Rotate Watches Kit Part 2

The previously unshown lower level of the kit: the tools.

Rotate Watches tool set

“Tune in next week and see if I can finish the Rotate Watchmaking Kit!” I said that two weeks ago in Part 1 of the Rotate Watches series. The update is late mainly because of shipping. The part I lost took longer to arrive than the replacement for the other part which I inadvertently destroyed. I’d like to say that I had no further problems and now have a completed watch, assembled by my own hands. Writing for The Truth About Watches means I can’t tell such a lie. There will be at least one more part to this saga . . .

The second free replacement part took about a week and a half to arrive. It appears to have shipped the day after requested, so I blame the postal service. Looking up the ETA 6497-1 shows that this part is “Winding Pinion Ebauches #410.” It’s tiny and the padded envelope gives every appearance of being empty.

Rotate watches reference
Image courtesy of (click on image for link)

I probably shouldn’t have downed a glass of gin and juice before opening the envelope. Still, I knew to cut at the edge. The problem is that the micro machines part has about no weight or bulk. You can’t feel it through bubble wrap. It doesn’t fall to the bottom of the bag.

Obviously the part ships inside a little clear ziplock pill baggie so it can be located. If you’re really unlucky, you’ll cut this baggie open while cutting the outer padded envelope. I know, because I found myself holding two nested sliced-open empty pouches with no little gear.

I was not looking forward to pleading with the Rotate Watches customer service for a third time. I searched the discarded cut-off section of the envelope, retrieving it from the pile of coffee grounds in the trash. Nothing.

Before committing to thoroughly investigating the kitchen garbage bag for a pinhead sized object, I figured I’d look on the floor. Because it was cleaner. This was a good idea, as I found the missing section of baggie. And there it was: the missing gear! I was back on track.

Rotate Watches part found!

Pull the stem, drop in the gear. The instructions said it only goes in one way. I’d put the project aside. That’s my excuse for why I was initially trying to drop the part into the gap between the case and the underside of the movement. Once I consulted the photo, I discovered the shiny striped Côtes de Genève finish is handy for making one realize they’re approaching things upside down.

I did get the gear installed. The little clutch surface is subtle but it’s in there facing the right way. Still the same result: always setting time and never winding. Describing this all verbally is tricky. But the (looks at diagram) Set Bridge Ebauches #445 has this flexible stick with two slots. I’m not trying to do innuendo here but I figured I had the peg in the wrong slot.

Image courtesy of

Manipulating these things with tweezers is like playing Operation without the buzzing. I was able to get it to wind. This was a relief, as the balance spring beating away meant that I hadn’t wrecked that vulnerable part.

But I remain unable to achieve the proper arrangement – where stem in winds and stem out sets the time. So I wrote to Rotate Watches customer service, again. I’m surely wearing out my welcome with them.

The reply took longer than before, though still well under 24 hours. It cheerfully requested that I provide some better explanation of the condition my condition was in. In fairness, I suspect I’ve messed things up worse than usual and there is no easy answer.

Looking at the handy imagery at, I get the feeling that maybe the set spring is not in the right place anymore. I’m surprised it works at all, given the amount of trial-by-error “adjustments” I’ve done to this little linkage system. But it doesn’t work right. Yet.

So once again I must say “Tune in next week and see if I can finish the Rotate Watchmaking Kit!” In Other News . . .

Robert has previously written about the risks of Kickstarter. Despite this, the allure of the wacky science project of the Nixoid Next* proved too much to resist.

His money has backed (that’s the term) this Nixie tube watch and we’ll be keeping you abreast of that process too. Will the money disappear with no trace of a product? A long string of delays and excuses? A timely product delivered for our totally impartial and honest review? Who knows? Stay tuned!

*Correction: Actually the backing is for the Nexoid Classic, which seems to be the same thing without the tilt function. This means that a button must be pressed instead of merely flicking the wrist to light it up for reading. There is a $109 price gap, and we’re committed now anyhow.


  1. My wife expressed relief when I was finally done with my “glue and paint model” phase. These projects are fun, until they aren’t.

    Kickstarter is weird. I’ve backed a couple of projects, but those projects were created by people with a proven business track record pre-internet. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories, and I don’t know if I could back something by a neophyte with no track record.

    • Correction time, again. It turns out the backing is for the Nexoid Classic, not the full Next, which is a previous model without the accelerometer. So one has to push a button instead of flicking a wrist to get a time display.

      As a creature of great momentum, I’ve let the watch kit sit for almost a week without even getting a proper response back to the seller. I’ll have to do that tonight.

  2. Got what I asked for for Father’s Day, and once again I got what I deserved, another kick in the ass. If I wasn’t convinced already after reading O.K.’s travails, the point was driven home when I read the last line of the little card that came with the kit: “Be patient and take your time. If you struggle with a step, take a deep breath and revisit it at a later time.” Uh…anyone wanna buy an unused watchmaking kit, negotiable.

    • That’s what I’ve been doing, although a little too late. Currently it’s like the home exercise equipment that conveniently folds up to store under a bed and never be used again. It’s better to plow through in one sitting if no complications arise. But they are right, knowing when to say when before a hot head makes bad worse is the right approach.

      If, I mean when, I finish this one, you can have it. It’s huge. I only chose it because it cost a bit less and I thought the other would be too easy.

  3. I didn’t have any issues with mine. I got it on sale when Fry’s was going out of business.

    It would be a cool thing if they could add more bezels, winding knobs, hands and things like that so you could really customize the watch. I put a taupe skeleton dial, gold hands and a Barton black band w/ white stitching on the Wright kit. I’m really happy with how it came out.

    • I was pretty open about most of my foibles being from my unintended ddeviation from the directions. I’m usually one that has zero problems following assembly directions, so I think at least part of the blame is on the format of their instructions, although it is possible I did not treat the affair with the dire diligence it deserved.

  4. Just bought one of the “medium” difficulty watches. I’m an old retired refrigeration mechanic and sometimes was challenged with “large” parts, I’m afraid I may have wasted my money thinking I could do it…

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