I always wear a watch and enjoy alternating between wearing different watches. This makes me scan Tradera, the Swedish equivalent of eBay, for watches every other day to add to my collection. One day, a beat up GANT watch came up for auction, with a starting bid of only 10 dollars, and I felt I had to put a bid on it since I know that these watches in nice condition go for quite a bit more. As it turned out, I was the only one to bid and won the auction.
My original plan was to refurbish the watch to make it look like new and then sell it to make some money and try out a fun project, but as you will find out, this is not how it turned out...
Step 1: Nomenclature
Since not everyone may be familiar with the terminology used for watches, I think it is a good idea to start with a crash course in the nomenclature of a watch. There are many different names for the components but these are the ones that I will stick to in this instructable.
Step 2: Tools and Materials
These are the tools and materials recommended for the best outcome of this project. All tools and materials can be bought off eBay or Amazon.
- Watch case remover
- Watch glass press
- Dremel, with polishing accessories and polishing compound
- Watch link remover
- Watch crystal
- Watch strap
- Beat-up watch
Step 3: Dissasembly
If the watch has a watch strap or watch strap pins attached to it, the first step is, of course, to get these off. The strap is usually attached by pins on the inside of the lugs. To loosen these, take the tool and push the pin down on one side and maneuver it out. Some watch cases have what is known as open lugs, which means that there is a hole through the lug, whereby the pin can be removed by pushing the pin from the outside.
The second step is to remove the back cover to reach the movement. On this watch, the back was screwed on and could easily be unscrewed with a case remover as seen in the third photo. One could easily create a tool of their own for this purpose, but if you plan to work with several watches I would recommend you to buy the tool since it is not expensive and will come in handy in future work. Some watches do not have a screwed on back and are instead pushed on. In this case, there is usually a flange or an indentation where a knife or screwdriver can be inserted to ply the back off. In case of using a screwdriver, put tape on it or put some cloth in between the case and the screwdriver to not damage the watch. Note that there usually is a seal on the back cover (to keep dust/water out).
Underneath the back cover there usually is a plastic piece. This keeps the movement+dial in place and can easily be lifted off with tweezers or a small screwdriver. To be able to get the movement and dial out of the case, the crown has to be detached from the movement. To do this, there is usually a marking with a small arrow pointing at a hole, a dot or something similar which should be pushed down. While pushing down on the marking/in the hole the crown can be pulled out.
The crystal can usually be pushed out by hand. In my case, the glass was cracked meaning that there was a risk of getting cut while doing this. To avoid getting cut and getting glass all over the place, the watch was put in a bag with a layer of cloth over it, and then the crystal was pushed out of the case. Note that there is a plastic sealing on the inside of the case.
So, there you go, your watch is separated into different parts. A tip is to have a box to put all the parts in to keep track of them because it is easy to lose these small parts!
Step 4: Restoration of Dial
In my case, the dial had a bit of dust on it and a minute marker had come loose. The dust can easily be removed by blowing on the dial, just make sure you do not accidentally spit on it.
The minute markers are usually glued in Place, or as in this case by first being pushed into two holes and then glued on. To make sure no marker would come loose in a near future I put a bit of glue where the pins connect to the back the dial on all markers. The glue used was regular super glue. After having applied the glue I smeared it using a tissue. While applying the glue it is a good idea to keep the dial inside the case to avoid damaging or bending the hands. Just be carefull not to glue the dial to the case.
Step 5: Restoration of Caseing
To get the watch looking like new all scratches should be removed from the casing and the back. This can be done by lots of sanding followed by polishing, first with abrasive paste and then polishing paste.
I started sanding with 1000 grit sandpaper since I was afraid the "lines of the watch" would disappear if using rougher sandpaper. From there I went to 1500, then 2000 and lastly I used 2000 grit sandpaper to wet sand. This will take some time, so put on a movie or your favourite tv-show while doing it since it is very monotonous. However, if you do this step properly you will not regret it since the watch will shine as it would have when it was new.
Lastly, polish the parts, first with abrasive paste and then with polishing paste. When I polished the rear cover of the Watch, polishing paste got stuck in the letters. Don't worry about it, this can easily be removed using a nail and by cleaning it with soap when you are done.
Step 6: Assembly
Assemble in the opposite way to the disassembly process as follows,
- Put the seal back into the casing, line up the crystal with the watch and use the glass press to force the new crystal into the casing. When doing this I put cloth on the crystal to avoid damaging it.
- Place the dial back into the casing, mount the plastic part on top of it and insert the axle and crown by pushing it in.
- Screw/push the back of the watch onto the casing. If it is a push on-back, it may be smart to again use the glass press since it requires a bit of force to mount it.
- Fit a new watch strap to make the watch look like brand new.
Step 7: (Sell) Enjoy Your Cheap "New" Watch
At first, I had planned to sell the watch and make a profit. However, after having put in the work shown in this instructable, I liked the watch to much to sell it so I added it to my collection instead, maybe the next one will be one I will sell instead, haha.
I hope you enjoyed this instructable and if you have any questions/doubts or tips, be sure to let me know in the comments. Thank you for reading all the way to the end.