Caring for Your Timepiece

IWC

Have you recently invested in a new watch?  Not sure how to care for it and keep it running perfectly?  Well, we have great advice to help you keep your newest investment in tip-top shape.  Read on for our tips on caring for your timepiece.

BRACELET WEAR

Rolex Sky-Dweller in Everose

Everyday wear and tear can be hard on watches and the most common item to wear out on any watch is the bracelet.  Dirt gets in between the bracelet links, acts an abrasive and causes the bracelet to stretch and wear out.

Keeping the bracelet clean will help to slow down the process of wearing it out. Consider having the bracelet professionally cleaned every six months.  For maximum performance, clean the bracelet often using an old toothbrush and rinsing it under warm soapy water.  Be sure the crown of the watch is fully secured during the cleaning to prevent moisture damage to the movement.  If your new timepiece is not water-resistant, always bring it to a professional jeweler for cleaning.

WATER RESISTANCE

Breitling

Water resistance is the ability of your timepiece to withstand immersion in water and is rated in either meters, feet, or atmospheres. The older a watch gets, the less water-resistant it becomes. Again, prevention is the best defense. If your lifestyle brings you in contact with any moisture, such as all-humidity in the air, perspiration, or immersion in any liquid, be sure to have the watch tested regularly.

Water resistant timepieces will withstand immersion in water up to the depth described by the manufacturer as long as the rubber gaskets in the case, crown and case tube are routinely replaced.  This should be done every other year.

DO NOT wear your watch in the hot tub or Jacuzzi as the excessive heat will cause the gaskets to fail.  If this happens, we recommend that you rinse your watch thoroughly with fresh water.

CELL AND SEAL

Cartier Panthére de Cartier

If your new timepiece has a quartz movement, it will need to have its “cell” or battery changed an average of every 18 months for the life of the watch.  Make sure you take  your watch to an authorized jeweler to have the work performed. If you try to change the “cell” or battery yourself, it could result in excessive and expensive damage to your watch.

If your watch is water-resistant, we recommend replacing the rubber seals in the case, crown and case tube at the time of service. Once the work has been performed, your watch should be fully tested to ensure that it is water-resistant.

SERVICING MECHANICAL WATCHES

IWC Chronograph Portugieser

Given the complicated nature of these timepieces, such repairs require more time. To give you an idea, a typical self-winding automatic movement contains more than 200 parts and uses five different types of lubricant. Repairs to timepieces of this complexity are never simple and require a great deal of skill and care.

Mechanical watches will require service at irregular intervals ranging from every two to five years.  This wide margin of variance is due to the unique ways in which each of us wears our timepieces and to the fact that each movement of this type is assembled and finished by hand so each has its own personality.  You will know if your movement needs service when it stops performing normally.  It may begin to run extremely fast or slow or may stop all together.  Don’t wait to bring the watch in.  Continued wear to an already ailing movement may cause further damage and result in more expensive repairs.

HOW MECHANICAL WATCHES FUNCTION

Baume & Mercier Capeland extra large watch, fashioned in stainless steel, featuring a chronograph, silver dial, blue alligator strap and automatic movement.

 

The two basic types of mechanical watches are manual wind and automatic, or self-winding. A mechanical movement runs on the energy of its mainspring rather than on a battery.  When you wind the watch you are coiling the mainspring up tightly.  The more tightly wound the mainspring and the more consistently the mainspring is kept at this maximum tension, the more accurately the watch will keep time.

Manual wind timepieces should be wound the same amount at roughly the same time every day.  It is possible to “over wind” a manual wind watch, so be very careful not to wind the watch past its stopping point.  The crown should be turned gently as you are winding the watch to prevent damaging the movement.  If the watch has run down and stopped, set the time before you wind the watch.

Self-winding watches can also be manually wound.  The difference is that these movements cannot be over wound.  About 40 turns of the crown equals a full day’s wear. If you are wearing the watch for eight active hours per day, the watch will wind itself and won’t need manual winding.

TIMEKEEPING EXPECTATIONS FOR MECHANICAL WATCHES

Rolex Datejust 36mm, Oystersteel, Everose Gold and Diamonds

It is important to remember that mechanical watches are throwbacks to an earlier time and are not new inventions.  The first rudimentary manual wind movements appeared in the 16th century and the first automatic arrived in the 18th century.  These movements are works of art as much as they are functional machines. You should temper your performance expectations to be realistic for the technology involved.

Manual wind movements are the most basic and therefore tend to be the least accurate.  If worn daily and wound correctly, a manual wind watch will be accurate to a few minutes per week. This error occurs because of the variance in the tension of the mainspring of the watch.  When first wound, the mainspring is very tense and the watch will tend to run fast.  By the end of the day there is considerably less tension on the mainspring so the watch slows down.

Automatic watches are superior timekeepers to manual wind watches and will be accurate to within a few minutes per month.  The more regularly and actively these watches are worn, the more accurately they will keep time. This is true because a more even tension is kept on the mainspring.

IMPROVING THE PERFORMANCE OF MECHANICAL WATCHES

Mechanical watch movements are affected by the pull of gravity and can therefore be sped up or slowed down depending on the position of the movement relative to the Earth. If your watch tends to run slow, try leaving it on its side with the crown pointing up at night.  Conversely, if the watch tends to run fast, leave it sitting with the crown pointing down at night.  Just remember “speed up, slow down”.  It may seem silly that such a complicated machine can be affected in this manner, but it can. Every movement has its own personality since each is assembled and finished by hand.

HOW QUARTZ WATCHES ARE SERVICED

Tag Heuer

Quartz technology is a product of the twentieth century and is, therefore, much simpler to repair.  You will know the watch needs service when it slows down, speeds up, or stops. When a quartz timepiece stops, it is normally an indication that the battery needs to be replaced. If the watch slows down or speeds up it is usually an indication that the movement needs more elaborate service.

Quartz movements are much less complicated than mechanical movements but will still require cleaning every few years. The service process is similar to that of mechanical movements, but it is sometimes more economical to replace a quartz movement than to repair it.

TIMEKEEPING EXPECTATIONS FOR QUARTZ WATCHES

Quartz movements are the simplest and most accurate of all watch movements. You can expect your quartz movement timepiece to be accurate to within one minute per year.

If your timepiece is running slow or just needs a check-up, come in and receive a free timepiece repair or service estimate. We have maintained the most up to date, state-of-the-art technology, which enables us to provide in-house services and watch repairs.To browse our extensive selection of Swiss timepieces, check out our website.  We’re very social, so be sure to join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

~Photo at top of page courtesy of IWC.

3 thoughts on “Caring for Your Timepiece

  1. My ladies’ Longines watch was purchased probably 45 years ago. I had not worn it for many years and took it to an established local jeweler for inspection, who replaced one of the parts of its movement and it appeared to be running when I left his shop. This was not recent and I no longer have my receipt for his bill. He did tell me that I should value this Longines watch, and not think of disposing of it. The watch has not run since immediately after that jeweler’s work on it and I am hesitant just to go back again. What is my best move for obtaining reliable service for this manual-wind Longines watch?

    1. Barbara,
      We would suggest taking it back to the jeweler who worked on it. They will have a record that you paid for the service. If you do not want to return to the jeweler, try another respected jeweler in your area.

  2. I do appreciate having your response. I shall have to mull over taking it back to the jeweler who worked on it, probably now about six or seven years ago. I live in a western suburb of Cleveland and may choose to drive well across town and bring it in to Alson’s. (Would I need an appointment for that?)

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