The effects of magnetism on a mechanical watch

Mechanical watches have been fighting with magnetism ever since the very beginning of modern watches. Magnetic fields are everywhere : cell phones, refrigerators, security gates at airport but also on locks such as the ones found in handbags or glass cases.  Magnetic fields can sometimes be so strong that people wearing pacemakers should not get close to them as they could interfere with the proper rhythm of their pacemaker. No wonder then that it can also deregulate a mechanical watch !

Patek Philippe Amagnetic wristwatch

 

The effects of magnetism on a mechanical watch

When a mechanical watch is magnetized, it is the whole escapement (escape wheel, pallet and balance staff) that are affected as those pieces are usually made of magnetizable steel because of its great stability properties. Since the escapement is regulating the oscillations of the balance wheel, the watch’s accuracy is directly affected which results in the watch running either way too fast or way too slowly or even stopping suddenly. We do not want that !

  • What should I do if my watch is magnetized ?

If you find your watch running abnormally, first take a measure using Toolwatch to make sure your watch is actually not running as it should be. If you realize there is a big gap, then your watch could very probably be magnetized. What you want to do know is to bring it to a watchmaker or specialized dealer of mechanical watches as he will own a demagnetizing device. This device will demagnetize the watch in a few minutes by placing the watch on it and without having to open the watch in most cases.

PRO TIP : You can also use this great watch demagnetizer to safely and quickly demagnetize your watch’s movement.

  • What about nonmagnetic watches ?

To officially hold the title of “anti-magnetic” according to ISO standard 764, a watch must be able to resist a direct magnetic field of 4,800 A/m. Anti-magnetic watches usually have their movement surrounded by a shield made of either soft iron or mu-metal. The Omega Railmaster, the IWC Ingenieur and the Rolex Milgauss are famous anti-magnetic watches and the currently most resistant watch is the Omega Aqua Terra 15 000 gauss with Omega’s new movement where the balance spring is made of silicon, a material that is totally unaffected by magnetic fields allowing such a performance !

 

One last thing: Do you know which wristwatch is said to be the most anti-magnetic on the market today?
-> It is the Omega Globmaster with a resistance up to 15’000 gauss thanks to the new calibre 8901

Omega Globemaster

Bonus : If you want to learn more on the Patek Philippe Amagnetic, follow this link !

See you soon for a next article to help you taking care of your favorite timepiece !