DIY Watch Regulation

From time to time we all undertake tasks that should best be left to those who know how. Yet still we persist with this irrational behaviour. As some people have pointed out, that is what makes us great! Or sometimes we fail…


watch attached to piezo pickup

But, we learn, nevertheless. Yesterday I learned a lot about Seiko watch movement 7006A. The watch, my latest thrift store project – a 1972 Seiko “Monaco” blue face, was all cleaned up and running, but it was losing 5 minutes daily. Since I had figured out how to open the one piece waterproof case already, I decided to speed up the balance wheel a bit. To help me with this task, which from experience I know is very hit and miss without instruments, I found a free watch timing program called Biburo. Further searching provided instructions in English (Biburo is from Japan). I scrounged around for the necessary equipment to make it work, and found an old cheap piezo guitar pickup that conveniently plugged into my Yamaha USB audio interface. When set on full gain it was able to detect the beating of the watch.

original timing was slow

original timing was slow

Biburo, when you get it right will show the ticks as a series of dots running across a graph. Slanting up means the watch is fast, down is slow. Horizontal is perfect timing.

yamaha USB audio interface

yamaha USB audio interface

I tweaked the timing lever a few times and in no time I had the watch running right on time, at least when laid flat. Then I noticed that in the instructions it said that if you had two parallel lines on the screen it meant the watch was out of beat. That is to say, the balance wheel turns unequally in rotating. To adjust this is another simple task, as the Seiko 7006A has a beat adjustment. I began to push this lever a tiny bit, first one way, then another. It didn’t seem to be responding well so I was resolving that I would just leave well enough alone when I noticed the watch had ground to a halt. Nothing would get it to restart. Now I suppose the rational answer is that there was something wrong in there to begin with and whatever I did, that certainly didn’t cause the watch to cease beating. But of course I cursed my luck. Then I decided that, what the hell, I might as well see if I could take it apart and clean it up, and perhaps dislodge whatever dirt or errant tiny hair of dust might have jammed the works.

my work-tray

my work-tray

So I spent the entire day discovering the wonders of Seiko engineering. I must say, it is an amazing machine as watches go, especially the bi-directional auto winding mechanism. However, I wasn’t able to fix it, and after many hours I decided to see if I could swap it out for another 7006A I had in a box. It turned out they were almost the same, except the donor had 19 jewels, versus the 17 on the first. The main difference was that this case being one piece, requires a different way of releasing the stem, and this piece doesn’t come on the regular watch movements. I was able to remove the tiny lever however, and install it in the donor movement, since the base plates were identical.

testing in various positions

testing in various positions

I’ve got the movement assembled and running, and am testing it now in various positions. It will not be perfect, since it probably needs a total overhaul and cleaning, but at least it still runs, which means I can wear it. If I recover some patience that I exhausted on this, I may strip the original movement down and see if a cleaning and lubrication gets it going again. If it breaks, at least I have learned something about these watches.

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1 Comment

Filed under Watches

One response to “DIY Watch Regulation

  1. That’s a great way to adjust a mechanical watch! I must try it. Being an electronic product developer … I love mechanical solutions and I love mechanical clocks!

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