The principal of a restoration is to return the watch into good, reliable working order. However, there are varying degrees depending on whether we are conserving a piece of heritage, or returning an item to showroom condition. The majority of our work falls in the middle. For high end, highly collectable timepieces, most owners require a movement to be serviced, a case clean and perhaps a new glass only. To refinish cases, dials etc can take the originality from the watch, however, in some cases this is necessary in order to make the watch wearable. Watches have come to us that have literally been dug up in the garden, others where the dial is so stained and deteriorated from decades in a shed that the watch cannot be read. Cases can be cracked, split, bent or even missing pieces, or have been cobbled into some form of wearable condition by the use of appalling techniques. For the watch to have a new lease of life these issues must be addressed.
Our main aim is to keep every watch as original as possible, whilst ensuring it is reliable, readable and, above all, wearable. To this end we source original watch parts from all over the world and hold a stock of period watch spares (hands, crowns, glasses etc.) in order to ensure authenticity. We also use contemporary reference material to hunt down the parts we require to attain the original look and specification of the watch. Wherever practical we use old tools, they're better quality and were designed to work on the watches we do.
A restoration starts with an assessment of the watch, from which we will supply an estimate for the work required, and an approximate timescale. This may include options that we can discuss to ensure you get the level of restoration you require. Upon your approval, the watch will be completely dissassembled, cleaned, reassembled (fitting any replacement parts as required), oiled and tested. The case will be cleaned and refinished (if requested), and a new glass will be fitted or the original polished (as required). We can also supply new straps, again, an option to be discussed with the individual client.
Watch brands we restore include, but are by no means limited to; Omega, Longines, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Rolex, Movado, Breitling, Doxa, Tissot, Cyma, Tavannes, IWC, Roamer, Buren, Helvetia, JW Benson, Eterna, Zenith and many others. We also specialise in First World War trench watches and have made straps and buckles to original period designs.
To start the process of bringing your old-timer back to life, please email firstname.lastname@example.org attaching pictures if possible, or alternatively, call us on 07926 980381.
As an example, this watch came to us with stunning potential, but it had suffered over the years. The staining on the 14ct Gold case indicated it had been unused for decades. The dial had been refinished at some point in the distant past, but had been done incorrectly as this model is neither an Oyster nor an Imperial as it stated, however the case, dial and movement did start life together. The lyre shaped case shoulders had been bent out of shape to take a more standard 18mm strap, and then a wire had been soldered between them to take an open-ended strap. The movement was seized after years of neglect.
Much research was required to find the correct dial finish to make it as close as possible to how it left the factory. The shoulders of the case were re-aligned to their original 17mm width and the correct angle to the case. The strap wire was removed as non-original, with the added beneift of giving a much greater strap choice (a luxurious Alligator strap being selected). The case was refinished and rejuvenated, ensuring the angles of the detail were maintained whilst removing scratches and blemishes from so long sliding in drawers. A genuine vintage Rolex dustproof crown was fitted to replace a later generic example. The Ultra Prima calibre 710 movement was fully overhauled, set in beat and regulated, and now keeps excellent time. A very satisfying restoration and a beautiful result.
More restorations can be seen on our facebook page
1940 Rolex "Solar Aqua"
Gifted to the owners Uncle in 1940, probably as he left for Europe and the war, Solar Aqua models were a rebranding by Eaton's department store where the original owner worked. For more pictures of this interesting watch please visit; https://www.facebook.com/pg/allinthebalance.co.uk/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1974962049416315
1961 Omega Constellation
Originally purchased by the owner's Grandfather, this beautiful Omega had seen better days. The bezel was cracked, the movement barely running with rust and wear present throughout. A thorough overhaul, correct Omega crown, refinish to the case in line with the repaired original bezel and the watch is back to its best, fitted to a "Goldfinger" style NATO strap.
1943 Longines 6B/159 RAF issue watch
The original cases for this type of watch waere made from a very lightweight alloy which became worn over the years. This watch suffered the same fate as many, and a
shoulder snapped. Taken into a watchmaker sometime in the seventies or eighties the original case was replaced with a plated brass example from a donor. The client asked for the watch to be restored
to working order, but after discussion we agreed it was worth restoring to how his Father wore it during the war. We sourced an original Longines 6b/159 case, overhauled the movement, replaced the
later crown with an original, fitted a period correct strap and the finished watch is stunning, and just as it should be. For more details of this restoration, please visit our Facebook
1951 Rolex Oyster Royal
My preference is always for originality, but sometimes practicality must be allowed for. The dial of this Rolex was readable, but it looked rough, the luminescence had bled and the lacquer was pretty poor. Mechanically it had a broken balance staff and escape wheel, although the case was fine. It was agreed a sympathetic dial restoration was required, so with the movement overhauled, the case lightly cleaned and tidied, and a new "Goldfinger" style NATO strap fitted it's a beautiful Rolex once more.
c.1953 Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox
Whilst discussing the repair of another watch, a client mentioned he'd always loved the Memovox, and would I be able to source one. A couple of days later I'd found one at auction, contacted the client and discussed restoration requirements. The dial clearly needed doing, the case needed a sympathetic restoration, the movement had to be overhauled, and the horrendous seventies exbanding bracelet was consigned to the bin and replaced with a beautiful tobacco coloured genuine alligator strap to complement the subtle aging to the dial.
1938 Breitling chronograph
We were contacted by the original owners Grandson who asked if this stunning watch could be restored. It has RAF crest and 1939 engraved into the case back from when he enlisted, and he survived the war having flown throughout in various theatres.
Missing the bezel, glass, and five of the original hands, we knew it would be a challenge to get the watch close to how it was originally. Fortunately, through the wonders of modern technology, we were able to find a very blurred picture from the 1938 Breitling catalogue illustrating this model. From that we could just about make out the required bezel shape and correct hands as those fitted just didn't look right for the period or quality of the watch. We then hunted through our spares of original period hands for the correct size and style, and managed to source a case which had exactly the bezel shape required and amazingly was the correct diameter. The bezel fitted securely without any adjustment, nothing short of miraculous! The movement was overhauled, a new period correct leather strap was fitted, and the watch was back to its original best.
For more pictures and details of this restoration please visit our facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/pg/allinthebalance.co.uk/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2009376442641542