Seiko 7A38 - by the numbers

Subtitle

Forums

Post Reply
Forum Home > Parts Info, Tech Tips and Tinkering > Essential tools

Sir Alan
Member
Posts: 458

I think its time for me to invest in some essential tools and would appreciate some advice as to what to buy, and what makes / models to either look for (or avoid!!).

We are talking basic here - so case opening tools, a crystal press (for when I pluck up courage to experiment with this) and any other must haves like screwdrivers, magnifiers you name it.

I've got some cheap ones at the moment (jaxa case back opener) but don't want to cause unnecessary damage simply by using unsuitable or cheap tools.

I was bidding on a Bergeon caseback tool that opened (and stayed) at £45 but lost out - I set my arbitrary limit at £105 and it went for £107.

Any practical experience gratefully received.

Thanks,

Simon 

January 30, 2012 at 7:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 13269

Simon.

In my relatively limited experience experience of messing with watches - and bearing in mind I restrict my tinkering purely to 7Axx's - there is absolutely no justification, as an amateur, in investing in Bergeon tools - you are simply paying for the name. If you want to buy good quality tools, look at other cheaper Swiss brands, such as A*F. A local professional clock repairer, who is also an Omega-trained qualified watch repairer, and helped me with a few projects in the early days of my collection, swears by Horotec.


Having said that, a couple of the very first basic tools I bought were indeed Bergeon - their # 6767 (F and S) spring bar removal tools, which despite their cost, with the amount of use I give them, even as an amateur, I'd still recommend to anybody.


There's basically nothing wrong with the Jaxa copy 3-prong case-back tool. It's the level of skill with which you use it. Mine is one of the Anchor Tools (Indian-made) copies which I bought on eBay three or more years ago, and I'm still using it today - and I personally haven't graunched a single case-back. Take time to set the jaws accurately, in both planes. If a case-back is reluctant to come off, I won't risk graunching it. In the early days, I'd take it to my helpful local watch-maker, and ask him to loosen it for me - he's got one of those large heavy bench-mounted 'steering wheel' case-back removal tools, but it isn't a Bergeon. Nowadays I do all my own. Based on a trick 'DaveS' told me, of putting an ice cube on the case-back, to make it contract, I've since developed my own 'tweak' for dealing with very tight (even rusted-on screw-down casebacks). I set the watch up in a watch-makers case vice, which in turn is held in an (aluminium jawed) bench vice. Before placing the Jaxa copy tool, I give the case-back a quick squirt of RS Aerosol Freezer (which at -50° is much colder than an ice cube). This makes the case-back contract momentarily, relative to the case threads, and eases the removal - works every time ! I've used this method, without detriment, on umpteen 7A38 case-backs, though I wouldn't recommend it to anybody working on expensive mechanical watches. Here's a link to RS. You can order through Electromail:

http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/freezer-aerosols/0846682/


There is of course a far simpler (and fool-proof) case-back removal tool - the 'Sticky Ball'. I use mine all the time now. The Jaxa is only used to remove the tightest of case-backs (after I've first tried using the ball), and then for the final tightening, after I've screwed it on as tight as I can using the 'Sticky Ball'. Get yourself one, they're cheap.


Yes, you need to buy yourself a crystal press, Simon. As I've promised, I'll do your 7A38-7000 for you, but then you're on your own. I suggest you might want to buy yourself a cheap 7A38 'beater' to practice on. I only ever paid to have one crystal replaced (cost me over 20 quid), before I bought my crystal press on eBay for the same price. I've replaced literally dozens since then. Mines one of the common or garden types, usually painted in dark blue 'Hammerite', that come with 14 nylon dies. Again, it's practice makes perfect, and Yes, I still manage to shatter the odd crystal, pressing them out, and crack the odd one (usually Cousins 'cheapies') pressing them back in. But when you're only paying 75p (or possibly £2 for better quality Sternkreuz) generic replacement crystals, it's not a problem.


