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  • Pierpont President renovation

    Hi again,

    I’m after some advice about doing some repairs/renovation on an old Pierpont President. This has no monetary value, but does have sentimental value to me. It was my grandfather’s watch until he retired in the mid 1970s(?) and was given the ubiquitous gold Seiko. He gave the Pierpont to me as my first watch (I would have been about 10 at the time?) and I proudly used it for a few years until the crown broke off and was lost. At that stage it was just an old broken watch, so my parents bought me something better suited to the rigours of teenage life. I always got on very well with my grandfather through my childhood and teenage years, and lived with him for several years while at university. Final twist in the back-story is that he died the night before my wedding.

    As you can see from the photos it’s a three piece stainless-steel case, confusingly called called “Monobloc”. 21 Jewels, water resistant, incabloc, antimagnetic. Fixo-Flex strap. There is a stamped 1-56 inside the case back, is it a reasonable assumption that means 1956?


    Anyway, I found the watch last time I shifted house, and would quite like to get it useable again. It does run if I take it apart and wind it from the remains of the stem, and vaguely keeps time for an hour or two before it stops. If I pick it up it starts again, so presumably after a clean and lube it should run okay. It obviously needs a replacement crown, and presumably stem? It would be nice to clean the face, and ideally replace the crystal, although those are not essential.

    So – any suggestions for someone who could replace the crown (assuming that something that fits can be found) and give it a service, preferably west or central Auckland? What is that likely to cost?

    Any suggested approaches for cleaning the face? – it looks as though someone has tried before which has resulted in some loss of lettering so it would need to be done carefully...

    Or should I just put it back in a drawer and forget about it?

    Thanks, Mark.


    Attached files


  • #2
    Hi Mark,
    Interesting watch you have there. I am sure that you will be able to get it going again relatively cheaply up in your neck of the woods, however the dial raises an interesting topic on whether you do, or do not restore it. Purists would say leave it alone. The patina is all important. But they don't have to look at it everyday. I have used a company in the past (www.internationaldialco.com) who offer a first class service.They make a printing plate from the original dial, then they remove any raised markers, then strip the dial back to bare metal. Once done they apply a new matching finish and re apply the raised markers and then apply the print made from the original. Bare in mind that the dial will not be quite as crisp as the original and they will only accept the dial. I am sure they would send you a quote. I suppose the whole thing depends on the amount of cash you want to spend. What price do you put on sentiment eh?
    Preparation and planning prevent piss poor performance

    Comment


    • #3
      Thank you, Mark, for sharing with us pictures and story of this nice Pierpont. It’s this kind of provenance of watch enthusiasts like us live for. I’m not an expert on restorations, but would like to make some inputs that will hopefully help you decide the appropriate course of action.



      As you can see from the photos it’s a three piece stainless-steel case, confusingly called called “Monobloc”. 21 Jewels, water resistant, incabloc, antimagnetic. Fixo-Flex strap. There is a stamped 1-56 inside the case back, is it a reasonable assumption that means 1956?...

      Pierpont Watch Co. existed between mid-1910s to mid-1960s. The movement it uses is an FHF 72, 21 Jewels, 18’000 A/hr, with 44 hours of power reserve. I’m uncertain (and doubt) that the “1-56” refers to any kind of date, but agree that this movement would have come from the late-1950s (pre-1960). FHF is a movement manufacturer that supplied calibres to many watch companies.



      I found the watch last time I shifted house, and would quite like to get it useable again. It does run if I take it apart and wind it from the remains of the stem, and vaguely keeps time for an hour or two before it stops. If I pick it up it starts again, so presumably after a clean and lube it should run okay. It obviously needs a replacement crown, and presumably stem?

      For the movement, I’d have to ask you whether or not you intend to use the watch. After all, the provenance and sentimental value would not be affected, even if you keep it in its current state. However, as you’ve sought our opinion on restoration, I presume you’d like to wear it again. If this is decided upon, then the watch can be considered in the same way as any other watch, i.e. it needs to be fixed properly, else not fixed at all. For me personally, I don’t really agree with “quick fix” like some do to just get it running. Sure, dusting, oiling, and replacing the crown will probably make it run again, but no guarantee of when your piece will stop again. It needs to be stripped down, parts cleaned, worn parts replaced, and reassembled. That is, it needs an overhaul.

      A generic crown will need to be used, and as for the stem, the watchmaker can probably have a look at that, and advise you on it.

