To start, you must understand that my method is to do the bare minimum when servicing vintage Timex watches. Like many i use a phased approach which grows in complexity should the previous approach fail to get the watch working.

This guide is going to be controvertial as many experts who service vintage Timex will all have their own take on things. This is one mans method and i’ll happily be shown a simpler method and replace this guide if one exists.

In this guide i will show you how to service vintage mechanical Timex watches. This guide should in theory work for all of Timex’s in-house mechanical/automatic movements excluding electric/electronic/dynabeat.

I would start with a working M24 movement if you’re new to this. This would ensure that after it is serviced, the watch should continue to run. if it doesnt then something is wrong.

Note this is a guide to servicing Timex watch not repairing broken Timex.

Basic tools you will need

Movement Servicing

If your goal is just to get a watch working then you willl need the following as a bare minimum.

  • Demagnetizer (Optional but recommended)
  • Caseback opener or pocket knife
  • Small screw driver
  • Crystal wrench or removal tool
  • Hand levers/removal tool
  • Tweasers
  • Beakers
  • Cheap ultrasonic cleaner (Optional but recommended)
  • Cleaning fluid
  • Rinsing fluid
  • Oil
  • Oiler
  • Hand press/tools

Case and Crystal Servicing

If you want a nice clean case and crystal then the following is required.

  • Fairy liquid
  • Polywatch or some other abbrasive
  • Sand paper of varying fineness (optional for deeply scratched crystas)
  • Soft kids toothbrush
  • Toothpick
  • Lint free cloths
  • Car swirl buffing cream

Step 1 How to check if your Timex is servicable

There are several methods you can use to check if your watch could be reparable with a service. I use all these in my triage process.

Is the watch intact?

Does the watch have all its parts? Is a crown and stem attached. Can you set the time and does the date wheel change when passing the 24 hour mark. Are all the hands present?

Can the watch be wound?

Will the watch wind up? Ive received many watches labelled as not working or worse, mechanical watches sold as needing batteries that simply needed winding. If you can not wind the watch and the spring feels wound tight then servicing the watch may solve the issue. If you wind the watch and the watch promptly winds down then you likely have a click spring issue which will not be fixed by servicing.

Does the watch tick when shook?

Hold the watch head with the crystal under your thumb and the back in grasped by your fingers. Now give the watch a viggorous shake from left to right. Does the watch seconds hand move? If so this is a good sign that you can service your watch to get it working.

Is the case back to blame?

Strangely on several occasions all that ive needed to do to get a watch working was to remove the caseback. Im not sure if this is something to do with air pressure, or physical pressure on the movement.

Does the ballance wheel swing freely?

Open the watch case back and remove the movement spacer to display the watch movement. Check the balance wheel’s hairspring is intact. If this is warped or falls outside the balance wheel then this is not a good sign and your watch will likely need a new one.

If the balance wheel is intact then using a pair of tweasers or some pegwood give the balance wheel a push. Does it swing freely back and forth or is it immobile or does it swing and then abruptly stop. If the balance swings freely then that is a good sign that your watch is serviceable.

Does the watch need demagnetizing?

Although vintage Timex movements were not made from highly magnetic materials they can over time become magnetized by being left near electrical cabling and electronics that give off magnetic fields. Demagnetizing not only helps free up stuck mechanisms but can also make a watch keep time.

Basic Triage

As far as i know i am the only person who does the following step. Again this is to identify watches that require the minimum amount of effort needed to get them working. With the case back removed and movement exposed i oil the pivots on the back plate of the watch and allow a few minutes for the oil to penetrate the mechanism.

[image of pivots]

Then i gently flick the pallet fork using an oiler to get the watch running. Be careful when doing this as it is easy for the pallet fork to become dislodged or worse, bent. To diagnose this you will notice the balance wheel will swing then abruptly stop. If this has happened you can try re-engaging the pallet fork which may have slipped or you will need to split the plates and repllace the part or movement swap.

[image showing access to pallet fork]

Some times this works instantly, other times manipulating the fork requires some repetition. The idea being that the new oil give just enough lubrication to start working the mechanism, and unstick the likely gummed up spring in ther barrell.

Timex Watch Servicing Step 2

Disassembling a Timex Watch

Remove the case back or for front loaders take off the crystal. Theres also cases where the case can be split at the side to access the movement and dial assembly.

Remove the crown and stem assembly

Optional remove the rotor on automatic movements

Remove the hands.

To remove the dial from the movement gently lever up the tabs that hold it together using a screw driver. These should be positioned at right angles to the dial to help them go back on.

Optional – Remove the date and month wheel. These should just pop off

you should now be left with a bare bones movement.