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I just thought I'd ask before I aquire a bunch of them. Someone told me that you shouldn't do anything to them until they stop running or malfunction otherwise. But that sounds like advice to not do maintence on a car-run it until it dies then fix it. And about how much does a service cost?
My personal opinion based upon my personal experience is, when they "break". A watch must be opened up, carefully cleaned, regulated, adjusted and re-lubricated when it is serviced....from a labor standpoint, it is minimally more to replace a broken part. Also, it is my experience that lack of servicing is not what causes automatic watches to break.....Case in point, my Glycine Airman, circa 1964 (with extremely hard wear - plus the wear and tear of 2 RVN combat tours) has never been serviced. It still runs great.

That said, others will recommend every 2 to 5 years at a cost of $200 to $400 a pop.....so, my Glycine with 43 years of use, at 5 years @ $200 per pop would have set me back 8 x $200 = $1600. Except for the nostalgia, more than enough to replace it. At 2 yr intervals and $400 services, I'd be out some $8600.

Here is the bottom line...a good service costs a lot more than the watch to begin with....if you have a high end Rolex, Breitling, Concord, Cartier, Omega, etc., servicing may be an issue....if not don't worry about it.

jmho
 

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My personal opinion based upon my personal experience is, when they "break". A watch must be opened up, carefully cleaned, regulated, adjusted and re-lubricated when it is serviced....from a labor standpoint, it is minimally more to replace a broken part. Also, it is my experience that lack of servicing is not what causes automatic watches to break.....Case in point, my Glycine Airman, circa 1964 (with extremely hard wear - plus the wear and tear of 2 RVN combat tours) has never been serviced. It still runs great.

That said, others will recommend every 2 to 5 years at a cost of $200 to $400 a pop.....so, my Glycine with 43, at 5 years @ $200 per pop would have set me back 8 x $200 = $1600. Except for the nostalgia, more than enough to replace it. At 2 yr intervals and $400 services, I'd be out some $8600.

Here is the bottom line...a good service costs a lot more than the watch to begin with....if you have a high end Rolex, Breitling, Concord, Cartier, Omega, etc., servicing may be an issue....if not don't worry about it.

jmho
Amen Bro. Ken!
 

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I have to agree with KenC, unless you have a very expensive Watch, don't woory about it.

I saw a guy on TV who was selling Poljot Watches, who said that you should send them back to the Poljot service centre every 2 years for a service. Good for them, as you have to pay each time, but not so good for you!

I have owned a Seiko Automatic for 30 years, and it still runs fine, and it's never been looked at.
 

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This is good news for me. Thanks to WUS I now have a bunch of mechanicals that are not worth a $200 service. I'm hoping to get a long life out of them. When they break they'll probably be tossed.
 

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I agree with Ken . . .

case in point - my mom and dad have his/hers Rolex Oyster datejusts for about 20 years. My dad had his adjusted/cleaned at about 7 years old; since then, it has to go back to Rolex every 1-2 years for something else wrong. My mom's has NEVER BEEN TOUCHED, and like Ken's Glycine, runs like a charm.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Its not like a car where if you neglect putting oil in it you'll mess up the engine. If a watch goes 'dry', you just lube it back up:)

Thanks-
Marc
www.longislandwatch.com

My personal opinion based upon my personal experience is, when they "break". A watch must be opened up, carefully cleaned, regulated, adjusted and re-lubricated when it is serviced....from a labor standpoint, it is minimally more to replace a broken part. Also, it is my experience that lack of servicing is not what causes automatic watches to break.....Case in point, my Glycine Airman, circa 1964 (with extremely hard wear - plus the wear and tear of 2 RVN combat tours) has never been serviced. It still runs great.

That said, others will recommend every 2 to 5 years at a cost of $200 to $400 a pop.....so, my Glycine with 43 years of use, at 5 years @ $200 per pop would have set me back 8 x $200 = $1600. Except for the nostalgia, more than enough to replace it. At 2 yr intervals and $400 services, I'd be out some $8600.

