How Often Should You Service A Vintage Watch?

Written by Liam Davis

December 19, 2023

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If your watch stops working, it will obviously need to be serviced or repaired. But why should you service a perfectly working watch?

Watches have lubricated parts, just like your car, and if that lubrication wears out, damage can occur. To prevent costly repairs, both cars and watches require scheduled maintenance.

This advice is especially relevant for watches that are worn daily however vintage watches in a collection are likely worn on rotation. When the watches are not being worn, this will reduce the risk of damage from imperfect lubrication.

Before buying a vintage watch, it’s essential that a full service is conducted because older watches are more fragile due to constant motion and potential friction-induced damage. We also recommend buying your vintage watch from a trusted seller or shop that provides a warranty to offer peace of mind, quality assurance, and long-term investment protection for your vintage timepiece purchase.

At Authentic Watch Co, we ensure that every one of our vintage watches is fully serviced, as well as offering a 12-month free warranty and hassle-free returns. Check out our collection now.

Your vintage timepiece can hold a lot of financial value but also carry a lot of personal and sentimental significance so it is very important to take good care of them.

Vintage Watch Service Frequency

Service frequency for a vintage watch is not one-size-fits-all; it depends on several factors.

Type and Age of the Vintage Watch

The first element to look at would be the type and age of your vintage watch.

This is definitely one of the most important things when it comes to determining service needs. As your vintage watch gets older, it tends to require more check-ups. Older timepieces, especially those from the early days of watchmaking, often need much more care. Watch materials age over time, and the technology in vintage watches isn’t as advanced as what we have today.

Additionally, if you have a watch with a quartz movement, it “uses a battery as its primary power source” [1]. Over time, a battery replacement will be required, so regular service appointments become absolutely essential to ensure your watch keeps ticking accurately.

Complicated watches, like chronographs with lots of intricate parts, need more attention, more frequently. So, if you own a vintage chronograph, be prepared for more regular services.

Usage and Wear

Now, let’s talk about how you treat your vintage watch. Do you wear it every day, or does it sit pretty in a display case most of the time? Your watch’s lifestyle plays a significant role in determining when it needs servicing.

If your watch is your everyday companion, it will need much more frequent check-ups. Activities like sports or rugged adventures can be tough on your timepiece, just as off-roading can be hard on a vehicle. If you’re in more extreme conditions, it will definitely need more care.

On the other hand, if your vintage watch only sees the light of day on special occasions, it won’t need as many services. However, remember that improper handling, like dropping your watch or fiddling with the time settings, can also lead to problems so make sure to treat it gently!

Environmental Factors

Now, let’s talk about the environment. Your vintage watch can be sensitive to its surroundings, just like you might prefer certain weather conditions. Environmental factors can age your watch prematurely, so pay attention to these:

Climate and Humidity: Extreme temperatures and high humidity won’t be particularly good for your watch. They can age the lubricants and components faster.

Dust and Particles: Dust and tiny particles that sneak into your watch can cause friction and wear. This means you need to keep up with frequent cleaning and maintenance.

Chemical Exposure: Finally, be wary of chemicals like perfumes and solvents. They can be corrosive substances for your watch’s delicate components.

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General Guidelines for Servicing Vintage Watches

Vintage watches are treasured for their timeless elegance and craftsmanship. However, to keep your vintage watch ticking accurately and looking its best, it’s crucial to follow some general guidelines for servicing vintage watches.

Routine Maintenance

Regular maintenance is the key to preserving the functionality and aesthetics of a vintage watch. If you have a manual watch, this would include winding it regularly to prevent the oils from drying out and keeping the watch clean and dry.

“As your watch will need winding very often making sure you know the correct way to set it is vital. To avoid crown damage only wind your watch off the wrist. Though it might be tempting, having to tilt the watch up by the crown because it’s less of a hassle, in the long run, this will damage and bend the crown causing more internal damage and making the watch inaccurate and unable to wind. When winding the watch you also need to make sure you’re not overwinding it. Winding the watch too tight can separate the crown from the mechanism and break the movement. You’ll know the movement is fully wound when you start feeling resistance in the crown. You should still be able to turn it but it should be more difficult to do so.” [2]

Be cautious when exposing your vintage timepiece to extreme temperatures, as this can adversely affect its delicate mechanisms. It’s also advisable to avoid wearing vintage watches during strenuous activities to prevent damage.

Watchmaker Selection

Choosing the right watchmaker is paramount when it comes to servicing a vintage watch. Opt for a master watchmaker with a deep understanding of vintage timepieces, they possess the knowledgeable eye, skills and tools required to handle these delicate relics. Research and read reviews to find the most reputable watchmaker, and consider their specialisation in your specific brand or era of vintage watch.

Signs Your Vintage Watch Needs Service

It’s essential to recognise when your vintage watch requires professional attention. Common signs include erratic timekeeping, loss of power reserve, moisture or condensation inside the case, and visible damage to the dial, hands, or crystal. If you notice any of these issues, don’t hesitate to seek professional servicing to prevent further deterioration.

DIY vs. Professional Servicing

While some watch enthusiasts may be tempted to perform DIY maintenance on their vintage watches, it’s generally recommended to leave the task to professionals. Vintage watches often contain intricate movements and delicate components that demand specialised knowledge and tools. Attempting a DIY vintage watch repair can lead to irreversible damage, diminishing the value and functionality of your cherished timepiece. Professional servicing ensures that your vintage watch receives the meticulous care and attention it deserves, with experienced watchmakers replacing worn parts, cleaning, lubricating, and carefully restoring the watch to its former glory.

In conclusion, regular servicing is paramount for preserving the longevity and accuracy of your vintage watch. So how often should you get your vintage watch serviced? Our general guidance is to service your timepiece every 2 to 5 years, but factors like age and usage can vary this timeframe. Emphasising the significance of proactive maintenance, we urge watch enthusiasts to consult professionals, adhere to manufacturer recommendations, and cherish their horological treasures by ensuring they receive the care they deserve. Ultimately, these efforts will not only safeguard the watch’s value but also keep it ticking beautifully for generations to come.

References
[1] Potter, S. (no date) A Guide to Quartz Watch Movements, Watches Of Switzerland UK. Available at: https://www.watches-of-switzerland.co.uk/calibre/inspiration/a-guide-to-quartz-watch-movements (Accessed: 22 September 2023).

[2] Ivanova, G. (2020) How to Maintain a Hand-Wound Watch?, First Class Watches. Available at: https://www.firstclasswatches.co.uk/blog/2020/07/how-to-maintain-a-hand-wound-watch/ (Accessed: 22 September 2023).

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About the Author

Liam Davis

Liam, the founder of Authentic Watch Co, is an experienced expert in the vintage watch industry with a deep passion for horology. With years of knowledge and dedication, Liam has become a trusted authority, committed to providing exceptional timepieces and unparalleled service to customers worldwide.

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