Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

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Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by canajan » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:52 pm

It's been a while since I've last posted here but thought I would share my experiences with adjusting the accuracy of a C6LE that was running >20 seconds day fast. This article is written with the auto watch newbie in mind, which I am. Apologies to the experienced WIS' here who may feel that the content is a little too elementary.

Adjusting the ETA 2824-2 has been discussed at length in this forum and there is a great how-to guide that was written by Hans a few years ago here. Since I normally don't like to pay for things that I know I can do myself unless I really don't have the time, this guide gave me the confidence to adjust the movement. Hans' article focuses on moving the fine regulation screw to adjust the time. This works great if the time is off by up to about 20 seconds, but what if the time is off by >20 seconds and/or the fine regulation screw is already skewed towards the side where you want to turn and you can't achieve your desired range? There is another thread in the forum that talks about this, but I still didn't fully understand exactly what I was supposed to do to make the adjustment.

Using timedate.com as a reference, my C6LE was running +23 sec/day out of the box and did not deviate from this variation over 5 months. +23 sec. is just beyond the -10/+20 sec/day variation range that is specified for the Elabore-grade movement - it seems to me that ETA should have had better quality controls to make sure these movements fall within the specified range. I wear the watch pretty much every day and remove it before bed each evening. I found myself changing the time every week, setting the time about 2 minutes slow on Sunday and letting the time catch up by Thursday. This constant time adjustment just didn't seem right since I have read that even the base 2824-2 is easily capable of <5 sec/day variation. Adjusting the time once every 1-2 months would be much more acceptable to me. Sure I could have sent it back to CWL for an adjustment, but I'm in Canada and the watch has to travel a long way, and I'm not sure that the adjustment would survive the bumping and battering. And based on my prior experience, the round trip could easily exceed one month.

I emailed Chris for instructions on how to proceed and his exact words to me were:

"Move the regulator to the centre position..... measure the time difference over a few hours...
Then on the opposite side of the regulator screw...across the pink jewel of the incabloc there is another lever....this is mega...mega sensitive...move it down the slightest of touches....a tenth of a milimeter will be about 20 seconds...thats how sensitive it is....measure the timing...when you get with in 10-15 secs of your target...go back to the regulator screw....it takes time...but its satisfying ....each time you return ,...ensure you add a little power
"

I also clarified with Chris that moving the arm "down" meant moving it towards the centre of the watch to reduce time. I further studied Hans' photos and was confident that I could do the job.

To do the job properly, I ordered some watch tools that I didn't already have – an LG Master watch wrench, movement holder, bulb blower, and 0.8 mm screwdriver. I found a jeweler supplier (http://www.noblepackaging.com) that had everything I needed. Prices were pretty good and they have locations in several countries, the most important being Canada. The Made in USA LG wrench for $60 is supposed to be almost as good as the more than twice as expensive Swiss made Jaxa so I thought this was the better way to go rather than with the cheapo $25 Made in India/China Jaxa clones. What also influenced my decision was that I would be able to use it to change the battery on my wife's Tag Heuer Kirium. The last battery change cost $30(!) so the tool will pay for itself when I do the next battery change.

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Tools used: 0.8mm screwdriver (not Bergeon, but very good quality), bulb blower, LG wrench, watch holder, Bergeon 6767-F spring bar tool.

I remove the bracelet with the forked end of the spring bar tool and adjust the watch holder to fit the watch (the holder was at its maximum setting because of the size of the watch). A watch holder is essential for screw back watches to avoid scratches as a result of the wrench slipping out of the holes in the back of the watch, which is likely to happen if you hold the watch in your hand while cranking the wrench. I then needed something to keep the watch holder stable while I cranked the wrench. I didn't have a bench vise but did have a Black and Decker Workmate that was perfect for the job.

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Watch in holder and secured in a B&D Workmate

As per Hans' advice, I used the blower judiciously to blow away any lint that may ultimately find its way into the open case. I then adjusted the LG wrench to ensure the pins aligned with the holes, applied some downward pressure, and turned counterclockwise. There was some initial resistance but the back came loose pretty easily.

After removing the back, I was surprised to see how small the components in the movement actually are. A magnifier/loupe would have been handy, but I didn't buy one since I didn't think I needed one. I am nearsighted and also have presbyopia. Fortunately, this combination still allows us visually-challenged to focus very well on anything up close. In my case, anything less than 8 inches from my eyes remains crystal clear. Still, everything is so tiny…

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Back removed to reveal a very nice looking movement.

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The key adjustment areas - the fine regulation screw and the coarse adjustment arm. Note that the screw is already about 1.5 marks to the negative side, and the watch is still running +23 sec/day.

