Watch Innards

While searching through one of the catch-all shoeboxes in the storage closet, I stumbled across an antique pocket watch that has been needing servicing ever since who knows when. The Ingersoll “Yankee” was manufactured sometime between 1896 and 1925. I turned the crown and wound the movement about 20 rotations, then gently shook the watch.

The seconds hand moved and kept accurate track of seconds. After awhile, I noted the time on the dial then went about doing other housekeeping tasks. I returned to the watch later and noticed the timepiece had stopped after running two hours and 18 minutes. This means the watch movement seems to be in good condition but it is in dire need of cleaning and servicing.

This triggered my curiosity about what the movement looked like; so I removed the case back for a look/see. There is very little on display–only the balance wheel and the hairspring. The rest of the wheels and gears are covered with metal plates. There is also a notation with the date of November 14, 1922. I don’t own any watchmaker’s tools aside from a case-back removal knife and some tiny screwdrivers, so it seemed smart not to attempt removal of the movement’s plates. I examined what little is visible from the balance wheel opening then pressed the case-back back onto the watch.

I felt a little disappointed about most of the movement being covered up because I wanted to share a photo of it on bluejayblog. I did take some macro shots with the Sony camera. The photo experiments turned out OK.

As a consolation, I placed a much newer watch under scrutiny of the camera. The Armitron “Skeleton” automatic turned out to be a good substitute. Basically, a skeletonized watch is a timepiece without a dial. The movement plates have been redesigned and trimmed away so as to make the wheels and gears visible. In addition to the clear crystal glass on the front, there is a clear crystal glass on the case-back (exhibition back).

It’s possible to see all the way through the watch at certain viewing angles. A skeltonized watch is a good gadget to wear for anyone interested in old school miniature mechanical machines. Whether or not I decide to repair the antique pocket watch, the Armitron will have to continue to satisfy my curiosity.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes aphorist, essayist, risk analyst, and statistician, Nassim Nicholas Taleb . “The key to wealth is that it doesn’t matter. Once you’ve had it, you don’t think anything of it; you can wear cheap watches.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Gadgets, Hobbies, Meanderings, photography, Vintage Collectables and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Watch Innards

  1. paescapee says:

    I look forward to your blogs every day, thank you! How amazing that people had those skills so far back. I wonder if we’ve lost them in the new computerised age?

    • swabby429 says:

      Actually, they have built upon the old skills and have improved upon them and made them more sophisticated. The artisans who create timepieces have amazing skills. Many of their timepieces are intricate, expensive works of art.

  2. Such complicated, intricate devices. Their manufacturing processes were remarkable. By the way, do you wear a watch? I started finding them uncomfortable, so I stopped wearing one about 15 years ago.

  3. These photos are really cool. It is wild to think of all the engineering and design that goes into certain everyday objects that we just take for granted.

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