One question that comes up on a regular basis is when someone has taken the winding stem out of a watch movement and cannot get it locked back in or get it to work properly through the different crown positions. In some cases, the stem has just fallen out and there seems to be nothing you can do to make it stay in and wind properly.
It is not a difficult repair by any means but will require a few tools to accomplish this job as well as a little patience. I will try to explain and show you some different possibilities of what the problem could be as well as how the setting system works. Even though the movement I am going to use is an ETA 2824, other watch calibers will have the same type of components that may look a little different but will operate in an analogous way.
Some tools you will need are:
- Hand levers
- Hand inserting tools
- movement holder
- case cushion
- eye loupe
- 2 mm or 120 screwdriver
- A secondary holding stick of some kind
Also, if this is a movement that is not being fully serviced, finger cots are recommended.
Ok let us get started
As you probably have seen a million times, you cover the watch hands with some sort of thin plastic and use the levers to gently pry up the hands.
Now you must remove the dial. On the other side of the movement are two dial feet clamps. To open them, gently insert your tweezers and slid them out.
With the dial feet clamps open, just flip the movement over and the dial should just pop off. Do not forget to push the dial foot clamps back into there normal position so they do not get damaged.
Dial Side of ETA 2824
Now we are looking at the dial side of the watch and specifically at the setting train. The area we are going to need to get to is directly in front of the stem. To get to, it we will need to remove the Minute Wheel Train Bridge as well as the Date Jumper Maintaining Plate and Date indicator.
Start by removing the Hour Wheel
Remove the Minute Wheel Bridge
Remove the Date Jumper Maintaining Plate
Remove the Dial Indicator
Now with the date indicator removed we can remove the rest of the wheels of the setting system. From left to right are the Hour wheel, the minute wheel, the date corrector, and the blue arrow pointing to the setting wheel.
You are looking at the setting parts that work with the winding stem. When properly functioning, they control the different pull-out positions of the stem and crown for hand winding, quick date change and time setting as well as locking the stem inside the watch itself. if you are having problems with your stem functioning properly in your watch, this is were you begin the inspection.
When the Crown is in the first position, the sliding pinion and winding wheel are meshed together allowing the watch to be hand wound by the crown.
When the crown is pulled out to the second position, the sliding pinion moves forward and meshes with the setting wheel. The setting wheel interacts with the date corrector and is what changes the date indicator ring to quick date change function.
Then when the crown is pulled out to the third position the yoke advances the sliding pinion, which stays meshed with the setting wheel by the action of the corrector lever and comes in contact with the minute wheel. This allows the wheels of the setting train to advance the hour and minute hand as well as turn the
If this spring is not sitting properly beside the end of the yoke, the sliding pinion cannot properly function.
Before anything else is taken apart, this is the first thing you want to check. The Setting Lever Jumper has a spring on one end that keeps tension on the yoke. The yoke sits in the slot of the sliding pinion. The sliding pinion moves back and forth on the winding stem. When the yoke is under tension, it allows the sliding pinion to stay tightly meshed with the winding wheel to hand wind your watch. This happens in the first crown position. Compare it to the picture above which shows the springs correct position on the Yoke.
The setting lever jumper has several distinct functions.
The blue arrow shows the jumper. In locks the top pin of the setting lever into three different positions. If the Jumper or pin on the setting lever is bent, damaged or broken, the stems 3 crown positions will not work properly.
The red arrow points to the arms that holds the yoke into the sliding pinion. If these arms are bent, damaged or broken, the yoke will come out of the sliding pinion causing the stem to feel stuck in position.
The black arrow points to a spring that holds the setting lever flat against the plate. When you press stem release post to release the winding stem, this is what is providing the spring tension allowing it to move back and forth. If this is bent, damaged or broken, the setting lever will not have the tension to keep the locking pin seated in the stem grove
The Green arrow points to the spring that keeps the yoke under tension when the sliding pinion is in the winding position. If it is bent damaged or broken, the winding function will not work.
This is the Yoke. The Yoke controls the position of the sliding pinion as it slides back and forth on the winding stem. Its position is controlled by both the corrector lever and the setting lever.
One fault that can happen is when the yoke comes out of the groove in the sliding pinion and gets caught in between the sliding pinion and the winding wheel. This can happen due to the screw that holds the setting lever jumper becoming loose or the yoke itself has become bent. When this happens, the stem is unlikely to be secured in the movement by the setting lever locking pin.
The setting lever has four posts on it that need to be inspected for faults.
- The top post (A) interacts with the setting lever jumper to maintain the three setting positions. So, it must not be bent or broken.
- The longest post (B) on the underside of the setting lever is the one that comes thru the main plate and is pushed to release the stem.
- The shortest pin (C) in the middle is the post that is released from the stem when the longer release post is pressed from the other side of the movement. It is all that holds the stem in the movement. It is noticeably short and if the setting lever is not sitting flat on the main plate, it can cause the winding stem to pull out prematurely.
- The last pin (D)on the setting lever, controls the action of the corrector lever.
All these pins should be inspected and if any are bent, damaged or broken the setting lever should be replaced.
The corrector lever corrects the position of the setting wheel as well as correct the position of the yoke.
