When we service a watch movement, your cleaning process is vital to a well running watch that will last for years before needing servicing again. It doesn’t matter what method you are using, hand cleaning, ultrasonic or an agitating machine, the end goal should be to end up with parts that are surgically or chemical clean, free of any cleaning residue or left-over lubricants.
Use 4 Jars
The ideal cleaning regiment would consist of 1 wash jar and 3 rinse jars. Wash cleaning formulas are designed to release all the old lubricants from the wash parts the first time and a second wash has no real advantage if the cleaner is effective. The question, How long should I continue to use the cleaner, will depend on how dirty the parts are that you are putting in. The best way to judge the effectiveness of the watch cleaner is by inspecting the jewels under magnification. The jewels are clean, the wash solution is still effective, if not, its time to change it. The 3 rinse cycles, jars 2,3, and 4 are rotated on a regular basis. When its time to rotate them, jar 2, is discarded, jar 3 becomes jar 2, jar 4 becomes jar 3 and jar 4 gets fresh rinse solution.
Once the old grim has been released from the parts, it needs to be washed away, as well as the wash solution itself. Wash solutions leave a sticky residue of old lubricants behind if you do not thoroughly rinse it away. Jar 2 will have the highest level of cleaning fluid contamination, jar 3 a lesser amount and jar 4 will be pretty much pure rinse solution. Note that this is true for cleaning machines that have a spinning option. If you are using a system without a spinning cycle your jars will need to be rotated more often.
Pre-Cleaning Watch Parts
Pre-cleaning certain areas of the movement serves two purposes. First, it enables a through inspection of the parts. You can’t really judge end and side shake during disassembly when the jewels have crusted lubricants and dirt in and around them, nor can you see them fully. When inspecting parts one of your biggest concerns is wear. You can’t see it if the parts are dirty.
The other area that definitely needs pre cleaning is the barrel. Braking grease as well as oil greased mainsprings are one of the biggest contributors to your watch cleaning solution. The inside of the barrel should be cleaned with hexane or alcohol prior to putting it into your cleaning basket. If your mainspring is still in good condition, clean it as well before it goes into the cleaning jar.
How Important is it to Peg Watch Jewels
Very important. Vintage watches were most often lubricated with organic lubricants that tend to form a crust that can be hard for wash solutions to break free from the jewels. Not only should the jewels be pegged out before the wash cycle, but the impulse jewel as well as the fork slot should also be pegged.
Pegging the jewels has been proven to increase amplitude 15 to 20 % which is huge when dealing with vintage Swiss or Seiko movements.