Vietnam Vintage Zodiac Sea Wolf Refurbish - Watch Freeks


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Old 07-14-2013, 02:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Vietnam Vintage Zodiac Sea Wolf Refurbish

Heya Watchfreeks,
Its been one of those months. I have been trying to keep up with the numerous things that have been going wrong in my household as of late. The A/C having died again, lawn mower problems, leaky sinks, and a thousand other things that go wrong when its hot and humid out.
And adding to those problems are my latest few projects . One of which is this Zodiac Sea Wolf divers watch from the vietnam war era. I THINK this is a 1970 model, but from what i read, it could be made as early as 1965. My father might have worn this one. They were commonly sold in PX stores all over the world. And i read that UDT divers and seals had worn this watch in combat.
I got it from a Ebay auction i had won for $150.00. I had seen other sea wolf{s} going for MUCH more, so i thought id give this a go. The listing said it was running , and keeping "time-ish". The lume was all nasty and going black. The dial had issues with bubbling . The case was scratched and dinged up. While the person said the crystal looked great, the pictures revealed that the crystal was an aftermarket one that didnt look right. If you look at the before pics, you will note that the reflector ring in the crystal has been cut and notched .
And it had the ultimate problem, it comes on a stretchy steel band !
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Old 07-14-2013, 03:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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When i received the watch, it was fairly nasty . It smelled of smoke, and had crusted humanity all over it. But true to the sellers word , it was running, albeit slowly. It was loosing roughly 2 minutes or more a day !
The crystal was ok looking, but as i said , they had cut and notched the tension ring on it. It turned out, that the crystal was no where near the right size, it was .40 mm too large for the case, but the person who replaced the crystal notched the tension ring, allowing the plastic to compress into a much tighter space.
The dial regretfully was indeed bubbled in places. Zodiac was one of the rare watch companies still using enamel on watch dials. This one was a clear coat black, which i would guess time in the sun made small off white bubble form under the skin of the enamel. It was the one thing i could not fix safely.i had the idea of maybe filling the small bubbles with a dot of clear coat black enamel that i could mix up. But regretfully , the bubbles wouldnt easily break in their centers, and i didnt want to risk goobering up the dial any work.So all i did was replace the lume in the hour markers, which you will see coming up.
The case work was fairly straight forward. It needed filing , sanding , and buffing to make it look somewhat newer. There was alot of marks where previous watch repairers had tried to open the zodiac case.
If you have never opened a older snap case zodiac, DONT unless you have to. The case is a wonder of design , making it very water tight and uncomplicated, but the case is of super compressor type. Which means it is closed up with a watch case press. And makes it the very devil himself to open. I had to make a custom tool just to open Zodiac watches. People have opened up their fingers and palms instead of the watch case, by accident.

When opened, i noticed there was NO CASE SEAL , which is bad. The movement paid the price for no rubber case back gasket. A few of the screws in the movement were rusting. Thankfully not totally rusted out.
The movement is a Zodiac caliber #70a , which means its a automatic 17 jewel movement with a enhanced micrometeric precision regulator .This model did not come with the date option. Its a 21,600 A/H speed movement.
The movement is a rare cross breed between A schild and ETA movement makers. They basically took a standard A schild mechanical 1687/1688 watch movement , and Eta modified it to accept a automatic winding set up , and the micrometric regulator for the balance. The watch movement was made available for Zodiac,Favre-Leuba,G perregaux,Eberhard ,and Doxa watches .

The watch movement was pretty accurate for the day. Its only flaw was in 1 part of the movement , called a drive wheel. The drive wheel is actually a off set great wheel. It was offset to make the movement thinner, and allow for date adjustment in models that had date. The wheel basically had a slip clutch set up in it, allowing the time and date to be adjusted on the SAME wheel that drives the hour and minute hands. Many watch making companies STILL use this design, notably ETA , Rolex,and Omega
And the problem is , is that the clutch slip wheel wore out often on date models, leaving the watch having timing issues {such as being minutes off per day} or the watch hands wouldnt move at all. And even watches with no date would start working erratically due to this part wearing out.
The way to fix it normally is to replace the part. SInce Zodiac no longer makes these watches, no spare parts are to be found for it any more.Which means you have to get Jiggy with the part and fix it yourself.

I went ahead and started work on the watch. The movement was taken apart and cleaned . I had to take apart , and re assemble the movement 3 times . This was to find the drive wheel issue, and fix it right. I had to pull the wheel and clutch apart, gently crimp a piece of metal that was 1 mm wide at its widest, and re install it and test it. Over and Over.
I finally got it working right.
And of course someone had tried to adjust the regulator to make the watch keep time with the bad part, which they couldnt. So i had to re regulate the watch from scratch, with out a computer to guide me, cause i cant afford one, lol.
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Old 07-14-2013, 03:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Other wise, during the time i was reworking the movement, i had ordered a new old stock crystal for it {14.95 }. I found in my collection of watch parts a new old stock case seal for it. And i had to replace the original crown for the zodiac. Regretfully a NOS one is not available, so i had to use a sterile one. But i kept the old one , i may rebuild it one day.

I also filed , sanded , and buffed the case well. Its nicely shiny, and i got out a number of the dings and scratches.
I relumed the hour indices on the dial. I also relumed the watch hands , trying to keep them looking original , while allowing them to glow bright all night.
I also took off the bezel aqnd cleaned it out well , as it didnt move before. And i polished the acrylic bezel insert out some, as it was VERY scratched up. I at least made it understandable again.
I took off the stretchy steel band , and did the only respectable thing one can do with it, ignore it till it goes away , lol. I hate those things. They should sell them to women as hair removers, it certainly takes my arm hair out.

It was a royal head ache to do, but my Zodiac Sea Wolf is done. Its keeping to roughly +9 seconds a day. Its now water tight again. I removed all the rusted parts out of it. Its shiny and newer looking . And put on a new nato band. Hope you all like.
Rod
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Old 07-14-2013, 03:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I am seriously impressed, I will give you 1000 Russian rubles for this fine watch.

You can thank me later

Ted
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Old 07-14-2013, 06:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Another great save. You are clearly the Mariano Rivera of watches. Your collection must really be something special at this point.
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Old 07-14-2013, 09:39 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 07-14-2013, 04:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hey Rod! Another great save! Congrats!
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Old 07-14-2013, 05:04 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Really nice! Another watch saved and another watch to enjoy.
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Old 07-15-2013, 02:30 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone. Yep, my collection is certainly unusual, and has some serious rare and oddball watches in it.
Thanks for reading
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Old 07-15-2013, 03:19 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Old 07-15-2013, 06:55 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Well done! Love those old Zs.
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:27 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Great work Rod.
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Old 07-19-2013, 08:10 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Great job.
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Old 07-19-2013, 10:10 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Old 07-20-2013, 02:25 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Thanks for the great post. I am envious of your ability and probably your watch collection also. I have a soft spot for 70's dive watches and enjoyed all the pictures you shared.
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Old 07-22-2013, 05:17 AM   #16 (permalink)
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OMG unbelieveble... congratulations
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Old 05-25-2014, 07:23 PM   #17 (permalink)
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WOW Amazing... I love Vintage Sea Wolfs that look Vintage!!! If we wanted a new Sea Wolf... We're all gonna wait till next spring and buy a new anniversary edition Sea Wolf from Zodiac!

Here's mine, Fully serviced and ready for years of enjoyment!

Awesome Patina and +/- 2 seconds in 48hrs... Gotta love Zodiac!!

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