Watch modding or watch repair could be an exciting hobby or career. In both cases, you’ll need tools to get you started. Looking for tools could be overwhelming especially when you do not know how to start or what certain tool to have.
When you have already mastered the skills in modifying watches like Seiko, you can buy more tools along the way. But for starters, here is a list of essential tools that you need to get you to start your watch a modding career or hobby.
Screwdrivers are vital tools for watch modding. It is not necessary to buy the most expensive ones, but it is also not advisable to buy cheap ones they don’t last long. Look screwdrivers that are of good quality.
There are three main brands that you can choose from, AF Switzerland, Bergeon, and Horotec. They are all made in Switzerland.
Here are the four most used screwdriver sizes:
- Yellow – 80
- Black – 100
- Red – 120
- Grey – 140
Manufacturers should provide you with extra blades for each screwdriver. Make sure that they have stainless steel handles and ball bearings.
Other vital primary tools are tweezers that are used to pick up the screw. These kinds of tweezers are different from cosmetic tweezers.
Try to obtain a good quality antimagnetic tweezers. There are countless types and shapes of watchmaking tweezers. But here are some that are mostly used.
- No. 2 – It is strong wine fine and flat tips
- No. 3 – It has fine tips.
- No. 5 – This is short and extra-fine which is good for Hairsprings.
- Brass AM – soft metal and won’t damage and mark on watch parts.
- Plastic – This is for quartz movements.
Tweezers No. 2 and No. 3 can be used all- around. You should for tweezers from Dumont, Bergeon, and Horotec.
Eye loupe is used to see tiny parts of the watch you are working on. There are several different sizes and shapes of a loupe.
For magnification, here are two types that you need to have.
- General Eye loupe with 3-4 times magnification is used for most of the work
- Inspection Eye loupe with 10-12 magnification is used to inspect jewel holes, pivots, and other tinier parts.
Both Eye loupe from Bergeon and Horotec are good investments. The Eyeglasses or eye loupe are numbered. The numbers are the focal length. If ever you are struggling with holding your glass in place, you can use a wire eyeglass holder.
Watch Hand Removing and Fitting Levers
Before you can start working on your watch, you need to remove the dial and the hands first. In order to do so, you need a watch hand lifting lever.
You have to be cautious when removing the hands to avoid damaging the dial or the hands. Here are two tools that are used for this work.
Hand Lifting Levers vary in sizes that can accommodate different hand sizes. You can also use the Presto Automatic Hand Lifting Tool, but you need to be careful of leaving a feet mark on the dial.
When you have removed the watch movement, the parts are sticking out that it could be damaged easily. To prevent this from happening, you can use a movement holder to secure the watch movement.
There are lots of shapes and sizes for movement holder but the standard can cater to different sized movements.
Some common movement holders are the Bergeon 4040 and 4039. They are both available in steel and carbon fiber.
Be aware that some branded watches have their own movement holder.
A peg wood is a hardwood in different sizes and shapes. You can sharpen it to a flat and pointy shape.
It has two uses; the first one is to clean the watch before you put them in the watch cleaner machines used by experts like those at this vacate cleaning service. It is also used to hold down springs and parts when you screw and unscrew them.
Do not try to replace it with toothpicks and wood kebabs because these are too soft.
Rubber Dust Blower
A dust blower is a convenient tool to clean the lint and dirt on your watch. Do not try to use your mouth to blow the dirt on the watch because the mist will destroy the movement and dial over time.
Rubber dust isn’t expensive but good in cleaning and drying parts. Be careful when you use the dust blower for drying because they can blow the watch parts away. Make sure you hold them securely.
Rodico is good at cleaning dirt, fingerprints, oil, or grime from your watch movement. You can use it after pre-cleaning the parts with the peg wood.
Another you can with Rodico is lifting parts like ratchet wheel, tiny screws, etc. Rodico is highly absorbent and does not leave any residue behind.
Watch Cleaning Machine
Cleaning the watch parts manually can be laborious and might not be as good. You can buy old or used to watch cleaning machines online. The old modeled watch cleaning machine usually has three containers.
The first container is for cleaning the parts, the next two jars are for rinsing. To dry the parts, you can put them in a drying compartment.
You when are assembling the watch parts, you will need oil or grease to lubricate movements. Here are good oil and grease products:
- Moebius 9010 Oil – It is quick moving with low torque for balance staff pivots and escape wheel pivots.
- Moebius D5 (HP1300) Oil – It is slow-moving with high torque for barrel arbor and center wheel.
- Moebius 8300 Grease – It is friction-based for hand setting, winding mechanism, and canon pinion.
- Moebius 941/5 Grease – It has high-speed escapements of 21,600 vibs / hour
You will also need oil pots to store the oil and grease. Make sure that they don’t contaminate each other. Also, buy oil handles to help you put oil into the watch parts.
If buttons on your watch don’t pop out after they’re pushed in, the most likely culprit is dust. Even though your watch case is sealed, dirt can accumulate over time and get lodged in the springs that make the buttons pop out. Professionals use ultrasonic cleaners to safely remove the dirt. But you can use plastic tweezers and a tiny piece of absorbent material to remove the dirt. If you can’t easily access the tube that contains the spring, take it to a Jacob & Co watch specialist. Do not touch the spring with your fingers as you could introduce oils that will make the problem worse.