There is only one thing to be careful of, when using such tools, and that is that you've fitted the correct size dies to the press. I was being cocky (in a bit of a rush to finish the job) one day, and picked up the wrong size die. I think it might have been a 25/26mm, versus the 24/25mm size, which I normally use to press out 31mm (the most common size on 7A38's) crystals with. As the old crystal popped out, the die picked up the edge of the plastic Tachymeter dial ring as it passed through, and shattered it. :o

It's a mistake you make only once, and all part of the learning process. ;)

January 30, 2012 at 8:43 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 13269

There used to be (in fact, still is) a helpful online tutorial on replacing crystals.

See: http://www.crescent-pc.com/watchfetish/7aX8/index.htm

Reading that, quicky convinced me that I was capable of changing my own.

Unfortunately the step-by-step photos seem to have since disappeared. :(

The watches used in the demo were a stainless 7A38-7280 and a 7A28-7039.

I've checked through my folders (I still right-click and save almost any photos I see),

but sadly these (before and after) appear to be the only two I saved from that article:





January 30, 2012 at 10:02 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 13269

As far as screwdrivers are concerned, IMHO, there's no need to splash out on anything particularly expensive, for working on Seiko 7Axx's. I've got a couple of sets, which I bought on eBay, and IIRC, the more expensive of the two was only 20 Quid. The screws used on the 7Axx's (particularly the 7 used to hold on the back-plate and +ve battery terminal plate) aren't exactly the best quality. Their slots are shallow and poorly defined; the material relatively soft. So you don't need screwdrivers with hardened tips. The important thing is to keep your screwdriver tips in good fettle. I re-finish the ends of mine at least once a month - often as not using my Dremel rather than a whetstone. The sizes you'll find yourself using most are 1.0mm 1.2mm and 1.4mm. I've also made myself a 'special' 1.2mm screwdriver with a 'V' ground into the tip, similar to a (fine) spring bar tool end, which I use for easing off pusher circlips.

Works a treat. ;)

January 30, 2012 at 10:35 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Sir Alan
Member
Posts: 458

Thanks Paul - I'm reading and digesting all of the above.

Simon

January 30, 2012 at 10:45 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 13269

Not neccesarily meant for you, Simon ....

as I know you've successfully removed links from your 7A38-7000's bracelet already.

I suspect you used the tip of a small screwdriver to pry out the removeable keepers.

If you collect more of them, you may encounter different types of Seiko folded links -

and not all of them are always quite that easy to pry out using a small screwdriver. :/

This is an old photo of one of my Orient J39's bracelet, showing the removable links:




The link keepers were VERY reluctant to come out - not only tight, but bunged up with crud, so I invested in a pair of these A*F bracelet link pliers, specifically designed for use with that style of Seiko folded link bracelet:



If I remember, they were about £15 from Cousins (edit: now £20 - their part # B0145)

Well worth every penny - I use them all the time now, instead of a small screwdriver.

But I wouldn't call them 'Essential', unless you're planning on buying a few 7Axx's. :D

January 31, 2012 at 7:18 AM Flag Quote & Reply

JSS
Member
Posts: 32

I’m a complete novice when it comes to working on watches, but a tip I’ve found useful (can’t remember where I read it) when using the Jaxa type case opener is to put tape over the case back notches where the teeth engage.  I use electrical insulation tape and I’ve found that if you push the tool firmly into the tape it really helps hold it in place.

By the way Paul, I don’t know if you noticed, but the links to the larger images on that crystal removal tutorial you mentioned still work.

 

February 10, 2012 at 7:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 13269

It never dawned on me to click on the spaceballs, John - I'd just (wrongly) assumed that the image hosting had gone West. :roll:

--
Some watches are made to last only as long as they are fashionable. 
Some watches simply aren't made to last.
Seiko watches are designed to withstand the ravages of both time and fashion. Some day, perhaps, all watches will be made this way.
February 10, 2012 at 8:21 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 13269

Something else you should get yourself, Simon (if you haven't done so already) is a Dust Puffer: 



Invaluable for blowing microscopic bits and dust / lint out of a watch case, before you reassemble it.

You can also use it for blowing any dust off a dial / movement before you pop it back into the case - though care is needed, on how close you hold it, because if you get carried away, there is a risk you might dislodge any loose / flaky lume from the hands or dial.