The regulator screw was about 1.5 marks to the "-" side. I used the yellow 0.8 mm screwdriver and moved the screw to the centre position. Pretty easy. I then used the blower again, closed the caseback, and waited 24 hours, wearing the watch as usual. 24 hours later, the accuracy changed from +23 to +32 sec/day. There seems to be some consensus in watch forums that each mark on the regulator screw guide represents about 5-6 seconds. My experience appears consistent with this viewpoint. Note that if I simply chose to move the regulator screw all the way to the end of the "-" side, the best the watch would have achieved was +14 to +16 sec/day, which while within the spec'd range, is still close to what the movement was capable of.

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The first step is to move the fine regulation screw to the centre. This changed the timing to +32 sec/day.

The first step was relatively easy, the difficult part now begins. I go through the case opening routine and contemplated what I needed to do next - move the coarse adjustment arm a little over 1/10 mm to get the time to within the range I wanted. But how do I gauge how much 1/10 mm is? Another tricky thing is that the coarse adjustment arm is just above the spinning balance wheel. I'm no expert, but I am sure touching this wheel while it is spinning is probably not a good idea. I must admit I was a little apprehensive since I didn't have the help of a magnifier, but I decided to trust my steady hands. I was undecided as to what to best use as a pusher – it had to be stiff, easy to hold, and the tip must be small. The straight end of the spring bar tool seemed to be a good candidate. I carefully touched the arm with the tool and pushed lightly, but didn't see or feel the arm move. I pushed a little harder but still no movement. I pushed a third time and this time the arm moved noticeably – likely more than 1/10 mm. Crap. I admit I started to get a little anxious with what had just happened but calmed down and moved the arm a little back the other way. I then repeated the closing procedure, re-synched the time, wore the watch, and waited another 24 hours to see the effects of the change.

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Moving the coarse adjustment arm was the most difficult step for me. Nudge the arm towards the centre of the watch to reduce time, towards the edge of the watch to add time. Remember that very small movements result in large time changes!

24 hours later, the timing was -16 sec. Looks like my first adjustment added 48 seconds. I could now move the regulator screw all the way to the "+" side, adding about +18 seconds to get to +2 sec/day, but then I thought there would be no flexibility to add more time if the accuracy drifted over time. So I decided the best solution was to move the coarse adjustment arm the other way. Once again, the usual case opening procedure, nudge the coarse adjustment arm, close the case, re-synched the time, wore the watch, and waited another 24 hours.

24 hours later, +20 sec! Almost back to where I started... Admittedly, I was starting to get a little frustrated because of the constant removal/reattachment of bracelet, caseback, etc. etc. But since I've come this far already, quitting really wasn't an option. So I remove the bracelet, yada, yada, yada… This time, I decided to base the nudging of the adjustment arm on instinct. I touched the arm with the spring bar tool and very lightly pushed. I think I felt it move a little and stopped, but don't recall actually seeing anything move. I go through the closing routine, re-synched the time, wore the watch, and waited 24 hours.

24 hours later, zero deviation!! Holy Crap. 48 hours, still perfect time! 72 hours, +1 sec off (but just prior to checking the time, I was shaking a carton of juice. I have read that shaking an auto at approx. the same pace as the beat rate, which for the 2824-2 is 8 beats per second, will make it run faster. Try this yourself – it works!). One week later, still only 1 sec off, but this time -1 sec. -1 sec over 7 days is pretty unbelievable. I'm hoping that the accuracy won't drift too much over time, but if does, I don't think it will be significant. And at least I now know I have about 18 seconds either way by adjusting the screw if needed.

Despite the frustrations, I am glad to have gone through the experience, and am just amazed at how accurate the watch is now. Chris was right…pretty satisfying. Sure is nice not having to adjust the time. I'll provide an update in about a month to see if the accuracy changes.

Some general tips:
1. It has been said many times before and I will repeat this again here – you should only attempt to adjust your watch if you like to tinker with things, have patience, and feel comfortable working with small parts. If you move the coarse adjustment arm too much, you may end up changing the timing by a few minutes, making it really tough to get back to where you want.

2. Get a magnifier to help you see nudges made to the coarse adjustment arm. It is very hard to see the arm move 1/10 mm because everything in the watch is so small. If you actually see the arm move, you've probably moved it too much. You can get an inexpensive "head magnifier" (Velleman VTMG4) from an electronics store for under $10 that should do the job.

3. The best results will be obtained if the daily deviation of your watch is consistent over several months. If the timing fluctuates, there is probably something else that needs to be adjusted that should only be attempted by a qualified watchmaker. In this case, you should probably send the watch back to CWL under the 60 month warranty.

4. I think you do need to wear the watch as usual after each adjustment to ensure that the change works for your regular wear pattern. If you adjust the watch to be accurate with the face down and no natural movement to wind the watch, the timing likely will not be accurate once you start to wear it. Unfortunately, this may be a bit of a pain in the ass if you have to repeat the routine of bracelet removal, case opening and closing, and bracelet reattachment. It would have been easier if the bracelet could be separated at the butterfly clasp, but I didn't find any spring bars that could be released. This isn't a big deal if you have a watch strap with a deployment clasp, which is pretty well all current CWL autos with leather straps.

