As a new watchmaker, troubleshooting a watch movement can seem very confusing. Once you learn how to clean and lubricate your movement properly, the next biggest challenge is always learning how to troubleshoot problems and understanding what the timegrapher is really telling you.

So today we’re going to troubleshoot a movement that’s performing poorly. We will analyze what we’re seeing and make the corrections so it performs as it should.

Your experience with servicing movements will improve because your pre-inspection process is getting better, your lubrication is getting better, and you are figuring out the escapement and the balance.

Many of the issues that you might have first had will naturally go away. In a perfect world faults or problems are identified in your pre-inspection. Once corrected, the only thing you’ll need to do after assembly is any final adjustments for regulation of the rate.

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Troubleshooting an Allwyn Watch Movement

For our example today, I’m going to be looking at an Allwyn 6319 that somebody sent me. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the Indian version of the Seiko 6319.

 I’m going to go ahead, take it apart, get it cleaned, assemble it, lubricate it with no pre-inspection at all. I’m putting myself into the new watchmaker shoes, where maybe you haven’t developed your inspection process yet.  Or maybe you don’t even really know what to look for yet

Evaluating the Watch Service

Okay, so the parts have been cleaned, reassembled, and lubricated. Let’s get it on the timegrapher and see what it really looks like.

Now normally after you finish your service, you want to give the movement at least 24 hours for everything to settle in before you really even start worrying about what the Timegrapher is saying.

 troubleshooting a Allwyn 6319 watch
Allwyn 6319

Correct What is Going to Have the Biggest Impact First

 When you’re trying to troubleshoot a watch like this, there is one thing that you need to realize. There may be multiple issues going on with this movement and you want to start by correcting one thing at a time.  You start with what’s going to have the biggest impact first.

You want to look at all the data from the timegrapher.  Then you can make an educated decision on where the best place to start is.  Every movement you work on is going to be different.

Now every watchmaker is going to have their own methods for approaching problems like this. I’m just going to show you my thought process and hopefully it will make sense for you.

Reading the Timegrapher after Initial Service

Looking at this you can see that the rate is way off.

Reading the Timegrapher to  troubleshoot a watch
Reading the Timegrapher

We have a low amplitude and a very high beat error.  On top of that our trace lines are all over the place. This is telling us that we need to troubleshoot an escapement or a balance problem in this watch.  On top of that our rate and amplitude is jumping up and down all over the place.

 You might look at that beat error and think well that’s an easy one to fix. Let’s do that first. Or you might look at the amplitude and start taking everything apart and start inspecting the powertrain and the mainspring.  

Look at all the information Together

 Low amplitude by itself does not create trace lines like this. Amplitude is obviously important but even if the mainspring was perfect it’s not going to fix trace lines like this.

A high beat error over 1.0 milliseconds can affect the rate. This is something that we’re seeing here but if the cause of the beat error was due to the position of the hairspring stud we wouldn’t see all this erratic behavior in the trace lines.

Beat error can also be caused by faults in the escapement as well as other problems in the balance.

Watch Troubleshooting: Other Causes of Beat Error

When we look at beat error faults in the balance, things like a loose impulse jewel can cause a beat error. This is because that loose jewel is no longer centered on the line of centers.

A loose hairspring collet, a loose regulator pin, or even a loose hairspring stud can also affect how your timegrapher is calculating the beat error.

In the escapement things like loose pallet stones or rubbing guard pin or anything that’s adding additional friction to the balance like the fork horns rubbing the impulse jewel can also cause high beat errors.

Balance Inspections for Beat Error

 Let’s start by at least eliminating some of the easier things first that are related to beat error in the balance and then make any of the corrections if we find something that’s wrong.

Check for Loose Hairspring Stud Screw

With the balance removed the first thing I want to check is to see if the balance stud screw is loose.

Checking for a Loose Hairspring Stud Screw
Checking for a Loose Hairspring Stud Screw

The first thing you will notice is that the hairspring doesn’t have a pinned stud or an Etachron stud. The hairspring is held in place by a clamping system.

So taking my smallest screwdriver I can check the screw and see that it’s not loose at all so there’s no problem here.

Check for Loose Regulator Pins

Now we can check to make sure that the regulator pins are not loose. Since I need to check the collet anyway I’ll go ahead and release the hairspring making note of the location of the end of the spring which if you’ll see is right at the edge of the arm.  

