The watch that no one could fix, the story of how I got lucky with a watch
Image from the time, the watch was working (I lost the second hand in the process of having it repaired)
Credit to some unknown reason, my watch stopped beating on the 30th of August 2020. It was my grandfather's Roamer Popular with an MST 372. It was also my first swiss watch, my first mechanical watch along with being my first vintage watch as well. This watch was my gateway to the alluring world of mechanical and vintage watches. Naturally, I was devastated.
I had lifted my wrist to check the time, but to my surprise, the central second's hand was not ticking! I lifted the watch to my ear to hear the ticking sound of the 18,000 BPH watch, but there was none... I was not panicking at the time and was not even worried because I was scheduled to visit a watch doctor that day for the repair of my other watches.
Image from the day the watch stopped working
When I gave the watch to my watchmaker, he looked at it and said that it needs a service. He poured some oil over the jewels (Yes I know it is very unprofessional, do not worry. I had it professionally serviced later on), but it did not work! He asked me to leave the watch with him and he would repair it later. But, I did not do so as he was not a trusted watchmaker.
After this incident, I went to a trusted watchmaker and he told me that the balance staff is broken! I asked him to repair it but he said that the watch is very old and he would not be able to source the required parts for it. I still asked him to at least try. He agreed and then he asked me to leave it with him, which I did and came back to him 1 week later.
After a week, he had no success. He had also visited countless watchmakers, established and new, but even they said it would be impossible to find the balance staff for MST 372.
Heart-broken with the news that my first, real watch would never tick again, would not be able to ever keep time for me, and its ticking would no longer soothe my ears, I returned home and put it on my desk as a reminder of how simple objects can carry immense value for people.
I still did not want to give up yet, even though I had spent the past 6 months trying to have the watch repaired. I stopped wearing my other watches and kept on wearing this watch. My relatives warned me that it is not a good omen for a person to wear a stopped watch, but it reminded me of 2 things. I had to have the watch repaired & I need to be more careful with such vintage things if I had to continue my interest in them.
I had gone as far as to the city of Agra (200km from my house) to have my watch repaired, but even watchmakers over there refused, that they would not be able to source the parts!
I found a dealer on OLX (a local trade website), he said that he has an MST 371 balance wheel, which would fit my movement. I used that but still, the watch did not work! I asked him to keep looking for another movement. He visited several watchmakers, but then we learned, that MST 372 equipped watches were never targeted for the Indian market! Due to this reason, there were almost no MST 372 movements or watches in India! Well, this added another unexplored chapter to the story of this watch, and now I would wonder how my grandfather got his hands on this watch for the rest of my life!
But now I was determined. No matter the cost, even if I had to send it back to Switzerland for it to be repaired, then be it.
Fortunately, this repair did not turn out to be as costly as I had imagined. I found an old watchmaker in Nizammudin, New Delhi (20 minutes away from my house). He told me that it is a very easy repair! I was over the moon and very overjoyed! Along with that, he also agreed to repair another watch, which belongs to a relative, a ladies Enicar, which was also suffering from a similar fate of watchmakers saying that it cannot be repaired!
The image shows the watch now, with a new second hand, a new yolk spring, fully serviced (professionally), with a new balance staff ticking away joyfully, soothing my ears, pleasing my eyes...
A week later, I had both the watches ticking away in my hand! A whole year, but it was worth it as I learnt countless new things and met several watchmakers along the way! Be careful with old watches, lesson learnt!