Accutron Astronaut Restoration

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Specializing In The Cleaning, Repair And Restoration of First Edition Accutron 214 Caliber Tuning Fork Timepieces.

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IndexMechanism2.jpg (30654 bytes)1963 Back CoverI work on first edition 214's only. If need be, I will help you to verify that your Accutron is a caliber 214 before you send it.

The 214 is set from the rear of the case by lifting a spring loaded "C" shaped lever. Also on the rear of the case is a slotted hatch cover which unscrews to access the battery. If your Accutron has these features it is a 214. Click on the thumbnail image (left) to see a larger photo.



Each bezel, face, & hand combination  has a unique set of features that require specific services to restore them to their best possible appearance.

The Astronaut  Model  is shown in the restoration process below. Astronauts are especially challenging because of the many elements that affect their condition. All basic 214 restoration items are described below with the addition of several that are specific to the Astronaut.

Contrary to popular belief, the grade of stainless steel used for watch cases will rust over a period of years. Water gets in between the metal parts where it can stay wet for days. The inevitable result is shown in the photo of the Astronaut bezel with its rotating ring removed at the right. The repair process begins with the the disassembly and ultrasonic cleaning of all case parts. Rust and/or corrosion (if any) is then removed with hand tools and wire brushes.

The bezel is buffed to remove scratches and restore the factory finish. The focus is to preserve the crispness of factory coining on the edges as much as possible. A sloppy job here can seriously devalue any watch because it's the crispness of the case that most affects the outcome of an appraisal.

BeforeAfterRear.jpg (30016 bytes)The back cover is taken apart. The angled surfaces on the cover, setting stem, battery hatch, and outer lock ring are buffed to a brilliant shine. The straight graining on the flat part of the rear cover is restored with special care taken to preserve the depth and crispness of engravings. The circular graining is restored on the setting stem and battery hatch. Finally, a new gasket is installed on the battery hatch, and the cover is re-assembled. The photo on the left is a composite of the before/after photos on the right. For most covers, all but the deepest scratches are removed and even the deep ones are less noticeable.

After some initial cleaning, this watch looked about average for its age, and it would have been easy to miss something that only a good microscope can reveal.

Microscopic examination revealed cracks in the painted dial markers that went all the way from the top layer of luminous paint, through the white base paint, to the brass base metal. Note the crack across the paint on the one o'clock marker shown in the photo at the right. A portion of the paint is lifting and would soon flake off. All of the painted dial markers are very fragile. Also notice the rust on the chrome plated steel hands.


Restoring the dial begins with the removal of the loose paint (down to the base metal if necessary). Then the areas to be re-painted are cleanedScrapeDial.jpg (116449 bytes) with a solvent to remove any residue of detergent or oils that may have remained. 

On dials where the base coat is intact, only the luminous layer is scraped off.


Repainting from the base metal involves two steps. First the white markers are painted in using a custom built stainless steel holding fixture.



Then the luminous paint is applied. This layer is built up with several coats in order to get the correct thickness. The finished product looks sculpted and the extra thickness assures a brilliant glow.


If necessary
, the dial is coated with a low gloss finish to restore the color and to protect the dial for years to come.

HandsStripped.jpg (30046 bytes)The process of restoring the luminous on the hands begins by removing the old luminous paint. If the plated steel hands are corroded, the loose rust is scraped off. The hands are then lacquered to restore theAstroHands2.jpg (30066 bytes) shine and to prevent any further rust. Unfortunately the pitting remains but to the naked eye the appearance is greatly improved. The hands are then given several coats of luminous paint. The paint is applied on the bottom so as to fill the center cut-outs by capillary action. Several coats are required because the paint shrinks and a uniform thickness is required for an even glow. After drying the paint usually needs to be scraped to remove any excess thickness so that the hands won't rub each other when installed on the movement.


HackedMovement.jpg (30010 bytes)

AstroAfter.jpg (159741 bytes)The movement is dis-assembled.  The Coil, Tuning Fork and Pawl Bridge are carefully cleaned with soft wood picks and bristle brushes. All other parts are ultrasonically cleaned. The movement is re-assembled, lubricated and adjusted. The hack mechanism (photo right) is adjusted to stop the movement when the setting lever is raised. The dial and hands are installed. The movement is run for 24 hours in a bench fixture before being put back into its case. A new gasket is installed, and the cover is closed. The watch is then observed for approximately two weeks, during which time, fine adjustments can be made.


AstroEarlyHands.jpg (23165 bytes)          AstroLuminous.jpg (26477 bytes)          AstroBasicHands.jpg (23972 bytes)          AstroBLuminous.jpg (10021 bytes)
Various Astronaut luminous configurations


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Martin Marcus


Please Be Advised: I never get up from my microscope to answer the phone which seems to ring constantly, even on weekends. Telephones are a curse for people who work under a microscope. Experience has taught me that every minute spent with a phone in my hand will only be added to my backlog and there is nobody else here who is knowledgeable enough to answer your questions. I do however, reply to all of my business related e-mail every evening. My replies contain detailed information and / or links to a page on this web site where information can be found. To contact me by e-mail simply click on the link above.  

PLEASE NOTE: I regret that I am not able to reply to folks who are just looking for information, advise or have questions about 214's that are with other repairers. There are just too many of you and my focus will always be on my own customers. Thank you for your understanding.

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Copyright  2002 by Martin Marcus. All rights reserved. These pages may not be copied without written consent.