Check for Loose Regulator Pins  when troubleshooting a watch
Check for Loose Regulator Pins

Then I can loosen the screw and gently move the hairspring out of the clamp. Now with the hairspring out of the way I can apply just a small amount of pressure to the pins and I’m just looking for any obvious signs of looseness.

Check the Impulse Pin

Now with the balance wheel and hairspring removed we can check to make sure that the impulse pin is tight and straight in its slot which it is.

Now it goes without saying that when you’re doing any of these checks you don’t want to push too hard on anything because you don’t want to do is create a problem that wasn’t already there.

Check the Impulse Pin when troubleshooting a watch
Check the Impulse Pin

 To hold the balance steady I’m just using the same leather buff that you’ve seen me use to clean end stones in the lubrication videos I did.

Okay so that looks good so let’s check the collet to make sure that it’s tight on the staff.

Check the Collet for Tightness

All we’re really looking for here is any obvious signs of movement caused by light pressure and everything looks good here as well.

Check the Collet for Tightness
Check the Collet for Tightness

Reinstalling the Hairspring

Now with everything checked I can reinstall the hairspring onto the cock and the safest way that I have found to install these types of springs is to just get the spring started into the clamp and then just use the balance wheel to move the spring forward.

You’re a lot less likely to damage anything and all I really need to do is to get it back to the point where it was before so then I can just tighten the screw down.

Inspect the Pallet Fork

 Before I put the balance back on the movement I want to check for anything that’s either bent or damaged on the fork. I want to make sure that the guard pin and the fork horns don’t appear to be bent, damaged or broken.

Troubleshooting the Watch Escapement for Beat Error

Now as I was talking about earlier there are several things in the escapement that can affect the beat error if they’re out of adjustment.

Guard Pin Contact

The first is when the guard pin is contacting the safety roller.  You have to look at the type of movement you’re working on and ask yourself how that could happen?

The clearance between the guard pin and the safety roller is controlled by how much the escape wheel’s tooth slides down the pallet stone after it first makes contact with it.

And we also know that the amount of this slide is directly controlled by the position of the banking pins.

But unlike older movements that have adjustable banking pins, in modern movements like this the banking is fixed. So it can’t be moved out of position and the amount of slide is therefore fixed.

Fixed Banking

Here you can see where the fork contacts the banking that’s actually built into the pallet bridge in this movement.

Fixed Banking
Fixed Banking

But even though the banking can’t move, what can change and affect the amount of slide is wear and tear on the parts.  Either on the actual fixed banking or there can be wear on the pallet fork where it’s actually making contact with the banking.

 When there is wear on the banking or the pallet fork two things can happen.

First, it causes the slide to increase too much which will lower amplitude because now the escapement requires more power to unlock the escape wheel tooth. And secondly, the more slide there is, the farther away the guard pin moves away from the safety roller.

It’s the lack of slide that causes the guard pin to hit the safety roller when there’s not enough slide.

 So on a movement with fixed banking, if the banking pins in the fork are not showing wear at the point where they come in contact and we suspect that the guard pin might be making contact with the safety roller, we then look at the pallet stones.

Inspecting The Pallet Stones

Exit Pallet Stone

Now looking at the exit stone in this movement, I am just going to slowly move the pallet fork until the tooth drops onto the stone. Almost immediately you can see that the tooth is landing on the impulse face of the stone and not the locking face of the stone.

Exit Stone
Exit Stone

So not only is the tooth landing on the wrong part of the pallet stone altogether, but there is no slide at all on this stone.

 If there is no slide, then we know that the guard pin doesn’t have the needed clearance to operate properly.

Entry Pallet Stone

Now that I’m looking at the entry side of the pallet, this tooth looks to be sitting in the correct position, so the problem we are seeing is on the exit side of the escapement and not the entry side.

Entry Side
Entry Side

Guard Pin and Safety Roller Clearance

Now with the balance back in, let’s look to see if in fact the guard pin is making contact with the safety roller.

It’s a little hard to film inside the escapement, but if you look right here, you can see the guard pin is actually touching the roller as it’s coming out of the crescent of the safety roller, and it’s rubbing across the roller as it rotates.

Guard Pin Contacting the Safety Roller
Guard Pin Contacting the Safety Roller

Just for reference, here is what it should look like.

Proper Guard Pin Clearance
Proper Guard Pin Clearance

This is a photo from a different movement, but you can see the gap between the guard pin and the roller, and this gap is there because of the slide.

