How to Fix the Helicoptering Effect in a SW200, ETA 2824 and Valjoux 7750 Movements

The Sellita SW200 and ETA 2824, and Val 7750, are three popular and widely used “Swiss-made” automatic watch movements. While these movements are known for their reliability and precision, watch enthusiasts and watchmakers may occasionally encounter an issue known as “helicoptering.” This effect refers to the rotor of an automatic watch movement oscillating excessively while winding, creating an audible and sometimes distracting noise and difficulty winding. (Other factors, including worn or damaged rotor bearings, a misaligned rotor, or a bent rotor axle, can also cause this issue. This article is assuming that the reversing wheels are the issue). It is most often caused by a poorly oiled or dirty reverser wheel, and can lead to damage of ratchet wheels, intermediate winding wheels and causing the creation of dust in the watch, potentially causing even more damage and wear.

This article aims to provide an informative and authoritative guide on how to fix this issue in both the SW200 and ETA 2824 movements.

  1. Identify the Problem: The first step in addressing the issue is to identify the problem. Helicoptering is typically characterized by an excess oscillation of the rotor, accompanied by a loud noise, vibration and/or difficulty winding. If you suspect this, remove the case back of the watch and observe the rotor’s behavior while slowly manually winding the watch. If the rotor exhibits excessive movement and makes noise, you may most likely be dealing with helicoptering.
  2. Disassemble the Movement: To fix the issue, you will need to disassemble the watch’s automatic system. Ensure you have the tools, such as a case opener, screwdrivers, and tweezers, and follow the standard watchmaking practices for disassembling the movement. Start by removing the rotor, followed by the automatic winding module.
  3. Inspect the watch for damage from the helicoptering: such as metal dust and shavings, this can be as bad as broken teeth on pinions and wheels. If you are seeing metallic dust, the best course of action is a complete service.
  4. Replace or Repair Parts: If no damage has occurred, proceed to cleaning the reverser wheel(s). Once cleaned, soak in Lubeta for 10 seconds and let dry. This lubricant is specifically made for reversing wheels. Lastly, if this does not fix the issue, replace the parts using genuine or compatible parts.
  5. Reassemble and Test the Movement: After addressing the cause, carefully reassemble the movement. Once reassembled, wind the watch gently and observe the rotor’s behavior. If the rotor moves smoothly without difficulty or excessive noise, the helicoptering issue is likely fixed.
  6. Seeking Professional Help (Maryland Watch Works) if Necessary: Fixing this can be a complex task. If you are not confident in your watchmaking skills or if the problem persists after your attempts to fix it, it is advisable to seek help from a professional watchmaker. A skilled watchmaker should have the knowledge and tools to diagnose and fix the problem effectively.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you should be able to identify and address the issue, ensuring that your timepiece continues to function smoothly and accurately. Remember to exercise caution and seek professional help if needed.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. Any repair or modification to a watch should be performed by a qualified watchmaker such as Maryland Watch Works. Maryland Watch Works is not responsible for any damage that may occur as a result of following the instructions provided in this article.