WatchUSeek Watch Forums banner
1 - 20 of 52 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,473 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Over the past ten years, bad service experiences and reliability issues of the in-house movements in many of my watches have been a huge drag on my enjoyment of watch collecting.

Here's a thread summarizing the bad servicing situation:
What’s your after-service return rate? Does it always...

As for modern movements, they tend to be designed in the rarified bubble of the niche luxury watches market. My feeling is that often they don't benefit from the expertise that characterized wristwatches in the twentieth century when they were truly necessary.

Examples: My IWC Big Pilot 5004 with its single spring barrel has terrible timekeeping (+/- 25 seconds per day depending on the level of the power reserve). I can understand why they moved to two barrels with the caliber 52000 in subsequent models. The Ebel BTR caliber 139 I used to own had permanent hand alignment issues inherent in the design of the three-pronged minute recorder hand. the hour disk was never properly aligned. When pressing the start button slowly the central seconds hand would push forward by up to eight seconds before the chrono even activated. Two and a half years after a full servicing in Switzerland, my Girard Perregaux Vintage 1945 with a caliber 3200 is now running at +3 minutes per day. Two local service centers have told me the oils are totally dried.

In essence, we've returned to the bad old days (the sixteenth and seventeenth century) when "Watch movements [...] seemed to become increasingly ornate [...] due to the fact that watches were not especially accurate. The role of accurate timekeeping was restricted to clocks, sundials, and the observation of astronomical transits [now mobile phones]. While watches were essentially inessential toys for the wealthy, there was every reason to give them the florid ornamentation..." Wow, times have not changed.
In-Depth: Does Great Movement Finishing Mean A Great Watch? - HODINKEE

Think I'm exaggerating? These things don't concern you? Fine, but for anybody who wants to try to avoid the pain that the flashy modern brands and watches offer, let's brainstorm some solutions. Here are a few I've thought of:

A) Reduce your collection
I'm guilty of having purchased too many watches. I might be okay facing all the stuff I described above if it was for only two or three watches I really cared about.

B) Keep to Seiko, Miyota and other disposable swap-in movements
My two Seiko fives are running strong after years without service. It's no secret that it's mostly not worth servicing Seiko 7S36, 4R36, 6R15 and Miyota 8XXX or 9XXX movements. They can simply be swapped out when not functioning properly (or purchase a whole new watch). The cost is much more reasonable than a full service. These movements can run for double or triple the regular service intervals of the average luxury watch. Some of those Seiko Urushi dial models or the Behrens complications pieces with Miyota 9XXX calibers are looking pretty enticing.

Also, I think it's a poorly kept secret that many Swiss manufacturers swap rather than service movements, and not just the plain vanilla ETA stuff. I'm pretty sure that Ebel is doing it with their caliber 137. Other big names must be doing it too. It seems absurd to be paying thousands of dollars for swap-out movements that can't run as long as alternatives that cost so much less.
Downgrading movement finishing, what's with the...

C) Buy what can be properly serviced locally
Find a local reliable service center, ideally one attached to an AD. Find out what they are able to service in house, restrict your consideration set to that. Often this will mean restricting what you buy to the following...

D) Buy high volume, popular brands, like Rolex and Omega
They're more likely to have a reliable service center close to you. Their staff is probably more likely to be skilled as they have the volume, equipment and support to practice their craft. Also, the servicing will be valuable enough to be offered locally.

E) Buy quartz
I'm not so sure about this one. I thought I was safe with Quartz. No sir! I had quartz movements in a Tissot Desire and a Mondaine crap out. When those quartz movements stop, they're done and have to be fully replaced. The cost of that process is about 80% of the cost of purchasing the watch new, which is understandable, but irritating. At least it only tends to cost about $200 to $300 to get fixed. May as well go with option A above though.

[New entries]

F) Buy from a micro brand that cares
As jmariorebelo has pointed out, certain micro brands are good at servicing since they care about each individual customer. I think there are still risks involved in having to send watches back to the single service center offered by the microbrand by mail. Also long term viability is an issue if the microbrand disappears. But we need to reward brands that champion serviceability.

