The Restoration of Sector STE200 part 1

IMG_4274I used to have a watch. It was (is) an old quartz Sector STE200. I bought it 23 years ago and it was on my wrist, day and night, for most of that time. When I was a teenager, I worked with computers and the first paying job I got, netted me quite a lot of money (for my age and the times). The day I got paid, I went into the store in Slovenia and bought this watch. It is not worth much by horological standards, but it is worth a lot to me.

This summer (2015), we went to the island of Losinj for our holidays and I wore the watch as always when I went swimming. On the second day, there was condensation on the inside of the glass. This happened before (about ten years ago), so I was not too upset. I figured, I could get it dried and repaired as I did before. Two days later, it stopped working. Hmm. When I attempted to set it, both hands moved at the same time. Hmmm. The date wheel didn’t move. Hmm. Ok, I thought, it needs cleaning and perhaps the battery needs to be changed. I had the battery changed about three months ago and then it was also tested for water resistance – it was still fine for up to 10ATM (100m).

We finished the vacation and we went back to Slovenia. I took it to the watchmakers (the official Sector seller no less) and they had it for a few days. They called me and I spoke to Marko, a very friendly watchmaker. He told me that the watch was corroded and that the movement is shot. It would need replacing, as well as the hands and probably the dial. I said fine, do it. He told me that he was worried about the cost, but I did not care about that. Whatever it costs. He told me that it is August and the Italians (Sector is an Italian company) have the ferragosto (I hope I spelled that correctly) – the national vacation time. Nothing happens in Italy during August. Well, I said, try to get the parts and I will leave the money with my mother in law and she’ll pick it up for me (I was due to come back to Cambridge). He agreed and I left the watch with him.

He called me a week later and told me that Sector does not have the parts for the watch any more and that I am shit out of luck. I said thanks, took the watch and went online to buy myself another long term staple of my wrist (there is another story there, but that comes in another post). When we came back home to the UK, I thought that simply chucking the watch into the drawer would be giving up, somehow. I went online and checked whether there was a used Sector STE200 for sale anywhere. No luck. Well, I found one for sale in Brazil, but it would be hard for me to procure it (no international shipping, a site in Portuguese, prices in Real’s etc). I was not ready to give up just yet, though.

I registered at Cousins UK, a watchmaker’s site specializing in providing spare parts and movements. I knew that they would not have Sector, but they would sell Japanese and Chinese quartz and mechanical movements. Sector has a swiss ETA movement, by the way, but they are (a) very hard to get as the Swatch group (who owns ETA) is reluctant to sell the movements outside the group and even spare parts are really hard to source.

So ETA was not an option, but there are catalogues of different movements at Cousins. I needed to find the movement that had the right small dial positions at the right places. I figured I would repair the hands and the watch dial myself. When I say repair, I mean relume, essentially. The dial is fine, but the hands are pretty bad (see the photos). So I went searching. I found a Miyota movement that would probably work, but the dimensions need to really match, so I needed to get the movement out of the case. A jaxa type wrench is used for that, which I didn’t have, but that is what eBay is there for. I bought a wrench on September 4th and 24 days later, they still haven’t delivered it. Damn. In the meantime I bought another wrench from another seller, they delivered next day, but without the pins that you need to attach the wrench to the back. I complained, they promised a replacement, but I am still waiting 14 days later.

In the meantime, I discovered an italian watchmaker selling a sector STE155 movement. Used, with a butt-ugly dial, but what do I care, I will replace the dial and hands anyway. I just need to see whether the dimensions match. As soon as I get the wrench, I am opening the watch up and we’ll see. UPDATE. I got the wrench. It seems that the movement should fit. I ordered it. If it does not fit, I will be buying an ETA movement (when I opened the watch up, I found out I am looking for ETA 251.272. I can get those for about 100 pounds).

In the meantime I started preparing for the movement swap. I bought the following:
– new hands (they are luckily very similar to Rolex hands and thus I can get replica rolex hands fairly easily. I still don’t know whether the hole diameters match. I’ll find out when I get the bloody movement out).
– Rodico (cleaner)
– casing cushion
– bracelet tool + lugs
– movement holder
– hand remover
– hand setter
– luminous paste for the dial
– pegwood sticks (cleaning)
– digital measuring tool
– bezel remover
– silicon grease and paste (to grease the orings and gaskets)
– fine brushes
– watchmakers tweezers
– watchmakers screwdrivers
– G-S Glue (to seal the watch crystal)
– gasket and crystal tool (looks like a little hand press with different attachments).
– Watchmakers hammer

I still need to buy:
– the movement
– gaskets
– o-rings

While I am waiting for the case opener, I can still do some stuff. I started by taking the bracelet off. The lugs were heavily distorted. They either used 22mm lugs (it seems that this is a 21mm width) or they just got destroyed by 23 years of use. Luckily, I have about a 100 spares.

I cleaned the bracelet with soap. It is stainless steel, and I am not looking to make it look like new. Having it functional is just fine.

I removed the bezel, because it did not turn any more. The inner grove was just full of gunk. I brushed that out, cleaned it and re-set it. It now turns freely again. I put the watch in the movement holder and waited.

UPDATE. The Jaxa wrench(es) arrived today. I got two wrenches now. But hey, two is better than none.

Front. As you can see, it is badly badly corroded. The hands are really destroyed.





A bit of wrenching later, the case opens. There does not seem to be much damage. No discoloration or rust.


I need to buy a new gasket. 32mm seems to be the right size (0.5mm thick). Off to eBay I go.




Ok, gasket ordered. Now, I need to remove the hands (they have been corroded together). I cannot move them to a position where all of them would be aligned. when I tried (with tweezers, I am not a complete tool), the minute hand just fell apart on me.





Ok, hands are removed, the dial is now exposed.




While I wait for the movement and the new hands, I can re-lume the dial. I use pegwood sticks and slowly remove the old paint.













Then re-lume and this is what I end up with.




Now, I need to wait for the parts to arrive. I will revisit this, once I have everything. Hope the movement will fit. If not, well, I’ll have an extra movement :). To be continued.

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