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Hi all. I asked this earlier today in the Watchmakers' forum, only got one response so far. Since there is much more activity in this forum, I will ask here: How often do you service an old mechanical watch, and what role is played by the conditions of use/abuse?

I have searched the 'net and found the 3-7 year recommendation, but those mostly come from watch repairers. I'm wondering if it is really needed that often. And yes, I don't know much about old mechanical watches. ;-)
 

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it all depends on the watch and the owners some dont ever get them service until something happens i.e. loose time drastically or something breaks inside but 3-7 is a good number.
 

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I have a number of vintage seikos from the 70's. Some I have had to have serviced, while others are still running strong with no service needed. If the watch you have a question about is expensive, I may consider having a preventive maintenance service done. If it is affordable, I would wait until there is a problem, and then weigh the cost of a service against the cost of replacing the watch.
 

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For my 1930's manual wristwatches, I took advice from professional watch repairers - a service every 3 to 5 years.

The watch-repairers gave me some sage advice: to treat my watches as I would my car; services done regularly, for less money - don't wait until a breakdown happens, because a repair can cost much more money!
 

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Maybe modern movement need less servicing? Those 70's seiko watch I heard has been running for 30years with still good time keeping.

I basically find modern watch quality from 1970's to 2000's far more superior interms of movt and casing than those before.
 

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Here is the deal...if your watch starts to act like it needs servicing, then it does. (Runs slow/fast irratically). If you watch is 30 years old and you don't know if it's been serviced, then it needs it. I always figure a $100 service into any vintage watch I buy.
 
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Service your watch(es) when they aren't working right.............if it ain't broke don't fix it.
 

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I've asked a couple of watchmakers personally, and a few over email/forums.

The two watchmakers I trust the most say:

One:
"The oils we use break down after three years, period. Lock it in safe, put it on a winder, wear it every day; doesn't matter. After three years you are slowly killing your watch." He doesn't work on much of anything cheaper than a Rolex, and won't crack a case for less than $450 US. So you know where he coming from.

The other:
"If it still works, and parts are available then wear it until it breaks and I'll fix it for a heck of a lot less than service every three years. Heck, it may run fine for 20 years." He will service anything for $85. Parts and repairs add to that, but most still come in under $120. He used to be Rolex certified, but doesn't need the marketing anymore, and is embarrassed to charge Rolex prices.

So here's where I ended up:
ETA powered watches (or others) with common movements that will have parts available for my lifetime get serviced when they act up. If they start running funny or winding different or give any signs of difficulty, off they go (not to the guy who charges $450. He only works on my girlfriends JLC).

If they are obsolete, or uncommon (like my Seiko 6309's, my old Waltham 100 Jewel, etc), then they go every three years, or when I remember, whichever comes last.

Oddly, the result of this has been that my most expensive watches are the cheapest to keep, because I'm wearing them until they break. My old cheap watches are the expensive ones!
 

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I've asked a couple of watchmakers personally, and a few over email/forums.

The two watchmakers I trust the most say:

One:
"The oils we use break down after three years, period. Lock it in safe, put it on a winder, wear it every day; doesn't matter. After three years you are slowly killing your watch." He doesn't work on much of anything cheaper than a Rolex, and won't crack a case for less than $450 US. So you know where he coming from.

The other:
"If it still works, and parts are available then wear it until it breaks and I'll fix it for a heck of a lot less than service every three years. Heck, it may run fine for 20 years." He will service anything for $85. Parts and repairs add to that, but most still come in under $120. He used to be Rolex certified, but doesn't need the marketing anymore, and is embarrassed to charge Rolex prices.

So here's where I ended up:
ETA powered watches (or others) with common movements that will have parts available for my lifetime get serviced when they act up. If they start running funny or winding different or give any signs of difficulty, off they go (not to the guy who charges $450. He only works on my girlfriends JLC).

If they are obsolete, or uncommon (like my Seiko 6309's, my old Waltham 100 Jewel, etc), then they go every three years, or when I remember, whichever comes last.

Oddly, the result of this has been that my most expensive watches are the cheapest to keep, because I'm wearing them until they break. My old cheap watches are the expensive ones!
I absolutely agree with "other". My Glycine Airman is going on 44 years of service, including 8 very hard years and it has never been serviced.
 

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I've got my father's Seiko that is 35+ years old. Never serviced, still keeps solid time. No problems.:-!
 

