Some advice for your watch

divided in three sections 




First of all I would like to point out that a good and honest relationship with your repairer is the first important step to reach; as a consequence you should know that a precise watch is a kind of illusion pursued by the human beings since many years and even with the event of electronic knowledge in watch-making field, the problem is still existing, despite of many good results.

“Was this God will?” you have to answer the question and I only have the professional duty to give you some useful advice to make you happier and to facilitate my job.

Remember that the good maintenance of your watch, as for all machines, and the object around your wrist is one of them, will make your time-counter live a long life. 

We will now analyse some aspects of your watch

If it is in a
classical watch-case and it is the typical watch of the 30es or 60es with a pressure bottom (the lower lid which closes the case) and not a screw bottom, remember that your watch is not a waterproof model and it has got a plenty of places where dust could enter. When for example you are going to wash your hands, take it off from your wrist and put it in your pocket, so that when you remember it, the watch will be with you and not on the board of the wash-basin of the autogrill (in case it is still there).

In this way you will prevent rusty oxidation of a lot of parts responsible for the movement, as for example those inside the part close to the winding rim ( the little pin used to wind the watch up), its shaft and the whole group of levers and balances, called “hour setting” (hands adjustment). On the contrary, if it was a waterproof watch, such problems should not occur. 

Pay attention that it is not always true that a watch is waterproof only because on its bottom you can read “water resistant” or “waterproof”. 

To check the real resistance to water there is more than one device which watchmaker can use and it is a good habit to test this feature periodically, or at least when you forecast long frequent periods of immersion (summer holidays).

Waterproof quality is not a steady and permanent feature and it is possible that your watch could loose it when you do not expect this to happen. 

Regarding this problem, I would like to give you some advice in case you will realise that some water has unfortunately enter your watch.

The first thing to do is going to the repairer and make it be cleaned as soon as possible.
Remember that two hours could be enough to transform a watch filled with salted water into a rusty block. 

In case you will not have the possibility to do this soon, as a temporary remedy, it is possible to close your watch into a glass pot full of oil, no matter which kind, but better if a mineral one, and then bring it as soon as possible to your watchmaker, who will not know which way to turn, but he will have some possibilities to save your watch. In fact, using this procedure you have limited the oxidation at least of the mechanical parts, but not of the dial-plate, which has been damaged when got in contact with water. In case you do not trust the repairer you have found, you can ask the repairer to open your watch and put it into the pot. 

Do not try to dry the watch by yourself, using for example the hair-drier, since you could worsen the damage.

Apart from accidents, it is important not to make immersions with a hot watch after a long exposure under the sun, since the sudden coldening of the case and of the plastic glass could decrease the water resistant quality of the watch, due to the worst adherence and cohesion of the expanded materials, causing for example a bad tight of the glass with the case.

Each time you replace the glass, ask the watchmaker to test the water resistance. Some kind of glasses, as for example the policarbonate glass, can be polished in case of scratches (loosing some thickness), and in this way they do not need to be replaced. Sometimes sand for example can create scratches, which could be difficult to repair, even on stainless steel cases. On my advice, it would be better going on the seaside wearing plastic “throwaway” watches. You could also have to face these problems during a sauna or a Turkish bath.

The eventual cleaning of the bracelet, if it is made of metal, is carried out by special laboratories, with the use of ultrasound wash treatments and made by expert people. 
You could try to clean it using an old toothbrush. It is to discredit the legend that taking a shower wearing your watch, you will also clean the watch.

Apart from the problems with water, in case you need to replace some parts which can occasionally come off from the watch, as for example the winding rim, the glass, the ring nut locking the glass, the keys, etc., bring them to your repairer. 
Pay attention to the vibration caused by tools, by a riding with your bicycle on a cobble stone paving or during a tennis match, since all vibrations have an effect inside your watch and could move the regulation blade into a casual different position from the one set by the watchmaker.

But then, do not complain if the watch is not as precise as it was before! 

