Mechanical watches are generally more expensive and complex compared to quartz watches. Additionally, they require some maintenance from time to time, such as adding a touch of oil and making adjustments. The intricate mechanism of these watches, with all the wheels and pinions, can sometimes cause issues. For example, if you wind your watch while it’s engaged in changing the date, it may stop working. Here are some tips for new watch owners and reminders for those who are experienced:


Avoid manually changing the date on a mechanical watch, whether it’s manual wind or automatic, when the time on the dial is between 10 and 2 o’clock. Most mechanical watches with a date indicator automatically change the date between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. If you forcefully change the date during this automatic shift, it can damage the movement. Instead, try adjusting the time and date between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in most cases. However, it’s always best to roll the time past 12 o’clock and wait for an automatic date change before setting the time and date. Some brands, like Ulysse Nardin, have in-house mechanical movements that are immune to this issue.


Using a chronograph can be a fun and practical feature on your watch. Typically, the start and stop functions are operated by the same button, usually located above the crown. Pressing this button will start and stop the interval timing as desired.

The reset button, typically located below the crown, is used exclusively for resetting the chronograph to zero. However, it should only be pressed when the chronograph is stopped, never while it is still engaged. Only a “flyback” chronograph allows for safe resetting to zero while the chronograph is running. With the chronograph engaged, you can simply press the reset button, and all the chronograph indicators (seconds, minutes, and hours) will snap back to zero, ready to accumulate the interval time once again. This feature was particularly useful for pilots in the early days of air travel, as it allowed them to reset their chronographs quickly when changing course without having to go through a complex procedure with gloved hands.

side note: While some watches are designed for underwater use, it’s best to avoid actuating or resetting your chronograph while submerged, even if your watch is water-resistant. Feel free to press the buttons before getting into the water and let them run while you swim, but avoid pushing anything while in the water.


When adjusting the time on your watch, it’s advisable not to turn the hands counterclockwise, especially if your watch has calendar functions. While a few watches can tolerate this, it’s better to avoid the possibility of causing damage altogether. Instead, change the dates as needed while remembering the 10 and 2 rule mentioned earlier.


Most modern watches are equipped with some level of shock protection. Generally, Swiss brands can withstand a drop of up to three feet onto a hard wood surface without significant damage. However, if your watch is running poorly or has stopped completely after an impact, it’s important not to shake, wind, or bang it in an attempt to get it running again. Doing so may cause further damage. Activities like tennis, squash, or golf can have a negative impact on your watch, potentially affecting its pivots, overbanking, or even causing bending or breaking of a pivot.


Modern watches are designed with a mechanism to prevent overwinding. This mechanism allows the mainspring to slide inside the barrel or stops it completely when the spring is fully wound. It serves as protection against overwinding. The best advice here is to avoid forcing the winding crown. Over time, the winding crown may become sticky and difficult to turn, even when the watch is not fully wound. This is a clear indication that the watch is due for servicing.


It is not recommended wearing your watch while jumping into a Jacuzzi or even taking a steaming hot shower. Watches with a higher water-resistance rating are typically better equipped to handle such scenarios. However, if you have a watch with a water-resistance rating of 3 or 5 atm (atmospheres), there is a possibility that the different rates of expansion and contraction between the metal and the sapphire or mineral crystals may allow moisture to enter the watch case. It’s best to err on the side of caution and remove your watch before exposing it to extreme temperatures in water.


Always make sure to check and double-check that a watch with a screwed-down crown is tightly closed. The same attention should be given to screwed-down pushers, especially for chronograph or other functional watches. Neglecting this step can lead to water entering the watch case and causing oxidation of the metal. Over time, this can result in irreversible damage to the watch.


If your new watch starts behaving abnormally, such as running faster or slower, it may become magnetized. This can occur if you leave your watch near electronic devices like computers or cell phones. Many service centers have special tools called degaussers to address this issue. Some watch brands also manufacture watches with a soft iron core that deflects magnetic fields, although this may not be effective against stronger magnetic forces.


Storing a mechanical watch in a box for extended periods is not ideal for its care. Even if you don’t wear the watch every day, it is recommended to run it regularly to keep the lubricating oils and greases viscous. A good analogy is a can of house paint: keeping it stirred ensures it remains in liquid form for a long time, while leaving it undisturbed causes a skin to form. Similarly, the lubricants inside a mechanical watch can suffer the same issue on a smaller scale.


Most mechanical watches require servicing every three to five years for cleaning, oiling, and general maintenance. While some watches can run longer without servicing and still function adequately, there is a risk of experiencing timing issues if regular intervals are not observed. Always entrust the servicing of your watch to a qualified watchmaker rather than a mall kiosk, where you will likely only receive a quick battery change.


If you encounter any issues with your watch for, it’s best to take it to an expert for professional servicing. They will be able to assess and repair any damage properly. As always, if you have more questions or need further assistance, feel free to ask!


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