High-Grade and Vintage Watch Restoration Tel: +49 176-55286486

Why Service a Watch?

Steven Burton at the work benchInvesting in a good quality watch requires more than a commitment of money. Just like cars, these finely engineered mechanical marvels require regular maintenance to maximize their performance as well as preserve their value.

I remember when I was a child; my mom had to trade in her Fiat Spider sports car. She owned it for many years, but not once changed the motor oil. The car dealership ended up giving us a great deal on a larger car, but they ended up with a piece of junk. She simply didn’t know that it was necessary to change the oil.

Just like with many car owners, people neglect routine watch servicing, just because they don’t know that it’s necessary.  Even though their watches are ticking or keeping good time, does not mean that all is necessarily well.  Watches can continue to keep operating even with little or no lubrication, due to their strong mainsprings. Like with my mom’s Fiat Spider, this can eventually cause a very expensive time-piece to turn into a very costly repair. 

Rolex and many other watch companies recommend having your watch overhauled every 3 to 5 years. A typical watch consists of over 200 parts working together, within tolerances measured in thousandths of a millimeter. The day to day movement of these parts causes friction, whether it be metal to metal or metal to ruby jewel contact, it requires proper lubrication to avoid failure.

Over time, the oils and greases used for this lubrication can break down, or dry up. This can adversely affect the accuracy of your watch, and cause damage to the movement's tiny parts. If a watch movement is not regularly overhauled, the lack of oil will cause microscopic particles from the metal to get into the watch movement. This residue then mixes with the oil, which is chewed up by the gear-train eventually results in a broken mainspring or worse. The resulting symptom is that your watch will slowly loose time and eventually stop running.

Furthermore, old dried-out gaskets can become hard and cracked, and thus result in a loss of the watch's water resistance. If this happens, and water enters the watch and starts to rust, the movement could become un-serviceable and you may even need an expensive new movement. 

Therefore, if water has entered your watch, or even if you notice fog under the crystal, it is very important that you have the watch serviced right away. DO NOT unscrew the winding crown and try to "dry out" the watch. By allowing oxygen to enter a water-damaged watch you are simply jumpstarting the oxidation process and accelerating the rust damage. Instead, you should seal the watch in a zip-lock plastic bag and call your watchmaker immediately.

A routine watch service focuses on cleaning, lubricating and adjusting, all of which are important in assuring accuracy and reliability with your watch. Once the case-back is opened, however, the watchmaker may also find other problems that need addressing. A good watchmaker should fully dissemble the movement and clean with the correct cleaning and rinse solution in an ultrasonic machine. They will use only the type and amount of lubricants that the factory recommends.

The make of watch and the level of complication determine the fees for such servicing and how long your watch will be out of your possession. Returning the watch to the factory is the typical plan of action for 99% of the jewelry stores, albeit the most expensive and time consuming. Some high-grade watch factories take now up 6 to 12 months for an overhaul. Some watch factories do not make their parts readily available to professional watchmakers, as they have in the past. The idea is to make their brand “exclusive”. This boils down to an unhappy customer that must wait a very long time for their watch and pay outrageous prices. Most high-grade watch owners have had this experience under their belt.

Another route is to find a highly skilled, experienced independent watchmaker to service your watches locally. Whichever repair avenue you choose, it is still of utmost importance to get your timepiece overhauled at least every 5 years.

Complex watch movements