Making the Hampden Diadem

This Hampden is a 6 size ladies watch. The movement marked "Diadem" is a fully jeweled version of the more common 7 jewel "Molly Star" model. Here's how this watch is put together...

The hunter-style case on this watch has been freshly restored by a skilled goldsmith; George Meier at Clark's Diamond Jewelry. There are few around that can do this work so expertly anymore.

The watch is lever set, definately an interesting piece. The dial is in fine condition, however some new hands were needed. The hands shown in this photo are the replacements (these photos are shown in reverse order, which means you don't get to see how dirty the parts were prior to cleaning, during the actual disassembly).

Finding and fitting hands can sometimes be a challenge...

Now to the movement itself.

Now here's a problem. On the fork, one pallet jewel is badly chipped and the other is missing altogether. The pallet jewels are the box-shaped jewels fixed to the ends of the pallet fork. They engage the boot-shaped teeth of the escape wheel, first one then the other, as the fork is knocked one way and the other by the movement of the balance wheel. The angles of the faces of these jewels are critical to the escapement.

A new pair is required.

Setting aside this problem for now...

Here the bottom plate has been turned over and the setting parts have been removed from the dial side of the plate.

Here's a view of the bare bottom plate, the bridges and the train wheels.

Now to replace the pallet stones... This requires the use of a pallet warmer to heat the part over an alcohol flame. The heat softens the shellac that holds the stones in place. This shellac comes in a stick form, and in a lump form. Either way, the amount required is extremely small.

The pallet warmer holds the fork down on its broad "fins" which are then heated over the open flame of the lamp. The warmer is split down the center so that one stone can be heated and adjusted without the other being heated and coming lose.

For replacements, an exact match is vital. I will remove two good stones from the pallet fork from a lower grade Molly Star watch. The pivot saze on the fork is different, but the stones are the same as the ones I need to replace. These stones are different from each other though, there is a left and a right. And they must be placed facing the correct direction for the escapement to function.

This picture also shows the two styles of shellac.

A successful transplant requires reheating and testing the fit of the stones to the escapement (and escape wheel) several times. The stones are adjusted in and out (depth into the escapement) until just right.

Once completed, and a new mainspring installed as well, this watch is ready to go, running strong and keeping good time.

* Back to the Elgin Virtual Museum
* More About Elgin Watches
The Elgin National Watch Company and other information
* Elgin watches restored, cleaned and serviced
Regarding the care and cleaning of pocketwatches
* Elgin watch mini-FAQ
Frequently asked questions

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