G) Buy a simple watch with few complications
A no-date manual wind Peseux 7001 will present far less risk than some complications masterpiece. It will cost less to service too.

[More edits based on feedback.]

H) Buy only what you can afford to service
As much as I feel savvy to watch collecting, I know that I still do acquire timepieces based on the attraction of the piece and neglect the long term servicing consideration. It's key to work out the amounts necessary and budget them into the future, especially in the context of the potential service cost of the rest of one's whole collection.

I) Flip it
Don't service it, just pass it on to the next sap. Buy new after negotiating a decent discount, then trade it in at the AD. It's expensive, but will avoid the risk, cost and time of servicing. If you buy used, wear it for a while and then move it on. On the flip side (pun intended), don't buy watches from sellers trying to do the same. eBay, Chrono24 and other second hand watch market platforms are full of such watches. Don't buy from a bricks and mortar reseller unless they have confirmed that they truly did service it in-house prior to putting it up for sale.

J) Let the watch sit, wear it seldom
Currently that's my strategy. I have a handful of nice watches that need servicing, but I just wear them for 24 to 48 hours then let their power reserve run down. Do this once or twice a month and the risk of damage is low. What bothers me is that I (and I presume most other collectors) am sitting on a bunch of nice watches that I'm not really enjoying. they're basically sitting there because of my fear of servicing. I don't like this so I will likely be moving some pieces, but this might work for some.

K) Buy higher end watches
You can buy a Luminox XCOR for about $700 used or NOS right now. It's likely that the Valjoux inside will be due for servicing immediately, at least if you plan to respect the recommended intervals. That will likely cost about $700. Would it not make more sense to buy an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Master Chronometer Titanium for $10k and service it for $1k-$2k? Or maybe an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak chrono for $45k and pay $3.5k per servicing? There is financial logic in this, but personally after seeing what my colleague went through getting his Royal Oak (power reserve, date, JLC movement version) serviced (five months, $4k, shipped to two different sites), I'd avoid it even if the cost ratios work out better.

[Edit]

L) If the service sucks, dump the watch and the brand
You send your watch in for servicing, it turns into a fiasco. Get the watch into as good a condition as is possible under the circumstances, sell it off immediately (perhaps on an eBay one dollar auction), then never purchase from that company again. If buyers do this often enough perhaps some Darwinian process will sort out the market over time.

[Edit]

M) Don't get a skeleton dial/caseback watch
As illustrated in this article, the process of handling and dismantling a movement during servicing may result in new scratches and grease marks on the movement components, especially the screws. With repeated servicing, most movements show signs of wear. You'd expect that most service people would try to avoid this, but perhaps over time, but in my experience there are frequently signs of handling on movements post-service. It's much harder to remove those than buff scratchers out of a case.

[Edit]

O) Be conscious of the impact of oils and avoid watches that are highly dependent on ideal lubrication
Oils are crucial to the functioning of mechanical watches. They're also a huge pain. They're the main reason that watches require servicing. I've included more commentary on this subject in this post. In terms of collecting, I would recommend avoiding watches that are highly reliant on being in an ideally lubricated condition to run. This tends to include complicated pieces, watches with very specific lubrication criteria (special escapements, unusual construction, etc.), and vintage watches. Yes this is very limiting. You have to balance desire with your pain/cost tolerance for servicing.

[Edit]