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It's really comforting to know that i don't have to service my mechanical watches every 5yrs but just use it till something happens 'cos with more mechanicals added to my collection,i was starting to worry about the cost of servicing in the future.
 

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I never even think of servicing a mechanical watch until it loses/gains time significantly. And it will take at least a decade or two after the initial purchase for this to show up for any reasonable brand, IMHO. I don't own any expensive mechanicals though, my most expensive being a $300 automatic. The best watchmakers here will service most brands for $10, without part replacements. May be $20 for expensive brands like Rolex.
 

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I've asked a couple of watchmakers personally, and a few over email/forums.

The two watchmakers I trust the most say:

One:
"The oils we use break down after three years, period. Lock it in safe, put it on a winder, wear it every day; doesn't matter. After three years you are slowly killing your watch." He doesn't work on much of anything cheaper than a Rolex, and won't crack a case for less than $450 US. So you know where he coming from.

The other:
"If it still works, and parts are available then wear it until it breaks and I'll fix it for a heck of a lot less than service every three years. Heck, it may run fine for 20 years." He will service anything for $85. Parts and repairs add to that, but most still come in under $120. He used to be Rolex certified, but doesn't need the marketing anymore, and is embarrassed to charge Rolex prices.

So here's where I ended up:
ETA powered watches (or others) with common movements that will have parts available for my lifetime get serviced when they act up. If they start running funny or winding different or give any signs of difficulty, off they go (not to the guy who charges $450. He only works on my girlfriends JLC).

If they are obsolete, or uncommon (like my Seiko 6309's, my old Waltham 100 Jewel, etc), then they go every three years, or when I remember, whichever comes last.

Oddly, the result of this has been that my most expensive watches are the cheapest to keep, because I'm wearing them until they break. My old cheap watches are the expensive ones!
The bold portion is crap, he may know watches, but he doesn't know oil, or he uses really cheap oil.

Modern synthetic oil, begins to breaks down in about ten years.

I would suggest a service cycle of 7 to 10 years (maximum of 12), on every mechanical watch.

Why every one?

You would be surprised how much wear a movement can take before it ceases to keep time accurately. Generally, if you wait until the watch shows poor performance, before getting it serviced, you are basically, waiting for someting to break.

With watches like Seikos, worn parts are almost impossible to source, so the movement is trash once they stop working. Regular service can keep these movements from wearing out during your lifetime, and beyond.
 

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The bold portion is crap, he may know watches, but he doesn't know oil, or he uses really cheap oil.

Modern synthetic oil, begins to breaks down in about ten years.

I would suggest a service cycle of 7 to 10 years (maximum of 12), on every mechanical watch.

Why every one?

You would be surprised how much wear a movement can take before it ceases to keep time accurately. Generally, if you wait until the watch shows poor performance, before getting it serviced, you are basically, waiting for someting to break.

With watches like Seikos, worn parts are almost impossible to source, so the movement is trash once they stop working. Regular service can keep these movements from wearing out during your lifetime, and beyond.
I have also heard this from my watchmaker, with a slight caveat.

A wristwatch will likely stop working before any severe damage is done. Notice I said 'likely' as nothing is 100%. If the watch is dirty and the oil is gunked up, the smaller mainspring in a wristwatch will not be able to keep things moving, which is a good thing versus a pocket watch. Having a much more powerful mainspring, a pocket watch is more likely to keep 'grinding' away regardless of the gunk and grit inside the watch, leading to more pronounce wear and tear on the parts.

This, of course, is my understanding of what my watchmaker has told me.

Based on his advice, I intend to wear my watches until they act up. Since all of my vintage watches (mainly Omega autos and various others with hand-wound swiss movements) have been recently serviced, I am not too concerned about them. However, if they sit inactive in a watchbox for a while, I give them a couple of quick turns of the crown at least once a month to get things moving and keep the oil distributed.
 

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I guess the unspoken thing about "cheap & cheerful" is that it really means disposable. That was the deal behind Timex's success: you don't bother servicing the watch, you wear it until it quits and then you toss it out & get another, new one. By the time it's worn out, the case is likely to be all marked up and the crystal all scratched, and the strap tatty & shot. Plus the style has expired (see for example the old 1970s 30mm men's watches, those are now small ladies watches by today's standard!)

Plus, lets face it, I like buying watches.

But all that said, I am in agreement with servicing mechanical watches on a 10 year basis; with any watch I buy I'm shooting for a wear out period of about 100 years. I would really miss any of my watches if one broke down & was not repairable.