Here is the bottom line...a good service costs a lot more than the watch to begin with....if you have a high end Rolex, Breitling, Concord, Cartier, Omega, etc., servicing may be an issue....if not don't worry about it.

jmho
 

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This info is worth the price of admission to the forum.:) I have 11 automatics all acquired in the last year and will no longer feel guilty about not planning periodic services on them.
I did reconditon a Hilton mechanical a few years ago that I have had for about ten years and it was in bad shape >>> I paid more than the watch is worth but that was for sentimental reasons.
A friend at work sends his 18K omega to the factory for service every two years and pays $400 and it takes 6 weeks round trip but that is a one up thing. Anyway, appreciate this forum - lots of interesting reading and info.
 

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This info is worth the price of admission to the forum.:) I have 11 automatics all acquired in the last year and will no longer feel guilty about not planning periodic services on them.
I did reconditon a Hilton mechanical a few years ago that I have had for about ten years and it was in bad shape >>> I paid more than the watch is worth but that was for sentimental reasons.
A friend at work sends his 18K omega to the factory for service every two years and pays $400 and it takes 6 weeks round trip but that is a one up thing. Anyway, appreciate this forum - lots of interesting reading and info.
Welcome!!!!!!!!!!!:-!
 

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When I bought my pre-owned Rolex at Torneau a few years ago, I asked the same question. The manager told me he shouldn't be telling me that he only had his own Rolex watches serviced when they stopped. Who would have guessed about his candid reply??
 

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A friend at work sends his 18K omega to the factory for service every two years and pays $400 and it takes 6 weeks round trip but that is a one up thing. Anyway, appreciate this forum - lots of interesting reading and info.
If I thought I would have to pay $400 for a Watch to be serviced every couple of years, I would never buy it in the first place!
 

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This is good news for me. Thanks to WUS I now have a bunch of mechanicals that are not worth a $200 service. I'm hoping to get a long life out of them. When they break they'll probably be tossed.
If you buy Seiko's, I think it will be a long time before you toss 'em.
 

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If you buy Seiko's, I think it will be a long time before you toss 'em.
I currently have a Seiko in use that I bought in Hong Kong in 1970, and, of course........................it has never been serviced!
 

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I currently have a Seiko in use that I bought in Hong Kong in 1970, and, of course........................it has never been serviced!
I don't really think that you can beat a Seiko no matter how much you pay.

I believe that the British folk singer Donovan, still wears his Seiko that he also bought in the 70's.
 

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I have to agree with KenC, unless you have a very expensive Watch, don't woory about it.

I saw a guy on TV who was selling Poljot Watches, who said that you should send them back to the Poljot service centre every 2 years for a service. Good for them, as you have to pay each time, but not so good for you!

I have owned a Seiko Automatic for 30 years, and it still runs fine, and it's never been looked at.
I have posted here about finding an old watch of my fathers that sat in a box ignored and forgotten for 20+ years. Its ~30 years old and has never been serviced. Picked it up and by doing so it started running. Its keeping time at the same precision level as my modern 7s36s and has done so without a problem for about a month now!:think:
 

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If I thought I would have to pay $400 for a Watch to be serviced every couple of years, I would never buy it in the first place!
The guy bought an 18k Omega......:-X
 

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Hi -

I'm the co-mod on the vintage forum, and as you might imagine, we get a lot of questions on maintaining watches.

What needs to be maintained on a watch? Well, it depends on the watch.

Duh.

Let's put it this way: if your watch is not well sealed and lacks gaskets on the crown or pushers (if any) and has a simple snap back (i.e. it's held in only by a little bit of mechanical pressure), and you wear it a lot in a dusty environment, your watch is gonna need one hell of a lot of servicing, probably every year, because it is going to get dirty really fast.

What happens when a watch gets dirty?

It changes the properties of oils and greases: instead of lubricating, they start to cause wear, since they trap dust. Dirty oils can rapidly destroy a watch, since they end up lubricating the cutting process of dust on metal, instead of reducing wear as oils and greases should.

So what sort of maintenance schedule really depends on the usage of the watch. If you are always out there in the desert, or in any sort of extreme climate, and you're NOT wearing some sort of industrial-quality quartz watch like a GShock, an UX or something similiar, then you are asking for trouble.

If you wear the same watch are in any sort of every-day office environment, on the other hand, you don't need that sort of attention.

What is done during watch maintenance?

A good watchmaker will disassemble the watch, clean it (getting rid of the old lubricants as well), inspect and check for wear, re-assemble and lubricate (much can only be lubricated whilst in othe process of re-assembly), regulate and make the appropriate adjustments to timing and the like. A wise watchmaker will always replace the mainspring, as this is very inexpensive and simply a good idea, as this is a key component that, once it starts misbehaving, can cause all sorts of timing and accuracy problems. Once the watch is reassembled, and if it is a watch with a claim to high resistance to water, then the integrity of the assembled watch needs to be tested: first with lowered air pressure (if there is a big leak, you can tell by seeing a change in the pressure chamber, and this is non-destuctive) and then with much higher water pressure to ensure the nominal rated water resistance of the watch.

Now, a decent watchmaker won't need more than around 20 minutes to disassemble, taking his time to inspect, another 15 minutes to clean, and perhaps another 30 minutes to reassemble and lubricate, call it a tad more than 1 hour. If, however, there are problems with the watch, this can easily add significantly to the repair time, and getting parts may take at least days, if not weeks or months, depending on the watch. Some watches won't have spare parts available due to marketing considerations or simple non-availability, and a watchmaker then needs to make the part from scratch (actually not that hard, but it's very specialized work).

You friendly watchmaker has probably had at least two years of professional training and perhaps more, depending on which country you're in, and a master watchmaker, at least in Germany, has significantly more very technical training (like how to design his own calibre or build a tourbillon, common tasks to reach the master level). Highly skilled labor, and that has to be paid: add to that the significant costs for inventories of parts and the acquisition of vintage watches, less for repair as much more for a stock of parts, the equipment (a Witschi timer costs several thousand Euros in Germany new), including very technical items like balance vices and the like, and you can see that he's going to be charging fees pretty close to the ones that have been cited in this thread.

The older the watch the more difficult it's going to be: not so much because they won't be able to figure out how it works, but much more because it's going to be that much harder to find parts.

So when do you get your watch serviced? To a certain degree you're right: not having maintenance done on the watch is like running a car until the lights come on the dashboard and wondering why the repair bill is so high it was because your oil was thick and dirty, and ended up damaging the engine.

But it really depends on what you do with your watch and what watch you are wearing: as others have pointed out, lots of folks have great results in buying a good Rolex or other very high quality watch. They have very robust and accurate watchworks inside, but also cost quite a bit, partially due to their very high standards of manufacturing and design (you also get to finance their advertising...).

Watches serve all sorts of purposes and are bought for all sorts of reasons.

You've all bought watches for various reasons, reasons of your own, and this is now the question you need to ask yourselves:

Do I want to keep this watch for as long as possible with it keeping as good time as possible? Did I spend a lot of money on this watch, or is it more an accessory than a "horologically significant" watch? Does the watch have enormous emotional meaning for me (birthday, birth of child, marriage, inheritance?) or is it "simply" a watch?

For something that is "simply" a watch, nice to have but no other real value, then wear it till it breaks, take it to a watchmaker and if the cost of repair is less than the depreciated value of the watch, get it fixed. Unless it's a collector's item, this probably will not be the case, and then you can put it up on eBay as "nice but broken" and let someone take it off your hands for a few dollars for the parts or in the silly notion that they'll be able to get it fixed cheap.

If it is a "meaningful" watch, one you inherited from your grandfather, or was a graduation present, or whatever, then you should start to take care of it. Find a good watchmaker, have him/her take a look at it, and let them tell you what sort of shape it is in. Most watchmakers, I think, are honest enough to not to recommend maintenance without it being necessary (there are always exceptions to that rule!).