P) Privilege watches that are certified chronometers
Personally I feel that COSC certification has a lot of value, especially for movements that are new or unusual. Aside from the minimum accuracy range that they require (-4/+6), it's the fact that an external body does an additional round of quality control that leads me to conclude that it's an asset. Everybody knows that most ETA 2824/2892/7750 movements can be regulated to meet the COSC range. Also, the process of servicing and regulation resets the whole movement and makes the original measure at least partially moot. For those reasons many people conclude that COSC is useless. However, let me say this. I've owned IWC, Girard Perregaux and Zenith watches with in-house movements. Zenith typically doesn't certify its watches, but has done so in the past and for some special editions. As such, the El Primero and Elite have been proven to be able to achieve COSC. To my knowledge, no modern IWC or GP movements have been certified. GP used to be a chronometry champion, but no more. My Zenith watches have consistently been more accurate and reliable that my IWC and GPs. Many high end companies say "we exceed COSC". Yeah right, then prove it. COSC rejects movements that don't pass. Brands with high failure rates (or high anticipated failure rates) think twice before submitting for certification. It's easier to hide behind exclusivity and high-endedness. From what I've seen, Rolex is best in the industry for reliability and servicing. All their watches are certified as chronometers. I'm sure there's a virtuous interaction between product quality and chronometer certification.

Any other suggestions?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,329 Posts
The exact opposite of D), buy small brands that actually care about the costumer. Habring developed their A11 movement to be absolutely reliable and accurate. And will hold on to both their word and your watch.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
737 Posts
E) Buy quartz
I'm not so sure about this one. I thought I was safe with Quartz. No sir! I had quartz movements in a Tissot Desire and a Mondaine crap out. When those quartz movements stop, they're done and have to be fully replaced. The cost of that process is about 80% of the cost of purchasing the watch new, which is understandable, but irritating. At least it only tends to cost about $200 to $300 to get fixed. May as well go with option A above though.

Any other suggestions?
No comment on the other options, as servicing woes in the modern era are a well-known problem in the industry, with the only solution being to try and find one of the few remaining watchmakers that haven't retired yet. I'm lucky enough to have one right down the street from me, but he's in his late 60s. Not sure how much longer he'll stay in business.

But regarding those quartz servicing costs you listed in part E: If someone charged you $300 to replace a simple quartz movement...I'm sorry, but you got fleeced. You can buy a brand new ETA quartz movement from Esslinger and/or CousinsUK for about $30. I'm assuming that it costs Swatch group about $10 to make these movements. My watchmaker would charge about $75 for a job like this ($20-30 for the movement at his cost, and $40-50 for a half hour of shop labor, which is all it would take to swab an analog quartz movement and do a quick water-proof check).

So if you're not a watch nerd, then the quartz route is still the best option. Even if it craps out you're only out about $70-80 to get it replaced, and that's only if you're not mechanically inclined enough to swap a quartz movement yourself (which requires a few small screwdrivers and takes 10 minutes).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,612 Posts
I like all your points, I basically try to subscribe to most of them. Really nothing to add. From a servicing standpoint, it's not necessarily just the brand but the movement that I try to focus on. I prefer mass-produced movements as I figure the sheer number of watches out there would ensure I'll be able to get them serviced for the rest of my life, and there will be more watchmakers with the knowledge to service them.

So Rolex and Omega, as you mentioned. It's not just that I like the brands, but because their movements are so ubiquitous. If it's a smaller brand, I'd actually prefer an ETA over an in-house movement.

Other than that, I think shrinking the collection and avoiding complications are the other 2 I try to focus on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WTSP

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,059 Posts
My approaches to servicing and inaccuracy:

-Wear solar/kinetic most of the time.

-Enjoy Spring Drive, as solution to inaccuracy (but maintain some mechanical intrigue/romance).

-Many years down the road, if I don't want to wear a watch anymore, but like it enough to keep around, no need to service! :) Some of my watches I enjoy putting on just to enjoy looking at it (like I were at the store, haha), but not really wear. For wearing, I put on quartz beaters and semi-beaters.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,991 Posts
As my collections ages and the need for servicing approaches, I've been thinking about the cost and frequency of servicing.

While I value accuracy, I'm not crazy about conventional quartz (full disclosure - I do have a Casio Oceanus S100 for grab-and-go).

My solution was to go to Seiko's Spring Drive (just saw your post, rdoder, you type faster than me :) ). Anecdotal evidence here on WUS suggests servicing only need be done every 6-10 years, and I am confident that Seiko will stay in business for a long, long time. As a plus, the movement runs in-spec until it's badly in need of servicing, thanks to the feedback loop in the IC. As a negative, servicing is expensive.

