I run across old mechanical pocket watches from time to time and quite often they look like they should run, but just don’t want to work. Many times, the pocket watch has simply been over-wound and the internal gears and jewels are gummed up and dirty.
A friend of mine uses WD-40 to clean and free up the pocket watch movement but I’ve seen what damage that can do and it seems like a quick-fix with long term consequences… I wanted a better method for fixing and cleaning these old pocket watches.
Finally, I’ve found a cheap and easy solution that so far has amazing results. What’s more, I realized that by using a small brush, you can gently coax the balance wheel into motion without much risk of harming the pocket watch movement, springs, gears, etc.
This video shows how I successfully restore an over-wound pocket watch to working and running condition using nothing more than a small brush, a q-tip, and some light lubricating oil (gun oil in this case).
As I type, the pocket watch in the video is sitting next to me, working and running as strong as ever… over 11 hours after recording this video and I haven’t touched it since the video was made.
This is the second “broken” and dirty pocket watch that I’ve fixed using this method and I plan on using it to fix and restore several more. It’s a beautiful thing to see an old watch work again and I’ve extremely satisfied with the results thus far.
I hope this info helps others clean and fix their non-running pocket watch when the only problems are that it’s been over-wound and collecting dirt for decades.