Service: Pontiac Dress Watch with ETA 1260 Movement

 In Watchmaking

Another Pontiac on the bench. A lovely 1950s gold-plated dress watch with a two-tone or bullseye dial.

It has an ETA 1260 movement that I encountered in a Pontiac before. In a gold-plated Pontiac Nageur to be exact. Most ETA 1260 movements have 17 jewels but this is an earlier version with 15 jewels.

The watch didn’t run at all (not that strange if you see which parts I had to replace). It’s worth the repairs though because apart from the chipped bezel, it’s in great condition.


Remove all power from the mainspring before you start working on a movement to prevent damage to the wheel train. Some say you can also remove the power from the wheel train after you’ve removed the balance but I like to do it first. It’s just the sequence that I’m used to and I believe it’s safer that way.

Move the click away from the ratchet wheel while slowly letting the crown slip between your thumb and index finger. Never let the mainspring unwind with a snap because that can easily damage it. If you feel like the crown starts to slip, just let go of the click so it’ll block the ratchet wheel again.

Remove the balance and the pallet fork with the pallet cock and store them somewhere safe. I store all parts in a tray with a cover, even when they’ve not been cleaned yet.

The horn of the pallet fork was badly bent so it needed to be replaced. I pulled the pallet fork from the donor movement but that one had a pallet stone missing.

I ordered a new one but it didn’t fit…aaargh. Luckily, I was able to find another donor movement in the spares box. It had a pallet fork in good condition, so I used that one.

Pontiac dress watch with ETA 1260 movement
The balance and the pallet fork removed. You can see hardened and dirty grease around the crown wheel screw

Remove the ratchet wheel and the crown wheel (reverse-fretted screw). Remove the click and the click spring and lift the barrel bridge.

Pontiac dress watch with ETA 1260 movement
The ratchet wheel, crown wheel, barrel bridge, and barrel removed. Please note the hair on the center wheel and the grease around the barrel arbor hole

I inspected the mainspring and you can see the eye is bent. This causes the arbor to slip so it needed to be replaced.

Pontiac dress watch with ETA 1260 movement
You can clearly see that the eye of the mainspring is bent. It’s supposed to have the same round shape as the arbor hole

Move on to the wheel-train bridge and the train. The center wheel looked like it was chewed by a dog and it missed a tooth. I was able to pull a center wheel in good condition from the donor movement.

Pontiac dress watch with ETA 1260 movement
You can clearly see that the center wheel is missing a tooth

Lift the wheel-train bridge and remove the escape wheel, the fourth wheel, the third wheel, and the center wheel.

The escape wheel had a bent top pivot. Unfortunately, the escape wheel in the donor movement was quite rusty so I had to order a new one.

Pontiac dress watch with ETA 1260
The wheel-train bridge and the wheel train removed, leaving the top plate empty

Flip the movement around and start with the bottom plate.
Remove the motion works and the keyless works.

Pontiac dress watch with ETA 1260 movement
The motion works and keyless works removed, leaving the bottom plate empty

Pre-clean the pivot holes and bearing jewels with a peg wood. This makes sure that the hardened grease and other lubrication is removed as much as possible or loosened so it can be cleaned more efficiently.

It also lengthens the period of time you can use the cleaning fluids because you remove as much dirt and grease as possible before you use the watch cleaning machine.

Clean all the parts in the watch cleaning machine. Six minutes per bath and also for the heating/drying chamber.


Fit the barrel, the escape wheel, the fourth wheel, the third wheel, and the center wheel.

Pontiac dress watch with ETA 1260 movement
The barrel and the wheel train fitted in place

Install the wheel train bridge.

Pontiac dress watch with ETA 1260 movement
The wheel-train bridge installed

Install the barrel bridge and fit the click spring and the click. Fit the crown wheel with the crown wheel ring, and the ratchet wheel.

Pontiac dress watch with ETA 1260 movement
The barrel bridge, click spring with the click, crown wheel with the ring, and the ratchet wheel fitted in place

Turn the movement around and fit the motion works and the keyless works.

Pontiac dress watch with ETA 1260 movement
The motion works (apart from the hour wheel and the dial washer) and the keyless works installed

Flip the movement to the top plate and reinstall the pallets. Wind the watch a couple of times to check the train.  If the pallet fork snaps to the other position with the lightest touch, it means that power is cleanly transferred from the mainspring to the escapement.

The movement should come alive the moment you install the balance.

Clean and lubricate the shock protection system. Use a peg wood to pre-clean the capstone before you clean it with One Dip or something similar. Lubricate the capstones and reassemble the shock protection system on both sides of the movement.

Place the hour wheel and washer in position, fit the dial and continue with casing the movement.

Pontiac dress watch with ETA 1260 movement

What do you think of this Pontiac? Have you worked on an ETA 1260 as well? Let me know in the comments below.

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Showing 6 comments
  • James Simmons

    Hi, i just purchased a 1953 UNO Solid gold dress watch witch has the ETA1260 movement, also has the trade mark UNO stamped on the train bridge, haven’t seen that before, but I’m so lucky to find this post as i was thinking of sending it out for service. Last serviced in 1990 and it shows, dirt and a tiny bit of corrosion but the beat is incredible on this robust little 15 jewel beauty.

    • Melvin Hollenberg

      Very nice! I haven’t seen a train bridge marked UNO either. Wear it in good health.

  • tom evans

    These step by step repair articles have been super helpful to me, I have a benrus DN 411 21 jewel mwmovement I am about to atempt a teardown and cleaning on. From what I can tell it is basically an eta 1280 I think but let me know if hethere is another eta movemen that better resembles it.
    The other thing is I am having a very hard time finding an old benrus case to put it in, can I just use any 10.5 ligne case once I get it cleaned will I have to get a new stem for that specific case? So many questions

    • Melvin Hollenberg

      Hi Tom, I’m glad you find it useful. You could be right because Benrus rebranded many ETA and AS movements. Nope, you can’t use any case for an 11.5 Ligne movement because the height is also a factor. The stem belongs to the movement. So, if it’s long enough for the new case, you can use the old one. Otherwise, you’ll have to buy a new one. You can email me directly at

  • rudolf

    Hey, I got the same Pontiac in service.. my question is how is the click spring placet?? can u contact me svp.

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