      If your choice is to “keep it in the drawer”, then why not find a way to display it? I mean, that’s what we do with photos and things that are of sentimental value to us, right? The cost would be in labour than actual parts, and I'd prepare around $200, including cleaning the dial. If it's not financially viable at this time, then I suggest keeping it for later when you are ready to tackle it. This would probably be the equivalent of “keep it in the drawer, but not forget about it”.



      It would be nice to clean the face, and ideally replace the crystal, although those are not essential.


      I’m probably one of the Purist the Captain refers to above . From your photos, some of the staining is due to natural aging (patina), but some may just be dirt that resulted as dust was moistened by ambient humidity. I’d like the dial to be as clean as possible, but without compromising the original, and would not really go the re-dial option. Watchmakers have a type of acid solution that can be used to remove some of the dirt, but I’d request that, if it comes to choosing between “clean” and “retaining the dial scripts”, I’d choose the latter. This can perhaps be compared to the cleaning of archaeological findings, i.e. remove the dirt, but stop when doing more will damage the specimen.

      Again, for me personally, if the dial could not be “cleaned” to my satisfaction, then I’d rather spend years hunting for an identical watch to cannibalize its dial for my precious piece, than to go the redial option. As for the acrylic crystal, this can be replaced easily and inexpensively, as there are generic ones that can be fitted.

      Others here might like to share their experience of similar projects.
      On the instruments we entrust to pace our lives, to bear witness to our days, and to be the keepers of the most precious thing we have... time.

      Comment


      • #4
        Yet another great post Don . Always informative and well thought out. I find the dial issue very interesting as watch dials seem to be the only thing in the western world I can think of that must not be restored, and generally causes WIS to jump up and down in fits of rage if the subject is broached. Afterall, we restore our cars, houses, paintings and just about everything we can get our hands on. Imagine our roads if the same taboo were applied to our classic cars. A sea of rust buckets. I can imagine the car enthusiasts conversations, patting each other on the back over the "patina" on the roof, particularly the grail of all stains, seagull droppings. I have heard, that in places like China that they can't stand to see a watch with "patina", and will always plumb for the dazzling restoration.
        I too prefer a dial to be original but I have in the past attempted to clean a dial myself, sometimes with disasterous heart wrenching consequenses. The trouble is that, once you start, there is always a mark or stain that you think you can remove, and that is the one that seals the dials fate, languishing in the parts bin. Marks dial looks to me like the paint is very unstable and any attempt to clean it professionally, or otherwise, could have him crying into his soup :cry: or in this case his smudge of a dial.
        Preparation and planning prevent piss poor performance

        Comment


        • #5
          here is my 2 cents input .
          based on my experience just to give you an idea of cost.
          the last watch overhaul i had was $80
          A new acrylic crystal and a generic crown for my 63 seiko champion $40
          Prices will differ depending on who the watchmaker is.
          The Dial is a tricky question .
          If you do a redial job then the watch almost becomes a MOD .
          Not that I against Mods as I own several modded watches
          If you are trying to keep it as original , Then I would do as Don suggests and go seek an original dial or an old parts watch ,on the international watch forums or Ebay .
          But being a antique watch i don't think a redial is the answer .
          But in the end it's really what you want.
          An original look or a new look
          Rest easy Matty , My best Mate and Son

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you, Captain



            Yet another great post Don . Always informative and well thought out. I find the dial issue very interesting as watch dials seem to be the only thing in the western world I can think of that must not be restored, and generally causes WIS to jump up and down in fits of rage if the subject is broached. Afterall, we restore our cars, houses, paintings and just about everything we can get our hands on. Imagine our roads if the same taboo were applied to our classic cars. A sea of rust buckets. I can imagine the car enthusiasts conversations, patting each other on the back over the "patina" on the roof, particularly the grail of all stains, seagull droppings. I have heard, that in places like China that they can't stand to see a watch with "patina", and will always plumb for the dazzling restoration.
            I too prefer a dial to be original...


            Love it! A very colourful way of putting it :thumbup: . You know, your post really made me think whether this is some remnant of my past snobbish WIS-self. It was only a few years ago that I would proudly proclaim myself to be a Swiss Mechanical Only watch person . So, it could be that I’ve yet to move past the original-dial-or-bust crowd.

