How to Clean & Oil a Watch:
A Beginners Guide - Section 5
Written by: Kevin James
Copyright ©  Kevin James.  All Rights Reserved.

Removing the Barrel Bridge
​Locate the bridge that houses the "mainspring barrel". As described earlier it has a large shiny winding wheel called a "Ratchet wheel", a small wheel called a "Crown Wheel", and a small "click". 

​(Very old movements may not have these two gears. If after inspecting the back of the watch you see no winding gears, and can only see ONE large plate (i.e. no bridges) you have an old movement and some of these descriptions may not apply.)

​Back to removing the barrel-bridge; A smart first step is to remove the mainspring "Ratchet Wheel (the large shiny one). See Photo. ****Don't forget to let down the Mainspring*****. I usually remove this gear to prevent the bridge from pulling out the barrel, and consequently getting caught on the Center wheel.  

​Remove the screws that hold this bridge in place. Take note if any of them are longer than the others. If so, it MUST be put back into the same screw hole - otherwise the screw will hit some moving parts on the other side of the movement.

​Place the screws into your parts tray.

​Remove the Barrell Bridge. If it doesn't come up easily there are usually places along the bottom edge of the bridge that are notched specifically for prying with a screwdriver. Gently pry the bridge loose. Remove the Barrell bridge and put it in your parts tray with the screws. Under the bridge you will find the "mainspring barrell", it will lift out easily. Place it in your parts tray.


When taking any movement apart, all I can say is that common sense needs to be used. With so many watch designs out there, you may notice that you need to remove the next bridge in order to get a gear out of the way in order to remove the part you are currently working on. Go Slow and make note of the order that things are removed. A GOOD IDEA IS TO DRAW LITTLE DIAGRAMS OF THE POSITIONING OF THE GEARS ETC. Eventually, if you work on enough watches you will know what parts go where...

When you get the barrel-bridge out, place it with the corresponding screws in the next section of the parts tray.  

The Winding Pinion and Clutch Wheel

​Underneath this bridge, you will notice two small cylindrical gears with the stem going through the center. One is the "winding pinion" and the other is the "clutch wheel". (It will have a stem going through the center...that is IF you followed my instruction from earlier, you left the stem in place - or replaced it). Now it should be very clear why you want to leave the stem in place... it holds the Winding Pinion and Clutch Wheel in place so they don't fall out. These are the gears that wind and set the watch. Again, these parts will fall out unless the stem/crown is installed. You may want to insert the stem and tighten the little screw that holds the stem in before removing the barrel bridge. Reinstalling these little gears takes patience.!

Removing the Train Bridge

​Moving on to the next bridge, which is called the "Train Bridge". Remove the screws holding it in place and gently pry it loose. Remove it. This will expose a number of gears. Take a minute to examine the gears to see where they go, and how they are situated. You may want to get a pencil and pad and sketch their arrangement. The gears overlap and you will notice that there is an orderly way to remove them. Remove them carefully and place them in separate compartments of the parts tray. 

Removing the Balance Cock

​The "Balance Wheel" is the heart of your watch. It is the wheel that has the tiny spring coiled in the center that swings back and forth. The spring in the center is called a "Hairspring". It is held in place by a bridge called the "Balance Cock". The balance wheel is attached to the hairspring, which is attached to the underside of the balance-cock. The whole of these parts needs to be removed together (and held TOGETHER when removed). If you take out the screw, and haphazardly free up and pull out just the balance-cock, the balance wheel will hang and bounce along behind it. This will stretch out and goof up your hairspring and the watch won't run at the end of the day. The proper way to remove it is to remove the screw. Pry and loosen the balance-cock but don't remove it yet. Take your tweezers and gently grab the underside of the balance-wheel, and the upperside of the balance-cock. This will hold the two together for removal. Carefully take them out. Set them UPSIDE DOWN in your parts tray (Balance side up).

Remove the Pallet Fork and Arbor

​The last part to remove resides under the balance wheel. Once the balance is out you will see it. It looks like a tiny little "T". It is called the pallet fork. It is held in place with a tiny bridge called the "Pallet Bridge". Remove the screw(s) and gently pry up the bridge. 
Remove the bridge and place it in the tray. Before taking it out, take a moment to look at the Pallet Fork. The one end actually looks like a tiny three prong fork. Take notice of the center prong and remember that the center prong almost always hangs down.  The exception to this rule is very old pocketwatch movements.  Make not of the direction of the fork... This will help you remember when it comes time to reassemble. Remove the Pallet fork and place it in the tray.

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<======== Wind Pinion and Clutch Wheel
Congratulations!  Dis-assembly is complete.  You should now have a parts tray that looks like this: