TAG Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 5

This Aquaracer came in recently described as “not working as it got wet, it looks clean inside though”. At first glance it looks in remarkably good shape considering it got waterlogged.

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Even the movement didn’t look too bad through the display caseback, however the first warning of problems were that the hands were seized solid, the rotor didn’t turn and when I pulled the crown to try and put it into the time setting position it came completely out!

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With the caseback removed things started to go downhill fast, you can see there are a lot of particles on the movement. This is powered by a decorated Silleta 200.1, a very capable ETA 2824 clone.

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With the movement spacer removed it gets worse, the dreaded rust is now making it’s presence known!

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With the autowind bridge removed it was obvious the crown wheel was badly rusted.

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When the movement was uncased the lume from the 3 o’clock lume well had decided to drop out.

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I could also see a little staining on the date ring, lets hope it doesn’t get any worse than that. You can also see the orientation the watch was left in as it dried out as there is a rust stain on the dials periphery from 10 o’clock around to 1.30.

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The dial did not want to be removed, it took some considerable pushing on the feet to get them to start moving. If I’d tried levering the dial up the feet would have parted company with the dial for sure. The reverse of the dial wasn’t looking good, where had all that rust come from?

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Never mind wherever it originated from it had ruined the date ring. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be a problem as a new date ring could be bought, but the date at 9 o’clock configuration of this watch means the ring is a unique Tag part.

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Every where I looked corrosion was present, even under the autowind bridge.

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The keyless work looked awful, in fact most of the components were scrap.

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This is what was left of the winding pinion and clutch, the pinion was so corroded one of the teeth had rotted away.

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Which left the mainplate in a sorry state.

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The motion work side wasn’t much better but at least the wheels and pinions were unaffected by corrosion.

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The crown wheel and click spring were toast.

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But as I mentioned the wheels and pinions were still good.

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Nearly there….

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…and finally all apart. I was amazed I managed to get all the screws undone, had any been rusted into the plate it would have caused even bigger headaches.

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There was considerable time spent cleaning up the plates and components that were to be kept before it all went in the Vari-Matic.

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With the parts in the cleaner I turned my attention to the dial. I started by cleaning the back….

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….then turning over and putting a tiny dab of glue in the 3 o’clock lume well….

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….before securing the lume back in. Luckily it was still in one piece!

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Next was the date ring, these are very difficult to clean as they’re so fragile. The numerals are transfer printed onto the white background and it doesn’t take much to dislodge them. I placed the ring in a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar and left it to try and dissolve the rust stains. I rinsed it after a couple of hours and was quite pleased with how it turned out, a few of the numerals have faded a little but as a new Tag one isn’t available to me it’s a big win!

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Once the parts were cleaned and inspected the rebuild began.

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The mainplate took a while but cleaned up nicely in the end.

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The train coming together.

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The bridges in place.

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And this was as far as I could go as I was still waiting for the new parts to arrive.

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The watch was put away until the parts arrived.

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A couple of days later they were here, the list was a new crown wheel, setting lever, return bar, clutch wheel, winding pinion, click spring and stem.

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The new crown wheel and click spring in place.

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And the autowind bridge rebuilt and fitted.

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With the movement turned over I could start on the keyless work. You can see the damage to the setting lever here….

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…and the stem. It’s no wonder the crown pulled straight out!

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The keyless work coming together.

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The date ring back on ready for the dial and hands.

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The dial and handset refitted.

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However, the movement had one final twist in store. I recased it and went to fit the rotor, as I tightened it the post sheared off the plate! I think the fact the rotor was siezed must have put undue strain on the post and weakened it, the saving grace was it wasn’t tight when it sheared which allowed me to remove the screw and post from the rotor without too much trouble. Once again everything went on hold whilst a new plate was ordered.

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The new plate duly arrived, no perlage decoration on this one unfortunately but better than no plate at all.

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The rotor was fitted and it was then ready for the caseback….

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….which needed a good cleaning before fitting!

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The next job was a leak test to check it wasn’t going to get wet again.

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And here’s the final product, if you hadn’t read this you’d never know it had been flooded and left to rot!

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