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Category: Features

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and go mechanical. We’re proud of you, but we’ve (unfortunately) discovered that a great deal of those who have chosen to listen to the siren song of the battery-free tend to forget a few things about their timepieces.

Fret not—we’re here to keep you from making the sort of mistakes that’ll have you rushing to your friendly neighborhood service center or that’ll keep you up all night Googling “how to fix mechanical watch help me please what have I done”. The truth (sometimes) hurts, but we must all soldier on because some things are worth it.

Your watch will stop when not used.

One of the perks of having a mechanical watch is that it doesn’t run because of a common battery, but because of centuries-old techniques, which essentially makes that slug on your wrist a veritable engineering marvel.

While that is something worth being in awe of, this isn’t without a catch: a mechanical watch only has enough power in it to run for a few days, and when left unworn or unused, the mainspring—which powers the whole watch—will have unwound, leaving the watch without energy.

Automatic watches typically only require being worn (or kept in a winder) to keep it running, thanks to its rotor, but a totally mechanical watch demands winding every few days. So if you’re not wearing or winding (never on your wrist, and never too tightly) it on the regular, don’t expect it to keep time for weeks at a time.

You cannot set the calendar when the hands are near 12 o’clock/between 9 PM and 2 AM.

That is, unless you want to potentially ruin it.

In all seriousness, don’t do it. It’s when the watch hands are in this position that the watch should be changing the date on its own, engaging the gear train. Making any adjustments could potentially break important parts within your timepiece—and good watch repairs don’t come cheap.

You’ll need to have your watch serviced every eight to 10 years.

At the end of the day, it’s still a machine. You wouldn’t forego getting, say, your car serviced, would you? The same goes for your watch, which is just as complicated a machine. Pieces wear out, oils dry up, and straps and bracelets get dirty (particularly leather straps, which tend to degrade faster in hot, humid, tropical weather), so do yourself—and your watch— a favor by taking it to a certified service center every few years for a nice tune-up.

Your sapphire glass can’t get scratched—except by a sapphire or diamond.

One of the reasons you’re probably using to justify shelling out the amount you’ve paid is that the crystal on your watch is pretty much scratchproof. The operative phrase, of course, is “pretty much,” because there’s always the possibility that you’ll mar that pristine, shiny surface if you try hard enough, but unless you’re routinely rubbing against the aforementioned precious stones, you and your watch should be fine.

However, there is a caveat: That anti-glare coating the watch brand’s so proud of? That might look like a scratch on the crystal, even if your watch is fitted with a sapphire scratch resistant glass.

There’s no such thing as “waterproof” in this industry, and the ratings can get confusing.

Water resistance to 30 meters? 50 meters? 100? Great, you can swim and dive with your watch to that depth!

Sorry to burst your bubble, but you really can’t. We’d advise you err on the more conservative side and keep your watch from water, and even steam. Even if you have a diving watch—which is typically marked water resistant to a minimum depth of 200 meters, and which you should only take down to about half that depth—you need to consider that exposing it to extreme conditions means you’ll need to pay close attention to its functionality and have it serviced regularly. Another thing to take note of: the waterproof warranty on your watch expires yearly after the initial warranty provided by the manufacturer unless if you bring it in for waterproofing.

The fact is there is no truly waterproof watch. The water resistance watchmakers mark their pieces with are determined under strict, highly controlled conditions (e.g. steady, continuous pressure and still water) that are far from the reality of the world around us. Simply put: don’t risk it.

Your watch is inaccurate.

If you’re a stickler for semantics, that is. Plus or minus three seconds a day, or even a minute and a half per month, to be specific. That’s just the way it is: watchmakers are constantly striving to achieve complete accuracy, but the journey there is a long, arduous, and ongoing one.

Take a deep breath. It’s fine. We’ve all learned this and had our hearts temporarily broken. But you’ll live. And trust us, your watch is still great.

If magnetized, your watch could run fast up—to several minutes to hours faster. It could even stop.

Think about it: hundreds of tiny metal pieces arranged with extreme precision, holding each other in place and working in perfect harmony. Beautiful. All right, that may sound incredibly simplistic when explaining the negative effects of magnetization on a watch, but any exposure your watch gets to a magnetic force—present in everyday things like your phone, your microwave, your laptop—throws the delicate springs and gears of your watch out of sync, throwing off the timing or even stopping the watch completely. While it might feel like your heart has stopped along with your watch should it ever be magnetized, don’t worry; a well-equipped service center should be able to make any necessary repairs and adjustments to your timepiece.

