I firmly believe in the old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” but after this last watch I think it needs a new postscript. As it relates to watchmaking it should be “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again (unless you are inflicting irreversible damage to the watch in which case either seek a professional or buy the right equipment for the job.)” Case wrenches are good up to a point. Many watches require much more torque to get the job done and that is why amazing watchmaking inventions like the Bergeon 5700z exist. Unfortunately the previous owner of this gorgeous Omega Caliber 565 did not get the memo and instead thought that with enough elbow grease (there are a plethora of special greases for watches but “elbow” is not one of them) this case would finally budge. He/she (given the evident stubbornness I’m going to assume “he”) caused irreparable damage to the case back that could have been avoided had he opted to use more suitable equipment. The problem was that the gasket had melted and re-hardened in the threads. This made it impossible to open by manual force alone. A tight fitting into the nifty 5700z and a simple turn of the wheel and the case was opened. Once inside, the absolute beauty of a barely touched pink gold Omega movement, as it always seems to do, amazed me.
I do not know why these watches sell for so cheap. They are phenomenally well made pieces, reliable, and elegant inside and out. They are also a good segue (or gateway depending on your perspective) into the middle-upper range of collecting. What’s not to love? My only caution is to never ever buy one if you see the words “broken balance” or anything related to it or the hairspring. Although a watch like this can routinely be had in the $250-400 range, a single balance complete will set you back almost $300, wiping out any savings you might have thought you were getting by purchasing a “fixer-upper.”
The Caliber 565 is similar to the earlier 560 except for one nifty change: a quickset date mechanism. In many older watches that contain a date feature, one must manually advance the time so that the date mechanism engages to the proper date. This can be a huge pain when wearing a watch after a prolonged period in the drawer or, in my case, after fixing a watch and seeing that while the actual date is the 5th the display on the watch reads the 7th. With the invention of the clever quickset mechanisms this problem was solved. The 565 works by pulling the crown all the way out to advance the date, drastically decreasing the time necessary to properly set the date or advance it by a day at the end of some months.
Once I got the movement back together and running well I got to the case. I tried my absolute best to remove as much of the superficial damage caused by the stubborn prior owner without removing the iconic Seamaster logo. I did my best, and it looks OK. Had the person given up in their attempts this watch would be mint. This is still a fantastic piece in great shape for its age. I have certainly seen worse, but all it would have taken was an acknowledgment of futility and this watch would have been perfectly preserved. It is now a mint piece from the front that shows an unfortunate past in the back.