Level 1 - The Basics

Here is a full summary of all the lessons and topics found in Level 1 of this course, The Basics.

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What You Will Learn...

You will be learning watch repair from the ground up. We shall start by discussing your optimal working environment, then proceed to talk about some of the tools and equipment you will be using, giving you clear demonstrations on how to use them.


We will discuss some of the consumable products you will need such as oils and greases. You will learn about the different types of watch cases, glasses, crowns, pushers, straps. Finally we will concentrate on the anatomy of the watch movement, and the different components. You will be shown how to identify watch parts and calibers of movement



It is important to be in a quiet and stress free environment when working on watches. You can potentially be working for many hours on a project and so being comfortable and maintaining a healthy working position is absolutely essential to your well being and also to your productivity.

c1.1.1 Workshop Lighting

You will be working with your eyes very close to your work and so it is very important to have good lighting. Your workbench should be well illuminated with flicker free lighting which has a high colour temperature (daylight bulbs). The colour temperature for lighting is standardised by the kelvin scale and I would recommend lighting with a colour temperature of 3500 or above.

c1.1.2 Your Workbench

Your work bench will ideally be between 95 cm and 100 cm tall. This will allow you to sit with your back straight whilst you are working. It is not desirable to sit for long amounts of time with your back curved whilst you are hunched over your work.

c1.1.3 Your Seating

As you will be sitting for long periods of time, it is also very important to choose your chair carefully. It is preferable to choose a seat with good support for your back and is height adjustable in order to fine tune your optimal working height. In fact, I find that an operators chair which is height adjustable and with a spring loaded back is ideal for sitting long periods whilst working on watches.


There are so many different tools designed for different aspects of watch repairing, it would be difficult to go through them all. Some are essential from the start and others you can acquire as you progress.

c1.2.1 Watchmakers Screwdrivers

The top of the purchase list for your tools collection would have to be screwdrivers. And to be specific, Watchmakers Screwdrivers.

This lesson provides an overview of the different kinds of screwdrivers and demonstrates their use.

c1.2.2 Watchmakers Tweezers

Just like screwdrivers, I would place equal importance on the acquisition of Watchmakers tweezers.
Watchmakers tweezers come in many shapes and sizes and these will make certain tasks easier to perform. The most common sizes being from size 2 to size 5.

c1.2.3 Optics

In order to see what you are working on, it is highly recommended to purchase a Watchmakers eyeglass (sometimes called a loupe).
This lesson goes over the different types and their usage.

c1.2.4 Dust Protection

No matter how clean your work environment is, the battle with dust is always a constant in the life of a watch repairer. The best way to protect your workpiece against dust contamination, especially when re-assembling a movement, is to make sure your bench is clean before every job.

c1.2.5 Benzine Jar

A common practice in watch repair would be to de-grease certain parts to remove old oil deposits. A traditional substance used for this purpose was Benzine, although it is considered a health risk these days and is quite difficult to obtain. There are modern substitutes available however, and the fluid will usually come in a large container. Hence the need for a benzine jar.

c1.2.6 Air Blower

When repairing watches, it is not good practice to blow on a watch movement with your mouth. But it is very tempting to do so if you spot a small spec of dust. It is much better to use an Air Blower or Bellows.

c1.2.7 Oilers

Once you have stripped and cleaned a watch movement, you are ready to re-assemble the parts. It is at this point you will need to lubricate the movement as you go along. To aid in the lubrication of your watch movement you will need oilers.

c1.2.8 Oil Pots

There are quite a few different kinds of lubrication for watches. To allow you to easily draw the lubrication onto your oiler you will need to have easy access on your workbench. It is not convenient to attempt to draw lubrication onto your oiler direct from the container the oil or grease was supplied in. So we transfer a small amount of oil or grease to individual oil pots ready for use.

c1.2.9 Movement Holders

When working on a watch it is most advisable to mount the movement in a watch movement holder or place the movement on a movement ring. You will find movement holders especially made for particular calibers of watch movement.

c1.2.10 Case Knife

To open a watch you will determine the type of back the watch has, wether it is a screw-on or a snap-on back. If the back is snap-on then you would usually use a case knife to open it. Although there are bench case back tools available, the most convenient method is to use a watch case knife which has a specially shaped blade in order to safely prise the back away from the watch case. And you will find that a case knife is also useful for removing a snap-on watch bezel.

c1.2.11 Screw Back Case Opener

Some watch cases will be fitted with a screw-on back, and this allows the back to be tightened further to allow for a greater protection against dust or moisture ingress. This lesson discusses the options for opening screw-back watch cases in a safe manner.

c1.2.12 Hand Lifting Tools

When taking a watch movement to pieces, one of the first tasks will be to remove the hands and dial. Most often the dial will either be painted or will be enamelled, but which ever is the case, extreme care must be taken to avoid damaging or marking the dial. And with enamel dials, it is important to take care that the dial does not chip or crack.

c1.2.13 Cannon Pinion Removal Tools

Another tool which would be considered a very important part of your tool collection would be a Cannon Pinion Remover. We will go into this a bit further into the course when we cover the components of a watch movement, but the cannon pinion is a watch part which is friction fitted to one of the wheels of the watch. This lesson covers how to safely remove this part.


As well as your tools you will need to have on hand a number of products to aid you in effective watch cleaning and repair.

