5 Ways to Damage Your Timepiece and How to Prevent Costly Watch Repair
A Watch Repair can be expensive and time consuming!
It goes without saying that you wouldn’t want to throw your watch against a wall, run it over with a Bentley or smash it with a hammer like in this post on hodinkee which I am sure led to a very costly watch repair!
Here are 5 common human errors that can result in damaging your watch and how you can prevent making the same mistakes.
When you spend your hard-earned money on a watch that you enjoy wearing, the last thing you want to do is to have to shell out money to fix it and be without your beloved timepiece for weeks or months on end. All because you didn’t take the time to read the instruction manual or your salesperson didn’t properly educate you.
1. Setting the day, date or other function in the wrong way or at the wrong time
Most complication adjustments such as the date or day of the week should NOT be made when the watch is reading between 9 pm and 3 am. May sound strange, but makes perfect sense once it’s explained.
Although most of these settings will change very close to midnight visually, the gears that make these changes happen will begin to engage at about 10 pm on your watch. Once they engage, if you try to make an adjustment, it can cause these gears to slip and fall into the wrong position. Likewise these same gears disengage fully at about 2 am.
Watch Repair Needed: Misalignment of the date, day, or other complication in the window and in worst case scenarios, broken gear parts floating around in the movement.
Prevention: Be sure that when you are setting any complication to bring the hour hand to the lower half of the dial at 5, 6, or 7 o’clock (doesn’t matter if it is am or pm). This will ensure that you are not in the ‘danger zone’ (as the cheesy Kenny Loggins song from Top Gun gets stuck in my head).
Note: It is never advised to make any adjustments to complications in a counter clockwise rotation. Always go clockwise, even if you mess up and have to start over.
2. Crossing the threads on a screw-down crown
Many watches such as diver’s watches and sports watches have crowns that screw into the case allowing for higher depth ratings on your timepiece. To wind and set these types of watches, the crown must be unscrewed from the case and afterward, must be screwed back in to ensure the advertised depth rating.
Watch Repair Needed: It is possible that when you go to screw the crown back in and the threads are lined up incorrectly, once you force the turn, the threads will become damaged and the crown will never get to its’ proper position, therefore allowing water to penetrate and get into the watch.
Prevention: If the crown doesn’t seem to be snugging up tightly against the case, or if it didn’t seem to turn in as much as usual, simply unscrew the crown, and reattempt. A typical crown should turn 2 to 3 full rotations when screwing it in and when tight, should hug up to the case without any gap.
Note: Once your crown is screwed in tightly, there is no need to torque it further. Once the crown stops, you’re good. I’ve seen watches that were screwed down so tightly that it takes tools to unscrew it, and nobody wants to use a needle nose pliers on their watch!
3. Pressing chronograph pushers while submerged in water
One might wonder why someone would operate their chronograph while under water, but I’ve seen it happen. One time a client was timing a competition between his kids and how long they could stay under water in their pool. I guess you could say his watch lost!
Watch Repair Needed: Although most chronographs on the market today are water resistant, very few of them have pushers that are still water resistant when the pushers are pressed while under water. The outward force that keeps the pushers in place also hold the seals in place. Once they are pressed in, the seal is broken and water can rush in.
Because the internal parts of a watch and movement are small and many are metal, it doesn’t take long for them to rust or corrode. Additionally, dials and hands can become quickly discolored and rusted. Water damage in a watch can be one of the most costly and time consuming repairs.
Prevention: Simple, do not press in the pushers of your chronograph while under water!
Note: There is none… this one is pretty cut and dry.
4. Pushing recessed pushers in only partially
Recessed pushers are not very common at all. They look like little dimples on the side of the case and similar to a chronograph pusher, when pressed in, perform a function. They are typically there for setting complications in a watch such as a day, date, month, leap year, moon phase, etc., and are most commonly found in annual and perpetual calendars or other watches with many complications.
To operate them properly, a stylus is needed to make any adjustment. The recessed pusher must be fully pressed in to the fullest extent that it allows, and then come all of the way back out before pressing it again.
Watch Repair Needed: If the recessed pusher is halfheartedly pressed in or if it doesn’t come all of the way back out before pressing again, it will cause for a misalignment of the complication or gears to be broken (similar damage to #1 in this list).
Prevention: Take your time to push the recessed pusher in, and allow it to come out fully before pressing again.
Note: The Vacheron Constantin Ref. 57260, aka The Most Complicated Watch Ever Made, appears (at least from photos) to contain no less than 8 internal pushers in its case!
5. Magnetization of Your Watch
Remember as a kid, you’d take stick a paper clip to a magnate for a day, then the following day the paper clip would stick to your refrigerator on its own? Well if you can imagine, the moving parts in a watch could also become magnetized in the same way.
“Well, I’m not sticking a magnate to my watch, so how could my watch parts become magnetized then?” Easy. If you rest your watch on top of that large house speaker, the magnetic cover to your iPad, or something with a similar magnetic field.
“How could I tell if my watch has become magnetized?” Slowly wave your watch closely back and forth under a compass. If the needle moves when you do, your watch is magnetized.
Watch Repair Needed: The magnetized parts in your watch will be drawn to each other and not want to move in the way they were intended.
Prevention: Be careful where you lay your watch down when you aren’t wearing it. Stay clear of speakers, clock radios, iPads, and other electronic devices with magnates.
Note: If you don’t own a compass because your smartphone has one, apparently someone out there has made an app for this too. I haven’t checked it out yet but you can read about it in this Watch-Insider.com post.