If your watch is running well and keeps time with decent accuracy, but a watchmaker says it is in desperate need of servicing, get a second opinion: mechanical watches only run well within a relatively narrow set of mechanical parameters, and if your watch is running well and is keeping time with decent accuracy, then it in all likelihood is in good shape. If it isn't, then you're gonna be at the watchmaker to find why it isn't running right...

So if you are emotionally attached to the watch and want it to last as long as possible, have it maintained every 4-5 years if you wear it every day. If you wear it in the Sauna, take it to the beach, go mountain climbing with it and then glacier skiing, and like to dive as well, then you're probably going to need a bit more maintenance (and your watch will as well). If you wear it only on Sunday, you're going to get many, many more years out if it. If you rotate it with 5 others, you can probably go ten years.

If you have a dozen watches and wear them every once in a while, say three-five days a month, then you can easily go 10+ years between maintenance, but only if the watches are nicely sealed (waterresistant to 50 metres should be fine).

If you have a nice old 50's Omega that you want to wear every day in an office environment, then you'll need to have it maintained more often, since these were usually poorly shielded from dust. Every three-four years is a good point.

If you have a Sinn 757 with the diapal movement, then you probably can wear it every day for 10 years in tough environments before maintenance.

If you have an Omega with the coaxial movement, you can probably go 7 years without maintenance, all things being otherwise equal.

If you have a cheap watch with no meaning to you other than it looks nice, then you throw it away when it breaks.

I could keep on going, but this is long enough as is. :)

JohnF
 

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I really don't think any brand recommends 2 yr service intervals.
5 is pretty standard and like ppl. have said, probably not really necessary at that.
One aspect though that hasn't been mentioned is cosmetic, if your expensive watch has taken some "hits" it'll come back looking new, or near.
The Sinn UX I just bought has to go to Germany for a battery change due to the oil under the crystal.
 

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Tragic..........don't know about now, but Rolex, for one, used to recommend 2-year servicing.

JohnF..........a reasoned, detailed and thoughtful disertation as always and I agree with you about watches that have snap cases, inadequate gaskets, etc.....but I'm not sure I agree about what constitutes an "Industrial Quality" timepiece. Way back when I bought my Glycine Airman ($50 at the PX in Munich), a watch was a watch to me..........Being in the Military, I simply liked the 24 hr dial. It was the 1st one I had ever seen. I never considered "light" wear vs. "Heavy" wear.........so I wore the watch 24/7 for the next 8 years, virtually all while serving in combat units. It also went thru 2 tour in Vietnam in actual combat conditions, both in LRRP/Recon and when I was an Infantry Company CO constantly in the jungles or in the coastal rice paddies. It was never sheltered from the elements or daily extreme abuse. It was worn on a more normal basis for several years after that including stints as a laborer and auto mechanic (there was a time when I didn't want to have to think or be responsible). It still runs great.

I had my Rolex 18k Presidential serviced once when a hand fell off and my Rolex TT GMTII when I forgot to screw down the crown and moisture got under the crystal. The parts I needed were minimal; the labor was part of the service.

While there may be some good analogies about servicing watch movements(can't think of any of hand though), I don't think an automobile is a good one. A watch is not exposed to the same heat, high speed frictions, unsealed systems (except for the brake and AC systems), etc. that a car is...about the only similarity is that they both have mechanical hearts, vastly different in nature, however. If they were similar, perhaps I would be having my watches "detailed" every 6 to 12 months!

jmho
 

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JohnF....

Great treatise on watch maintenance. I think you have hit the nail on the head and I do appreciate your expertise.

About all I can add to that is that when speaking with Sinn about service they stated that when the mechanical watch started losing about 10 seconds off its current timekeeping accuracy would be appropriate to have it serviced.
I believe Sinn does have a recommended service time but I also know a lot of folks who follow the advice of Ken and just let em run until they stop.

I have had my Rolex serviced because it did not run. They did a wonderful job. But, I guess in theory I wholehearedly agree with you. I think most of my watches are at a price point where they fall into your category that if they stop running.....is it really economical to get them repaired if it would be costly. For the most part....no.

Thanks for taking the time to elaborate. It is always a pleasure to read your well thought out and expert opinions, IMHO.
 
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