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I never was one to really argue that a watch did not need regular service because it was running well. In fact-i should admit the truth-I am a total cheapskate in this respect which makes absolutely no sense since I have have some rather pricey old watches. In other words-penny-wise/dollar stupid. But the most recent experience I had has convinced me that its in my own best interest to maintain the old (and new) watches I have as per a "watchmakers" recommendation.
I have a 1963-4 Rolex gmt master with a semi-rare dial and hands. When I found out how its value to collectors had appreciated you would have thought I would immediately have it serviced but I didnt. Instead-I wore it off and on for over 25yrs without a regular service until it finally started to lose a few seconds a day (after running within cosc since 1985) Naturally I assumed the worst and figured a rolex auth. service would be well over $1000usd. I foud out my vintage Seiko watchmaker also happened to do a lot of the vintage work Tournneau needed done. I shipped it off still expecting the worst.
So-after Als scary pics of the filthy rolex parts you would think at 20+yrs w/o a service I would have at least that much damage. Well-I did not and got away with a standard clean and service along with a tightening of the pinion and its now back on my wrist at +1sec per day.

The moral? That I finally realized how I lucked out and could have been telling a very different story. I have no illusions about how much parts for a '63 rolex would cost and i will now have the thing serviced at regular intervals to preserve all its original bits and pieces. The other moral? If you think you can get away with finding exquisite vintage watches and avoid the costs associated with keeping them all healthy and happy-your in the wrong hobby.

I would like to know what Al thinks about vintage watches that are never worn and simply stored (sad, I know, but true with a few). Since we can assume the oils will dry out is it really necessary to service them before such time as they will be put into service again and worn? In other words-is there any harm in having a watch dry out its lube if its just sitting and not running?
 

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There is more to a watch than the escapement, that's for sure.

Cheers, Al
Tactful, as always, Al.

Your contributions are the rare gems that provide us all with a greater understanding of the function of these things and, along with those from a handful of others, keep this from becoming purely a watch shopping forum.

The one thing I might add in defense of factory service centers and their insistence on the replacement of parts is their claim, whether one believes to be sincere or not, that these replacements are required in order for them to offer a two-year warranty on the work, and that none are required for purely cosmetic improvement, but rather for restoration of the integrity of the piece.
 

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Great read, esp for newbies like me. Thanks Al! After reading what you said about the cost of a main plate for the cal 1128, I was mightily relieved that I recently had mine serviced.

I'm wondering - should we make this a sticky for future forumers? It is a detailed yet succinct summary, with nice illustrative pictures. What do you guys think?
 

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Great post Al. It would be interesting to have some info on each of those watches in the pictures, # years without service, % time worn in rotation with other watches.

I'm a little worried about a few that I have, and which I have no idea if they've ever been serviced.
 

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Many thanks for your time spent assembling this post- defintiely a good read!
 

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Al,
Comparatively it was much easier for me to think (and say) "if it works, don't fix it," so I really appreciate the time and energy you have taken to enlighten me, to the weaknesses of that thought, (and as is your norm) in such a gentle, descriptive, professional and conclusive manner.

Thank you and I wish you the very best for the New Year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Hi Al
How long would you expect the oils in watch to last before it starts to dry up. As you mentioned 5 years before a service is typical ,but a new watch might be sitting in a shop window for few years before it's sold.
I'll try to answer this the best I can, but realize that being stored in a cool dry place, and under the hot lights of a display cabinet, will cause some differences in the lengths of time a the oils will still be sound. I have not done any direct experiments to say conclusively how long oils will last, but as I stated most watch companies have a 5 year service interval recommendation, and they require my oils to be no more than 2 years old. Doing the math, that would mean 7 years. Now, I have seen watches less than 7 years old with dried oils in them, but have also seem watches go longer.

It's not just completely drying out that is the issue, but loss of lubricating properties would happen before the oil is dry I suspect.

Just my thoughts.

Cheers, Al
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Great post Al. It would be interesting to have some info on each of those watches in the pictures, # years without service, % time worn in rotation with other watches.

I'm a little worried about a few that I have, and which I have no idea if they've ever been serviced.
Unfortunately most people do not provide me with that sort of history when they send me a watch for servicing. Many people have purchased these watches second hand, and don't know the service history of them, like the 2824-2 with the worn barrel bridge and main plate. In fact the person who sent me that watch sent me 2 of the same model at the same time, and they both had to have the main plates and barrel bridges replaced.

The Panerai was serviced at the factory only 3 years before it came to me, but I have no idea if some of that wear had been there before that service was done. Based on the debris in the movement it had certainly worn some since that service had been done or there would not be brass bits all over the movement.

Cheers, Al
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
I would like to know what Al thinks about vintage watches that are never worn and simply stored (sad, I know, but true with a few). Since we can assume the oils will dry out is it really necessary to service them before such time as they will be put into service again and worn? In other words-is there any harm in having a watch dry out its lube if its just sitting and not running?
No running means no wear, so if the lubrication dries out with the watch just sitting, no harm is done (provided it's stored in a dry place and does not get moisture inside). But before it's put into use, I would certainly recommend having it serviced.

Cheers, Al
 

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That was a great read, Al. Thanks for taking the time to assemble your thoughts and sharing them with us.

Thanks!
 

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Very informative!! Appreciate all the info. The analogy I always heard was that a movement is like a car engine. Better to do preventative maintenance like oil changes to keep it running rather than waiting until the engine stops and breaks because you never got an oil change.

Sent from my XT907 using Tapatalk 2
 

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Thanks Al, very informative. I look forward to you nexr thread!

Sent from my GT-P7510 using Tapatalk 2
 

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Every five-ten years, a good servcie is recommended. On some movements, spare parts are no more available that is why it is better to take care of them. Thanks for the read al
 
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