In fact, there are some products which are easily available and you may even have on hand. Whilst others are rather specialised to the horology trade.

c1.3.1 Pegwood

Pegwood – lengths of wooden sticks in various thicknesses used by watch repairers for several different cleaning tasks. Because the wood is hard enough to dig away at stubborn dirt deposits, but soft enough that it does not scratch metal surfaces it is an ideal product for the watch repairer to have on hand.

c1.3.2 Rodico

One Touch or Rodico, a brand name of Bergeon, is a little wonder product for watch repairers and can be used for many different tasks.

c1.3.3 De-Greasing Solutions

In order to effectively clean watch components you will need to have a de-greasing solution to hand. A de-greasing solution will help to soften and break down old oil and grease deposits, and this is absolutely vital when servicing a watch movement.

c1.3.4 Watch Cleaning Fluids

It is possible to manually clean watch movements by hand by stripping it to pieces and soaking the parts in your de-greasing solution, and then making sure all the parts are spotless by spending a lot of time using pegwood or a small brush to clean away dirt and old oil deposits. This is a very time consuming task, but it is possible to effectively clean and service a watch movement using this method.

c1.3.5 Paper or Tissue

After soaking or rinsing watch parts you are encouraged to dry them as quickly as possible. Of course, if you are doing this by hand you would be using a bellows or air blower. This lesson explains why it is useful to have a stock of paper or tissue handy when repairing watches.

c1.3.6 Finger Cotts

Although not entirely necessary when taking a watch movement to pieces ready for cleaning, it is very important to not touch the watch movement with your bare fingers when re-assembling or re-casing. Hence the need for finger cotts.

c1.3.7 Lubrication Products

When re-assembling a watch movement, you will need to lubricate the friction points with appropriate oils and greases. You will find as you look through watch material dealer catalogues that there are many many kinds of oils and greases especially designed for particular applications. And indeed, if you inspect several service sheets for a variety of different movements, you will find quite a few different kinds of oil and grease recommendations.


A watch, whilst being a scientific instrument serving an important purpose in our day to day lives, would also be considered a piece of jewellery or even a fashion accessory.
For some, it is more important for the watch to be a reliable and accurate timepiece and for others the style and design is the primary concern when choosing a watch.

c1.4.1 Watch Glasses

Watch glasses can be made from several different materials depending on the function and style of the watch. In this lesson, we discuss the most common types.

c1.4.2 Winding Crowns

The winding crown is attached to the movement via the winding stem. The crown allows the user to wind up the spring in the watch, and with most modern watches it is also used as a means to alter the time.

c1.4.3 Case Pushers

Another common component of the watch case is the watch pusher or corrector. Typically these will be installed for watches with additional complications such as chronographs, calendars or moon phase mechanisms.

c1.4.4 Watch Straps & Spring Bars

Watches can be worn in various ways. A pocket watch, for example, will be attached to the wearer, perhaps to a waistcoat, with a chain hooked to the pendant called an Albert chain. Fob watches on the other hand will usually be attached to a chain and worn as a necklace.


Now that we have covered the basic requirements to get started in watch repair, lets go on to discuss the watch movement itself.

Inside the watch case you will find the movement. The mechanical watch movement is a mechanism which has a set of connected components engineered in order to ultimately present the time in as accurate a manner as possible.

c1.5.1 The Power Source

A mechanical watch will need to be running under its own power. And for this, a long spiral of spring steel, the mainspring, will be installed into a specially formed wheel, the mainspring barrel (or Going Barrel). The outer coil of the mainspring is secured to the outer wall of the barrel, whilst the inner coil of the spring is hooked to the barrel arbor.

c1.5.2 The Train of Wheels

The train of wheels in a mechanical watch provides two functions. First of all the train delivers power from the power source in a uniform and controlled manner by use of a specific reduction ratio in the gears. The train of wheels will deliver this power to the oscillator through the watch escapement.

c1.5.3 The Watch Escapement

So we have established that a watch will have a power source, the mainspring and barrel, and this power source causes the train of wheels to turn until the power is depleted. The watch escapement regulates the rate at which the wheels turn. This lesson shows you how.

c1.5.4 The Motion Work

In order for the mechanical watch to display the time there must be some form of additional gearing to utilise the rotation of the train of wheels. And for this we have the motion work.

c1.5.6 Identifying Watch Parts

Even with the most basic of mechanical watch movements, the amount of parts may seem a bit overwhelming. In this very comprehensive lesson we will identify and name all the parts of the basic mechanical watch movement.

c1.5.7 Identifying Watch Movements

And just as it is important to be able to recognise individual watch parts, it is also important to be able to recognise movement calibers so that you can order replacement parts should you need to.


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Recent Reviews for Level 1

Perfect for the beginner
by Derek Black
on May 2, 2023
for Level 1: Getting Started

Perfect for the beginner.

If you are new to the hobby, or you just want to review what you have gleaned off the net about what ...

An essential guide for all novice watchmakers
by davidhoward
on April 6, 2023
for Level 1: Getting Started

Mark’s course is highly recommended by a number of YouTube watch enthusiasts and I will definitely be one of them. The videos are detailed, informative ...

Clear, simple, educational and sadly addictive
by DrHWO
on March 26, 2023
for Level 1: Getting Started

As a pre quartz student, my involvement in mechanical timepieces was buying them and telling the time.Then retirement and a bit of free time and ...

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