Two weeks ago, we opened the floor to you for horology related questions that you might have for our Editorial Team. This campaign was launched simultaneously on our social media channels on Facebook and Instagram. Today, we present: Ask Deployant Anything Episode 1.
Question: “How often does one need to service a mechanical watch?”
Answer: The normal manufacture recommendation for most mechanical watches is to send it in for service once every 5 years. This is possibly the best advice to follow, based on the design of the movement and the lubricants used.
Animal and vegetable oils which were common in early pre-WW2 watches. These oils have poor resistance to oxidation and degenerates over time, typically 18-24 months. When the animal and vegetable oils begin to deteriorate, they tend to thicken as they dry out. The watch will run faster and faster until it stops. (We leave the reader to work out why the movement runs faster when the lubrication dry out. If you get it, tell us in the comments section below). This occurs long before any permanent damage is done to the pivots or the movement.
And this forces the owner to have his watch cleaned and re-lubricated. This may have the long term effect to prolong the lifespan of the movement. But can be an inconvenience to the owner.
However, today most of the lubrication is synthetic, or petroleum based. Moebius, for example, is a popular choice, especially for the high end watches. While these modern lubricants have a longer lifespan and remain usable for much longer than the mineral counterparts, they do not last forever. And when they degenerate, tyically 6 to 7 years, these oils do not thicken or cake forcing the movement to stop. But they become more liquid, spread out and evaporate. The movement will continue to run, but as the lubrication disappears, it too will start to gain time. If ignored, the watch will continue to run, until the pivots are worn, and sometimes to the point of breaking and brass bearing holes become distorted. If left to this stage, the repair will be rather extensive and can be expensive.
The trick is to send the watch for a clean and re-lubrication as soon as the lubrication starts to deteriorate. Though it is not a science to determine this point, the rule of thumb is to send it in for service once the watch starts to gain time. Monitor the timing, and if it consistently gains over a period of a few days or a week or so, its time for service. Often this can extend the service life to 7 or more years, especially for collector watches which are not running 24/7.
Of course, the safest is to take the manufacturer recommendation, and send the watch for service as indicated.
Question: “I have about 6 watches, and I only wear 3 of them on daily rotation. The rest are meant for special occasions. Would you encourage the use of a watch winder? Is it true that every watch should be stored in a watch winder?”
Answer: A watch winder is a nice addition, but it is by no means necessary. As you only wear 3 of the watches for special occasions, we will recommend that you fully wind the watches at least once every month. This will ensure the lubrication will be distributed properly. If those watches are those without a hand-winding feature, we will suggest you wear it for at least a day every month.
However, a winder is a useful tool, especially for perpetual calendar watches. It can keep the watches running and keeping the correct date, so it is available to wear at a moment’s notice without having to adjust to the correct date.
Question: “I just dropped my watch and there is a minor scratch. Help! What should I do now!”
Answer: If the movement runs properly, check the timing over at least a few days to be sure, then we will recommend that you do nothing. The scratch is minor, and over time will add to the patina of the case. It adds character. And since you put it there yourself, it becomes a part of you.
If it is large and it bothers you, then you can send it back to have it repaired. Most manufacturers will polish the case to remove the scratch. If this process is repeated over the years, the case can sometimes become very thin.
While some manufacturers, like Lange offer a service to weld additional material over and polish so that you do not lose material. We carried a report on how this was done and highly recommend your read it.
This concludes Episode 1 of #AskDeployantAnything. Questions for this Episode was curated by Chelsey Chen.
To get your question featured in our next column, do drop us an email at [email protected] to get them answered by the #AskDeployantAnything team!