There are two pins to be inspected.
The larger pin holds the setting wheel so it would not affect the stem at all.
The smaller pin interacts with a portion of the setting lever. If this pin is damaged or broken it will interfere with the function of the setting system.
The Stop Lever
The stop lever, if your watch hacks, sits in the groove of the sliding pinion and is what enables the watch to hack or stop the balance wheel from oscillation.
If the stop lever is outside of the sliding pinion slot it would be easily damaged. The teeth of the winding wheel and the sliding pinion will quickly chew up the stop lever leaving a stump that will interfere with the function of the setting mechanism.
The winding pinion (A) turns the crown wheel when you are hand winding the watch. It also has angled teeth that mesh with the sliding pinion (B). As shown before, the yoke must be under tension drawing the sliding pinion tight against the winding pinion for hand winding to take place. This is because the center of the winding pinion is round. The center of the sliding pinion is square allowing the square part of the stem to turn it. It is the sliding pinion that is providing the force to hand wind the watch.
The winding stem should be straight with no defects. The groove that receives the short stop post from the setting lever needs to be free from wear or rounded edges to keep the stem in the watch
This is how the setting lever locking pin sits in the stem when the stem is locked inside the movement.
Hopefully, you have discovered the fault which is preventing your stem from operating properly. Now lets put it all back together.
install the winding pinion, sliding pinion and stem
Start by installing the winding pinion and sliding pinion. Make sure the stop lever is sitting inside the groove in the sliding pinion. Slide the stem in and check the free running of the stem and sliding pinion.
Install the Corrector Lever
Install the Setting Lever. The Setting Lever Release pin fits into hole in the main plate. Apply a small amount of pressure on the setting lever tight above the release pin. Gently pull the stem in and out until the Setting lever locking pin enters into the grove on the stem.
Install the Yoke
Lay the Setting Lever Jumper in place. Turn the screw several times to get it started. With your tweezers pull the jumper over the jumper pin on the setting lever.
Pull the yoke spring in place. Tighten down the screw.
A Note on Tightening Screws: As a general rule for all screws; you tighten the screw until the moment you feel resistence.
Then turn the screw an additional distance equal to the width of the screw slot in that screw.
Check the function of these parts in all three positions
Position 1- the watch winds
Position 2-the corrector lever moves the pin that holds the setting wheel closer to the crown. The stem should rotate back and forth with no resistance.
Position 3- the corrector lever moves the pin that holds the winding stem furthest away from the crown. The stem should rotate in both directions freely.
Return to position one
Now we can re-install the date indicator. Lay the date indicator in position and hold it in place with two fingers. Use your tweezers to pull the Date jumper (arrow) into position.
Install the Date jumper maintaining plate. Tighten the screw down until you feel the slightest bit of resistance and stop. Turn the wheel on the Date jumper (A) maintaining plate until it engages with the Date indicator driving wheel (B). When they turn smoothly together, lightly press down on the date jumper maintain plate and finish tightening the screw.
Now you can re install the minute wheel (A), the setting wheel (B), and the date corrector wheel (C).
The setting wheel has a rounded edge on one side ofthe wheel. The rounded side faces up.
Install the Minute Wheel Bridge
Now check the three positions and their function again.
Position 1 – Winding
Position 2- Date corrector function. The date indictor should turn in quick set mode
Position 3- the setting wheel engages the minute wheel which turns the cannon pinion
Now add the hour wheel. Add a small amount of downward pressure on the hour wheel and rotate the crown in position three. The power should transfer to the Date indictor driving wheel.
Now that everything is functioning as it should we can put the dial back on and set the hands.
Flip the movement over onto a case cushion and open the dial feet clamps. Turn the movement over and lay the dial onto the movement with the dial feet in the dial feet holes.
Advance the winding until you can see the date beging to move. Make slow movements on the crown until the date change snaps over. Your goal is to stop moving the crown the instant the date changes. This is 12:00 straight up.
Lay the hour hand onto the stem of the hour wheel. Try to get it centered on the hour marker as close as possible and press it onto the tube just enough to keep it from falling off.
Sight down the hand and nudge the hand to dead center of the hour marker. A toothpick works well. Obviously you want to be careful of the dial.
Apply gentle pressure pushing the hand until the top of the hand is level with the hour wheel tube and the hand is level to the dial.
Advance the hour hand around and make sure the date change happens when the hr hand is straight up at 12:00
Repeat the process with the minute hand taking your time to center it.
Press it on ensuring that it is horizontal with the hour hand and level with the top of the cannon pinion.
Advance the hands around to make sure the date change happens when the minute hand is at 12:00. In this example, the date change happened within 30 seconds of midnight. This would be within Swiss standards.
Swiss Standards for hand division and alignment are simple.
The minute hand should be pointing directly at the 12 o’clock or 60 minute marker when the hour hand is perfectly centered on any and every hour marker.
This is best checked when the hands are at a right angle, 3 and 9 o’clock with a deviation of no more than 30 seconds. Any deviation more than 1 minute is considered poor workmanship.
All hands should also be parallel to each other and the dial and the space between each hand should be the same . The hands must not touch each other, the dial, or the crystal.