Watch maintenance – How to take care of your mechanical watch

Watch maintenance – get to know your mechanical watch

Getting to know your watch, will surely make it easier for you to keep it at its best, the mechanical watch is more than just a timekeeper, it is seen as an investment for real watch collectors. It can be passed down to the next generation of the watch that has been regularly serviced and taken care of.

Watch maintenance – how do mechanical watches work?

Watch maintenance  - how do mechanical watches work?

Watch maintenance – understanding the basic architecture of mechanical watches

The basic architecture of almost every mechanical watch for the past three centuries is the same, proving what a truly ingenious and efficient machine it is. Unlike the quartz watch, a mechanical timepiece doesn’t get its energy from a battery. Instead of the power that drives the hands around the dial, and also drives any additional complications like a date function, a moon phase or a chronograph, comes from the unwinding of a tightly coiled flat spring.

Watch maintenance – check the mainspring regularly

Left unchecked, this mainspring would quickly unwind and give up its energy in an instant. Therefore, the barrel that houses the mainspring meshes with a precisely-sized gear train of toothed wheels that terminates in what is called escapement. The escapement consists of a wheel that is caught released intermittently by a pivoting lever. The pivoting of the lever is controlled by a delicate spiral aptly known as the hairspring. This so-called “lever-escapement” controls the energy released from the mainspring, feeding back this power through the gear train, driving the hands of the watch to count out seconds, minutes and hours.

Watch maintenance – the mainspring is the heart of the watch

If you have seen a mechanical watch movement running, you will appreciate that metaphor, as the hairspring beats back and forth at a steady rate anywhere between, 18,000 and 36,000 times per hour. The precision of the watch depends largely on the tension of the hairspring, as well as its resistance to temperature changes and magnetism. Most modern hairsprings are made of a metallic alloy that compensates for temperature changes, and some are made from silicon, which is immune to magnetism.

Watch maintenance – care for the delicate springs

With all of these meshed gears a delicate springs, it is a wonder these contraptions are as precise as they are. But as you might guess, friction is mitigated by regular lubrication and smooth jeweled bearings. Those red shiny discs you see in the bridges of a watch are rubies, formerly real ones, currently most often synthetic ones. The pivots of the gear wheels ride in the center of these rubies, which are polished smooth to provide nearly frictionless surfaces.

Watch maintenance – how to wind and set your mechanical watch

One of the beautiful things about a mechanical watch is that it requires interaction with its owner to function. That coiled mainspring will only provide power for a day or two if you don’t keep it wound. A hand-wound watch is the purest form of the mechanical timepiece, which is part of its appeal. The mainspring is wound, as the name suggests, by turning the watch’s crown a few dozen times. While winding a watch is a simple process, there are a couple of things to be aware of.

Watch maintenance tip #1 – wind the watch off your wrist

First of all, wind the watch off your wrist. While it may be tempting to give the crown a few twirls while you’re surfing the Web at work, the angle can be awkward and put lateral stress on the delicate winding stem.

Watch maintenance tip #2 – don’t overwind your watch

Secondly, don’t overwind your watch. You’ll know when it’s wound when you can’t turn the crown anymore. This isn’t like topping off your gas tank, so don’t try to give it a little extra. Stop winding when you first feel resistance. Try to wind your watch once a day. A watch typically keeps the best time when the mainspring is above half tension. The typical watch has about a two-day power reserve so winding it up before you strap it on each morning is a good habit to form.

Watch maintenance tip #3 – the difference between mechanical and automatic winding

The automatic or self-winding watch functions as its name suggest. As long as you are wearing it, the mainspring maintains tension thanks to the weighted rotor in the movement that oscillates with your arm’s movement. A slipping clutch prevents the spring from getting overwound. Unless you don’t wear your watch daily or you’re an extremely inactive person, you won’t have to wind your automatic. But if you do, just give the crown 20 to 30 spins until the second’s hand starts moving, set the time and then strap it on. Unlike the hand-wound watch, you can’t overwind your automatic, but don’t overdo it –the winding mechanism in an automatic is typically less robust than that in hand-wound watch and thus more valuable to breaking with careless or excessive use. Let the watch wind itself.

Watch maintenance – things to avoid with mechanical watches

Watch maintenance – avoid magnets

As we all know with everything from mobile phones, laptops, television and other electronic devices, their mortal enemy is moisture, shock, and magnets. Fortunately, modern timepieces are pretty good resisting all three.

Watch maintenance tip #4 – Magnetism is bad

Magnetism can cause the spirals of the delicate hairspring to stick together, shortening the spring and causing the watch to run very fast. Watch companies are making great strides in protection against magnetism, but the hairspring in most affordable mechanical watches remains vulnerable. Televisions, speakers, and iPads all contain magnets that can affect the precision of your watch if you keep them in close proximity.

Watch maintenance – make sure your mechanical watch is water-resistant

Synthetic gaskets, screw-down crowns, and tight tolerance keep water out of a watch – assuming they’re all in good shape. Most watches, even dress watches, are rated for water resistance to at least 3 atmospheres, which is equivalent to roughly 30 meters. That may sound deep, but it’s nearly the minimum rating for a watch, so though your luxury watch will probably survive a dunk in the pool, it is not advisable taking it for your daily morning swim.

Watch maintenance – avoid moisture

While screw-down crowns are the best insurance against moisture, even some 200-meter rated dive watches use robust double-sealed free-spinning crowns. Regardless, if you spend a lot of time in the water, it is a good idea to have your watch’s water resistance tested annually, and to have gaskets replaced.

Watch maintenance – How can you maintain your watch in a great condition

Watch maintenance simply means just a little attention and TLC will ensure that your pride and joy withstands daily wear and tear long enough to pass down to your heirs. Most watches nowadays have sapphire crystals, which shrug off knocks and resist scratches. However, some timepieces have acrylic crystals in keeping with their retro aesthetics. While acrylic can be a scratch magnet, it can also easily be polished, automobile headlamp lens cleaner works.

If you are confident enough to check your watch you can purchase the maintenane kit.