Having your mechanical watch serviced
Given how much a new watch costs and how the market changes, buying a luxury watch is – beyond passion and pleasure – a real investment. Therefore, to enjoy your watch for as long as you possibly can, to pass it over or resell it later at a good price: you must take care of it and have it serviced regularly.
WHY SHOULD YOU HAVE YOUR MECHANICAL WATCH SERVICED ?
The caliber of a mechanical watch can comprise several hundreds of pieces: when these are set in motion together, they are subjected to friction. To limit the effect of this friction the mechanism is lubricated.
With time, the lubricant dries up and looses its power: friction increases, caliber parts wear out faster, dust particles come off and limit even more the efficiency of the lubricant. On the long run, your watch becomes increasingly less precise and more likely to break down… Similarly, watch gaskets dry up with time and, as a consequence, become less and less efficient. So the likelihood of water getting into your watch – even during a simple shower - increases.
Finally, a watch worn every day slightly slows down the drying up of the lubricant, but your timepiece will invariably suffer small bumps which will alter its mechanisms.
In any case, regular maintenance is not necessarily costly, prevents failure risks and ensures the smooth functioning of your watch.
HOW ABOUT QUARTZ WATCHES ?
For a quartz watch, the maintenance of the movement is simpler.
Nevertheless, you need to keep in mind that the battery must be replaced when approaching the end of its cycle to prevent any chemical reaction that could damage the movement. This is a fast and cheap operation.
Also note that, even if there a less parts in motion in a quartz watch compared to a mechanical watch, it remains important to have it checked from time to time: the smallest foreign particle could alter the smooth running of the caliber.
WHAT SHOULD THE FREQUENCY OF MAINTENANCE BE ?
As a general rule, a mechanical watch should be controlled and cleaned up every 3 to 5 years to ensure its smooth functioning.
However, if your watch stops abruptly, if it gains or loses time beyond 10 seconds a day or if one of the functions (date, chronograph…) stops working correctly, you are advised to take it to a watchmaker.
Similarly, you should have the watch checked out by a watchmaker when buying a second-hand which was not maintained and which is more than 3 years old.
WHAT DOES A MAINTENANCE OPERATION INCLUDE ?
What does a maintenance operation include?
Even if this is not a particularly complex operation, a maintenance operation still requires a watchmaker to spend some time on it. Here is what it is made up of: the watchmaker opens the case, removes the movement, takes it apart, checks and cleans every part, checks out the various elements composing the dial and, finally, puts everything back together, lubricates the caliber and performs adjustments and checks when the watch is in function.
If need be, the watchmaker fixes and replaces the defectives parts, polishes the case and, potentially, the glass. Strap and buckle are also thoroughly checked to prevent your watch from getting loose on your wrist and falling/getting lost.
Your watch will often seem like new after such an operation.
WHERE SHOULD YOU TAKE YOUR WATCH FOR MAINTENANCE ?
When it comes to luxury watches, the most important thing is to get in touch with a trusted watchmaker - ideally recommended by other enthusiasts.
This ensures that maintenance operations will be performed adequately, but - and especially - also that your watch will not be taken apart by someone who could damage it.
This person can be an independent watchmaker or simply an authorized reseller who, if not having a workshop on-site, can send your watch to the brand.
But also note that for very specific complications, you should send your watch to the manufacturer.
WHAT ARE THE COSTS AND THE MAINTENANCE DURATION ?
For a simple maintenance operation, 10 to 20% of the purchase price of the watch. To fix or replace damaged parts, costs can go up pretty fast. Consequently, you should ask for an estimate before maintenance or fixing operations are performed.
Similarly, the duration of such tasks depends on the complexity of the movement, on the condition of your watch and… on the watchmaker’s workload! On average, this lasts anywhere between 2 and 8 weeks.
And if you want to better comprehend what a maintenance operation comprises, take a look at this video of a full maintenance operation made by Omega :