There are many reasons why you should get your watch serviced on a regular basis. The movement needs to be lubricated to function properly. It should be tested for water resistance, and gaskets changed when necessary to ensure water resistance. Water resistance isn’t just important if you take your watch swimming — rain can affect a watch, and if the watch isn’t water resistant, humidity can get inside the movement, and the components can begin to rust. In addition, replacement parts are expensive. By regularly servicing your watch, you’ll avoid complex and pricey repairs in the future. Read on for the ultimate guide to servicing your watch.
What Are the Different Types of Watch Service?
There are two types of watch service. The first is a simple check-up, which many retailers offer for free. Try to do this once a year. They will test for water resistance and magnetization, inspect the bracelet or strap, fix loose pins or screws, and clean it. Typically, you can wait while the technician examines your watch. Hopefully, your watch will be in good condition, and you can leave with it. If the technician discovers a problem, you can schedule a repair.
The second is more in-depth and requires parting with your watch. This is called a complete overhaul or complete service. A watchmaker will disassemble the movement and clean each component. Then they will reassemble the movement, test it for accuracy, make any necessary adjustments, and finally lubricate it so it will run smoothly. They will also thoroughly clean the case, metal bracelet, and buckle. Once the movement is back in the watch, they will test the movement amplitude and accuracy, verify water resistance, and do a final quality check. If your watch is white gold, they can rhodium-plate it for extra shine.
A complete overhaul can take around a month or six months or longer if a repair center is backed up. Unfortunately, many watch owners don’t want to part with their watches for that long, so they delay service until absolutely necessary. However, this isn’t a smart idea. Once a watch needs repair, it will generally take longer and be more expensive than standard maintenance.
How Frequently Should You Service Your Watch?
For general service, brand recommendations vary. Rolex suggests 10 years, which is on the high end, while others suggest five. The longer you wait, the more likely your watch will need significant repairs, which are more expensive and take longer. A good rule of thumb is every five years, depending on how frequently you wear your watch.
If you bought a watch at auction, you should immediately service it. You can take it to the brand for service or to an authorized service center.
It should go without saying that if you damage your watch or it is not functioning properly, you should take it in immediately.
Where Should You Service Your Watch?
If your watch is still under warranty, you can send it back to the manufacturer for service. You can also take your watch back to the retailer where you purchased it if they have trained technicians. Some US retailers, including Wempe and Tourneau, have watchmakers certified by brands to work on complicated timepieces, including Patek Philippe, Rolex, et al.
However, not all retailers have skilled technicians that can work on your watches. For example, Patek Philippe has many points of sale in the US but only three authorized service centers: its own New York service center, Wempe Jewelers in New York, and Kern Jewelers in California. Be sure you only take your watch to a service center that is authorized by the brand or send it to the brand for repairs.
How Much Does It Cost to Service a Watch?
It varies, but it will likely cost at least $500 and can be more than $2,000 for complicated watches, excluding any replacement parts.