As is often the case with me, a somewhat impulsive eBay bid with no real agenda starts a ball rolling and before you know it I find myself floundering around in unfamiliar territory and in this particular case on the edge of what I am comfortable with on the expenditure front. Back in May last year this scruffy looking Omega Geneve dress watch found its way into my possession for something south of the going rate.
A week or so later I screwed up enough courage to place an order with Cousins for a new 166.0324 case, justified by my temporary abandonment of efforts to find a Seiko 62mas. As it turned out, Cousins had no stock, with no delivery date in sight and so I sort of forgot all about it, Geneve relegated to my parts drawer. However, my order with Cousins was still active and somewhat unexpectedly they came through mid July, with a subsequent order then placed for a new dial, hands, case clamps and 563 stem. We start then with most of the ingredients, Seamaster case off stage left somewhere:
One slight area of dissatisfaction with the parts was the colour mismatch between the lume in the hands, which has a vintaged yellowish tone and that on the dial, crisp, off-white. I had even entertained thoughts of getting the hands relumed to match but then, on a weekend walk around York, I was rather taken by this old Lator chronograph in the window of Harpers
The aesthetic of the mis-matched lume works somehow and so I abandoned any further thoughts of reluming the hands. Back to my little project. The first step is of course to remove the movement and familiarise myself with its architecture. The Geneve dial is rather nice!
Now this is not necessarily a problem if you don’t mind a big gap off to the right hand side of the date window but I could not live with this so all I have to do is order a new date ring from Cousins, right? Wrong. They have date rings, but all convex. As do Ofrei. As do Jules Borel. None of them have stock of the flat style date rings. So, progress stalled. Then I happened upon an auction from an Aussie seller who had a white on black date wheel for sale for an eye-watering $79 plus $14 shipping. Crazy, I know, but I had too much invested already and no other choice. The date ring turned up after a week and I could then continue. Here’s the movement with the calendar plate and old date ring removed;
But then another infuriating problem. When I popped the movement into the new case, it stopped running. Out of the case, it restarts. Back in, it stops again. The problem is obvious. The seconds hand came from Cousins with an upwards curve and although I had made some attempt to correct this prior to fitting, it was still evidently fowling on the interior of the domed acrylic crystal. So the hands had to come off again, followed by a proper straightening of the seconds hand. Back on and we can proceed with the operation, evidently now on the home stretch. The only remaining job to trim the new stem and fit it to the crown. I always tend to bugger this up first time and true to form, I did this time too, taking too much off. So I had to order two more stems and wait a couple more days to continue. This time I played it safer, taking only a little off at a time, reaching a point where I thought I had it right. Here’s the nearly complete watch at this point:
But I was having real trouble getting the stem to seat properly and even when I managed to get it to lock in place, it would not hand wind, nor click obviously into the setting position in any kind of consistent fashion. I wore it for a day and then took the stem out again, shortened it by a little less than another millimetre and suddenly it was playing ball, helped by the fact that I also greased the o-ring in the crown, having omitted to do this earlier.
In spite of the fact that all of the exterior case parts are brand spanking new, the watch retains every bit of its vintage style, minus of course the authenticity associated with 50-odd years’ worth of patina. This is no better illustrated than with a view from the side, taking in the profile of the domed acrylic set against the narrow castellations of the bezel.
I have to say, I am really pleased with this one. It gave me a few scares, but it really is lovely and is running beautifully (and continues to do so a year later, coincidentally on my wrist as I type).