Admittedly, it's a pricey option that's not for all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
102 Posts
A difficult choice.
I am appalled by the number of complaints about quartz watch failures as posted in the reference thread hyperlink: -
I have lately been using a cheap ( really cheap ! : $1.00 on sale ) Chinese quartz watch in an alloy metal case from a local Michaels Crafts store and have had no problems since purchase last August 2020..

FWIW......If I were to buy a luxury brand to replace a current watch for daily use, it would be another Omega based upon many years of trouble free use since the 1980s- but keep in mind that was another era.

I do not know of any Omega repair facilities in Illinois - repair by Omega USA means sending the watch to SWATCH in Miami, Florida and, IIRC , the stated entry level non-warranty repair or cleaning is aprox $2,000.00 USD.

Also, I am not so happy that Omega shuttered their stores as I had really excellent customer support from the OakBrook Mall store in Illinois.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,289 Posts
A difficult choice.
I am appalled by the number of complaints about quartz watch failures as posted in the reference thread hyperlink: -
I have lately been using a cheap ( really cheap ! : $1.00 on sale ) Chinese quartz watch in an alloy metal case from a local Michaels Crafts store and have had no problems since purchase last August 2020..

FWIW......If I were to buy a luxury brand to replace a current watch for daily use, it would be another Omega based upon many years of trouble free use since the 1980s- but keep in mind that was another era.

I do not know of any Omega repair facilities in Illinois - repair by Omega USA means sending the watch to SWATCH in Miami, Florida and, IIRC , the stated entry level non-warranty repair or cleaning is aprox $2,000.00 USD.

Also, I am not so happy that Omega shuttered their stores as I had really excellent customer support from the OakBrook Mall store in Illinois.
Burdeen’s in Buffalo Grove has a couple top notch Omega certified watchmakers. They left no traces behind on my watch. Also, Swatch doesn’t charge 2k for a service, it’s more like $500-750 (excluding extras)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,317 Posts
I do not know of any Omega repair facilities in Illinois - repair by Omega USA means sending the watch to SWATCH in Miami, Florida and, IIRC , the stated entry level non-warranty repair or cleaning is aprox $2,000.00 USD.
Who quoted you $2,000? Unless it's a vintage restoration, any recent (past 20 years) Omega shouldn't cost half that. Even in precious metal.

Price information | OMEGA US®
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,473 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
But regarding those quartz servicing costs you listed in part E: If someone charged you $300 to replace a simple quartz movement...I'm sorry, but you got fleeced. You can buy a brand new ETA quartz movement from Esslinger and/or CousinsUK for about $30. I'm assuming that it costs Swatch group about $10 to make these movements. My watchmaker would charge about $75 for a job like this ($20-30 for the movement at his cost, and $40-50 for a half hour of shop labor, which is all it would take to swab an analog quartz movement and do a quick water-proof check).
I got charged about $240 to restore my Tissot Desire. I admit it was expensive, but I went to the in-house service center of one of the higher end ADs in town. They replaced the gaskets, did pressure testing (not too useful on a 3 bar watch I admit), etc. I'm sure it should have cost less than half of that. However, when I shop around for independents to get a small job like this done, here's the result:
Jeweler damaged my watch.

I've tried over half a dozen independents to find one that does a decent job and I can't. The only places that are decent seem to be the expensive ones attached to ADs that have a lot of traffic for higher end pieces.

Some repairs I can do myself, but let's say you buy a quartz movement off of eBay, are you sure it will be the right type? For instance, I'm looking for an ETA 956.412. There are four or five different variations with different thicknesses, date wheel orientations and other features. I don't want to do trial and error until I get the right one, even if I can case it myself with my cheap toolset.

