Some months back I managed to pick up a Tag Heuer 2000 Exclusive Automatic Chronograph CN2111 stainless steel case and dial from eBay. I bought the case and dial for what I thought was a reasonable price and my plan was to source the other required components, then put it all together. The missing parts being a set of hands and obviously a movement, in this case an ETA Valjoux 7750.
The photos in the eBay auction were terrible but I thought I would take a gamble anyway. The seller mentioned that the dial had one of its feet broken off but was otherwise in good condition. He was also selling the bracelet for the watch and the movement which was sadly not working and in pieces. Both the movement and bracelet went for far more than I was prepared to pay so I passed them up.
On arrival, the case as described was in pretty good condition, it had a few battle scars and the polished bezel displayed a large number of scratches. I was confident that I could polish the majority of it out and get it looking like new again. Thankfully the sapphire crystal was unmarked. Unfortunately the seller decided to leave the dial to float around inside the case during transit, this allowed the chapter ring to come loose and scratch the dial. The pivot hole on the 6 o’clock sub dial also had some paint damage. I wasn’t best impressed but decided to keep it anyway as I liked the case design and could live with the marks on the dial.
The broken dial foot was also a problem as I had planned to use one of the stick on dial pads but due to the chronograph configuration and proximity to the edge of the dial, this wasn’t possible. I was left with no choice but to get some quotes for soldering on a new dial foot. I soon found out that most dial restorers would only do this along with a complete dial restoration due to risk of heat bubbling the paint. The prices quoted made the whole project pointless, I could purchase a used but complete watch the same as this for less than the cost of my original outlay, cost of the dial refurb and the cost of the other required parts. As a result, the project was put on hold for a while so I could decide what to do and search for used dials, etc.
Fast forward a number of months and a friend of mine came to the rescue with a brand new Tag Heuer dial, set of hands and full set of gaskets for a very reasonable price. Just to top it off, he also had an unbranded 7750 movement that he was prepared to sell me for a truly amazing price. I was extremely grateful for his help and duly snapped up all the parts. I now had everything I needed and the project was well and truly back on!
Unfortunately at this point I got rather excited and in my rush to put it all together forgot to take any pictures of all the work in progress. To make up for this I have taken a large number of completed pictures. Anyway, my first job was to remove the bezel from the case. Next I removed the pushers from the case and cleaned them in an ultrasonic tank. The case and bezel were now ready for polishing.
I started with the bezel as it only had one type of finish to apply, using a polishing mop and polishing rouge I set about removing the as many of the scratches and marks as possible. I didn’t polish out every single mark as I wanted to remove as little metal as possible. My reasoning for this is that a polished bezel will inevitably pick up marks and need to be polished in the future, removing a lot of metal would make it difficult to maintain the bezel shape in the future. Once I was happy with the finish, I decided to fill in the numbers on the bezel using black enamel paint. Although this model never left the factory with painted numbers and neither have I’ve seen another with them painted, I thought it would add some extra detail to the design and works well in my opinion.
The case was all together a more difficult proposition, two types of finish were employed, a polished surface on the case sides and a grained finish across the top of the case and down the lugs. It would require a lot more patience and the accurate use of some specially designed masking tape. The challenge was to get a crisp line where the two finishes meet with now overspill on either surface, believe me this was extremely difficult. I masked up the glass and grained surfaces then set to work polishing the case sides. Once I was happy with the finish the difficult part of the polishing process began, masking the polished sides off so the other parts could be grained. I had to achieve a perfect line that followed the contours of the case otherwise I would end up with parts of the polished surface being grained. It took me 2 or 3 attempts at each process before I achieved a result that I was happy with.
After cleaning everything to remove the polishing dust, I refitted the pushers to the case and then greased the bezel and ratchet spring before also fitting them back on to the case. All that was left now was to fit the dial and hands to the movement and then fit them in the case. The movement holders were screwed in and the stem fitted along with a new gasket in the crown. Before the case back was fitted, I put the watch on the timing machine and it was running an average of +10 seconds a day in all positions. This was a standard 7750 not a chronometer so the timing was well within the factory specs. I knew these movements were capable of a being regulated down to chronometer specs so I set to work. Sure enough after 5-10 minutes spent moving the regulation pins to make the hairsprings effective length slightly shorter the watch was running an average of +2 seconds in all positions. Well within COSC spec and a job well done. A new case back gasket was greased up and fitted, finally the case back could be screwed down and the watch was complete.
I’m very pleased with the end result and I just know this one will get worn an awful lot, its not been off my wrist since completion! Its the second 7750 powered watch in my collection, the design is a lot more versatile though and the case is a modest 39mm which is quite small for a watch containing this movement. The painted bezel numbers work really well and I love the square honey comb effect on the dial. I also prefer the raised silver Tag Heuer logo to the usual flat and coloured logo of most models from this era. A change of strap turns it from sporty to dressy which I think is a complement to its understated style. I hope you all enjoyed the read and the end result.
Black Perforated Leather with white stitching…