Every day we are being asked the same question : is watch servicing really that important? What us a service operation? How much does it cost? Let’s find out now!
What is watch servicing and why should I care about it?
Mechanical watches are wonderful little mechanical objects. Even a “simple” time-only watch will require over a hundred components (including several gears, springs, oils and gaskets) and of course, excellent skills in assembling those parts together.
Those mechanical pieces will wear along time and some of these pieces will need to be fixed or even replaced. Also, oils don’t last for decades and, as the ones in your car, you must put fresh oils in the movement.
There is however a (huge) difference when comparing to a car service : time. A watch servicing can take much longer as the watch will be totally disassembled! Imagine what would happen if it was the same with cars?
How often should I service my watch?
A common rule recommends a complete watch servicing every three to five years. After this delay, damaged parts will most likely damage other components and oils might dry resulting in further damages inside the watch. Adding up, this will result in a higher cost of repair, probably not a good long-term deal.
While we all heard stories of watches from brands like Rolex or Omega that are still working fine after many years without any watch servicing, these are exceptions. Those brands have mastered mass production and extreme reliability and even them highly recommend a regular servicing.
Before rushing to the service center, there are a couple of things to check by yourself.
Measuring the accuracy of your mechanical watch
You watch’s accuracy is the first aspect to evaluate your watch’s health.
Depending on the model or brand, the precision can differ. We could consider that any watch running between -10/+10 seconds per day is fairly accurate. Most brand have their own tolerance and certifications, those indications will help you monitor your watch (if you don’t know them, you should ask your watchmaker).
To measure and track your watch’s precision several options are available with the easiest one being of course Toolwatch.io! Our free service will give you the accuracy of your timepiece while actually wearing it (i.e. in “real” conditions). You could also go to your watchmaker or closest watch repair center but you will only get an “instant” measure, not the big picture.
The measure from Toolwatch will help you understand how your watch is behaving. If you get important gap between your measure and the precision range given by the brand, you should definitely go to your dealer for a watch servicing. If you get a really strange measure, please double check with a second one before running to your watchmaker!
Finding out if my watch is magnetized
The accuracy measure will also help you find out if your watch is magnetized. If so, your accuracy will be way over the -/+60 spd. Getting your watch un-magnetized is quick and easy, every watchmaker has the required tools. This check and service is usually free but might require an oscillating spring adjustment (which you’ll have to pay).
Another cool option is having this great watch demagnetizer to safely and quickly demagnetize your watch’s movement. This can be pretty useful and save you a visit to the customer service department.
For your information, magnetic fields are everywhere and magnetized watches could be due to close contact with speakers, computers or any other common magnetic fields… Try avoiding those objects/areas or get either a Rolex Milgauss, IWC Ingenieur or the new Globemaster from Omega.
Is my watch still water resistant?
If your watch doesn’t run properly, it could also be cause by water infiltration. If gaskets are used, water can infiltrate and damage components, impacting accuracy. Infiltration can be spotted by fog onto the crystal. Even if you can’t see fog, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t any infiltration, so if you have a doubt, go get a full watch servicing as oxydation can damage metal components, the dial and hands.
Any other external factors that could impact my watch’s accuracy?
You’ve dropped or hit the watch
Dropping the watchmay not be visible on the case, however it can damage internal components. You watch might still run properly for a while, but you should plan a service to replace damaged parts.
You are playing golf, tennis or other sports implying violent impact
You want some style while playing sports? Get a Richard Mille or a good ol’ Casio quartz watch such as the Casio F105W-1A Illuminator. (You should screenshot this post, we don’t usually encourage our readers to get quartz watches, but let’s be honest, we all need a Casio at some point and battery replacements are the easiest kind of service you can get!)
While playing such sports, you should not wear high-end mechanical watches, unless their are made for that. Violent gestures also damage components as they can move from their initial position. You should keep you watch inside your bag and avoid unnecessary wear and tear.
Now that we have covered several symptoms of malfunctioning watches, let’s see what watchmakers are actually doing during a service.
What does servicing a mechanical watch mean?
A service from a good watchmaker implies: disassembling, cleaning, oiling, and polishing the watch (option you can of course refuse from a value retention standpoint).
The watch servicing will first of all imply a full disassembling. Each and every single component will then be placed in a chemical solution to dissolves dirt, dust and oil residues.
Damaged components will either be fixed or replaced by original parts (extra charge can occur if they need to change critical components).
Finally, the watchmaker will assemble back the watch and adjust it in several positions to make sure it runs well before sending it back to you.
