I received this Helvetia watch in a batch from the united kingdom. It didn’t run too badly however it did have an amplitude on the lower end and it was nearly one minute slow. Also, the movement itself was filthy, a few of very little hairs and dust particles. Finally, it seemed like it’s been previously over oiled. Little puddles of oil are on the base plate and underneath the barrel bridge.

The movement is the in-house Helvetia 64. A hand winder with 17 jewels. It’s a 13’5 ligne movement so it’s rather big for a vintage watch. I date this Helvetia watch to the 50s.

Helvetia watch

Helvetia 64 movement

Disassembly

As always, I remove the power from the mainspring first. this way the escapement can’t be broken when I work on the train wheel. I move the click away from the ratchet wheel while letting the crown slip between my thumb and index finger.

After the power is released, I take away the balance and also the pallets. The pallet cock was terribly greasy and the bearing jewel had some particles in it. when I removed the pallets, the train wheel moved a little bit. There must have been some residual power in it and the grease and dirt provided enough resistance to cancel it. Imagine what that does to the amplitude and thus the rate of your watch.

Then I flip the movement to remove the cannon pinion. without the cannon pinion removed, the center wheel can’t be lifted.

Helvetia watch

Balance and pallets removed

I remove the ratchet wheel and also the crown wheel with its shim. After that, I’m able to lift the barrel bridge. It’s obvious that this Helvetia watch has been over oiled in the past.

Helvetia watch

Ratchet wheel, crown wheel, and barrel bridge removed. The redundant oil is visible on the baseplate on the other side of the keyless works

I remove the train wheel bridge (as you can see, the escape wheel bearing jewel has a Kif Duofix capstone setting). Then, I lift the wheels and at last the main barrel.

I flip the movement to the dial side and begin with the set lever spring. After that, I take away the minute wheel, yoke with its spring, the setting wheel, and the set lever. I’d already removed the hour wheel and the cannon pinion. Everything is cleaned within the watch cleaning machine.

Helvetia watch

Movement completely empty

Assembly

After the cleaning process, I start with the main barrel, train wheel, and the train wheel bridge. When fitting the train wheel bridge, it’s very important to do so carefully. Gently hold some pressure on the bridge with a peg wood while guiding the wheels into their correct positions. This guiding can be done with brass tweezers or an old oiler. You can also try to ping the movement holder with your fingernail and hope that these vibrations cause the wheels to fall into place.

Helvetia watch

Main barrel, train wheel, and train wheel bridge installed

I install the barrel bridge, ratchet wheel, and the crown wheel. Don’t forget to slightly lubricate the inner ring of the transmission wheel before you fit the transmission wheel boss. As you may notice, the barrel bridge is a bit tarnished and appears to have a different color than the rest of the movement. This could be the result of an aggressive cleaning solution that has been used before. Or it could be that this part had to be replaced in the past and this part came from a “donor movement”. I don’t think this is the case here because the balance cock is slightly damaged as well, on the side of the barrel bridge.

Helvetia watch

Barrel bridge, ratchet wheel, and crown wheel installed

Flip the movement to start work on the dial side. I fit the crown wheel, castle wheel, the yoke and its spring. Then I fit the set lever, setting wheel and the minute wheel. The keyless works are covered with the cover plate with the check spring (combined known as the set lever spring).

Helvetia watch

Dial side completed

Flip the movement again to fit the pallets and the pallet cock. Before I fit the pallets, I lubricate the exit stone with Moebius 9415. After the pallets are installed, I fit the balance again.

Helvetia watch

Balance installed and ticking happily

I then remove the Incabloc (jewel holes and endstones) to clean and lubricate. I use One Dip to clean them and afterward I lubricate then with a tiny drop of Moebius 9010 in the middle.

This Helvetia watch is fit for another decade again!

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Founder & editor of WahaWatches. I’ve been collecting watches for years. My favorite part is to pull them to bits.

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