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Important notes on Mainspring Watches:
Coming in second place right behind a dirty, dry watch would be mainspring trouble. The mainspring is the power source for a watch. It is the motor that delivers just the correct amount of power to the wheel train to allow the mechanism to function correctly with a little extra left over to help overcome the effect of a small amount of dirt and wear. Without adequate power the mechanism will fall short of its expectations. This effect will be noticeable in several ways. The first and most extreme symptom will be a watch that doesn’t run at all which of course will often, but not always be the case if the barrel hook or barrel arbor hook are not catching but rather are slipping past the ends of the spring when winding. This as well as a broken or slipping mainspring will be revealed by a winding crown that turns endlessly. This does not apply to automatic watches which we will discuss in a moment. There are other non mainspring related problems that may give the same symptom which we will also cover a little later but these are much less common. The condition of the mainspring is extremely important. A spring that has lost its ability to deliver its full power for the duration for which it was originally intended should always be replaced. If the spring can no longer deliver full power to the gear train the performance of the watch will suffer even though the overall condition of the movement may be excellent.
I always recommend changing the mainspring if possible when cleaning a watch as they are inexpensive and simple to replace. If a replacement is difficult to locate and the spring looks good then it is VERY IMPORTANT to clean it well and lubricate it throughly with a good quality mainspring grease that is made for the caliber or size of the watch you are working on. Too thick of a grease will prevent the spring from unwinding smoothly inside the barrel and will periodically catch in places releasing itself with occasional slipping. This action causes intervals of irregular power distribution affecting the performance of the watch. A dirty, dry or sticky mainspring will cause the same thing. If the motion of the balance wheel changes periodically then a sticky mainspring may be the problem. These same principals apply to watches with automatic winding except that when fully wound the mainspring is designed to slip forward in its barrel slightly to avoid breakage from excessive wrist motion.
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