Watch School

Intermediate
  1. Guide to Owning a Mechanical Watch
  2. Watch Reference Numbers

Guide to Owning a Mechanical Watch

Mechanical watches are increasing in popularity and thus, more people own mechanical watches. There are a few things about owning a mechanical watch which people should know before their first purchase. Several factors come into play and it’s important to keep them in mind so that your watch lasts and brings happiness for a long time.

Table of Contents

Costs


Mechanical watches, for the most part, cost more than their quartz counterparts. The reason being they require more parts, engineering complexity, and assembly done by humans. There are respectable mechanical watches in the $100 range while there are also respectable quartz watches in the $200 dollar range. So while mechanical watches don’t always cost more, it is accepted that on a general level they have a higher price tag.

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The cost of owning a mechanical watch is not only in the purchase amount. There are other miscellaneous fees associated with them. The most important is the upkeep and repair cost. There will be more on the specific fees involved later on.

While not mandatory, many opt to buy watch winders to keep their watches wound up. This help keep your watches on time when you are not wearing them, so you can avoid having to set the time every time you put it on. They work by slowly turning your watch to rewind it’s mainspring. Note, these only work with automatics and not manual since there is no feature to turn wrist movement into stored energy on manuals. A single watch, watch winder can be from $100 to $300+ depending on the quality and brand.

Care


Mechanical watches are more fragile compared to quartz. A quartz is convenient because you can play sports and be rough on them without any risk of damage. Mechanical watches however, need a bit more delicate of handling. Arguably one of the most important parts in a watch is also the most fragile. A hard knock can offset the hairspring and balance wheel, causing the watch to lose accuracy or even stop working altogether. It’s recommended for most mechanical watch owners to take them off before participating in any active sports. Some watch companies, such as Omega and Rolex, have special technology to absorb impact and keep the mechanics inside safe. Even so, it is recommended not to do anything which could cause a sudden hit to the watch.

Another major aspect to keeping your watch running smoothly is to distance it from any magnetic fields. If parts of your watch become magnetized, it can cause them to apply force in areas that affect the timing. One common effect is an increase in speed, gaining up to several minutes a day. There are special machines called demagnetizers which take the magnetization out of your watch. This can be done in a few seconds at most watch repair shops for a small fee.

Repair/Service


Depending on the watch, it is recommended to have them serviced every 3-6 years. This time period is different for different models so make sure to ask the seller how often your watch needs servicing. The reason to get a watch serviced is not only if something is broken. It’s similar to how cars need servicing even when running perfectly. It keeps the watch in good condition and catches problems before they occur. A good watch servicing should include pressure tests to check for water resistance and timing tests to make sure your watch falls within the acceptable variance in seconds per day. A good servicing can cost around $100 for a lower end mechanical, not including fixing broken parts. Watches such as a Breitling can start at $500. More expensive watches from the top watch brands commonly costs in the thousands since it takes special knowledge and skill to work with them. The cost and services offered is something you should ask your local watch repair shop about, as they will vary from place to place.

servicing

If you own a vintage watch, it will be harder to service as some parts may not be available any more. It’s best to call around at different repair shops and ask about your specific model and whether or not they can service it. In many cases, you might want to make sure they don’t polish the watch as that can cause a decrease in value. Collectors of vintage watches prefer seeing the watch show it’s age. It would do good to research your model and see what is being said about it, in terms of polishing. Although the choice is ultimately up to you; if you don’t plan on selling it and your personal preference is to have a newer look, then it would be advantageous to have it polished.