There comes a day in every watch’s lifetime when it needs to be serviced or repaired. Watch repair is one of the inevitable facts of wearing watches.
The modern wristwatch was born in the late 19th century during wartime when timing was critical and pocket watches were difficult to operate in the middle of the battlefield. It’s only fitting that we hold our watches to a certain standard of care and respect.
“World War I was the seminal moment when the wristwatch became both a strategic military tool and a manly fashion accessory.”
David Belcher, NY Times
If you want a watch that lasts a lifetime or longer, you will need to bring it to a professional to have it maintained. These checkups not only make sure the watch has enough lubricant and all the gears are in working order, but help you get a head start on any repairs that may be needed.
With so many intricate parts working together in the modern watch, there is a lot that can go wrong.
Before you bring your watch to a repair center, however, it’s important to educate yourself on the topic and choose a repair shop like Watch Technicians that is dedicated to repairing watches, rather than an all-purpose repair center.
Can any watch be repaired?
Do all watches need maintenance?
How do you choose a good watch repair center?
This article answers these questions, equipping watch owners with the information they need to take care of their watches without breaking the bank.
One of the most common questions asked by vintage collectors or new watch wearers is, “Can any watch be repaired?”
The answer is almost always yes, any watch can be repaired, no matter if it is glass or crystal, vintage or modern, automatic, or manual. There are some exceptions, but mostly any repairs will only be limited to the money you are willing to spend, the watchmaker’s capabilities, or equipment available to make the repairs.
Depending on the style, materials and age of the watch, it may become more expensive to repair a watch, but it can almost always be done so long as you find the right repair center.
Of course, some parts of a watch may benefit from being replaced instead of repaired depending on how badly they are damaged. For example, a crack in the glass face of your wristwatch may need to be replaced if it cannot be polished out.
If you are not experiencing major issues with your watch, you shouldn’t need any major repairs. But there are symptoms that may signal a repair is needed:
If you see moisture in the glass casing on inside the dials, that is a dire sign of damage, and you should visit your repair shop as soon as possible. Water-resistance should also be tested after the watch is repaired to ensure there are no other underlying issues.
Watches that contain a quartz movement are commonly battery-operated. If the hands on your watch skip a couple of seconds at a time, it is a good indicator that you will need to change the battery soon. This is an inexpensive fix and that should be included in your regular maintenance.
A wristwatch contains several small gears and dials that control the movement of the hands. If you notice a rattling sound from inside the watch or loose hands, one of the gears inside may have slipped and you should have a repair center take a look for any underlying problems.
Just like a checkup at the doctor’s office, a checkup for your watch can help you ensure everything is working as it should, and to alert you to any potential problems. Watch maintenance will significantly lengthen its lifespan, paving the way to your watch becoming a priceless vintage piece in the future.
Most professionals recommend getting your watch serviced yearly if you wear it every day, and between three and five years if you wear your watch sparingly.
A watch is a symbol of status and care about one’s appearance. No matter how expensive or inexpensive watch repair may be, it should always be left to the professionals. Time and time again, this is seen especially on true high-end watches, where most repairs are $1,000 and up. (2)
“On a complicated watch you can have 300 to 500 parts inside all working together. So, if you hit the watch or are not careful, you will break something.”
Liza Corsillo, GQ Magazine
When you try to do your own watch repairs, you forfeit any warranties the watch had in it, whether it was for an individual piece or the whole watch. This means any future repairs can lead to costly bills that could have been avoided.
Self-repair, or repair that is done by someone other than a watch repair specialist, has obvious tells. An unauthorized repair can depreciate the value of the watch over time, leaving your prized high-end watch valueless.
In the end, self-repairs are never worth the money you save as it will cost you more in the long run and may lead to further damage.
Finding a repair shop for your watch is a lot like finding a doctor for your health checkups. Generally, you can ask around for recommendations, call in to discuss your problems and see if they can help you, and if they seem competent, you book an appointment.
“Just like a checkup at the doctor’s office, a checkup for your watch can help you ensure everything is working as it should, and to alert you to any potential problems.”
Following the three main things you can do to ensure you are working with a reputable repair shop:
When you call your local watch repair shop, don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how basic they are, even if you already know the answer. Can any watch be repaired? Do automatic watches need to be wound? How often do I need to have my watch maintained?
You can also ask questions related to their specific services, but the main takeaway should be their honesty. If you find a watchmaker who is willing to admit when they don’t have the equipment to fix a certain problem or don’t want to work on a certain type of watches, it’s a good idea to keep them in mind.
If you are lucky and find a watchmaker who can make all the repairs you need, however, this is where your basic questions come into play. By taking the time to answer your questions, you can tell that they are not just in it for short-term gain, but to retain your loyalty as a customer and help ensure your timepiece is in the best condition possible.
There are a lot of swindlers or uneducated repairmen on the market who are just looking to do quick repairs for the money. While this is not common in a dedicated watch repair shop, you will find it all the time at kiosks and do-it-all repair shops.
The best defense to having the wool pulled over your eyes is to educate yourself and learn some basic terms to help stop you from getting lost in industry jargon. Learn the anatomy of your watch, what type of watch you have, and how it is different from other watches.
Reviews from other customers will generally steer you in the right direction. If the repair shop in question has good customer reviews, then you can expect good work and good service from the repairmen.
Watch Technicians is based in the St. Louis area and specializes in watches, clocks and fine jewelry. Time-tested with a loyal customer base, every watch you bring in will be treated like our own prized possession. Our team can work on virtually any brand or manufacturer, and our services range from wristband replacement and watch polishing to tuning, dial repair, and anything in-between.
Watch Technicians is there for you and your timepiece any day with free estimates on our in-house repairs. Book now or walk-in today for your watch repair services in either of our St. Louis locations.