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Buee1

Vintage Timex & "Character" watch repair/service/restoration

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I recently picked up a 70's era Timex automatic at a junk shop that seemed to be running strong. The watch definitely looked like it could use a cleaning and after 24 hours with it, I noticed that it was running a bit slow.

Took it to my regular watch repair guy, but he wouldn't even touch it because of the M32 movement. Which as discussed in other posts, is rather tricky to take apart and even more so to put back together.

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To make a long story short, I contacted Timex directly and they gave me the info for a retired repair technician. I gave him a call, sent him the watch and he's currently giving it a once-over.

I let him know that I was going to recommend him to the folks here on WUS. He wanted to be sure to let folks know that in addition to vintage Timex, he mainly specializes in restoring Disney "character" watches. So if you have an old Timex that needs some work or if you're a collector of Disney watches, then I highly recommend you give this guy a call.

Here's his info:

Fred Bitzer

#(727) 376-4102

**Forgive me, but I completely forgot to take pics so I'll include them once I get my watch back later this week.**

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Hi John,

I moderate The Timex Watch Forum...

The TIMEX Watch Forum

There are many folks there that can also provide service. A lot of people seem to start their hobby by working on Timex since the watches are so simple to repair, then move up to more complicated watches. In many cases the movement is just swapped out with a good running or NOS movement. If someone doesn't feel like taking the movement apart to clean it, they can be cleaned as one piece after removing the dial and hands.

We recently added a page to a server site where folks can download repair manuals too.. for those do-it-yourselfers. :)

Do you know if Fred has access to dials or hands for the character watches?

Ron

 

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Hey RonD,

Thanks for the heads up. I'll have to check out your forum when I get a chance.

I believe I do recall Fred talking about NOS parts for character watch restorations, but I believe he mentioned some of those dials or hands were made of paper, so tough to find replacements.

I'd suggest that you should give him a call just in case I misheard.

And as a moderator for the Timex forum, I think you'd enjoy his knowledge of the history of the company as well!

 

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Finding folks who will properly repair these Timexes and pin lever character watches is always difficult. I can not endorse the 'clean as one piece' method outlined above. It is a recipe for long term disaster like borrowing money on credit cards to make mortgage payments.

I recently paid $90 dollars at an AWCC meet for an "I am not a crook" Nixon character watch (pin lever, like most). But the dealer had spent two and a half hours cleaning it. I considered it a bargain even though I already had one for which I had only paid $25 -- but it needed cleaning. The cleaned one will last for years and is safe to wear. The other has to sit in a box, unloved (or, in this case, unhated given the nature of the character).

For most, repair it yourself is usually the only viable option. Just be prepared to ruin watches in the process...

 

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You are right about "cleaning as one piece". Some pin levers are easier to take apart.. most of the older ones.. the Ingersolls, New Havens, etc... The Timex ones were probably never meant to be taken apart and cleaned. I have lots of NOS movements, but even some of those won't work unless they are cleaned! I guess I was just implying that folks get confidence by working on those type of watches. If they can start out by just jump starting a watch through a clean or lube and eventually learn how they are assembled so they can do a more thorough cleaning.

BTW, I have a Nixon and a Groucho moving eye watch:

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Very cool!

Ron

 

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When I was talking with Fred, he was telling me how difficult it is to put an M32 back together. But since he retired from years of working at Timex, it's second nature for him.

So I would definitely recommend him for anyone with more complex issues or needs.

 

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I am glad to see I am not the only character who collects these! I've never seen the Groucho one.

I have watched several of our members progress through learning how to clean simple watches to real skillful watchmaking. I think anyone can do it with the proper mindset... just don't start on a watch you love!

 

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So I finally got around to taking pictures of the Timex I got back from servicing by Fred.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take any of the "before" pictures so hard to make comparisons.

The crystal was pretty scuffed, so he polished those out. There's still some damage to the case, but it looks a lot cleaner than when I sent it off. And I'm not too concerned about the band as I'm already looking for a replacement.

And more importantly the movement is running a lot better than before. It was about 5 - 10 minutes slow in 24, it's now roughly 1.5 min fast. I can take that for an almost 40 year old watch.

Below are the pics. The dial looks black, but it's really a deep, dark blue. You can kind of see hints of it in some of these shots. Also the dial has an interesting semi basket weave kind of pattern. Tried to get that in the close up. And then finally we have the M32 movement. Not the most interesting to look at, but it's a workhorse. Not sure what the 4-10 AS signifies, if anything.

Hope you enjoy the pics. And if you have a vintage Timex in need of repair, I highly recommend Fred for the job.

 

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Fred is now 79 years old, but when I dealt with him a couple years ago, he was still part-time and always willing to talk. He uses a proprietary jig to disassemble and reassemble these movements. A routine 3 hand service was $30.

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