What movement should I use? Once you have decided on which Case you plan to use you then need to consider what movement you would like to add. Its a good idea to select a movement that is going to be compatible with the Case and Parts you will use in your project. For example you make decide to use an usual movement only to find that none of the upgrade parts are compatible. Here are a list of compatible movements.
- Unitas 6497
- Molinja 3601/2
- Cortebert 616
- Angelus 240 cal
- Rolex 618
The next step is to decide how much you want to pay.
Asian 6497: The lowest price is likely to be an Asian 6497. A good Asian Movement from a good supplier is likely to be a very reliable movement. Prices vary from $40 to $60
What to watch for: Some 6497 are being sold without oil. These are probably from a large consignment that were supposed to be used in a factory and the factory was planning to oil then check the QC. Most Asian movements are very good ask the supplier whether the movement has been oiled and passed QC
Molnija 3601/3601: Prices vary widely. In 2010 the 3602 could be easily bought for $28. Because so many people are using this movement for projects the the price can be as high as $100 and more. The Cannon Pinions on the 3601 and 3602 are quite short however the 3602 does have a slightly taller Cannon Pinion and has a jewel center wheel bearing (visible in the center of the movement on the backside). Many people prefer a brass center wheel bearing on the 3601 as its similar to the Vintage Panerai movement).
What to Watch For: excess old poured into the keyless system. Its very common to see some of these movements almost flooded with standard oil thats been poured into the keyless system. Also look for excessive wear and "wobble" on the balance wheel. Unfortunately many have not been properly serviced over the years, always ask the seller how accurate it is for example Plus or Minus (+ or-) how many minutes/seconds per day. If the seller wont say then be careful (its easy to check just wind it up and see how it runs over 24 hours).
Cortbert 616: Cortebert sold the machine tooling to Molinja Russia when they closed the Coretbert Swiss Factory. There is no doubt when compared to the Russian Molnija that the Coretbert is a better movement. Not all Cortebert are perfect but most seem to run well, I have seen fewer problems with the Cortebert than I have with the Molinja. Maybe this is because people serviced the Cortebert more often. Prices for the Cortebert have been fairly stable over the years expect to pay around $350 to $400
Angelus 240 cal: This is an 8 day travel clock movement that was once used by Panerai around 1961, this movement came without and alarm and is stamped Juni 61. Most Angelus 240 that are for sale will not be quite the same as the Panerai version. They will either have an alarm system or will have the alarm function removed and sometimes the Bridges converted to look like the authentic Vintage Panerai,s often many look very good.
There are many points to look for on the 240 cal but you need to be aware whether the movements is Incablo or Non-Incablo. Incabloc is shock protection and suitable to use as a watch. Do not be put off buying Non-Incabloc, they are fine, just don't wear the watch if you plan to chop wood with an axe (if you know what I mean).
Things to check on the Angelus 240:
- Is the movement keyless or do you need a key to wind it (not suitable)
- Is it Incabloc or Non-Incabloc (look at the balance wheel adjuster)
- Is the Hour Wheel over 3.25 tall (spare wheels are available)
- When was it last serviced
- Is it accurate to + or - 2 to 3 minutes a day
- Has it been converted to fit inside a watch (see how to convert on this website)
- Are conversion plates fitted (some will have the bridge pillars turned down).
Price for the Angelus vary widely from $800 for a on Incabloc unserviced to $2300/$2400 for something thats had a lot of conversion work, servicing etc. If you can find a 240 cal with the original plates then prices can be even higher. The most expensive would be the genuine Juni61 (June 1961) movements, these are rare and will be the most expensive.
Rolex 618: As this movement was used by Panerai then often the movements will not need any conversion parts. The true 618s as used in the Panerai are very rare and batch numbered. However, you may find a nice Rolex pocket watch with a 618 inside that would make an ideal movement for your project. For the pocket watch type movement expect to pay $2800 to $3000
Basic Rule: Ask when the movement was last serviced, if the seller doesn't know then assume it hasn't been serviced. A good clean and service will cost around $100. However a skilled watchsmith can often take a movement with say + or - 2mins lost or gain a day and tune it to a few seconds a day. Not many watchsmiths can do this so its worth asking around and expect to pay around $200 for his time (its often worth it if you plan to keep it). Always ask how accurate the watch is and dont assume because its cheap it will be a bargain.