How a Timegrapher is Measuring the Beat Error

When a timegrapher is measuring for beat error, what it’s doing is it’s timing the sound that’s made when the impulse jewel hits the pallet fork as it’s going through in one direction, and then it’s measuring it again as the impulse jewel comes back and hits the fork as it’s going in the other direction.

Timegrapher Calculating Beat Error
Timegrapher Calculating Beat Error

When these two sounds are timed equally in both directions, the beat error is zero. What’s happening in this escapement is that because the guard pin is dragging across the safety roller, it’s slowing down one side of the balance wheel. Now the time between those two sounds that are being measured is different. The difference is the beat error.

Now, it might not be the only thing causing beat error, but it’s probably accounting for a pretty big chunk of it anyway.

Guard Pin Drag Lowers Amplitude

 This drag between parts also lowers the amplitude because of the added friction, which is another one of the problems that we saw in the timegrapher.

Now we’ll take a closer look at the pallet stones to see what corrections need to be made.

Correcting the Pallet Stones Depth

In order to be able to see both stones clearly, I had to take out the train which was blocking my view of the entry side, so now we can see both sides of the pallet fork.

When we look at the tooth that’s sitting on the pallet stone on the entry side, it looks normal for a 21,600 beat movement, but the exit side is definitely out of position, and because of it, it’s missing that additional slide down the stone that gives us the clearance we need between the guard pin and the safety roller.

Normal Entry Stone Lock
Normal Entry Stone Lock
Exit Stone Lock To Shallow
Exit Stone Lock To Shallow

Using A Reticle Microscope Lens

So assuming for the moment that the entry side is correct, we need a way to measure it so we can duplicate it on the exit side.

I’m using what’s known as a reticle lens in my microscope.

The one that I use is graduated in one one-hundredths of a millimeter. That’s not important because we’re just using these lines as a reference and don’t really care about the actual measurements that they are.

Reticle Lens
Reticle Lens

Unfortunately you can’t see it in my lens as I filmed this, but here’s a picture I took through my eyepiece just to give you an idea of what I’m looking at.

This video is about the troubleshooting process for this watch. Adjusting pallet stones is a complicated subject, so I’m not going to get into all the details of how to do it here.

You can check out my Advanced Classes area where I release my more advanced videos.

Checking the Pallet Stone Adjustments

Alright, so I’ve made the adjustment to the pallet stone and reinstalled the pallet back into the bridge. So now we can check our work.

I can measure the amount the escape wheel tooth is sitting on the entry stone, and then measure the same thing on the exit side. And now that they’re the same, we should be good to go.

Entry Pallet Stone
Entry Pallet Stone
Exit Side
Exit Side Normal

I’m going to go ahead and get everything reassembled. I put a full wind on the movement, and put it on the Timegrapher again.

Final Timegrapher Readings

Everything looked good after troubleshooting and adjusting this watch, enough when I first put it on the timegrapher, so I went ahead and made some minor adjustments to the rate. Here’s what I ended up with.

Horizontal Timegrapher Readings

Looking at the horizontal positions first, dial down shows an amplitude at 245 degrees, which is lower than I like, but this movement still has the original mainspring in the barrel, but the rate has settled in at one second per day.

Final Dial Down
Final Dial Down
Final Dial up
Final Dial up

Dial up looks good as well at zero seconds per day. The amplitude is 233 degrees, which is slightly lower than the dial down position. We could make some improvements there as well, but more importantly, we now see good trace lines. We also have a normal beat error, and a big improvement in amplitude.

Vertical Timegrapher Readings

So now I’ll check the 6 and 9 o’clock positions.

Since I don’t have the stem in, I put the hole for the stem pointing to the thumbscrew on the holder just as a reference.

With the movement settled in, you can see that the rate at the 6 o’clock up position is also at zero seconds per day. The final check on this movement will be the 9 o’clock position.

Final 6 O'clock Position
Final 6 O’clock Position
9 O'clock Position
9 O’clock Position

Now even though the rate is plus 13 seconds per day, overall this movement would keep decent time on the wrist. There’s really no reason to continue troubleshooting on watch like this to try to make this ugly duck more than it really is.

So I’m going to call it good on this one.

The better you understand how a movement functions, the easier and the more intuitive troubleshooting will be and understanding the theories behind troubleshooting will make you a better watchmaker.