There is a real magic to a vintage mechanical watch. Whether it’s an 18-carat gold pocket watch from the 1870s or a 1936 Rolex Oyster Imperial, vintage watches awaken a deep nostalgia. The intricate perfection of their mechanisms never fails to inspire wonder.
But these devices are also very delicate and they require care and maintenance to function properly. Luckily, if you do care for your watches regularly and properly, they will keep ticking for centuries.
Taking Care of Your Vintage Watch
- Shock and Water Resistant?
Many older vintage watches were advertised as being shock and waterproof but that was in a time before consumer protections were a thing. As a result, many of these watches are neither resistant shock nor water resistant.
Keep your watch away from water or humid environments and don’t drop it! Drops usually occur when putting the watch on or removing it, so do this over a thick, soft cloth – that way if it does drop the damage will be minimised.
- Wind the Mainspring
Give your watch’s mainspring a full wind every 12 hours or so. To do this, simply twist the crown of your watch clockwise using your thumb and forefinger. A full wind on any watch’s mainspring will result in more accurate time-keeping. Even if you only wear your watch on occasions, it's still a good idea to wind it every week or so.
- Don't Do the Time Warp
Though mechanical watches were remarkably accurate for their day, they are far from perfect timekeepers. Better quality models keep maintain accuracy within 10 seconds and other models may go out by up to 30 seconds. Neither of these is a problem in the short term, but that time loss or gain will add up quickly. Check the performance of your watch against a standard every day or two and reset it. You can do this easily by pulling the crown into the set position and winding the hands manually.
- .Avoid Strong Magnetic Forces
Exposing your watch to strong magnetic forces – such as audio speaker magnets, electric motors, or unshielded electrical transformers – can cause it to become magnetised and run erratically. If this does happen, a jeweller’s demagnetiser can remedy the problem.
- Careful with That Cologne
Avoid wearing perfume or cologne on the same wrist that your vintage watch is on. There is small amount of perfectly measured lubrication in your watch that it is calibrated for. The alcohol in colognes and perfumes can affect its viscosity and damage your watch.
- Store It Securely
When storing your watch for any extended period of time, use a snug-fitting zip-lock bag. This will protect it against moisture and dust and will keep the watch’s oil fresh.
- Regular Servicing
Have your watch serviced every four to 10 years and never leave it for longer than 12. The watchmaker will remove dirt and dust from the inner workings of the watch, along with any old oil that might skew its workings. If you watch gets wet or sustains a serious impact get it serviced straight away.
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