On most mechanical watches...February 23 2010 at 8:53 PM
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Response to I am reading this thread with great interest...
whether manual wind or automatic, you can remove the crown and winding stem by loosening (but NOT removing!) a small screw located near where the stem enters the movement. Some movements require you to press in on a button or bar shaped structure to release the stem. While that is being done, you simply pull the stem out. After servicing the watch, place the movement back in its case and then, after lining it up properly, you can then GENTLY push the stem back into it.
At that point you will retighten the release screw or do nothing if it was the type with the push button or bar release. Then snap or screw the back cover into the watch case and you're done.
Unfortunately, it IS necessary to remove the hands when servicing a watch since you must also remove the dial to access various parts of the movement under the dial and, after cleaning, lubricate the various wheel bearings on the front or base plate of the movement.
You also do NOT want to get any of your cleaning fluid on the hands of the watch IF they have luminous paint on them. Some of the newer photoluminescent paints they use on hands nowadays are water soluable and if you wash these hands with anything containing water, then the paint could dissolve right off of them! Generally, you want to keep luminous hands as clean and dry as possible. (The exception to this, of course, would be if you are purposely trying to remove the radium containing paint from a pre-60's vintage watch in an effort to make it safe for daily wear. However, doing that is a somewhat complicated proceedure IF you want to do it as safely as possible.)
Anyway, the only way to learn how to service timepieces is by actually trying to do so. Expect your first few attempts to be a "learning experience" with a high risk of making things worse. Practice with some discarded or expendable watch to get the hang of things. Most likely, by your second or third attempt you will find that "non-runner" you were ready to discard suddenly coming to life and running flawlessly while keeping good time. After that you will be hooked and ready to service most watches coming your way. You may even advance to the point where you can begin to make minor repairs on movements such as replacing broken mainsprings and balance wheels. Of course, you can always solve these problems by simply switching a bad movement for a good one, but there is a kind of extra satisfaction that comes from knowing you were able to actually "save" as much of a watch's original movement as possible by doing a repair on it.