Bulova 1956 -Non-Conforming

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I found this watch at an antique store for $20.00. Gold case, with remnents of what seems like the original gold band still affixed.  Based on what I saw looking through the ad's I think it may be a 1957 Commodore. It is also the first "two-piece" stem I have tackled.  It is a front loader and removing the front pieces was easy but getting the stem out was tricky.  I tried all the techniques I've read here including turning it upside down but what eventually worked was using an old presto hands remover and giving it a good yank. At first I thought I broke it but as I inspected it closer it came apart as designed.  The good - I think the case, dial and hands will clean up well.  The balance was also lively and appears to be in good condition.  The bad - I read somewhere that this particulary movement employs some sort of "Indirect Sweep 2nd hand gear on a long pinion which is held in place by the spring strap in the center of the movement?  As a novice, I'm a little nervous about it but we shall see.  The ugly - It was apparent why the stem was so difficult to deal with. The male part attached to the crown is terribly rusted.  I don't know if it can be salvaged or if I need to find an entirely new stem.  If so, any ideas where to find one?  I appreciate your opinions and analysis and also the time you guys put into helping an old novice like me identify these old bulova's. :-)

Not For Sale
[11ACC_1956] Movement
1956 Front
Watch-N-Learn's picture
Posted April 5, 2018 - 1:25pm

Watch-N-Learn's picture
Posted April 5, 2018 - 1:27pm

Watch-N-Learn's picture
Posted April 5, 2018 - 1:36pm


Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Posted April 5, 2018 - 1:56pm

Panel Member

You will need the special puller to remove the sweep drive wheel. Don't even think about pulling it or lifting it any other way. If the long pivot gets bent even a little, the watch will not run correctly. The same goes for re-installing it after the movt is cleaned, you need to use a hand pusher with the delrin tips. You can find cheap ones from Horotec, they have three in a row on a little stand. 

The sweep pinion is under the metal strip spring. The tension of htis spring is critical, too much and the watch loses amplitude, too little, and the sweep second will stutter or be too loose.

You can find L&R cleaners at NAWCC marts or online, the old ones don't cost that much and are worth their weight in gold as they last forever. I mention this in case you don't have such a machine, for anyone that is thinking of doing this, it is the most basic way to clean a watch properly. 

Someone on here may have the stem in question, there are several movts that use the same stem. 

Take pics as you disassemble, and always use finger cots to reassemble the cleaned movt. 

Lubricants will be HP 1300 or D5, Moebius 9010 for the e wheel pivots and balance pivots, and 9015 for the pallet stones. The mainspring uses 8200. Charts for lubrication can be found in the Bulova school of watchmaking manuals. 

Just generic tips, most importantly just go slow and step back if you need a break. 

Watch-N-Learn's picture
Posted April 5, 2018 - 2:31pm

Thank's Reverend Bob that is great info!!.  I have the Horotec hand pushers but what is the special puller? Will the presto hand puller work?  For cleaning I'm still old schooling it with lighter fluid, brush, rinse with lighter fluid and then with  Alcohol then drying covered after some puffs of air LOL..

Posted April 6, 2018 - 5:21am

Panel Member

I'm afraid Commodore will not be, lugs are totally different

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Posted April 6, 2018 - 10:56am

Panel Member

You don't want to use alcohol on a watch movt for any reason. It will melt the shellac holding the pallet stones and impulse pin, and has a nasty habit of encouraging rust due to its water content (even the 99% will do this) so keep the alcohol for rinsing brass clock plates.

The wheel puller is made by the same company, but has special jaws to finesse the wheel off the pivot.

There is another trick to this, I will explain it briefly, but the puller is the go-to method.

After removing the centre sweep pinion, the driving wheel is free to be removed. With the pallet fork installed, you place a tiny amount of 9010 oil on the centre, where the end of the pivot is seen, in the divot of the driving wheel. Let this soak in a bit, and then with brass tweezers or pegwood you can rotate the wheel counterclockwise which has the effect of 'unscrewing' the wheel. You will feel the resistance get less and less until the wheel is freewheeling and finally free. Don't use steel tweezers on the wheel.

Re-installing is accomplished by pushing on with the press.

Also do not use manual hand pushers, there is a risk of not pushing straight down. The small three pusher press is cheap and will keep the wheel and pivot upright and straight.

I can't recommend the L&R fluids enough, they are Industry standard and are available from Borel, Cas-Ker, Star Time, Otto Frei, etc. What you are after is L&R Extra Fine watch cleaning solution and L&R #3 Watch Rinsing solution. 

One of the things I blog about is that there are no real shortcuts in watchmaking. You don't have to spend tens of thousands on tools, but there are certain things you can't, or shouldn't do without. A lot of the procedures are very specialized, and they require specialized tools and materials. 

Watch-N-Learn's picture
Posted April 6, 2018 - 12:51pm

Wow.. thank you so much for info Rob! I will try the oil trick as I do have some 9010, brass tweezers and pegwood. I priced those pullers at Otto Frei and Esslingers and they are about 52 dollars. I am hoping not to spend that on a one-off tool as I'm still building my bench.  I use one-dip for the balance and jewels but I will lay off the alcohol lol.. I'm about to purchase an antique staking set I saw at the shop I got this watch.  I'm so glad you provided the alternative method for getting that bugger out.  I really like this watch but at the price it seems like a good one to play with as I develop my skills. Also my appologies for calling you Bob.. I know how that can be because my name is Richard but I go by Rick and I cringe when someone calls me Rich..haha

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Posted April 7, 2018 - 10:16am

Panel Member

No worries.

Watch-N-Learn's picture
Posted April 6, 2018 - 11:01am

The easy part is done.  Next the Dial then tackle the movement.  Thanks Jabs, I'll keep looking.  It also has characteristics of another model but all were listed with a Red second hand and the dial didn't match up exactly.