The price of your watch might go up. Or down.

Bought your watch because you were sure it was a good investment piece? While most watches do appreciate in value, you need to take into consideration several things: the brand, the model, and the market. Several brands typically fetch great prices on the aftermarket, but models within brands might be priced lightyears differently. The laws of supply and demand also play a massive role, with buyers’ wants potentially dictating prices of secondhand pieces. Our advice? While it isn’t in any way a bad thing to buy a piece with the hopes that its value might go up, the main reason you should be buying a piece is because of how much you love it in that moment.

Questions are, contrary to popular belief, rarely a bad thing. Certain questions, however, are clear tells that you might not know what you’re talking about.

This is especially true in the watch world where, to be perfectly frank, one factor for even purchasing a luxury timepiece is to show it off—so asking a question that hints at your lack of knowledge pretty much defeats the purpose of having that gorgeous timepiece on your arm, if your purpose was to come off as a connoisseur,  doesn’t it?

To be clear, we’re not here to judge. In fact, we’re here to acknowledge that, yes, before we knew what chronometers and bezels were, we asked some of these questions too. Out loud, in some cases. And because we’ve asked them, they’ve been answered.

Question 1: “What’s the best watch in the world?”

Many people automatically equate “best” with “most expensive”, “best-selling”, or “most sought-after”, and that often really isn’t the case. The question just can’t be answered without going into the minutiae of watchmaking, or into the inquirer’s preferences. Determining what the best watch in the world is depends on a variety of factors: quality, aesthetics, functionality, complication, rarity, collectibility, as well as a person’s tastes. One brand might do one thing better than another brand. A watch someone considers great might be missing functionalities that are important to you. A limited edition watch owned by your favorite celebrity might not be a fit for what you need.  Trying to narrow the literally hundreds of thousands timepieces available in the world down to one is fighting a losing battle.

Question 2: “Is this watch accurate?”

To answer this demands that one become slightly philosophical, because, in truth, no watch is 100 percent accurate, and yet, some come close. Getting to that point is the horological world’s Olympic gold medal, Peace Prize, Pulitzer, and EGOT, all rolled into one.

There’s no getting around the fact that even the most accurate watch in the world (a designation that changes with each passing day), will lose a few seconds every year due to wear, magnetism, the drying of oils, and just simple aging. Typically, even the best mechanical watches might lose a few seconds a day, because even the greatest group of engineers in the world (again with the superlatives) cannot create a piece that syncs perfectly with universal time.

It’s a matter then, of how close a watch can get, at any given point, to complete and total precision. If accuracy is your biggest consideration, you can rely on the various certifications that have been established to show that a watch is well built, namely the Chronometer Certification, the Geneva Seal, the Patek Philippe Seal, and the Master Chronometer certification.

Question 3: “Which is better: a square watch or a round watch?”

You’ll have noticed by now that we’re not the biggest fans of the word “best” and its iterations when doing watch comparisons. Again, it all depends on certain factors; there simply is no single answer.

In this case, it all boils down to aesthetics, and aesthetics are a very personal thing. Round watches are more commercially popular, and most experts chalk it up to a combination of association (pocket watches are round, wall clocks are round… you get the idea), and simple ergonomics (the hands’ circular motion). This isn’t to say that rectangular watches have no place in a serious collection; watch lovers with an eye towards a vintage style that most explicitly harks back to the golden age of Hollywood are vocal in their love for the quadrilateral shape, as do those whose tastes are more inclined to the super-modern.

Question 4: “Why would anyone still, in this day and age, buy a hand-winding watch?”

You mean aside from the feeling of getting up in the morning, winding your watch, and feeling every bit like a modern day Don Draper, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, or any one of those stylish icons of yesteryear? Because that’s enough of a reason for us.

A hand-wound also has several practical aspects to it,  namely the options of slimming down the watch, and the possibility of design minimalism, thanks to the lack of the mechanisms that make an automatic watch, having fewer parts, making it easier to service and less susceptible to defects. A smaller production number also means that hand-wound watches are generally rarer and more collectible. Chances are, though, it’s the ritual of it that is so enjoyable that for some that to completely forego it is almost unimaginable. Sure, the convenience of an automatic watch might save you a few minutes every day, but the hand-wound piece brings emotional satisfaction and pleasure that an automatic model might not offer.

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