How long does a full watch servicing take?
The delay depends a lot on the type of watch and amount of work that needs to be done. Sometimes, the watch even needs to be sent to the Manufacture adding more time. It is safe to say, that you will rarely have a watch servicing done in less than 4 weeks and it can take up to 6 months in some cases.
Another solution would be to
double each of your watch see your local independent watchmaker that will take far less time, but make sure that he is capable of repairing your own watch (i.e. has access to spare parts and received the proper brand training). This solution could also be far less expensive…
How much does a watch servicing cost?
Costs depends on four main factors:
- Type of watch (two hands or a minute repeater?)
- Type of material (more precaution needed for gold cases)
- Type of damage (how many components to change?)
- Strategy of the brand regarding pricing
Some brands are totally transparent with customers. For example, you can find Nomos, Patek Philippe or Richard Mille’s service pricing on their websites. Other brands will have you ask for an estimate.
In the table below, you will get the full (and regularly updated!) service price list for 24 brands. Please reach out to your local dealer for any other brands.
Mechanical watch servicing price per brand (updated!)
|A. Lange & Söhne||Lange 1 Lange 1 Moon Phase, Lange 1 Daymatic, Saxonia Dual Time||1,340 Euros|
|Audemars Piguet||Royal Oak (three hands)||880 Euros|
|Audemars Piguet||Royal Oak Offshore (Chronograph)||1,330 Euros|
|Audemars Piguet||Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra Flat||1,765 Euros|
|Breitling||Simple automatic watches||395 Euros|
|Breitling||Chronograph with ETA caliber||540 Euros|
|Breitling||Chronograph with Breitling manufacture caliber||660 Euros|
|Breitling||Chronograph with complications||635 Euros|
|Glashütte Original||Sixties||430 Euros|
|Glashütte Original||Senator Chronograph Panorama Date (with power reserve indicator, flyback function and large date)||850 Euros|
|Glashütte Original||Senator Tourbillon||1,650 Euros|
|Jaeger-LeCoultre||One sided Reverso with manual winding movement||590 Euros|
|Jaeger-LeCoultre||Two-sided Reverso with additional functions||790 Euros|
|Jaeger-LeCoultre||Master Chronograph||790 Euros|
|Omega||Watches with calibres since 1980 (hand-wound and automatic)||550 Euros|
|Omega||Watches with calibers from the 1970s (manual winding and automatic)||750 Euros|
|Omega||Watches with calibers from the 1960s (manual winding and automatic)||750 Euros|
|Oris||Automatic Watches||230 Euros|
|Oris||Chronograph and alarm clock||320 Euros|
|Oris||Manufacture Caliber 110/111||430 Euros|
|Panerai||Simple manual wind watch||440 Euros (leather strap)
540 Euros (metal strap)
|Panerai||Small complications||620 Euros (leather strap)
720 Euros (metal strap)
|Panerai||Mid complications||665 Euros (leather strap)
765 Euros (metal strap)
|Patek Philippe||Simple Calatrava||1100 Euros|
|Patek Philippe||World time||1430 Euros|
|Patek Philippe||Chronograph||1980 Euros|
|Rolex||Datejust||from 600 Euros|
|Rolex||Day-Date and Daytona||from 660 Euros|
|Rolex||Submariner, Submariner Date, Sea-Dweller, Explorer, Explorer II, GMT-Master II Milgauss||from 650 Euros|
|Rolex||Yacht-Master II||from 900 Euros|
|Sinn||Three-hand watches||230/285 Euros|
|Sinn||Simple chronograph||360/415 Euros|
|Sinn||Complex chronograph||480/535 Euros|
|TAG Heuer||Automatic watches||345 Euros|
|TAG Heuer||Automatic chronograph||480 Euros|
|TAG Heuer||Automatic chronograph with Zenith or TAG Heuer manufacture movements||575 Euros|
|Vacheron Constantin||Complete Service – Automatic / manual simple movement||810 Euros|
|Vacheron Constantin||Complete Service – Automatic / manual special movemen||1,380 Euros|
|Vacheron Constantin||Complete Service – Chronograph movement||1,350 Euros|
|Vacheron Constantin||Complete Service – Complication movement||2,310 Euros|
|Vacheron Constantin||Restoration – Vintage simple movement||2,380 Euros|
Prices last updated in December 2019, with help from our friends of Watchtime available in German here
Like 110’000+ watch lovers around the world, do not miss any new watch tip with the Toolwatch newsletter