- MEN'S WATCHES
- WOMEN'S WATCHES
- WATCH TRADE-IN
- ADVANCED SEARCH
Mechanical watch movements - whether an automatic wind or a manual wind - are comprised of small gears, miniature screws and paper-thin springs. To combine all these miniscule pieces, and create a working, accurate watch is an amazing feat to begin with.
Mechanical wristwatches, especially modern ones with jeweled movements, can last forever with the right care. They can, as well, be brought back to life if in reasonable condition.
In the world of mechanics, anything assembled of small parts which are capable of maintaining 99% accuracy would be considered a top-tiered piece of machinery. To put things in perspective, if a watch is only 99.9% accurate it would be off by 1 minute and 27 seconds per day, which is unacceptable in the luxury watch world.
Accuracy is dependant on a few variables, such as:
|Modern Mechanical non-COSC Certified watch|
|Worst Case Scenario||+/-10 seconds per day||99.988% accuracy|
|Typical||+/-5 seconds per day||99.994% accuracy|
|Excellent||+/-3 seconds per day||99.996% accuracy|
|Modern Mechanical COSC Certified watch|
|Worst Case Scenario||+6/-4 seconds per day||99.994% accuracy|
|Typical||+/-3 seconds per day||99.996% accuracy|
|Excellent||+/-1 seconds per day||99.998% accuracy|
It is important to understand that a fresh watch off the shelf may need a break-in period of a month or so. This allows the watch to find its beat and distribute the lubricants evenly. If you find the watch not to be as accurate as you would expect after the break-in period, there are generally two courses of action to increase accuracy - both being minor in nature, but require competent watchmakers to perform:
A mechanical wristwatch is comprised of small gears, miniature screws and paper-thin springs - as with any mechanical instruments that have constantly moving parts, a mechanical watch requires periodic maintenance.
As a watch ages the lubricants start to break down and the gears shift ever so slightly, and the accuracy of the watch will decline as well. The accuracy may be compensated by performing a couple of regulations (see above) over the course of a few years. However, ultimately a complete overhaul will be required. There are a few methods of thought to the frequency of service. Some say that a service should be done every 2-3 years as the manufacturer suggests. Others subscribe to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule and will only send it in to the manufacturer once the watch stops working - which could be many years. We suggest a middle ground, the watch should be sent in every 5 years - or sooner if you notice something amiss. Waiting longer than 5 years to send it in will result in undue stress wearing out different parts, ultimately costing more to replace those components. A complete overhaul entails disassembling the movement, inspecting each component, replacing any damaged components, cleaning each part, lubricating, reassembling, adjusting and regulating the movement.
The cost for a complete overhaul could start at roughly $250 for a simple watch, going up to $500 for a chronograph and into the thousands for a highly complicated watch.
A typical maintenance requires the watch to be opened, the movement dismantled, and each component cleaned and lubricated. The movement is then reassembled, regulated, the gaskets changed, and finally, tested.
Magnetism: If a watch suddenly begins running extremely fast (20+ seconds per day to hours fast per day) it is usually an indication that the hairspring coils are magnetized, causing the coils to stick together. This shortens the rotation of the balance wheel and increases the beat rate extremely. Correcting this is one of the simplest tasks for a watch maker. The watch need not be opened (only in extreme cases) it is passed through a demagnetizing machine and is ready to go again. Magnetism can also cause a watch to stop or run slow; however, generally the watch will run fast.
Tangled Coils: This could be caused by a small jolt to the movement. Although this is less likely than magnetism it is still a common cause of a watch running extremely fast. The coils are entangled, and this shortens the rotation of the balance wheel and significantly increases the beat rate. The good news is that the fix is fairly simple for a qualified watchmaker to accomplish.
Overall Poor Operation: This is rare on a new watch and will generally be the case of a watch that is 4-5 years old. If the watch runs slow and cannot be corrected by a regulation, does not maintain a power reserve, stops working while on your wrist - it may signify a deeper issue, where the skills of an expert watchmaker are required to pin-point and correct the problem. The most extreme resolution is to have the watch completely overhauled. We generally recommend sending the watch back to the respective company for a job as such.
What is a Quartz watch?
Quartz timepieces use the quartz crystals to provide a very accurate resonator which gives a constant electronic signal for timekeeping purposes. Quartz crystals are piezoelectric, which means that they generate an electrical charge when mechanical pressure is applied to them. They also vibrate if an electrical charge is applied to them. The frequency of this vibration is a function of the cut and shape of the crystal. Quartz crystals can be cut at a consistent size and shape to vibrate at thousands of times per second, making them extremely stable resonators for keeping very accurate time.
Modern quartz/battery operated watches are generally more consistently accurate than mechanical wristwatches. Quartz watches are typically accurate to +/-1 second per day. Unlike mechanical wristwatches, where accuracy is dependant upon a variety of factors such as gravity, tolerances and lubricants, quartz watches will keep a consistent time to whatever the original accuracy is. However certain environments may cause quartz watches to lose their accuracy such as proximity to high magnetic fields such as MRI equipment, doctors' offices with x-ray equipment, dentist offices, etc.
As most quartz watches easily outperform the COSC requirement for mechanical wristwatches, the COSC created a whole separate set of tests and standards for a quartz movement requiring the watch to stay accurate to an amazing 0.02 seconds per day!
As the cost of the COSC test is high, most companies choose not to certify their watches, as this would increase the price of the watch drastically. However, there are a few exceptions such as Breitling quartz watches.
Following is what you can expect in terms of accuracy from quartz watches:
|Modern Quartz (battery) Operated non-COSC Certified watch|
|Worst Case Scenario||+/-2 seconds per day||99.997% accuracy|
|Typical||+/-1 seconds per day||99.998% accuracy|
|Excellent||+/-0.5 seconds per day||99.999% accuracy|
|Modern Quartz (battery) Operated COSC Certified watch|
|Worst Case Scenario||+/-0.02 seconds per day||99.99998% accuracy|
|Typical||+/-0.02 seconds per day||99.99998%|
|Excellent||+/-0.00 seconds per day||100% accuracy|
Other pros of quartz watches: