Adjustment and regulation

Discussion in 'Other Watch Brands' started by Archer, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. Archer

    Archer

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    So often we hear of having a watch regulated. So what is regulation really, and how does that differ from adjustment? Adjustment is more involved than regulation, and often people use the terms to mean the same thing. These are two different things, and one must be done before the other, so I'll try to show some basics here that will hopefully explain the difference between adjusting and regulating.

    So to explain graphically what I mean between adjusting and regulating, I have made this little chart that shows three different conditions for the rates of a watch:

    [​IMG]

    So the X axis is seconds per day that the watch runs fast or slow, with the black vertical tick being "zero" so no gain or loss. The red ticks on each line represent the rate the watch runs in the fastest and slowest positions, so the spread of the Delta figure.

    So the top example is pretty good, with the spread being small, and more or less centered on the zero point. The next one is still quite good, with the spread being quite small, but the regulation is off, so the spread is shifted to the slow side. The last one is the worst case I show, where the spread is centered, but quite large. Of course the spread can be large, and not centered as well.

    So in this scenario, the centering of the spread is regulation, and the width of the spread is adjustment. For now I am going to confine this discussion to a watch equipped with a flat balance spring and a regulator. Introducing an overcoil complicates the scenario, as does a free sprung balance, so for now we'll keep it simple.

    Regulation typically consists of turning a screw, or moving a lever to adjust the location of the spread on my charts above. It is a very simple thing to do, and anyone with a small bit of dexterity can be taught this pretty quickly.

    Adjusting is another matter, and it involves some things that every watchmaker should be able to do, but hobbyists may find a bit daunting. I am going to use an example that is super easy to work on, an ETA 6497-2 from a Panerai 112 I serviced recently:

    [​IMG]

    This example has a flat balance spring, regulating pins, and has the great system that ETA uses called ETACHRON, which quite frankly makes adjusting very easy for anyone with even basic formal training to accomplish. I have added two labels to the photo above, and the "A" is on the adjustable stud carrier, and the "B" is on the regulator. The stud carrier is where the outer end of the balance spring is anchored, and as the name suggests, it is adjustable radially, centered on the balance staff, to dial in the beat error. The regulator at B is also adjustable radially to adjust the average rate faster or slower. The regulator adjusts the effective length of the balance spring to make the oscillations faster or slower.

    The other thing you might notice about these two points is that there are silver and brass (respectively) coloured parts that are shaped like a rounded rectangle. This is part of the ETACHRON system, and these make adjustments very easy compared to watches that are not equipped with this. So I do all my adjustments using a 10X loupe, and also with the two tools shown below:

    [​IMG]

    On the left is a pair of #5 tweezers with fine tips, and on the right is the ETACHRON tool. Here is a close view of the tool:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see this tool has a recess that fits over the rounded rectangles at the regulator and stud carrier. I can fit this over both the stud and the regulating pins, and use it to turn each of them. Turning the stud will change the centering of the balance spring, and turning the regulating pins will open or close the pins on the balance spring.

    I do all my adjustments with the watch as seen above, so the movement has been cleaned, the balance jewels lubricated, and only the balance installed on the main plate. This allows me easy access to see all around the balance wheel so I can get a very good look at the spring from all angles. The first step is to turn the regulating pins to their most open point, and in this case the balance spring is free from any interference from the regulating pins. I then look at the spring from the side to determine if the spring is level and flat:

    [​IMG]

    So here I use my eye to check the spring and compare it to the balance wheel. The spring should be parallel to the balance wheel - it's more difficult to see in a photo than it is in real life. If the spring is parallel to the wheel, that's good, but sometimes you will find that the spring is a straight line but angles up or down from the wheel, and you use your tweezers to push up or down on the spring where it meets the stud to correct this.

    I also check to make sure it's flat. You will often see that the spring is a half dish shape, where say on the left it's flat, but on the right it's dished up from the middle of the spring out. This means a coil of the spring is twisted, so using the #5 tweezers I bend the coil to make the spring flat again. I used an Asian 6497 clone that I had in my junk drawer (replaced one with a Swiss movement for a client) to illustrate this. Here I have intentionally tweaked the balance spring to show the half dish:

    [​IMG]

    So once the spring is flat and level, then I move on to centering. I need to make sure that the coils of the spring are concentric around the balance staff at the center of the balance wheel. I do this by looking from above, and comparing the spacing of the coils at 180 degrees from each other. In this example (back to the Panerai) the watch arrived to my shop with the spring not centered properly:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the coils on the left side are quite a bit closer together than they are on the right side. I adjust this by using the ETACHRON tool and turning the stud - the adjustments needed are very small to move the centering a lot, so this requires a delicate touch to get it right. Once I have the coils concentric, I then look at how the outer coil is centered between the regulating pins. Note, the angles are difficult to get just right in photos, so again much easier to see correctly in person. Again here you see this one is not good, as the spring is nearly touching the left pin:

    [​IMG]

    So I again use the ETACHRON tool to adjust the stud to make the coil centered between the two pins:

    [​IMG]

    But when I do this, the concentricity of the spring goes out again, so I correct that by manipulating the outer coil of the balance spring with my #5 tweezers, either pushing or pulling on that coil to open or close the coils on one side. It can become a bit of a cat and mouse game, and you need to go back and forth between the looking at the coils from the top and looking at the coil in the regulating pins - when the coils are concentric and the coil is dead center between the two pins, that part is done.

