Should You Service Your Watch At All?
If you own a luxury watch you’ve probably considered whether or not you should service the watch and if so, at what interval. There are no hard and fast rules and there are certainly divided opinions - some saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and others saying that it is important to service mechanical watches, but less important in quartz watches. So what is the answer?
The general recommendation by manufacturers is to have your mechanical watch serviced every 5 years. This time period may be shorter when it is linked to a battery change in a high-end quartz watch. This interval is shorter still if the watch is worn in extreme conditions of temperature or activity as the wear on the watch and the parts will increase.
If you have ever had your luxury watch serviced, you’ve no doubt noticed that servicing can be an expensive and time consuming process, with prices typically ranging from £300 to £800+ for a full service on some high-end watches and taking around 8 weeks.
But why does it cost so much and take so long? And do you actually need to do it? We take a look at what’s involved in getting your watch ship shape and whether it is worth your time and money to do it at all.
What’s involved in a watch service?
A watch service varies depending on whether it is mechanical or quartz. A mechanical watch service tends to be more complicated, take longer and be more costly, so we are going to focus on that process for the purpose of this article.
During a watch service a technician will check the exterior of the watch before removing the casing with specialised tools specific to the make and model of the watch. They will then remove the movement, hands, dial and date disc before unwinding the mainspring and continuing to dismantle the rest of the watch into the numerous (sometimes into the hundreds) of tiny component parts that make up its various mechanisms, carrying out a series of polishing, cleaning and lubricating procedures before your watch is meticulously reassembled and tested to ensure they have retained their accuracy.
Naturally this requires a significant amount of knowledge of the watch in question, not to mention specialised tools, a practically sterile environment due to the disastrous effects dust can have on the inner workings of a watch and not a little patience and manual dexterity.
The care and specialisation required in servicing and rebuilding more complex timepieces is the reason for the time and expense involved in a service.
The length of time it can take is simply down to the availability of fine watchmakers. There simply aren't enough watchmakers to service the watches that need servicing. This means that waiting times can be long. The situation is the same for independent (certainly in the UK) and for sending your watch to the manufacturer.
Why service your watch?
The first sign that your watch might be in need of a service is generally the gaining or losing of time. You may notice the watch is a few seconds fast or slow every day. The Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute’s (or COSC) certified chronometer daily rate tolerance is -4 seconds to +6 seconds a day though most manufacturers aim for better than this. Your watch falling outside these guidelines is often a sign that the lubrication on the watch is beginning to degrade or that parts inside the watch are wearing down.
In the case of quartz watches, when the battery is low you will often see the second hand 'jumping' in five second intervals. This means it is time for a battery change.
You may also hear rattling inside the case due to loose parts or notice moisture in the case which is a sign of the waterproofing beginning to fail. If you notice either of these you should get your watch serviced immediately as either of these can cause a breakdown of the components inside the watch.
If your watch is working fine it’s probably tempting to put off getting it serviced until you start to notice an actual problem with it. After all, why fix what isn’t broken?
The reason most watch manufacturers recommend you get your watch serviced every 5 years is that once you notice that something’s wrong it’s often too late. A lack of servicing can lead to damage to the inner working of the watch that often requires more specialised work, increased repair time, replacement parts and, of course, yet more expense.
If you’re concerned about your watch or want more advice on getting a service feel free to contact us here at TWG Watches and we’ll be happy to help.