Some people love to wear their luxury watches. They include not just the aforementioned temperature extremes and UV radiation, but also filth, dust, wetness, and shocks. Since the 1800s, watchmakers have been coming up with and using new ways to deal with these problems. Watches nowadays are more water- and shock-resistant than ever before thanks to technological advancements.
However, users still need to take the initiative in the fight against these foes. All mechanical timepieces are inherently complex systems. They often have 200–400 moving parts, many of which are so small that they can’t be seen with the naked eye. If even one of these tiny parts is damaged, the watch won’t work well. For these parts to keep working well, they need to be cared for and maintained in the right way.
For more than thirty years, I’ve been an avid watch collector, and during that time I’ve developed a number of guidelines for ensuring the best possible condition for my collections. Some of these I’ve learned the hard way, like the dangers of dropping a watch while winding it; others entail employing common sense or “rules” that you may discover in online maintenance manuals. Of course, not everyone will agree on every aspect of watch care, considering the wide range of perspectives on timepieces. That’s wonderful, too; if it helps you, that’s all that really matters.
However, here are some suggestions:
The first rule of watch maintenance is to always wear a wound timepiece.
In spite of their durability, modern lubricants eventually dry out or become invisible. If you keep your watch well-oiled, it will last longer and perform better. The lubricants in a watch are distributed and the watch is kept running by winding it. You don’t need to wind your watches every day; I have hundreds of pocket watches and only wind them once a month on average.
Watches are often set and adjusted at full wind. Isochronism error happens when the mainspring unwinds. It can be small, but a watch that is fully wound will keep time better.
A manual wind watch benefits from being wound daily at the same time. I usually do this in the morning while I get ready for work. I just picked up the idiom “Sunday is wind day” to describe a wind shift that occurs every seven or eight days.
Do not wind your watch on your wrist.
The crown is usually accessed by raising the crown side of the watch when the watch is on the wrist. That puts stress on the stalk, and I’ve seen it break or bend as a result.
Watch out for the place you wind your watch!
You should not wind your watch while walking along the street or on any other harsh surface, since this might damage the mechanism. When I was winding my Regulateur Tourbillon in the restroom, it accidentally landed on the floor. My favourite watch was only scratched, but I’m almost sure my heart stopped for a few seconds. The lesson has been internalised.
Keep clean, but never use soap.
It’s not attractive to see a watch that’s covered in filth, and it’s possible that dust or other particles may be inside if it became so unclean. To clean the watch, I just use a microfiber cloth. The crown should be completely fastened, and the leather strap should remain dry, but a splash of water won’t damage anything. However, you should never clean with soap and water. Soap molecules can squeeze through the tiniest of crevices, but that won’t do a thing for your timepiece.
If we’re discussing water, be sure to give the gaskets and seals in your home a regular inspection.
Water resistance can be compromised even when a watch is rated highly due to gaskets and seals drying out. You may wish to check the water resistance of your watch once a year if you wear it in the shower or pool. It doesn’t take long or cost much to test a watch’s water resistance by putting it through different pressures, and many watchmakers already have the right tools.
When caught in a deluge, I will even remove my watch from my wrist and put it in my pocket if I am not wearing a dive watch with exceptional water protection.
Make the most of your warranty coverage
Outside of accidental damage, some watches are covered by vendor warranty from the original purchase date. Sending your watch in for warranty “repair” just before the end of the warranty term is a good idea if you’re having minor issues with it and can wait. That effectively adds another year to your warranty’s coverage. Having everything settled at once is another benefit.
Don’t put your luck or your watch to their maximum tests.
Some curious watch owners have apparently frozen their timepieces to determine if they are indeed bulletproof. What it has to do with a high-quality, complicated, and pricey instrument is beyond my comprehension.
Both myself and several other people I know have worn automatic watches while engaging in activities such as golf, tennis, and others. There may be a high percentage of survivors since these watches are so durable, but I still don’t see how this makes sense. Not having the strength of a pro’s swing is great news for my watch but terrible news for my golf game. But with only one solid blow, the watch will be in trouble.
One Scandinavian collector once asked if he could use his expensive watch to cut wood to find out how durable it was. And I remember a Tour de France cyclist with a really nice watch. I can’t imagine a scenario in which either individual would wish to put their mechanical watch through such a gruelling test
Automatic watches wind themselves using an oscillating weight, so keep that in mind. The rhythmic motion of the lever escapement is what makes mechanical timepieces tick. And while the KIF and Incabloc technologies used to protect watches from shocks are great, they are not foolproof.
Maybe I’m too possessive, but I’ve never understood why a cyclist in the Tour de France would even risk scratching his watch while racing; although that could just be me.
Careful attention must be paid when switching straps
Scratches on the casing are very modest in comparison to the potential damage to the watch mechanism caused by extreme shocks. Most collectors, however, attempt to avoid items that have been scratched since, obviously, they detract from the item’s value. Attempting to switch straps is a certain method to damage the lugs on your watch. Somebody in the know developed a course on watchmaking and included changing straps in the second section, after learning how to disassemble and reassemble a simple mechanism. Getting good results is not simple.
If you want to be able to switch straps quickly and easily, you should get some training in the process. Don’t risk injury by using anything but a spring bar tool (also known as a spring bar tool) for the job. I think it’s important to use good equipment, and I hear great things about the Swiss Bergeon tools. The price gap is negligible, and low-end tools tend to have thicker prongs that can wiggle.
If you really need to do this operation, you might want to try it out on a cheap watch first. If you work from the rear, any slips or scratches won’t show as much. Masking tape on your watch lugs might help if you’re worried about dropping your timepiece.
There is no denying the significance of excellent service.
Over time, oils and greases can dry out or harden. Gears and teeth will eventually need replacing. Most current timepieces have a daily beat rate of 691,200. Fine mechanical watches require maintenance on a regular basis.
The watch business is not trying to make a buck off of you by suggesting that you get your watch serviced on a regular basis. Service after the warranty has ended might be expensive, but it often ends up costing the business more.
Everybody wants to know how long they can go in between complete services. Whenever I see that my watch is showing signs of wear, I take it in for maintenance. A watchmaker once informed me that when a watch needs to be serviced, it will show signs of malfunction. The watch is either unacceptably sluggish, excessively rapid, or, worst of all, it stops working altogether. Or, even after being wound, the watch stops keeping time/changing the date/etc.
Even if the problem seems big, it may not always be necessary to completely fix the watch. Having a trustworthy connection with a local authorised dealer might be beneficial since they can provide an informed second opinion on any maintenance issues you may be having.
Have fun with your watch!
There’s a saying that if people knew everything that might go wrong during childbirth, they wouldn’t have any. Given the potential issues, few individuals in this area are interested in or even fond of mechanical watches. That is a disastrous error.
Considering the intricacy of even a basic “time only” model, difficulties with mechanical watches are surprisingly rare. The vast majority of problems have simple and speedy solutions. In my opinion, “keep it soft” is the golden guideline from the owner’s point of view. To avoid damaging your watch, avoid exceeding its restrictions.
Always use a wristwatch. Take pleasure in it; that’s the point. A nice watch is not something to be stored away in a safe, but rather enjoyed. It works better when you wear it because it keeps the watch wound and lets the lubricants do their job. Wearing a luxury watch is a statement about who you are and increases your appreciation for it.