Monday, 26 December 2016

Don't lend your watch to a Superhero

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It is the time of year for movie previews so here is mine! With a few bits left out so that it will not be a spoiler.

Back in September 2015 I received a query from the props buyer for a film in pre-production under the title "The Nightingale" after a briefing I was asked for recommendations for an appropriate watch that would be quite prominent in the film [spoiler omitted, and of course everything could have changed in post production].

After considering the options over several weeks they purchased a rather more expensive Waltham 1908-640 than the ones I had recommended because they liked the look of it. It did not completely conform to the brief but they were unconcerned, partly as I found out a couple of months later, because the film was actually Wonder Woman and the brief had not been entirely accurate.

The following January I got a call saying there was a problem with the watch and could I fix it, the watch duly arrived and in a bit of a state as can be seen from the picture below.

Having spoken to the young man (not one of the cast) who had been on set, he said he could not work out how to change the time so he had opened the front and tried to turn the hands and the hour hand had broken off.

To keep shooting (presumably not a close up of the watch!) the hour hand had been glued onto the face.

The red dust had been applied because someone [name omitted to protect the guilty] had decided that the watch looked "too good" and so they had "aged it". After a clean and a new hour hand it was back for filming a few days later.

In March I arrived home from a days Salmon fishing to hear of another problem, Wonder Woman had stepped on the watch, could I fix it? And it was needed very urgently for filming, apparently the "stunt watch" they had got in from Canada as a stand in was not good enough, so they needed this one back p.d.q. and it had to be working. It was driven out from the studio next morning. Fortunately it had not been stepped on - even a petite Superhero could have done a lot of damage - it had probably been dropped and / or kicked whilst on the ground, an easy thing to do, I guess, judging from action scenes shown in the trailer.
The Waltham 1908-640 before its adventures.

Refitting the Crystal and fixing the broken winding & setting was not a big problem but in this case and with time short, the broken balance staff was.

Normally I would be quietly confident of replacing a broken balance staff and getting a reasonably well performing watch in the time available, but the 1908-640 has a double roller and they are well known for breaking when being removed from the staff or when being refitted (they can be a tight fit and can be quite fragile) and I had no spare except perhaps on a working watch. Also, although I had a reasonable collection of spare staffs, there was no knowing until I tried if I had the correct type with the correct pivot size that would take the hairspring collet and the tricky double roller without something being modified. Then there was the cracked hole jewel which might need replacing.

It was too much of a risk so rather than fixing the -640 I found a working 1908-Traveler movement[1], gave it a quick clean and a mainspring, fitted the dial and case from the -640 and the props buyer picked it up that afternoon. We will have to wait until June to see if the original watch died in vain or for a noble cause, if anyone goes to see the film I would like to know if all of the trouble was worthwhile.

So be careful lending a watch to a Superhero.

[1] For the uninitiated a 1908-640 is a fairly high grade version of the watch and is quite rare with only 5,000 made, and only 1,000 pendant set as this one was, the Traveller it the 7 Jewel base model, above it and below the -640 are the -620, -625, -630, -635, PSB and Royal grades plus a number of special order intermediate grades probably totalling several million examples.

1 comment:

  1. what a chapter of accidents! you couldn't make it up....