A phrase we often hear is “my watch has kept going for years and I’ve never had it serviced”. If this is the case, why should a watch be serviced?
We’ll concentrate on mechanical watches in this instance, as servicing is a little different when it comes to the majority of quartz watches.
It’s important to note, there’s a big difference between a watch which is working and a watch which is actually keeping time. If a watch has gone decades without seeing a watchmaker, yet it is still working, this is more down to the fantastic design of the watch movement (like the wonderful Swiss lever escapement) rather than a sign that your watch is in good condition. Most relatively modern timepieces should keep time to a lesser or greater extent. If your watch is losing or gaining minutes per day, this is certainly a warning sign that it needs attention.
Even if your watch is keeping time, there are many other elements to a watch movement which require regular maintenance besides those involved purely in timekeeping. If you have a chronograph function for example, or in an automatic watch the parts needed to wind the watch efficiently. Pictured below we have an image showing the automatic work from an Omega Seamaster we recently serviced. This watch was still running – albeit not especially well – and as you can see the automatic system is looking rather worse for wear.
In order for a watch movement to operate efficiently, it requires periodic maintenance in the form of a service. This involves (briefly) the entire mechanism being completely dismantled, cleaned, reassembled, oiled, adjusted and tested. It’s also checked for wear, with worn parts replaced. If a watch is left without servicing for prolonged periods, the oils and greases start to dry up or act to actually increase friction and parts are left to run dry which then causes increased wear.
If you have a particularly rare or old watch, this may cause issues as worn parts may not be freely available. This could lead to parts needing to be made, exponentially increasing the cost of the repair. You also may have heard about some Swiss brands restricting the availability of their parts for even their modern timepieces. Another reason to look after your watch! That said, we are lucky in that we can source many such parts. Service intervals for different models do vary, though we suggest 4-5 years as a general guide.
We have encountered some surprise from clients at the need to maintain a watch regularly to ensure it’s continued longevity and accurate performance. The analogy I like to make is with servicing your car. Imagine your watch movement is like a tiny engine. If you wear it daily, it’s ticking away 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It’s a truly remarkable thing. Imagine running your car like this! The need for maintenance seems a little less surprising thinking about it in such terms.
When you have a quality timepiece from the likes of Rolex, Omega, and Tag Heuer, it makes sense to look after it. By ensuring your watch is kept regularly serviced it will continue to provide you with years and years of reliable service and may then become an heirloom to pass on to the next generation.
Do you have a watch in need of servicing? Contact us to see how we can help.