I’ve written a little about the Seamasters history in previous posts and here’s another one for your delight! This “De Ville” example from about 1964 has a stainless steel “Unicase” case with gold capped lugs and a gold bezel and crown. It has a lovely linen type dial with applied gold indicies and gold baton hands.
What makes this a little different from the ones I’ve featured previously is it’s a front loading case, meaning there’s no caseback to remove to access the movement, the crystal has to be removed and the movement withdrawn from the front. As can be seen this makes for an extremely clean look from the back, as usual it is emossed with Omegas hippocampus logo.
With the crystal removed you can see it has a split stem to aid removal and you can see the locking ring around the inner circumference of the case that has to be turned anticlockwise to release the movement.
With the movement removed you can see the inscriptions inside the case with the model information etc.
The calibre 552 movement itself is a beauty, it’s an automatic, 24 jewel, 19800bph, model with an indirect seconds drive and a lovely swan neck regulator.
With the rotor and autowind bridge removed you can see the movements train a little more clearly.
As usual the movement was fully stripped for cleaning and inspection.
Once cleaned and inspected the rebuild can commence.
Here’s a shot of the balance staff top jewel assembly after refitting, you can see the unusual spring holding the jewel cap down.
A view of the refitted barrel, centre wheel and winding mechanism
The third, fourth and escape wheels ready for the bridge to be fitted.
The motion work side is completed in this shot, just the rotor to refit later.
A shot of the keyless work and hour and minute wheels here.
The dial and handset refitted.
The rotor refitted ready for casing up.
And the movement is now back in the case. The owner of this watch is a man after my own heart, as there was no damage that needed addressing anywhere he wanted no cosmetic work doing to the watch. It had belonged to his grandfather and I’ll let him tell you a little about the man in the paragraph below.
I can tell you it was left to me by my grandfather when he passed about 20 years ago. He was a chief welder working in Iran/Terran on the new oil pipelines during the 60’s and 70’s and, from what I’ve been told, was paid pretty well for his efforts. The thing is he spent it as quick as he made it and liked to treat himself and others including me (he bought me a Raymond Weil when I was 3). It’s pretty battered but all the scars are because it’s what he wore day in/day out whether he was on the lash, sparking a weld or on the run from gun toting rebels. He was there when the Shah was overthrown and with 2 friends, the clothes on his back and that watch on his wrist they crossed the dessert in a stolen jeep to get out.
The stories these watches come with make my life at the bench feel very mundane! Apart from cleaning, and a polish of the crystal so you can actually see the dial clearly, it’s still exactly the same watch as his grandfather would remember.