In this third part of my blog on the “Tools of the watchmaking trade,” I will show you some of the machines that I use every day in the watch shop.

Let’s get started with the heart and soul of my shop, my cleaning machine.

Cleaning Machine

cleaning machine
My compact cleaning machine ready for work.

I have been using the RM-90 German-made cleaning machine for the past 10 years. It is the true workhorse of my business.

It is completely automatic, meaning I can put a watch in the basket, push a button and the machine will take the watch through a cleaner and then two rinse solutions. It then goes to the dryer.  

After about 20 minutes, the watch is cleaned, dried and ready to reassemble. To be honest with everyone, the cleaning machine solves about 80 percent of all problems concerning most watch repairs.

cleaning basket full
A watch taken apart in the basket ready to clean.
cleaning basket
Basket ready to go into the machine.

Watch Timing Machine

timing machine 2
Rolex movement on the timing machine.

Here you can see a Rolex movement on the microphone portion of my electronic timing machine.

The stand is movable so that I can check the timing in any position that I want. I check it in at least four positions: dial up, dial down, stem up and stem down.

I try and get all four positions running at the same speed and that is the hard part during any watch repair.

timing machine
Rolex running at 3 seconds fast a day, not bad for a 50 year old watch.

Buffing Machine

buffing machine

This is the dirtiest and my least favorite part of this job. The right-side wheel has the cutting compound that takes out scratches, buffs crystals and more. The left wheel has “rouge” that puts the high polish back on a case.

Ultrasonic Cleaner

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This is my small ultrasonic cleaner that I use everyday. After a case is buffed, it goes in the ultrasonic for about five minutes. The cleaning solution removes most of the buffing compound and dirt in the band.

After this, it is scrubbed with soap and hot water to remove any leftover dirt. I then dry the case and we are finished and ready to install the movement.

Staking set

My staking set is used to replace a balance staff on a watch. It is also used in a variety of different jobs when you need to punch or tighten a part.  

staking set

It is a very precise tool and will last a lifetime if cared for. This one is mine from 1977 and still going strong.

Replacing a balance staff

Poising table


The poising table is used to check the balance after a new staff is installed. The balance wheel must be adjusted to make sure there are no heavy spots on the wheel, the poising table is used to check this.

Pressure tester

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This pressure tester is used to check the water resistance of a Rolex. A watch case is installed in the tester above the water. Then it is pumped up to pressure and left to sit for a few minutes.  

The watch is then lowered into the water and the pressure is released. If there are any leaks, they will show up as bubbles of air escaping from the case.


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One of my most useful tools is this small but very powerful demagnetizer. There’s nothing worse that a movement or tweezers that are magnetized.

CHARLEY PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Charley would like the record to reflect that she would never beg for an extra French fry or pizza crust or for a lick of peanut butter or leftover spaghetti. Never.