    The last step is closing the regulating pins back up with the ETACHRON tool. This was next to impossible to photograph, so I'll simply explain that as you rotate the regulating pins with the tool, the space on either side of the coil grows smaller and smaller. Again using a 10X loupe and now with the balance wheel oscillating (you can simply flick the movement holder and it starts to oscillate back and forth) you slowly close the pins until there is a very small gap on each side of the coil as it moves back and forth. A rule of thumb is that you want the total gap on both sides to equal about the thickness of the coil of the spring, so this is a small gap.

    I then carry on with the service, and once the movement is running, I put it on the timing machine and check it in 6 positions. I then use the data I get from that test to decide if anything needs to be tweaked. The most common adjustment I make at this point is how tight those regulating pins are to the coil in the last step above. Certain patterns in the positional checks can indicate that the pins need to be closer together, or perhaps further apart to make the spread between the fastest and slowest position as small as possible.

    So this is the very basics involved in adjusting a watch movement. The procedure above will influence the watch's performance in many ways, and hopefully is enough to dial in the Delta so that it's easy to regulate the watch to a stable rate over normal wearing conditions. I follow this procedure (or something similar depending on the design of the movement) on every movement I service.

    In some other cases there are further adjustments that can be made through procedures like static and dynamic poising, but they are a bit difficult and lengthy to explain, so I'll leave it as this for now.

    I hope this gives you some insight into what adjusting is all about, at least on a basic level.

    Thanks for looking.

    Cheers, Al
  2. Cmaster03

    Cmaster03

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    Wonderful, I mean WONDERFUL explanation, Al. Don't think I've ever seen it explained any better anywhere.
  3. Baco Noir

    Baco Noir

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    While you explained it very well, I had to read it several times and study the photos to really follow what you were saying. My eyes are not trained to "see" the small differences you were explaining in the coil spring spacing or how it aligns between the pins. After looking at the photos several times and rereading your explanation, I was finally able to see it. The attention to detail required to service watches correctly is quite amazing. Thanks for taking the time to put together this tutorial. It was very enlightening. :thumbsup:
  4. SPACE-DWELLER

    SPACE-DWELLER

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    Fantastic info, Al! :worship:

    Thanks for sharing! :goodpost:
  5. Marrk

    Marrk

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    Great post! A very interesting little tutorial! :thumbsup:
  6. Archer

    Archer

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    Glad you enjoyed the post. And yes Roger, there is a process of training your eyes to be able to judge certain things as you advance through the learning curve in becoming a watchmaker. There are things you look for without even being aware of it, like a shiny spot on a part, a surface that doesn't look even as these things indicate wear or damage - the eyes are always working even when you are just disassembling something and not really studying it in detail.

    I will say it's easier to see these things in real life than in pictures, but for example the difference in spcaing in the coils in the photo above is what I would consider a lot. It doesn't take much in the way of variation to end up with a watch that doesn't time well in positions.

    Cheers, Al
  7. Pete17

    Pete17

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    I love reading these threads.
    Very informative!

    Thanks Al.

    Sent from my Droid
  8. aquajoe

    aquajoe

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    So basically I should be able to handle all of that with a pair of needlenose pliers and a screwdriver???

    :dummy::justkidding::dummy::thinking:
  9. SPACE-DWELLER

    SPACE-DWELLER

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    You certainly make it sound easy! :dummy: :rofl:


    Sent from my iPhone 4S using Tapatalk
  10. emso

    emso

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    excelent post archer

    i was hoping to exchange the whole balance staff of a 7750. can you make a tutorial what is the way you do it?
    i like the pictures you use for your explaining(like the one up) so anything like that would be great.

    thank you

    emso
  11. Archer

    Archer

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    Hey mate - I know you have seen this thread before, and I would not do anything any different on a 7750 balance staff.

    http://www.timekeeperforum.com/showthread.php?16362-Changing-a-balance-staff

    Cheers, Al
  12. emso

    emso

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    yeah al its a great post but do you use any special tools to remove the balance from the regulators as i'm afraid that i might damage it due to etachron system?

    any hints on that?

    by the way excellent post.

    br
    emso

    p.s thanks for the fast answer and have a nice day :)
  13. Archer

    Archer

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    Ah - okay then. Are you familiar with the two Etachron tools? You will need both for this. I just shot some photos for you.

    Here is the business end of each tool - the one on the right is for adjusting (rotating) the stud and regulating pins, and the one of the left is for removing the stud.

    [​IMG]

    I'll use this 6497 that just came out of the cleaning machine for an example. You want the balance cock mounted on the main plate for this. The first thing to do is use the adjusting tool to open the regulating pins, so the regulator top will be parallel to the arm as shown here:

    [​IMG]

    Next get the stud removal tool, and place one side of it behind the stud in the gaps in the arm, and the other side up against the balance cock. Then you turn the tool clockwise as shown, the the stud will pop out of the arms.