5. The spring pins on the end links of the bracelet can scratch the lugs since the end links can only be removed by pushing the assembly towards the top of the watch i.e. with the watch face down, the end links must be pushed down after the spring bars are released. This means that when the spring bars clear the lugs and spring back, they are prone to scratching the surfaces of the watch that are visible. I'm not sure what can be done effectively to prevent this from happening. Maybe someone here can suggest a good way to remove scratches from the bead-blasted finish?

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An unfortunate by-product of removing and reattaching the bracelet repeatedly on the C6 are scratches on the lugs caused by the spring pins popping out after they are slid free from the lugs. But to be fair, the macro photos make the marks appear much more dramatic than can actually be seen by the naked eye.

6. Be careful when reseating the back. To avoid cross threading, stop immediately if there is any resistance and reverse the action. The back should screw back on smoothly.

The 2824-2 used in CWL autos is capable of being very accurate. If you regularly rotate wearing several watches every few days, accuracy probably isn't a big deal since the time will always need to changed after the watch stops. But if you wear the same watch daily, you shouldn’t have to accept the fact that changing the time weekly to compensate for a slow/fast watch is part of auto watch ownership. Spending the time to tweak the accuracy to your liking isn't too difficult or expensive, and once done, you likely won't have to touch the delicate innards of your watch ever again. You could take it to a jeweler,

Hope this has been helpful to those who are on the fence about adjusting their CWL autos themselves.

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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by joerattz » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:13 pm

Awesome post, thanks for sharing the information. One question, can you clarify which direction to move the coarse adjustment arm? I am not sure what you mean by "add time" and "reduce time". Can you specify in terms of making the watch faster or slower? Which way do you move it to make the watch faster? Which way to make it slower?
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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by Uncle Bill » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:31 pm

A very good post; well written and excellently illustrated. Thank you very much for your time and effort. It will be very useful...UB.. :)
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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by Rick » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:33 pm

A very useful posting canajan.
Very informative and great pictures,i like Joe would like some clarification as to the slower/faster part of the explanation.
Thank you :D
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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by canajan » Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:05 am

joerattz wrote:Awesome post, thanks for sharing the information. One question, can you clarify which direction to move the coarse adjustment arm? I am not sure what you mean by "add time" and "reduce time". Can you specify in terms of making the watch faster or slower? Which way do you move it to make the watch faster? Which way to make it slower?
Maybe it' s better to use some examples to clarify things. If the watch is +30 sec, then you need to slow down the watch, hence "reduce the time", by nudging the arm towards the centre of the watch. If the watch is running slow, i.e. -30 seconds, then you need to speed the watch up, hence "add time", by nudging the arm towards the outer edge of the watch.

Hopes this explains it better.

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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by Monkey » Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:09 am

Wow!! =D> Excellent post, and very informative.........thanks for going to the effort of doing this :respekt:
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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by Kip » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:02 am

Exceptional post. Great photos and narrative. I am sure many will find this very useful both now and in the future.
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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by village » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:12 am

Excellent post......thanks very much. :2thumbs:
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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by Tooks » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:21 am

I'll echo the above, thanks for the effort of posting all that!

Should I ever need to adjust my movements, I'll feel a lot more confident now!

Thanks! :)
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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by rcherryuk » Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:19 pm

Canajan,
Great article, well done!

I understand your pain regarding the scratches, the only thing worse than putting a bracelet on a C6 is putting the silicon strap onto a C6 :D
But at least the scratches can polish out, if you haven't got one hint for a Dremel for your Birthday/Christmas/Fathers Day!

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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by El Tiempo » Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:42 pm

Excellent article. Would read again!

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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by joerattz » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:39 pm

canajan wrote:
joerattz wrote:Awesome post, thanks for sharing the information. One question, can you clarify which direction to move the coarse adjustment arm? I am not sure what you mean by "add time" and "reduce time". Can you specify in terms of making the watch faster or slower? Which way do you move it to make the watch faster? Which way to make it slower?
Maybe it' s better to use some examples to clarify things. If the watch is +30 sec, then you need to slow down the watch, hence "reduce the time", by nudging the arm towards the centre of the watch. If the watch is running slow, i.e. -30 seconds, then you need to speed the watch up, hence "add time", by nudging the arm towards the outer edge of the watch.

Hopes this explains it better.
It does, thank you!
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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by downer » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:59 pm

Tremendous article - one of the clearest things I've seen concerning this subject. Thanks for taking the time to prepare this.
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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by ctafield » Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:03 pm

That's an incredibly post. Thank you for taking the time to do so.

Well and truly worth making a sticky!
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Re: Adjusting the 2824-2 >20 sec/day

Post by village » Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:57 pm

ctafield wrote:That's an incredibly post. Thank you for taking the time to do so.

Well and truly worth making a sticky!
Definitely!
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