Return of an old friend

Return of an old friend

50 years ago I was lucky enough to go to the Munich Olympics, we drove from the UK in a convoy of Land Rovers and VW buses and stayed in a campsite in Bavaria (we knew almost nothing about any of the violence until we got home- this was before instant news and cell phones).

But before we went my Aunt Lou (not actually my aunt, but the mother of both my Godfathers, an amazing woman originally from Boston) had asked me what I wanted for Christmas- and knowing where we were going 8-year-old me asked for a wristwatch with a stopwatch so I could time the races we would be seeing (not actually knowing that such a thing existed).

Never a woman to do anything by half, she gave me a Breitling Cadette Chronograph, which I wore every day for the next twenty years or so, until it ended up battered and broken and was consigned to the back of a drawer.

It has travelled with me through all my moves, with the vague idea of eventually getting it fixed, but it was only recently that I rediscovered it and found out that the local jewelers in Rye were Breitling dealers. I took it in to them and found out that Breitling would no longer service it as it was too old– I also found out what a fine watch a Breitling was (I had always assumed this was just a few steps up from a Timex, like a Seiko or something, what did I know) and this just hardened my resolve to get it fixed if I could.

After a bunch or research I tracked down a gentleman in Pennsylvania who used to work for Breitling and bought up a lot of their old stock when he left them and now specializes in vintage Breitling watches. I corresponded with him and eventually sent him the watch for assessment. He wrote back with an encouraging report and a slightly scary estimate of the cost and said that he was backed up and it would take about 7 months before he could work on it.

I had almost forgotten about it until a couple of weeks ago when he sent me some pictures of the work he had done and told me that it was in the final testing and adjustment phase and would be back with me soon.

And today it arrived back to me 🙂 It has been totally disassembled, cleaned and lubricated, has new hands, a new crown, a new mainspring, and a new crystal, has had many internal parts adjusted, tightened and tweaked, and has been regulated over 10 days of testing to keep the best possible time.

I kind of love the fact that although it has new hands and a new crystal he has not done too much to clean the scratches on the case or the face- it still bears the battle scars of being used and abused for all those years. It came back with a whole set of instructions for its use and care, including a note that “we do not recommend vintage watches for daily use”- well, sorry, but that’s just going to be ignored 😉 I will be a little more careful with it than I was before I knew what caliber of watch it is, but I look forward to many more years with my old friend on my wrist every day.

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