If you ever visit watch repair forums, everybody’s talking about Epilame and why you should use

It. I’m going to give you six reasons why you might not want to use it. If you still want to use it, I’m going to show you how I apply it and even a way to save you money.

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What is Epilame or Fix-A-Drop?

Epilame is a surface treatment coating used in watchmaking to repel lubrication from certain parts of a watch. It is designed to keep the lubrication where you want it for a longer period of time. This will extend the the length between service work on your watch.

Advantages of Using Epilame or Fixodrop

Epilame
Epilame

One of the advantages of using Epilame is that it should extend the service life by keeping the lubrication where it needs to be for a longer period of time.

So that brings up the question, why wouldn’t you want to use it?

When You should not use Epilame

1. If your Cleaning Routine is not Good

If you haven’t perfected your parts cleaning system so that everything is clean and free of all residue, applying Epilame to parts could be detrimental.

What you don’t want is for the Epilame coating making the dirt and grit stick to the parts or sealing a residue or leftover grease and oil under the Epilame.

If you need help with with your routine or process, Check out our video on getting started with parts cleaning.

So the first thing you want to make sure of is that your cleaning game is on point.

2. If Your Lubrication is not Precise enough

If your lubrication methods are not as good as they should be, you should not be using Epilame. Some people believe that by using it, if they over lubricate, it will keep the lubrication confined in a certain area. Over lubrication is over lubrication.

Pallet Stone Lubrication
Pallet Stone Lubrication

So Epilame or Fix-A-Drop is not going to fix that problem.

If you’re applying too much lubrication to the pallet stones, Epilame is not going to help.

If you’re over lubricating your end stones or any other jewels in the movement, having Epilame on the pallet stones and escape wheel is not going to improve all those other things.

So, before you start using Epilame, you want to make sure that your lubrication is also on point.

Understand How to Adjust and Regulate First

If you can’t adjust the escapement and regulate the watch, having Epilame on certain parts isn’t going to help that get any better.

Regulating a Watch Movement
Regulating a Watch Movement

Have a Crystal Press First

If you’re investing $250 to $300 in getting set up to use Epilame and you don’t have a crystal press to insert watch crystals without breaking two or three before you’re successful in installing one, then you probably shouldn’t be thinking about using Epilame either.

Have a Jeweling Set

If you don’t have the ability to replace cracked and broken jewels, then you probably don’t need to invest in getting set up for Epilame because it is way more important to be able to fix these so that your movement runs better and that you can actually do watch adjusting and regulation.

Replacing Movement Jewels
Replacing Movement Jewels

Have a staking Set

If you don’t have a staking set yet, you probably don’t need to think about using Epilame. Staking sets are one of the most important tools that a watchmaker can have. And if you don’t have the ability to make corrections in the barrel and all the other things that a staking set can do, then Epilame should be pretty low on the list of things that you need to do.

I mean, basically what it comes down to is Epilame is useful if you want to extend the service life of the service you just did on a watch.

But if you can’t clean the watch, lubricate the watch, adjust and regulate the watch and do some basic repairs first, any advantage that Epilame may give you is lost.

How to Use Epilame/Fixodrop

For the most part, using Epilame is pretty straightforward. All you need is the Epilame and an Epilame bottle.

Epilame and Epilame Bottle
Epilame and Epilame Bottle

Treating the Escape Wheel with Epilame

In order to treat the escape wheel, you merely open the bottle, drop the escape wheel in, close the lid tight, and then flip it upside down for 30 seconds to one minute.

Escape Wheel going in Epilame Bottle
Escape Wheel going in Epilame Bottle

Now once you remove the escape wheel, it’s very important that you immediately put it in a dryer that’s running above room temperature, so no condensation forms on the metal before the Epilame dries.

The Importance of Drying

If you just dry it at room temperature, because of the volatility of the solvents, condensation could form on the metal, getting trapped under the Epilame or fixer drop, causing the metal part to rust, completely defeating one of the reasons of using Epilame in the first place.

Using a Food Dehydrator as a Parts Dryer
Using a Food Dehydrator as a Parts Dryer

Treating the Pallet Stones with Epilame

When treating the pallet fork with , the only part of the pallet fork that you want to treat are the actual stones themselves, not the entire Pallet Fork.

You may hear people talk about dropping the pallet fork in with the escape wheel into the same bottle and treating them at the same time.  The correct method in the industry, recommended by watch manufacturers and watchmaking schools is to treat the pallet stones only.

Why you don’t Treat the entire Pallet Fork

One of the main reasons is because of the constant impact inside the pallet fork slot.

That could cause the Epilame to start turning into a powder, which is basically like a grinding paste inside the fork slot.

This will cause accelerated wear inside the pallet fork slot, which will lower the amplitude greatly.

Use a Syringe to apply the Fixodrop

Now to treat the jewels, I just use a syringe filled with Epilame or Fixodrop.

Appling Epilame to a Pallet Stone with a Syringe
Appling Epilame to a Pallet Stone with a Syringe

I just press it enough so a tiny drop of Epilame comes out on the end of the syringe, and then I merely just dip my jewels into the Epilame, one at a time, and then immediately take it to the dryer.

And that’s really all there is to it.

Getting the Pallet Stones and Escape wheel Ready for Lubrication

Now once the parts are dry, you can go ahead and assemble the powertrain, install the pallet fork and the balance wheel, and then just let it run for about 10 or 15 minutes or so.

By letting it run for at least 15 minutes, what that will do is it will wear off the coating off the edge of the escape wheel tooth, and it’ll wear off a stripe down the impulse face of the pallet stone.

Usually what I do is I will put the balance wheel in and let it run while I work on the dial side of the movement. Then I’ll come back, lubricate the pallet fork, and then install the balance wheel back in, and then lubricate the end stones.

And that’s really all there is to it.

Bonus Tip

One of the things that’s crazy about Epilame is these little jars can run anywhere from $75 to $100.

And since you really don’t need them for the pallet stones, let me show you how to save a little bit of money when you treat the escape wheel.

All you really have to do is make sure that the escape wheel tooth is perfectly clean, and then using a thin piece of wire, drop the escape wheel on the wire, and then just dunk it in the bottle of Epilame, or Fix-A-Drop, or whatever you’re using.

Now because it evaporates so fast, make sure that you cover the top up with your thumb. But after it soaks for about 30 seconds, then you can take it out and then dry it under heat just like anything else.

Conclusion

Epilame or Fix-A-Drop is a surface treatment coating used on certain parts of a watch to repel lubrication, keeping it in the areas where it is needed for a longer period of time.

However, before using it, it is important to ensure that your cleaning and lubrication methods are precise and on point.

Epilame is mainly used on pallet forks and escape wheel teeth, and it is crucial to apply just the right amount of lubrication to the pallet stones for it to be effective.

Additionally, it is important to have the necessary tools such as a crystal press, jeweling set, and staking set before using Epilame.

 When using Epilame, it is essential to follow the correct method recommended by watch manufacturers and watchmaking schools to prevent accelerated wear and rusting of metal parts.

Ultimately, Epilame is a useful tool in extending the service life of a watch, but only if basic repairs, cleaning, lubrication, and regulation are done correctly.