Like a car, a mechanical watch needs to be serviced regularly to keep it running smoothly. Over time, the oil will deteriorate and friction between the movement’s parts will increase, causing wear and making the watch less accurate. In addition, the friction can create a very fine dust that will itself act as an abrasive on the watch movement parts.

Manufacturer’s recommendations vary, but most range from every three to five years.

The watch is taken apart and the bracelet and case are cleaned ultrasonically and polished. The pieces of the movement are cleaned chemically and examined. Worn parts are replaced. The movement is then reassembled, lubricated and regulated. Then, if the watch is a water resistant model, its water resistance is tested.

If the watch is under warranty, the warranty may be invalid unless you take it to a service centre authorized by the manufacturer. You can get a list of authorized repair centres from the various manufacturer websites. If the warranty has expired, you can take it either to an authorized centre or to a reputable repair shop such as “On Time Watch Services“.

It varies a great deal, but consumers can generally expect to pay upwards of R300 sometimes a great deal upwards for an overhaul of a complicated automatic watch. As a rule, the more expensive the brand, the more expensive the overhaul. Omega have a full price list available on request on their website or you can contact us for prices.

This, too, varies by repair shop, but turnaround times for overhauls are generally measured in weeks – two or three in many instances

No. Quartz watch movements do not need nearly as much maintenance as mechanical ones. That’s because they have far fewer moving parts -just the gears that move the hands. (A digital watch has no moving parts at all). All that most quartz watches really require is that when the case is opened for a battery change cleaned of accumulated dirt. However, some expensive quartz analog watch movements should have their gear train lubricated every 8 to 10 years. For inexpensive quartz watches, this isn’t worth doing.

All water resistant watches need to have their water resistance checked ever time the battery is changed or if the case is opened for any other reason. That is because when the case is opened, the gaskets that keep the water out of the case are dislodged. (These gaskets, or O rings, are located inside the case at the joints where the case meets the case back, crown and crystal.) For this reason it’s important that when the battery in a water-resistant watch needs to be changed, the watch must be taken to a repair centre that has water-resistance testing equipment. In some instances, water-resistance should be checked between battery changes. If the watch is worn in the water, or exposed to a lot of perpetration, heat, it should be checked at least every two years, and if exposure to water is frequent, every year.

The watch will run better if you do. You always get better performance from a watch when it’s fully wound than when it’s wound down. It’s best to wind it even if you don’t intend to wear it. That will prevent the movement’s lubricants from congealing. This doesn’t, of course, apply to an automatic, or self-winding watch. This type of watch should be wound initially to get it started. If the wearer is reasonably active and wears the watch for 12 to 15 hours a day, it will remain fully wound.

On most mechanical watches it doesn’t. On some, particularly those equipped with calendars, you should only move the hands clockwise. The manufacturer’s instructions will include directions for setting. On quartz watches, it’s OK to move the hands in either direction to set them. Manufacturers point out, though, that you can eliminate the free play in the minute hand by setting it in the following way (a quartz watch, unlike a mechanical one, tends to have play in its minute hands due to the lack of tension in the gear train): Move the minute hand clockwise until it is a few minutes past where it is supposed to be, then move it counterclockwise to the correct spot.

Heat and cold will affect the time-keeping ability of a quartz watch. Quartz crystals, whose extremely steady vibrations are responsible for the unrivaled accuracy of quartz watches, are cut so they perform optimally at room temperature. A temperature of 100°F – 37°C will throw the timing off by about 1 second a day, as will one of 32°F- 0°C. Extreme temperature will also affect the accuracy of a mechanical watch, but not as much as other factors. One reason is that hot and cold cause the metal parts of a watch movement to expand and contract (though advances in metallurgy have made this less of a problem than in the past). Another reason is that heat and cold affect the viscosity of the oil that lubricates the movement, and thereby affect the movement’s accuracy.