucks, safety, tool post and tip over rest, split chuck variations among manufacturers, belts used to drive lathe, chuck and accessory thread types, and lathe accuracy and the key. Another section describes lathe attachments and accessories and includes: types of gravers including carbide gravers, the adjustable bezel chucks, motors suitable for a lathe, lathe mounting methods, crown chucks, balloon chucks, 3-jaw chuck, cross slide, gear cutter and milling attachment, head stock dividing plate, saw table on lathe, and wheel chucks. The last section describes hand turning with a graver. Several projects are outlined including the making of brass bushings, jewel pushers, drills, bench keys, American and Swiss stems, balance staff repivoting, and making a complete balance staff both from raw stock and from a staff that is slightly oversize. The last section of miscellaneous topics includes: grinding with the lathe, using the lathe for uprighting and jeweling, schematics of other parts that can be made on the lathe, and removing scratches on watch case backs. An appendix is included which shows advertisements in old watch catalogs for lathes and accessories.


        Dead-Center Lathes

        Live-Spindle Lathes

        Sizes of Watchmaker's Lathes

        Purchasing a lathe

        Adjustment for End Shake


        Alignment of Head (Spindle) and Tailstock of Lathe

        The Correct Use of Wire Chucks


        Tool Post

        Split chuck variations among manufacturers

        Lathe Belts

        Chuck and accessory threads

        Lathe accuracy and the key



        Bezel Chuck

        Lathe Motors

        Lathe Mounting Methods

        Crown Chucks

        Balloon Chucks

        3-Jaw Chuck

        Cross Slide

        Gear Cutter and Milling attachment

        Head Stock Dividing Plate

        Saw Table on Lathe

        Wheel Chucks


        Project 1 - Brass Bushings

        Project 2 – Jewel Pushers

        Project 3 – Drills

        Project 4 – Bench Key

        Project 5 – Stem

        Project 6 - Balance Staff Repivoting

        Project 7 – Complete Balance Staff


  Lesson 7 -$12.95

lesson8.jpg (36704 bytes)Lesson 8 – Wrist and Pocket Watch Case Restoration Tips for the Hobbyist and Beginning Professional. This new, just written, practical lesson by the WatchDoc provides case restoration tips and techniques that can be used by watchmakers and hobbyists to enhance the appearance of vintage wrist and pocket watches. This knowledge was acquired over many years of practical case repair work. Many of the techniques described only require simple tools including files, emery cloth, stones, pliers, hammers, wooden blocks, etc. The use of new materials is emphasized, not materials that were only available 100 years ago. Novel techniques are described including the making of plastic molds from watch cases to use in dent removal. Topics include: tools and material needed for case repair, removing pocket and wrist watch movements from the case, crystal replacement and/or restoration for both plastic and glass crystals, fitting crystals, making crystals, custom fitting plastic crystals to hunting case watches, removing scratches and dents from wrist and pocket watches, dial restoration for metal and enamel dials, dial making using an ink jet printer, making and replacing bows of pocket watches, hunting case pocket watch repair, hinge repair, repairing case threads of both wrist and pocket watches, plated and gold filled watch cases, restoring blue-steel cases, removing personalized engravings from cases, watch case sizes, recasing, and much much more. Over twenty-five 8.5-in x 11-in. pages crammed with information.

1.   Introduction

2.   Tools and Material Needed

3.   Removing a Pocket Watch from the Case

4.   Removing a movement from a wrist watch case

5.   Crystal Replacement and/or Restoration

6.   Wrist Watch Scratch Removal

7.   Pocket watch scratch removal

8.   Dent Removal


  Lesson 8 -$14.95


lesson9.jpg (30978 bytes)Lesson 9- $12.95 Lesson 9 - The Watchmaker’s Staking Set - by the WatchDoc - This brand new lesson gives you valuable information on one of the most useful watchmaking tools that every repairman should have. As an introduction, the history of the staking set is touched on briefly showing actual pictures of J. G. Hall’s first revolutionary American made staking sets. Then, suggestions for buying a good used staking set are given. The K&D staking set is prominently illustrated and discussed in details. K&D was the premier tool maker in America for over 100 years.  This booklet of over 30 fact-filled pages illustrates each punch and stump and describes how it is used.  The care of the staking tool is covered and its many, many uses. You will read this lesson over and over again!! This tool can literally be used for hundreds of different watch repair operations!!!

Chap 1. Introduction

Chap 2. Jonas Hall, Invents the Staking Tool

Chap 3. Kendrick and Davis (K&D) “Re-invents” the Staking Tool

Chap 4. Buying a Staking Set

Chap 5. Care of the Staking Set

Chap 6.  K&D Staking Tools and How to Use Them

  Lesson 9 -$12.95

waltham_ac_cllks.jpg (23423 bytes)Lesson 10- $8.95 - Aircraft Clock Repair Information- Repair tips on servicing the  Waltham CDIA and other aircraft clocks,  plus Material Catalogs and Pictures Showing How to take apart the CDIA Aircraft clock - Much of this information applies to car clocks as the military XA early aircraft clock is a version of the 37 size car clock.  

This informative CD includes pictures showing how to take the CDIA out of the case.  Also pictures of Waltham aircraft clocks in original aircraft cockpits. Some examples are the "Spirit of St. Louis" and military WWII aircraft. Pictures of various Waltham aircraft clocks include the early XA model, the CDIA, etc. An early Waltham catalog with pics and descriptions of aircraft and car clocks is included. For the serious hobbyist and repairman, pages from old Waltham material catalogs are shown with  the parts illustrated (with part numbers) for these aircraft clocks. Also, Waltham Technical Manual on the Waltham A13A with overhaul instructions and parts breakdown.  Finally, material on the Waltham A-11 and the Hamilton Elgin complex aircraft used on WWII bombers.  This information was not generally included in the old watchmaker catalogs. This information is very useful to both the collector and restorer of these fine timepieces. 

  Lesson 10 -$9.95


  Last updated August 2011

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