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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Repairing my Reverso  – Everlasting Model

It may be galling getting a high-end watch serviced. Given the price may very well be between £500 and £1000, it is simple to really feel you are spending some huge cash simply to get the identical factor again once more. 

Maybe it is simpler to swallow in case you’ve spent 20k of your individual cash, however relatively much less so if the watch is a fraction of that, or certainly was a present. 

It was good to witness my Reverso being serviced and repaired at Jaeger-LeCoultre lately, subsequently, by the very affable watchmaker Robert in Bond Avenue. 

It gave me a brand new respect for the work concerned, and put the charge in perspective. In reality the entire course of appeared nearer to creating a brand new watch than having it simply checked and tweaked.

As you may anticipate, all through I used to be drawing parallels with menswear – the artisan at the back of the shop, the instruments and methods – and I concluded that the perfect comparability is with a bespoke go well with. Like a go well with, care and upkeep would not make the factor look higher (in contrast to footwear, say) however it’s what the piece of high-quality craft deserves, and it additionally brings you nearer to it – making you re-evaluate and worth your possession.

There are some things that go improper with watches through the years, however a few of the primary ones are oils drying, screws failing and water harm. 

The primary two are so frequent that they are a part of the usual service process – cleansing and oiling, changing all screws. The watchmaker will get a blister pack that incorporates all of the probably required elements, and it is a stunning quantity. The mainspring can also be changed by default.  

First although, your entire watch must be taken aside, beginning with the case after which working inwards. The items are positioned in a segmented plastic tray, and it is necessary to recollect which is the highest and backside: due to the pure smoothing of the gold, the 2 ends (horns) will not match as easily in opposition to their opposing ends of the case. 

When the entrance of the case has been eliminated and the entire motion taken aside, the stability spring and stability wheel are then put again in

That is so the watchmaker can examine how they’re working, and in my case discovering that the spring was a little bit bent (one of many doable causes it was working sluggish).

The unimaginable factor to me is that he then unbends it with a pair of tweezers. How this may be performed exactly sufficient, on such a tiny spring, I don’t know. Many of the realignment is completed at this stage, then there’s some high-quality tuning when the watch is put again collectively. 

This stage makes use of a finer pair of tweezers than those used to deconstruct the watch. The factors are so high-quality that they might apparently snap if used to take away the jewels. Every time he makes use of them, the watchmaker additionally sticks them in one thing that appears like Blu-Tac. Apparently it’s Rodico, which doesn’t lubricate them (as I believed) however removes tiny bits of mud. 

It’s more durable for Robert to work on this area – at the back of the Outdated Bond Avenue atelier – than in the primary restore centre, which is in north London. 

That bigger area has a ‘optimistic strain’ system, the place filtered air is blown in by means of the roof, creating strain that pushes air out every time somebody opens a door – so it’s a lot more durable for mud to return in. In Bond Avenue there is no such thing as a such system, and there are extra random individuals (corresponding to us) coming out and in. 

When Robert took the palms off my Reverso (high picture above), it was clear the watch had grow to be magnetised as a result of one hand instantly jumped up and stood vertically off the face. 

The issue with the elements being magnetised is that they grow to be interested in different elements of the motion. The stability spring, for instance, could also be attracted to at least one half however repelled by one other, making its rotation much less clean. 

One other is a stray drop of oil, maybe sticking two loops of the spring collectively. Some elements of the watch are put in a therapy liquid as a part of the restore course of, to provide them better floor pressure and ensure oils keep caught.  

Magnetisation can occur pretty simply, by means of extended contact with the speaker of a cell phone for instance. Happily it’s a straightforward factor to take away: the watchmaker simply locations it on a small black field (above), presses a button and it’s performed. It is also one thing anybody can stroll into the JLC boutique and ask to be checked.

In response to Robert, little Reversos like mine are a few of the hardest actions of this sort to restore – there’s little room for error and they are often unpredictable. Colleagues of his which have labored on way more say generally a service can take a number of hours, generally days. 

I’ve to say, it was very nice seeing the motion of mine taken out and with the ability to maintain it. It’s such an beautiful factor – and all completed superbly, though it’s by no means seen. 

In a approach, it’s a disgrace the watch doesn’t have an open again, in order that may very well be appreciated. However after all that may take away from a elementary side of the Reverso – that it may be flipped round so the again faces outwards. I’ve truly considered methods to brighten that through the years, however have by no means taken the plunge. Perhaps another day.

After the deconstruction, testing the stability spring and some different checks, the trays containing the elements are all positioned right into a desktop washer – which makes use of a nasty ammonia substance to cleanse (beneath).

That takes a number of hours, together with two rounds of drying, after which the watch is put again along with oil being added all through, and every stage examined once more. Additional elements are changed, and all the brand new screws are put in. I additionally had the crown changed, the palms (that they had grow to be a little bit oxidised) and the crystal. As I mentioned, it felt nearer to constructing a brand new watch than simply servicing. 

The usual service charge of £570 included all this stuff, and sharpening, however the brand new crystal price £230. 

I’ve to say I all the time discovered watch boutiques a little bit intimidating, or maybe simply off-putting. It’s in all probability that sparse, shiny look of luxurious retail, plus the safety guard.

However this expertise, along with my one at Omega lately, have warmed me up. It’s a mix of the service and the individuals: everybody at Jaeger was real and educated, in contrast to the overwhelming majority of trend boutiques, and recommendation appeared to be thought-about a part of the advantage of possession (strive going into most huge manufacturers and asking about repairs). 

Plus it’s good to know there’s somebody like Robert at the back of the shop, beavering away, cracking jokes and chasing a misbehaving screw throughout the worktop. 

Thanks Franck, Laurene, Stefania, Robert and everybody else at JLC for taking the time to elucidate all the pieces to Alex and myself, watch naifs that we’re. 

Most JLC clients are usually not permitted to see watch providers in progress, and a whole lot of servicing is completed within the separate, bigger location. However hopefully this piece offers some perception into the work that goes into it. 

My Reverso is yellow gold, ref 250.140.862, from 1997. I purchased it second hand 12 years in the past. The garments pictured are:

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