Pay attention to the conservation state of the watch strap and also to the little springs (locking bars) which fix it to the case, even if they should be checked by the repairer. Do not buy straps which can move easily between the handles of the watch case, in order not to risk to loose your watch. For example, if the distance between the handles is of 18mm, the strap should be 18mm wide.

Thinking about problems concerning the chronograph watch, let us talk about the shape of the keys. The most popular ones are the periscopical keys opened into the case, the so called pump-shape keys (olive-shape or rectangular), for their typical shape, and the screw-shape keys for a better protection against water and dust. The first type of keys (periscopical keys) are neither waterproof, nor dust-proof and they only have a slim inner ledge which sometimes closes the sliding spaces between the key and the watch case. The second type (pump-shape) are usually resistant to water, but it is important to check the conditions of the inner gaskets. The screw-shape keys have an additional tightening for any eventual drives of the key, as well as for a mechanical thread, which assure an additional protection, but pay attention to tighten the key, as well as the winding screw rim (Rolex type). 

Remember that the chronograph function is only an occasional function and should therefore be used occasionally, since the permanent use of such function could make your watch less precise, due to a series of wheels producing an additional friction to the main part of the movement and which could cause the stop of the watch.

In case when you start the chronograph you discover a block of some keys, do not push them any longer, since you could cause the irreversible damage of the levers or of other parts of the chronography and in case of an epoch-chronograph you will have to spend a lot of money to have it repaired. Do not use the chronograph keys with a wet watch, since you could pump some water drops, present on the ledge, inside the watch.

Talking about repairs, be sure that the repair of your watch will be done at the laboratory where you take it and remember that “nothing goes back to Switzerland” as they usually told you!

Do not abandon your watch to the repairer’s shop after the period of time they need for the repair, since once repaired you have to try the watch on your wrist and moreover, the watchmaker will not always charge the watch every day and many laboratories do not respond of any theft, loss or shoplifting, after the period forecast for the repair, plus some more days added to allow you to collect the watch.

  • It is your right to ask for a guarantee for the repair and be aware that any split, dent or partial damage, means that your watch has probably fallen down or has been crashed and this will cause the loss of any repair guarantee. 

    Anyway, remember that there are bound to be some failures and it is for that reason that some laboratories decide a certain period of guarantee to have the possibility to correct any possible anomaly or malfunction, even if they are not always synonym of a bad repair. 

    You’d better to accept any recognition of the repairer in case of defects or missing parts (precious stones) of your watch, since you could not have noticed them before that time, in order to avoid unpleasant disputes.

    Ask for a written estimate when you let your watch, but remember that some complex restorations cannot be estimated and in case of replacements, ask if the spare parts are original parts, similar or what else. 

    The collection receipt is a very important document for both of you. 

    The repairer is obliged to recognise that watch through the paper and the owner has to give it back to collect the watch. 

    The repairer is not obliged to recognise your physical aspect and could give your watch to anybody else having the receipt. For that reason it is very important to keep that piece of paper with care and in case you loose it, call immediately the repairer.

    Do not ask for a quicker repair time, that the one forecast from the watchmaker, since you will only obtain hurried repairs. 

    When you collect your watch ask the repairer how will your watch function and which kind of needs you could have, in order not to have unpleasant surprises.

    For what concerns the possibility to replace the movement of your watch, take it into consideration only as a last chance and after asking for advice to more that one repairer, since you will have a good watch functioning, but you will loose its value and its original aspect. 

    It would also be important to have a picture of your watch and all to have all its data, since in case someone will steal it, you will have something concrete for your complaint and you can have it back in case they will find it again.

All what explained before concerning the wrist-watches is almost valid also for the pocket-watches.

We can take into consideration some differences for the
pocket-watches, as for example: the cleaning and the possible polishing of the watch-case. 

Especially if made of silver, it can be made with apposite cotton-wool soaked with polish, paying attention to keep the object a little bit far from the board of the table, which you should have previously covered with a soft cloth in order to avoid violent hits in case of fall. 

Anyway, do not use neither liquid products, if you will dip your watch and case together (in order to avoid any flooding), nor creamy products like “SIDOL”, since although they are good products, they could let some residuals (like pumice-stone or abrasives, commonly used for metal cleaning products), difficult to be cleaned inside the interstice of the embedded parts. Therefore, use some cotton-wool soaked with chemical pickled substances or especial type of felts.