(BTW I've got a 300Hz tuning fork "hummer" coming and I hear the maintenance on them is odious! I won't mind :-d)
 

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Does anyone base their watch servicing need on the amplitude of the movement? This is how my watchmaker checks if they need servicing or not.
 

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Does anyone base their watch servicing need on the amplitude of the movement? This is how my watchmaker checks if they need servicing or not.
As all my automatic watches bar one or two are Seiko or Miyota movements, I don't/won't bother to service them. I am in the process of learning how to adjust the Miyota/Seiko movements and to do this I bought a couple of watches with those movements in, as I found I could buy the movements in watches cheaper than buying bare movements! Hopefully at the end of this process I end up with reliable adjusted movements, so should one fail I can swap over to a known regulated movement.

This assumes I can get that clever of course. :roll:

From recent experience I have found that with these bargain basement watches, they run very accurately at first, but then after about three weeks running in my watch winder, they have started to speed up, so I am in the process of slowing them down a bit.

I worked in the computer industry for over 45 years and I am very aware of Epson and I know some people who work in their production facilities. I asked a while back, if they produced grades of movements in their automated production facilities and he was adamant that they did not. What he did say on further questioning was that the movements were adjusted raw as they were finished, checked and packed, but that a reputable assembler would readjust the timekeeping once the watch was assembled and the hands were fitted. So when I think about it, when I am buying a watch, fully finished with strap, boxed and shipped to me in the UK for around £27-£29, how much time is the manufacturer/vendor spending on regulating that watch. I am guessing a big fat zero! I am not even sure they check that it fully runs the number of reports you read around these Forums about watches where hands are hitting dials and other similar faults.

So I am guessing we get what we pay for, which is not a lot of QC for the money, when you buy very cheap direct from China! But for the money I am prepared to live with that.

These days trying to compare a watch with a Car is a bit of a task. Modern cars are produced to need minimum servicing, and many components are not designed to be serviced to boot. The end of life of a car is around ten years after the last production date. Beyond that you will struggle to get parts beyond common components like filters and normal service parts. With mass produced watches, servicing is going to be more expensive than buying a new one!

Simple example, I bought this Seiko 5 for £50 last Christmas on a "Deal", if it fails should I replace it or service it?

WP_20180517_16_54_16_Pro.jpg

The way I wear it, like around once or twice a month, it will probably outlast me!

And this is one of my more expensive automatics! The others have slightly more complex aka more complications like hacking and winding but cost less money. It is a sad comment on my collection when my most expensive Automatic is an £87 Invicta 8927, do I care? Err not a bit b-)

I know that I have a risk that one watch or more could fail within the next year or so, but I am trying to learn how to offset that possibility myself, which is what I believe that most of us that enjoy this hobby should do. After getting caught spending £22 every time I needed a new battery in one of my water resistant Quartz watches I bought a few tools and now I do it myself for around less than £2 depending on the expense of the battery.

Now that the very cheap DOM watch I bought is starting to gain, (never thought I would be happy if a watch started not to keep good time,) I will try to make it come down to within 5 secs a day which should be good for a NH35a I would think. I am also going to try to look at the graph of the movement using the method I found on YouTube using Audacity, don't know how well it will work but I will see if it can help me to adjust the timekeeping, but don't hold your breath.

So my view, which may or may not be correct, is that for most watches less than around £100 to maybe £200, are not worth servicing unless you do it yourself. Case in point, I bought a rather nice Rotary watch, Quartz Chronograph, Swiss Made with what I believe could be a Ronda Movement from educated guesses from Guys with more expertise that me on this site. It has a 12 month guarantee from the retailer, plus a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer, but it has a sting in the tail! I paid £61.99 for the watch delivered, on a typical eBay deal, but to keep the lifetime warranty I have to have it serviced every three years for a Quartz movement which costs £85 a time at current prices. Guess what I plan on doing if the battery runs out or the three years expires?

What I do appreciate more now is the people who buy expensive watches and why they need to have that type of watch serviced every three to five years or so. But for the guys like me, who pay for a watch about the same amount of cash or less than they spend on Dinner with a bottle of wine for my Wife and myself, I believe that DIY is the way to go and if it is beyond DIY then buy another one or a new movement! This advice comes with the warning that I get a great kick out of buying stuff for cheap prices!

Very best regards,
Jim
 
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