            With classic cars, I remembered not giving a thought to installing air-conditioning and modern alloy wheels on the last one I owned. So, I definitely see why the Chinese are going about it. Though, in our (Western?) defence, car exterior serve both a functional and aesthetic function, i.e. if allowed to rust, it won’t keep out the rain, let alone pass WOF . A watch’s dial, however, serves more of an aesthetic function (skeleton watches don’t even bother with one). The other aspect that is, while most parts of an automobile can be restored to close-to-factory quality (or at least, one cannot tell from a photo), no one seem to be able to refinish a dial to a factory finish (we can probably tell 95-97% of all re-dial merely by looking at a photo). Redialling a watch, unlike replacement crown, glass, or movement parts, also causes irreversible change to the timepiece. You cannot un-redial a watch.

            I guess from an owner’s perspective, redialling a watch would definitely increase its functionality (easier to tell the time, lume, etc.), in the same way that air-condition and modern wheels and tyres can improve the functionality of a classic car. From a buyer’s perspective, however, the story is different. A dial that has been refinished hides the true condition of the watch--even major water damage. Redialling has also often been used to produce fakes of higher value models, using cheaper models that share similar case and dial. So, in a nutshell, redialling lowers the value of a piece, and even if the owner is not intending to sell it, why would one want to lower the value of something one owns?
            On the instruments we entrust to pace our lives, to bear witness to our days, and to be the keepers of the most precious thing we have... time.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks guys, what great information!

              I really appreciate the effort you put into the comments.

              I would like to be able to wear the watch, so a proper overhaul is called for. A new crystal would be great if possible. I'm happy to clean/buff/polish the case myself.

              I'm not interested in dial restoration or a redial. The patina is part of the watch and its history. It's really a question of whether it is possible to slightly clean it without doing any damage. Which is of course difficult to answer until it's too late! Maybe I'm best to leave it, unless an expert is confident they can improve it.

              I regard the any dial cleaning in a similar way to giving the case a clean and polish to get rid of dirt and minor corrosion. Just like a cut and polish on an old car paintjob and polishing chrome. Or taking old steel bicycle rims from ugly to shiny like these

              Or brakes from this: to this

              The watch hands could do with similar treatment, but I'm sure they are more fragile than bike parts

              Sorry for the digression, but that Italian bike is the same vintage as the watch. And since I've carefully managed to change the subject from Swiss to Italian, here's some more class: :D

              ANYHOW, back to watches.

              Any suggestions for good but reasonably priced watch repair shops in Auckland?

              Thanks again,

              Mark.


              Attached files

              Comment


              • #8
                Is that your Alfa . :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
                makes me want to go back out and relive my Alfa 33 days all over again.

                Send a PM to Harlan he may be able to help you out with the movement overhaul
                Rest easy Matty , My best Mate and Son

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yep that's mine 8-) , although I have to confess that it's currently sitting in my garage without one door while I practice my limited welding skills again... the WOF guy had some strange idea that the hinge should be attached to steel, nor air

                  Also have a 156 2.0 TS 5spd with Bilsteins/Eibach springs, my wife has a 147 JTDm 6spd, and there's also a 5 cyl Fiat lurking about. Sick eh!

                  Will try Harlan, thanks.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I too am a huge fan of these and years ago owned a 1750 Gt Veloce. From the badges on the C pillars I'm picking this one is the same? probably the coolest dashboard of any car made then or since. I was fascinated with the way the speedo needle was at the 4 o'clock position at rest . I managed to sell it before it became an ugly brown stain on the garage floor but that was a sweet , albeit unreliable bit of fronting gear in the late 70's
                    I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

                    Nothing is fool-proof to a sufficiently talented fool.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yeah, definitely great cars . This is a 2000 GT Veloce, same body as 1750, different grill, dash and seats. More power and torque, factory limited slip diff. Some prefer the 1750, mainly for its dash. I like the grunt of the 2000. I've had this one since 1996.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Woke up this morning and remembered why I gave up my love affair with my alfas . :roll:
                        Spent all my time under the hood and always seemed to have a spare donor car at the back of the shed .
                        Ahh them were the days :D :D :D :D
                        Then the missus Said are you married to that car or me
                        Alas me and the Alfa 33 got divorced :cry:
                        But if she ever decides to Dump me , My Alfa mistress will be back in the garage real quick
                        Rest easy Matty , My best Mate and Son

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Do not despair, it is possible to have Italian cars, and a wife... :D although I did have Italian cars before I met my wife, so she knew what she was getting into (literally). I even converted her to the true cause, and her latest car is an Alfa, after a succession of Fiats.

                          I still maintain that the Italian reputation for unreliability is grossly overstated... 8-)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Untill it does'nt go.......again
                            I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

                            Nothing is fool-proof to a sufficiently talented fool.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Fix It Again, Tony - thats what it stands for, isnt it....?
                              My karma ran over your dogma

                              Comment

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