Anything and everything we no longer need anymore generally ends up in the bin. This is the shameful result of the throw-away society we have become. Thankfully when it comes to watches we seem to have retained a different kind of sensibility.
Oh the things a noble watch and its owner can teach us!
For a moment let’s forget about ordering replacements on Amazon Prime. It’s time to get serious about fixing and maintaining something instead. Here is my simple guide to watch repairs and watch servicing.
Don’t attempt to fix your watch at home
Watches are complex. I wouldn’t recommend you try and fix any watch at home. The insides of watches are fascinating, but consist of many tiny pieces. In a complicated movement there can be as many as 300 to 500 parts.
How these pieces fit together is complicated. It requires specialist tools and a trained eye to repair and service a watch. If you aren’t a trained watchmaker then the chances are, you’ll do more damage than good. It is always best to leave watch repairs to the experts.
Simple repairs, cleaning and battery replacements can usually be carried out quickly at your local jewellers relatively cheaply.
Why watch servicing is a good idea
Whether you wear your watch everyday or infrequently, just like a car, a mechanical watch needs regular servicing. According to experts, as a general rule of thumb, you should get your watch serviced every 3-5 years.
Frequency of service should depend on how often you wear your watch and how carefully it is kept when it isn’t being worn. A regularly used dive watch may require more frequent attention. Testing for water resistance is recommended every 2 years.
Signs your watch needs servicing
Watches do require regular maintenance to stay in good shape and keep time. Luxury watches may go 10 years or more without any problems (they are designed to last a lifetime), but there are some signs you should look out for.
Any evidence of moisture or condensation on the glass needs to be dealt with quickly (water inside a watch could prove fatal). Any change in your watch’s behaviour, such as erratic timekeeping also signals a problem.
To keep your watch in tip top condition, avoid these bad watch habits!
Common watch repair services
The most common watch repair services are:
- Watchband replacement
- Battery replacement
- Cleaning and polishing
- Watch glass replacement
- Watch dial restoration
- Correction of magnetised watches*
*A watch can become magnetised and act erratically if it is exposed to certain levels of a magnetic field from things as simple as speakers, microwaves and X-Rays.
Antique and vintage watch repair
Vintage and antique watches are much less resistant to general wear and tear than their modern counterparts. Both dust and water or humidity can cause real problems to the movement of older watches.
Whether you have invested in an antique or vintage watch, or inherited one, you may need to get it repaired, or spruced up if it looks a little worse for wear. Always seek the services of a Master Watchmaker for any repair or restoration work. It won’t be cheap, but the complexity of older watches requires a dedicated expert and is well worth it to maintain the value of an older watch. There are a variety of different repairs that can be made to a vintage watch, such as:
“Battery replacement, bracelet and strap repair or replacement, glass replacement, repair and restoration of the case, dial restoration and repair, and full restoration service of the mechanical movement”, W.E Clarke Watch Repairs.
See some more tips on storing and maintaining your vintage or antique watch here.
Most good quartz watches can be repaired and are more easily fixed than mechanical watches. Cheap Chinese or Japanese quartz watch movements can’t be repaired; the movements can only be replaced in their entirety.
The main problem encountered with quartz watches is the simple necessity of a change in battery. Other problems are generally due to dirt in the movement, oxidation around the battery placement, a defective coil, a defective quartz crystal (chipped or cracked crystals need to be replaced) or something has gone wrong with the electronics, such as a corroded wire track.
Watch crystals and watch batteries are easily replaceable, but should be dealt with using a professional watch repair service. Your local jeweller should be able to help you, or alternatively seek advice from a specialist watch repair service.
Mechanical watches have a lot of parts (over 180 and in complicated movements up to 500). These mechanical parts need lubrication to remain in optimum working order. The majority of mechanical watch problems are caused by a lack of lubrication, so regular servicing is a good idea to prevent such problems.
Gaskets and seals within the movement can also deteriorate over time. Don’t be tempted to dismantle a mechanical watch as small parts are easily damaged if you don’t actually understand the movement properly.
Let the experts look after your watch repairs and servicing so you can enjoy precision timekeeping. It is quite refreshing to talk about something that can actually be repaired. If only we could have a deeper connection with all of our material belongings and not just our watches.