    [​IMG]

    I won't show this, but then you use something to open the very end of the two regulating pins - only spread them enough to get the thickness of the balance spring between them. I use an old oiler that has a flat surface, so I put the oiler between the pins and turn it, and it opens the pins slightly.

    Then the remove the balance cock and the balance will be left behind. You can change up the order of things a bit, and you may want to remove the stud from the arm, then remove the entire balance cock with the balance, flip it over, and then remove the balance spring from the regulating pins on your bench top. Either works - it's what you are comfortable with, but if you do it this way you have to control the balance as you remove the balance cock so the spring does not get distorted.

    Then go ahead and replace your balance staff. And when you are ready to install the balance, put in on the main plate, then install the balance cock, and make sure the spring is between the regulating pins. Then move the stud so it is lined up with the arm, and I use a brass rod that has been turned on the end to a point (not a sharp point, but one that has a 3 mm or so flat spot on the end) and I use that to push the stud back into the arms. It takes a fair bit of force on a larger watch like the 6497, but not so much on smaller calibers like the 7750, or 2824, 2892's. It should snap in place, but make sure you push in a straight line - if it slips you will have problems.

    You can then use tweezers to close up the regulating pin at their tips - make sure they are parallel., And then perform the normal adjustments to the balance spring using the Etachron adjusting tool, and your tweezers if needed.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers, Al
    Alessandro likes this.
  14. emso

    emso

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    archer

    thank you for your great post this explains a lot to me .
    you have been very helpfull.

    thanks again
  15. k.lange

    k.lange

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    Wonderful post! :thumbsup: It's so fascinating to hear about all of the work that goes into ensuring that a movement functions properly.

    Al, I've read about the amazing work you do servicing and repairing watches and am very impressed with the Archer Watches you build. I was wondering if you are familiar with the TimeZone's online Watch School? I've been toying with the idea of taking their course. I'd appreciate any insight you can give me on the course and if there is a better way for someone with an interest in watches to learn a little bit of the trade.

    http://www.timezonewatchschool.com/WatchSchool/

    Thanks!
  16. Archer

    Archer

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    Thanks - glad you enjoyed the post. I am familiar with levels 1 and 2 of the TZ courses, and although not everything in these is taught with what I consider to be the proper way of doing things, they are a good start at learning if you are really cut out for this kind of work. It's basically something to tell you if you can really be patient in handling small parts, being able to see things well enough to work on them, etc.

    There is no substitute for having an instructor looking over your shoulder, checking your work, and giving you immediate feedback. Schools are out there for full time students, but I'm not sure that's what you want or need.

    If you look at the AWCI web site here:

    http://www.awci.com/education-certification/

    This page has links to the courses they offer, which are 5 days long each. I have taken many of them. You would want to start with the Basic watch repair course, but I'll warn you that you do need some experience before taking the course. It's not really geared towards people who have never touched a watch before.

    My understanding is that the NAWCC school is more geared towards collectors, where the AWCI school is more for people already in the profession. I've read recently that the NAWCC school is closing, but I think that is just the full time school, and not the part time classes, but I'm not sure of that.

    In any case, starting off with the TZ school is a good place. I recommend using an ETA 6497 or an Asian clone to do the first course. The parts are big and easy to work with.

    Cheers, Al
  17. k.lange

    k.lange

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    Thanks for the great info Al! I really appreciate your thoughts. Yes, I amm more interested in working with watches as a hobby. I guess kind of like model building. But who knows, maybe I'll really like it and it will turn into something more.
  18. matabog

    matabog

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    Hello out there and great presentation!
    Nobody replied to this topic in about two years.
    I have a question though:
    Why don't you close the regulating pins all the way? Why must there be a space on each side of the hairspring?
    Thank you!
    Bogdan
  19. Alessandro

    Alessandro

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    Hi Archer, great post, thanks!
    I have few questions for you :)
    I'm a noob at watch "tinkering" but I'm trying to learn the best I can (currently I've fixed an ETA 988.333, a couple of broken stems, disassembled/cleaned/oiled/reassembled/regulated a few 2824/2836 and a couple of 7750, actually all Asian Seagull copy - a note to the readers: ETA brevets are long time gone for these movements, so there's no counterfeiting involved in their construction from other companies like Seagull, but also Swiss Sellita etc). This part of adjustment was unknown to me so glad a friend of another forum pointed me to your article (even if, I have to say, I'm getting some hard time to understand some of the pictures there).

    Now the questions:
    1) do you know if the Bergeon ETAchron tools fits also the asian copy of the ETA and if they work the same way as ETA ones?
    2) is there only Bergeon to produce these (kind of overpriced) tools? Is there a cheaper option? (this is valid also for tools like the estrapade - main spring winders)
    3) on asian versions of 7750s sometimes there aren't ETA chron systems or sometimes only on the hairspring stud but by now never seen on the regulator. How to deal with them?

    Thanks really a lot,
    Alessandro - Milan
  20. yasminsdad

    yasminsdad

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    Brilliantly elegant explanation of the difference between regulation and adjustment, amazed I have not seen that before.