A favorite client wanted some pointers on Seiko movement removal, so I thought I’d turn it into something others can benefit from as well. The very first step in modifying is pulling the movement. The process outlined may differ from how others do things, but often horology is more art than science; there can be many ways to achieve the desired result.
Note- This is how I work on client watches; I strive to make every effort to protect what they have entrusted to me. However, these steps can be streamlined and reduced, and on my own stuff I’m usually a little less particular, since I know a guy who can take care of it if something goes wrong. Whenever possible, I use non-marring tools. I go through tons of toothpicks, I have plastic phone prybars, and black carbon tweezers and other tools. Metal tools are used as well, but if there is a tool that can do the job more safely, I use it.
**Disclaimer** This is informational. Don’t attempt if you can’t live with the possibility of Murphy dropping in and ruining your day. If you attempt the following procedure and break your watch, scratch your dial, mar the case back, divide by zero, etc., Artifice HoroWorks is not liable for any damage to your watch, your fist or wall, your feelings, or your children’s ears.
1. First thing we need to do is remove the case back. It is helpful to have a case holder, but not completely necessary. It allows you to get a better grip if the case back is stubborn.
2. I always try the friction ball before going to the case wrench (Not like this, though- It’s just not very easy to take pictures while engaged in a 2 handed operation). Gripping the case holder in my left hand, I squeeze the friction ball and push it against the case back while turning counter-clockwise. It helps if you first wipe the ball and the case back with isopropyl alcohol to ensure good friction.
3. However, if the watch was recently assembled at the factory, it can be nearly impossible to break the case back free with a friction ball, so the case wrench has to come out. I use low-tack protective tape on the watch, and electrical tape on the wrench pins. Is tape really necessary on both the wrench and the case? To borrow a phrase from the firearms world, “Two is one, one is none.” I use the same grip with the case holder in my left hand, and the case wrench in the right. With the wrench pin spans CAREFULLY tightened to fit the case back grooves, I give it firm, counter-clockwise pressure to break free. It’s not the end of the world if the case wrench slips and mars the case back and lugs- it just feels like it. The dual layers of tape will help increase the friction and lessen the chance of a slip, as well as protecting the watch should the unthinkable actually happen.
4. Once the case back is loose, but still attached (just imagine a case back instead of rotor in the pic), I vacuum any debris that has broken loose with the case back. Some watches can hold quite a bit of grime and dirt around the edges, and it needs to be removed so it doesn’t fall in the case and movement. I don’t care for blowers at this point, since who knows where the gunk is going to end up.
5. Now that the loose debris has been removed, I finish unscrewing the case back (the tape can help with this so the wrench can be moved away from the watch), and run the vacuum around one more time. Now that the movement is exposed, its time to don the gloves (if I didn’t already have them on) then go around with Rodico to get any bits that were holding on too tight for the vacuum.
6. The crown and stem release is a small lever, just to the side, that must be pressed gently while the crown is pulled free. The crown must be fully pushed in, or the lever is hidden, as seen below.
7. I use a new, unsplintered toothpick to press the small, circular head of the stem release lever WHILE gently pulling the crown away from the case.
8. In the SKX007, the stem is the only part creating interference, but the movement spacer secures the movement position in the case. Unlike the old 6309s, the 7S/4R/6R movement spacers are well secured to the movement, and will not separate without more advanced disassembly. Some watches will be tighter than others, but the SKX007 movement spacer usually pops out easily. I use a carbon prybar to pop the crown side of the movement free, ensuring the movement will be easily pulled from the case. However, if the movement is pried too high, the side of the movement and dial can hit the crystal, or possibly scratch the hands on the case, so I use great care at this stage.
9. Now that the movement is actually loose in the case, I use curved, non-magnetic tweezers to lift the movement out by the rotor. I slide the tips of the tweezers under the rotor from the crown side, and tilt it back so the movement won’t slip off. No squeezing here, just hooking the rotor in a fashion that gives great control. The movement could also be flipped out on to a hand, or other soft landing spot by tipping the case over, or pulled out any number of other ways, but I like this method because the balance wheel & spring are covered and somewhat protected by the rotor.
10. Free at last, the movement can be carefully set on a movement holder for whatever is next.
11. Any time I’m not working on the parts, I try to keep them covered. Dust is the ever-present enemy, so I don’t leave the case sitting upside-down, or the movement uncovered and exposed.
There you have it. The process should take about two minutes, but here I’ve managed to drag it on for an hour. A little common sense, patience, and care will ensure your watch survives your movement removal even if you don’t have a vacuum, Rodico, or a carbon prybar. If you royally botch things up, send it in, we’ll get you straightened out.