Again hardly a 'tool', and more properly classed as a consumable, get yourself a stick of Rodico (if you haven't already done so).

See: http://www.cousinsuk.com/catalog/7/0/1138.aspx

Ideal for cleaning up bits / marks from a dial face. It's sort of a 'Blu-Tac' for watches, but isn't sticky, and leaves no residue behind.

I actually use it for a lot of other things, including setting hands and picking up tiny components like the Rotary Step Switch.

Roll a small blob of Rodico and stick it on the end of a pointed cocktail stick. Then dab gently at the part you wish to pick up.

From my days of model car building, etc. I have umpteen pairs of tweezers in all shapes and sizes, incuding anti-static ones.

Most watch repairers will recommend you use plastic-tipped tweezers for hand placement (before setting), but I swear by Rodico.

Talking about tweezers, there was (yet another) 6309-xxxx thread on SCWF recently, which mentioned the subject of tweezers:

http://www.thewatchsite.com/index.php/topic,28487.msg172520.html#msg172520


February 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 13269

Something else you should consider getting in the way of cheap tools, is one of these, Simon:


Their primary use is intended for use in prying off press-on case-backs. However, they also come in useful for working on 7As.

Most 7As with a fixed, but removable, bezel will have a small fingernail sized (and shaped) indentation on the underside edge.

Normally, unless the bezel has been taken off before, you'll find it in the area of the top L.H. lug - usually near the 11 marker:




Before attempting to lever off the bezel, I recommend protecting the corner of the watch case with tape, to prevent any marking if the tool slips. Here I'm using Polymide protection tape, but in the past I've even used a small corner of 'Duck' tape. For gold-plated or coated cases, I'd suggest using something less sticky, such as Sellotape 'Magic' tape or even masking tape. The last thing you'd want to do, after protecting your watch case from scratching while you levered the bezel off is to lift any loose coating as you peel the tape.

The above photo was PURELY FOR DEMONSTRATION PURPOSES ONLY. Do not even think about going anywhere near the watch case with the tool, and the intent of prying off the bezel, while the dial face and movement are still in situ !

See here on Cousins website for Polymide Protection tape: http://www.cousinsuk.com/catalog/7/0/2282.aspx

I think the correct term is actually Polyimide (see 3M products). 

February 12, 2012 at 1:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

7ARCool ©
Member
Posts: 168

Watch movement holders.

This is a warning not to buy this product from Ebay: 370583511669

Looking at the listing and item image, you would think this is a low cost decent item, I bought one and the quality is awful.

In the image, the holder fits snugly into base, the one I received had unequal gaps (5-8mm) either side when fitted in the base plate. Both the bottom surface of holder and top surface of base plate were not level, so holder would wobble in base plate. The holes for the nylon plugs/holders were too big and pins on nylon plugs/holders were short, thus any pressure and they would be at an angle and slip out.

I contacted the seller explaining this and asked for a replacement as i had received a faulty product, turns out the seller does not handle the product himself, item is shipped direct from producer.

Seller offered a full refund plus my return post!

February 21, 2012 at 6:11 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 13269

Chris.

That isn't really a 'movement holder' as such - just a watchmaker's vice. I've got a similar-looking one myself - without the base-plate.

The quality is pretty abysmal really, and I mostly use mine for holding a watch case when I'm dealing with a tight case-back.


There is another type of watchmaker's vice which is better suited for use as a movement holder, with a radius machined in the jaws.

Here's a small* cheap (and presumably low quality) example currently on eBay for £2.99: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/200685390523



*By the way, I asked a question of the seller, and he replied that the maximum diameter movement that vice will accept is only 25mm.


Remainder of original post now moved to this thread:

http://www.seiko7a38.com/apps/forums/topics/show/7328640-7axx-prototype-movement-holder

February 21, 2012 at 7:39 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Sir Alan
Member
Posts: 458

I have one of these holders as well (without the baseplate).

Whilst from a machining perspective it looks quite nice and solid, it isn't terribly well thought out. But for less than £10 it's not bad I supose.

I'm looking for a better version, preferably one where the nylon/plastic holder pins are angled inwards so that as the clamp is tightened, it is prevented from ping'ing out. They are also too hard and too shiny - they ought to be rubberised?

