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Hi,

I have a late 60s early 70s Caravelle watch. It is running well and keeps very good time. I thought since it has not been serviced in atleast 15-20 years I would call up a local watch repair person who has a very good reputation and is actually known by people far outside my city to have the watch serviced (oiled and cleaned).

He suggested that I should wait until there is an actual problem with the functionality of my watch (ie slowing/stopping) before a taking it in to be serviced.

I have heard this sort of advice from other people. While some state that a watch must generally serviced every 5 years.

What do you think?
 

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My own opinion is that once the watch stops keeping time accuratley then you have developed a problem and it may be too late to get it serviced as the gunk/aged oil may have worn out some parts or broken something.
Regular servicing reduces wear and tear on the parts in the watch, keeps the internals clean and as such is preventative maintenance.

With my car for example, I get it serviced once a year. I will not wait until it breaks down as that could be a very expensive fix!
 

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I never service my mechanicals until they begin to show problems. A good watch serviced with modern lubricants will normally last more than five years. However, I have a timing machine and can actually see when problems develop and before damage occurs. If you are less diligent and wait for gross timing changes, you might have waited too long.

Cheap timing machines can be money well spent if they save you as little as one service per year :) When you have a lot of mechanicals they become a necessity!
 

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Keep in mind that the Caravelle brand was a "low end" brand, frequently sporting Japanese movements. For many people, the cost of a "regular" service greatly exceeds the value of the watch, so the advice you received may reflect that expectation. From a vintage/collectible standpoint, if you wait for a problem (like not keeping good time), that indicates that some part(s) will have begun to score and wear. You can't "fix" that, other then by replacing the parts. That's especially true of the Japanese movements; they tend to be designed to be very "rugged", so they'll keep decent time right up until they break (unlike the higher-end Swiss movements, which tend to slow down or speed up as soon as there's any dirt or friction).
 

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Cheap timing machines can be money well spent if they save you as little as one service per year :) When you have a lot of mechanicals they become a necessity!
Interesting idea! Can you recommend a quality, inexpensive, machine?
 

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Interesting idea! Can you recommend a quality, inexpensive, machine?
Quality and inexpensive are mutually exclusive. I go for cheap. But I'm on my second one as the first died and it was cheaper to buy another than fix. I bought the cheapest one I found... a Chinese sourced device. eBay was the source. I can replace it multiple times before it reaches the cost of a Witschi.

You need one with a screen that shows the sound pattern. There are sites with examples of how to interpret the pattern.
 
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I would trust the guy who is telling you not to pay him money.

I have a horror story that may be relevant and I will try to make it short. I bought a beautiful vintage unrestored Ball pocket watch at a flea market. It was dirty and looked bad but was cheap. I got it home, took it apart carefully and cleaned it and what looked like damage turned out to be dirt. The back of the case was dented but there was nothing to do. Otherwise the watch was beautiful. It kept reasonable time but started to run slow so I took it to a shop I had a little experience with and they told me the owner had left to go to another shop. I went to that shop and the guy I knew was not there but the saleslady said it would cost $75 bucks to time the watch and oil the movement. It seemed high but I got the watch for cheap and thought it would be great to have the watch running perfectly so I left it there. When I came back a week or so later they handed me the watch in an envelope and when I took it out I saw they had broken the glass cover not sure what the right name for that is. They had also scratched the face plate which was flawless when I brought it in. When I unscrewed the back of the case I found they had gouged a nice scratch on the back of the movement. It's engine turned so the scratch stood out and looked really bad. They basically charged me 75 bucks to trash a beautiful vintage watch. They wouldn't make good on anything but said they could sell me a glass case for 175 bucks or put a new plastic one on for 75. I don't know how many sixpacks I had that day but I agreed and now I have spent 150 bucks to pay a drunken incompetent butcher to use power tools on what has become a beater watch and I get sick every time I think of it. Hell I feel like throwing up now just talking about it. And this is the short version. So I guess the point is when you take something to somebody you trust or at least don't distrust and he tells you not to give him money you should listen.
 

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I would always take the advice of someone who is turning down work, in your best interest.

I have a small collection of old watches, mostly manual winders, which are generally quite expensive to service. Although I agree that preventative servicing is usually preferable, I have at least two watches where the servicing bill is regularly 3x what they cost me to buy. Typically, although the watches weren't very expensive - they are quite rare - and so I naturally want to keep them in running order as I won't be able to replace them.

Unfortunately the most economically reasonable way to keep them in good running order, is to only get them serviced when they start to show early signs of parts wearing out or getting sticky with old lubricant. This is usually little things like losing a little bit of time or not holding a charge/wind for as long as usually.

I've got a 1966-ish Omega Seamaster Automatic which appears (from the dates marked in the case back) to have last been serviced in about 1998. It's keeping absolutely immaculate time (touch wood) and although I use a fantastic repairman for my watches - I don't really see the point in having the movement taken to pieces when at the moment it's performing it's job perfectly.
 
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