-Enjoy Spring Drive, as solution to inaccuracy (but maintain some mechanical intrigue/romance).
My solution was to go to Seiko's Spring Drive (just saw your post, rdoder, you type faster than me :) ). Anecdotal evidence here on WUS suggests servicing only need be done every 6-10 years, and I am confident that Seiko will stay in business for a long, long time. As a plus, the movement runs in-spec until it's badly in need of servicing, thanks to the feedback loop in the IC. As a negative, servicing is expensive.
Is Spring Drive really a good option? It seems as though the recommended service interval, cost and availability of service centers are comparable to other mid tier and high end Swiss watches. It's an interesting point that the electric regulator would compensate for lubrication or other service related issues though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,473 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
No comment on the other options, as servicing woes in the modern era are a well-known problem in the industry, [...]
Just following up on your comment there, I admit that servicing being expensive, slow and risky for the watch are not new topics. What I'm trying to get at is stating this as explicitly as possible as a general portrait and examining options.

Let's look at a sample of Kevin O'Leary's extensive watch collection. I think I recognize Audemars Piguet, Constatine Chaykin, Rolex, Richard Mille, Jacob & Co., Romain Jerome, FP Journe, Breitling, etc. Two or three of those or probably safe queens, so in need of service. Two or three are probably older models that haven't been serviced in a while. They can be worn for a day or two without servicing, but shouldn't be daily wears. Another two or three are three to four years old, but have sat in the box without being worn regularly and may not be keeping great time and/or their complications are a little wonky, so to be worn for a day or two but servicing is needed. Two or three may be new or regularly worn, so no service for them. So essentially the majority of that collection is dead weight.



My watch box is the affordable equivalent of that, with some quartz, Seiko 5s, Zenith, IWC, GP, Ebel and a few others. More than half of the nice pieces are similar dead weight. It's crazy. I feel uncomfortable wearing them because they don't keep time well and I feel that they're grinding down internally while I wear them. I don't want to spend the ~5k that would be needed to maintain them all at once or go through the pain of shipping, waiting, finding problems when they return. So I just wear two or three of them regularly, and the rest three or four times a month or not at all.

What would a smart collection look like?

Seiko 5, any of them, I just include the Street Fighter line for convenience
15768636


Behrens Spaceship or any of the others, swappable Miyota and I bet the module never needs to be serviced since it moves slowly.
15768634


Tudor, because any Rolex service center is likely to be able to service them
15768638


Omega Seamaster Quartz
15768639



Junghans Meister Driver Handaufzug with the Peseux 7001
15768647
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,991 Posts
Is Spring Drive really a good option? It seems as though the recommended service interval, cost and availability of service centers are comparable to other mid tier and high end Swiss watches. It's an interesting point that the electric regulator would compensate for lubrication or other service related issues though.
What I’ve learned in the Grand Seiko subforum is that the recommended service interval, 3-4 years, is very conservative. And you are right, the work is pricey, around $570 for the basic Spring Drive movement ( Serviceprice - SeikoServiceCenter ). But the smooth sweep of the second hand and the essentially unvarying timekeeping are, for me, worth it.

A separate issue that does concern me is the quality of the work at Grand Seiko’s Mahwah NJ facility. I still read troubling reports here on WUS about poor quality work and damage to timepieces. I’ll just keep monitoring that, my SDs are newish.


Having a great time.
whineboy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
737 Posts
Just following up on your comment there, I admit that servicing being expensive, slow and risky for the watch are not new topics. What I'm trying to get at is stating this as explicitly as possible as a general portrait and examining options.



My watch box is the affordable equivalent of that, with some quartz, Seiko 5s, Zenith, IWC, GP, Ebel and a few others. More than half of the nice pieces are similar dead weight. It's crazy. I feel uncomfortable wearing them because they don't keep time well and I feel that they're grinding down internally while I wear them. I don't want to spend the ~5k that would be needed to maintain them all at once or go through the pain of shipping, waiting, finding problems when they return. So I just wear two or three of them regularly, and the rest three or four times a month or not at all.

What would a smart collection look like?
I don't think it's the composition of the collection matters as much as finding a good watchmaker that is relatively affordable and delivers consistently excellent work. Granted, there are a few rules I follow (no complicated mechanicals: 3-hand date models only for me) but the most important thing to ensure you can keep your watch running is finding a watchmaker you can trust.

