How to Maintain High Grade Mechanical Swiss Watches?


You must be very proud to have been the owner of that fine Swiss mechanical watch. May be, this is the watch which will become a heritage and passed down to many generations. Swiss mechanical watches are high quality watches which are highly durable. But do they need maintenance? Of course, after all, they are machines. Like any other machine, any Swiss watch especially a mechanical watch needs to be maintained regularly for its proper functions. To perform their full potential, it is necessary they be serviced professionally.

During my 30 years of watch repair, customers keep me asking why an overhaul costs so much. It is difficult to explain things theoretically. I ask them that if they could afford time and set with me, then I will show them my method of taking the watch apart. Some customers do agree and set by me. When I start taking each part being extremely meticulous to handle them, and then servicing each part with extreme care and putting it back with my 30 years of experience, then they understand.

When shall an overhaul be performed?

There are no hard and fast rules. However, most manufacturers recommend that it be done at least every 3 to 5 years. The time between 3 to 5 years shall depend upon the usage of the watch. Usage does not mean the amount of time you wear the watch. It means the way you handle your watch and how careful you are about your watch. Which situations you wear it. For example, if you wear your watch working in a construction or building industry, or you wear it working in an office environment. Or do you never take it off when you take a shower, housework, or just your gardening etc. So usage, definitely makes a difference to the overhaul.

What does an overhaul do?

An overhaul is a complete and professional cleaning of all the parts of watch both internally and externally. All the watch parts are taken apart with perfect care and then each part is cleaned ultrasonically. The process is carried through in a special solution which removes every single trace of dust, dirt and oil. But that is not the end. The watch is then washed and rinsed twice in another solution. After that, it is heat dried.

If there are any worn movements are gaskets, these must be replaced to ensure that water resistance of the watch stays intact. It should be noted that replacements should not be any cheap alternative parts. These must be authentic and should be coming from the manufacturer. This will ensure that all parts fit perfectly. Cleaning and polishing the bracelets, case and straps are also an important part of the overhaul.

Next stage is to re-assemble the movement again. Surprisingly, I am approached by customers who try to do the overhaul themselves. They open the watch and create a big mess in the process. They cannot put it together back and bring it to me. I am amazed why they should do that when they will not risk opening their computers. Such unprofessional treatment does a lot of damage to the parts and ultimately cost more to the customer for putting things back together right.  Many times, I receive watches in plastic bags opened by people themselves. Many times, they come with an extra part they do not know where to fit it. Remember, the watch repair work is extremely delicate. It needs the right tools, knowledge, experience and a perfect skill.

I use four different oils to lubricate the different parts of the movement. Each part needs to be lubricated in the appropriate oil. For example, pivot wheels and balance staff should not be lubricated with same grade oil. They need separate grades of oil to maintain the minimum levels of friction and wear.

In order to regulate the time, you will need a timing machine. The watch is attached to the machine and the pulses on the machine will indicate whether it is running fast or slow. You will keep making the adjustment until the machine shows the straight line which means that the time has been perfectly regulated.

Once everything is over, the watch looks great and performs to factory standards. In my 30 years of experience, I take great delight when my customers see the watch and their faces start shining. It is an absolute delight and accomplishment.

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