A well-made watch can last for decades, even if you wear it daily. Leather bands may eventually require replacement, but the watch face and inner workings can hold up for much longer. A well-maintained watch may even become a valuable antique that can be passed down as an heirloom.
Your watch will start to give off subtle signs that it needs servicing, even if it’s a high-end luxury watch. By paying attention to these signs, you can take it in for repairs or a replacement battery before any damage affects its precision timekeeping ability. Here are seven tips for monitoring your watch’s maintenance needs.
1. Running Fast
It’s normal for watches to be off by a few seconds, especially since environmental variables can cause most mechanical watches to self-correct over time. However, a watch shouldn’t be gaining entire minutes. If your watch starts running fast, it could be a sign that your watch hands were accidentally magnetized.
Although this problem is usually fixable at home with a demagnetizer, you might still need to take it in for a professional to handle it. A professional watch repair expert can check for other potential problems that could be the cause of your watch running fast.
2. Losing Time
Losing time is a separate problem from running fast. Instead of magnets throwing off the hands’ and gears’ movements, a watch slowing down indicates a mechanical issue or a problem with the power source.
Mechanical watches tend to lose time more easily than quartz watches. You can prevent this by being proactive about winding your mechanical watch. But if your watch loses more than a few seconds per day, you should get it checked by a professional.
Another critical warning sign that the watch may start to lose time soon is if the minute hand flicks backward before moving forward each minute, as this shows that the gears may be slipping.
Quartz watches can lose time if they need oiling or cleaning. You can oil or clean your watch yourself, but you need very steady hands to do so. Like with other common problems, it’s usually worth it to take your watch to a professional, especially if it’s a designer luxury watch.
3. Stuttering or Jumping Second Hand
On a mechanical watch, the second hand should sweep smoothly around the dial, while the second hand on a quartz watch is supposed to tick consistently, with small movements every second. If your watch appears to be keeping time accurately, but the second hand only moves once every 2-3 seconds, that’s a sign that your watch’s battery is about to die.
If left alone, a stuttering second hand will slowly lose time and then stop altogether. It’s best to get the battery replaced as soon as possible, either by doing it yourself or taking it in to get it serviced.
4. Water Droplets Inside the Case
Exposing a watch to water without adjusting the gaskets first can easily result in water getting inside the internal mechanisms. However, even just being outside for prolonged periods on a humid day can get small amounts of water trapped inside your watch, especially if the design is not water-resistant.
This condensation may seem unimportant at first glance, but it can cause your watch parts to rust over time. Even freshwater can cause corrosion before you realize that damage occurs, and corrosion in saltwater will happen even faster. Take your watch in for repairs at the first sign of internal water exposure. An expert can clean out the watch thoroughly and adjust the gaskets to improve its water tightness.
5. Rattling Sound
Although you might not notice a rattling sound during everyday use, you should pay attention if you notice it during the quieter moments of your day. Even a faint rattling sound could be a sight that a part is loose inside the watch. A piece of the movement could have broken off, or a screw may have come loose.
No matter what’s loose inside your watch, it can seriously damage the movement if it gets stuck in the wrong place. Remove the watch and carefully take it to a watch repair specialist immediately, taking care to jostle it as little as possible while you’re on your way.
6. Malfunctioning Features
Watches with built-in calendars and chronographs have much more complex mechanics than regular watches. It’s not uncommon for one to start to have issues with accuracy eventually. You can take these watches in to be fixed, but they will be quite expensive to repair due to how small the parts are.
You may be able to just ignore the malfunctioning feature, but it’s best to get it checked out by a professional, as nearly all the internal components are connected. If the malfunction is caused by a loose part or a gear connected to another part, the problem could spread and cause more serious damage to other mechanisms over time.
7. Band Stiffness or Sticking
If your watch band feels stuck or individual links in the band are sticking, take it in to a professional for an adjustment. The watchband is easy to fix or replace, but it’s still best to have it looked at by someone who knows how watch bands are engineered.
Metal bands precisely fit the end links and lugs, but even leather needs a careful hand, especially since using the wrong type of cleaning solution can damage the leather, causing brittleness and cracking.
Trying to clean out whatever is causing the stiffness in the band by yourself may result in permanent damage. This is especially true for the more delicate bands of women’s Rolex watches, which are made to be very durable but are expensive to repair if the band is improperly cleaned.
The Importance of Proactive Servicing
It’s wise to get your watch looked at every 1-2 years for a general inspection and cleaning. Quartz watches need a battery replacement periodically, and even mechanical watches should be examined for wear and tear that could become a serious problem.
The good news is that luxury watches will last for a very long time with proper maintenance and protection from the elements. You can wear it every day through most of your daily activities as long as you protect it from serious impacts. Your watch will become a wardrobe staple that helps establish your image as a reliable professional.