Unfortunately, as I pointed pointed out in my original post, watchmaking is a dying profession. Most of the good master watchmakers are in their 60s and approaching retirement, and there's not enough young blood to replace them, especially considering the rise in mechanical watch popularity of the last 5-10 years.

The guy I take my watches to is a CW21 certified watchmaker and is Rolex and Omega certified (with parts accounts for both). He's a lovely older Vietnamese gentleman that's been servicing watches in my city for 30+ years. And the best part is: He still charges a reasonable rate for the superb quality of work he delivers ($300-ish for a vintage 3-hander if it doesn't need any major parts, a bit less for modern). I take all of my vintage Grand and King Seikos to him, and he's never delivered anything short of perfection. All of my 50+ year old watches have come back from him running within COSC spec on my timegrapher. Granted, the 45xx series movement from Seiko, of which I have three, is one of the most accurate movements ever produced. But still, it's quite impressive.

...But he is in his 60s. I hope for my sake he doesn't retire in the near future (Although that's a bit selfish of me. I hope he does get to enjoy retirement someday), but whenever he does retire, I'm going to have to go through the difficult process of finding someone else that I can trust.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,293 Posts
I think one of the most important point is missed from your list.

Buy only what you can afford to own.

every brand recommends service around 5 to 10 years. So routine maintenance is part of ownership cost. Get yourself an Omega as an example, be prepared to spend an additional $500 to $1000 every few years. And if one doesn't like the idea of spending the equivalent of an affordable watch every few years for servicing, then they shouldn't buy the watch.

The need for service is not a new thing, and shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,438 Posts
Over the years I have learned of many reliable watchmakers just through word of mouth . For most of my collecting career I haven’t held on to a watch long enough to need to service it. It’s typically flipped within a year, lol. But now that I am entering more of a holding pattern that will start to change in a couple years. And I will get some first hand experience.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,059 Posts
The need for service is not a new thing, and shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
One thing I learned from my Dad is, there's no need to service. When I asked him, should I service the watch he gave me, he said, don't need to, just let it die. I think he didn't want the watch to be a financial burden to me. I think it's a fair point. Maybe there's desire to service, as response to desire to wear, but there's no actual need, when I could tell time with another working (quartz, affordable, service-less) watch, or with my phone.

I like having bought three expensive (to me, i.e. not affordable, haha) watches, and not feeling like I have to be slave to servicing them. I like looking at them, putting them on, but I don't have to wear or run them. Honeymoon phase wore off for two out of three of them, so I pretty much just look at two once in awhile only, and rarely wear. It's one option to enable experiencing something outside of my spending range (which is minimal spending on everything). I could pay for periodic servicing, but I could also pay for a lot of things, and end up broke. LOL I'll try to save by not wearing and not servicing, not be broke, but still get to enjoy/experience "the finer things".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
102 Posts
Burdeen’s in Buffalo Grove has a couple top notch Omega certified watchmakers. They left no traces behind on my watch. Also, Swatch doesn’t charge 2k for a service, it’s more like $500-750 (excluding extras)
I knew that Burdeens in Buffalo Grove is an Omega dealer, but was unaware of the store having a service department.
Unfortunately I am not currently certain where I obtained the cost of service that I quoted as it isn't in the Omega automated reply to my query about service at their Miami location.:unsure:
Thank you for the correction about the amount. (y)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,305 Posts
One thing I learned from my Dad is, there's no need to service. When I asked him, should I service the watch he gave me, he said, don't need to, just let it die.
This topic gets discussed occasionally around here, many people feel the same as your dad, don't service it until it stops running. The logical argument is for many brands, they'll fix anything that's broken or worn out for the same price, so there's no real downside to using that strategy. Also, you know you didn't waste money servicing a watch too soon, that had nothing really wrong with it.

I bought a Sub many years ago and just wore it until it stopped, that took 22 years. Not everyone is that lucky though.
 
1 - 20 of 52 Posts
Top