The knurled screw isn't very easy to tighten down - I think this is because the screw is steel and the thread into which it tightens is (cheap/soft) aluminum - burring and almost cold welding taking place?

I also need a movement holder - as this is clearly not the right tool for that!!


February 21, 2012 at 7:57 AM Flag Quote & Reply

7ARCool ©
Member
Posts: 168

Paul, If you look into costs I would definitely be interested, so far i have been buying watches and parts.

I have not attempted any work on my collection so far, I am being patient and picking up tips etc, buying some tools and when i feel absoloutely confident I will attempt some repair/refurb work on my collection.

Paul, if possible could you list a guide for basic tools required as a starting point, I would greatly appreciate your efforts. :D

February 21, 2012 at 8:10 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 13269

Chris.

May I suggest you go back to the beginning of the thread, and ....  That's really about as much as I have time for right now.

February 21, 2012 at 9:17 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Sir Alan
Member
Posts: 458

These are mine:



they've all been used on my recent projects and have worked perfectly.

February 29, 2012 at 8:33 AM Flag Quote & Reply

ric

Posts: 44

the more i read on here the better it gets.

would you buy a hand replacement tool.

i see my tool is not there. the hammer.

March 24, 2013 at 1:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 13269

Seiko7A38 at January 30, 2012 at 10:02 AM

There used to be (in fact, still is) a helpful online tutorial on replacing crystals.

See: http://www.crescent-pc.com/watchfetish/7aX8/index.htm

Reading that, quicky convinced me that I was capable of changing my own.

Unfortunately the step-by-step photos seem to have since disappeared. :(

The watches used in the demo were a stainless 7A38-7280 and a 7A28-7039.

I've checked through my folders (I still right-click and save almost any photos I see),

but sadly these (before and after) appear to be the only two I saved from that article:






In fact, as John (JSS) pointed out, although the thumbnail images no longer show in that online tutorial, if you click on the 'space-balls' all the full-size photos are still there, but you can only view them individually - not embedded in the body of the article. Which is a pity.


One thing I'd like to reiterate, though, is that it isn't necessary to remove the (fixed) bezel used on these style of 'normal' Seiko 7Axx's when replacing a scratched crystal. Indeed, I'd advise against disturbing the nylon bezel to case gasket unless absolutely neccesary, because they can sometimes be a pig to re-fit. You simply press out the old crystal from inside the watch case, but making sure that you select a nylon die small enough (usually <24mm / 25mm Ø) that will pass safely through the plastic Tachymeter / Minute ring.




What reminded me of this article was a thread on SCWF earlier today:

http://www.thewatchsite.com/21-japanese-watch-discussion-forum/61970-cautionary-tale-why-buying-cheapest-tools-inadvisable.html




I still swear by my ex-eBay 'cheapie' lever-operated crystal press, although I had noticed some time ago, that a couple of the more regularly (ab)used concave nylon dies had started to develop radial cracks around their locating holes. :( This is my 34mm / 35mm:




Though when I say 'abused' - the reason it looks a bit gnarled is because it's been used for re-fitting bezels, rather than crystals. ;)


October 25, 2013 at 1:36 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Seiko7A38
Site Owner
Posts: 13269

It's a long time since Simon ('Sir Alan') started this thread - or for that matter since there've been any updates to it. Simon's knowledge and skills have improved by leaps and bounds over the last six years - and so apparently has his array of tools.


I was chatting with him on the phone a few days ago and he mentioned that he'd recently treated himself  to a new Horotec quartz tester. It's one of these - a FlashTest.


http://www.cousinsuk.com/product/horotec-flashtest



There's evidence of Simon using it to test a customer's 7A38-7070 in a recent eBay listing:




While not certainly not 'essential' (per the topic title), nor cheap @ £295 + VAT, I may just have to follow his lead and treat myself to one. On the basis that the size of my collection justifies it. :D


June 23, 2018 at 5:46 AM Flag Quote & Reply

a1topdog
Member
Posts: 27

What size hand fitting tools do you recommend?

August 31, 2018 at 8:19 AM Flag Quote & Reply

You must login to post.