Pay particular attention to the winding up of the pocket-watch, in particular if you use a big-size winding gear, since the bigger is the winding gear, the bigger will be the lever, using the same force on the central shaft. For this reason there is a greater possibility to damage or pull away the winding spring. Try to keep the winding gear between the fingers for a short period of time (enough to wind it up) and pay attention not to make the gear slip from your fingers, in order to have a better sensibility and to get immediately conscious of the complete winding up. 

Absolutely do not keep the gear with your fingers while turning the clock, and although this can make you laugh, this is a commonly used procedure, not only for pocket watches, but also for little alarm-clocks. When you will set your watch to the right time, pay attention to any possible stumble or to the superimposition of the hands and never force the operation.

In case you have the possibility to reach the clock-face, do not use any solvent or water to clean it, nor a cloth of any material: with a cloth you will run the risk to damage the hands or the numbering.

The operation of time setting (ahead or delay) of a pocket-watch, since it is easier to open than a wrist-watch, must absolutely not be carried out by the owner, but only by the repairer. Remember that this setting is carried out into the most delicate part of the watch: its heart.

Moreover, a good closure of the watch, made by the repairer, should be done with wax or silicon grease put into the closure’s ledge of the watch bottom, in order to avoid it to act like a lung and to suck dust from outside in case of thermal variation.

A coin inside the pocket could irremediably damage the watch-case with scratches or dents, since nowadays the pocket-watches are rarely put into the waistcoat pocket as they were in the past.

An important advice for a collector of watches is not to go working with an antique pocket-watch only to show it. The use of such an object must be occasional and not frequent, and do not also forget the wear and tear of pins and other parts. Virtually do not go to work with an epoch-car like a “Balilla”, but use an “everyday utility car”.

Coming back home from work we have to face some other problems with our
Although of different sizes or aspects, I can give you general advice for all pendulum-clocks. 

Starting to consider the outer part of the forniture, be aware that the pendulum-clock’s seat is an antique forniture and, if not of modern type, it will be polished with shellac. 

This is a special kind of varnish, used in the past, but also nowadays from the restorers to renew antique polishes, sensible to damp, heat, alcohol and general solvents, included those used to clean glass and brass, since the first type usually contain alcohol and the second type ammonia. 

Therefore, clean your forniture using special products, asking for advice to your restorer and carry out the cleaning, leaning the pendulum-clock to the table, in case it is usually hanged up to the wall. 

Before removing it from the wall, remove the pendulum with its rod, since the rod could make the pendulum oscillate with a bigger oscillation amplitude causing damages to the movement or taking it “out from its seat” as watchmakers use to say, and in this case you could have to hang it up bent on one side to make it function correctly.

As for the hands of the pocket watch, also for the pendulum-clock you have to pay the same attention while cleaning it. 
Do not clean the watch face and the hands from dust using a cloth, but use if necessary a painter’s brush and move it from the centre to the outside of the clock. The same precaution has to be taken with inlaid or with “boulle” type forniture, having a brass and turtle inlay, since any protrusion could entangle the cloth and pull the inlay away.

If you have to clean the glass of your pendulum-clock, spray the various products on the cloth and not directly on the glass or on the polish as already explained. 

Before cleaning the brass objects ask your restorer if they are gilt or covered by a transparent protective cuticle and in this case pay attention not to clean them using any product, but only with a dry cloth. 

Do not move the pendulum-clocks if they are equipped with the pendulum or with other weights. In case you have to hang the clock, do not hang it upon a radiator and hang it in order to be easily reached for the winding up. The wall hook where you will hang it up should be bent upwards and not be perpendicular to the wall, so that the weight of the clock will make the clock’s back leaning completely against the wall, avoiding it to remain far from the wall in its upper part. 

If you have a column pendulum-clock, check that it remains stable when you open the door and in any case, if there are some children inside the house, fix the upper rear part of the pendulum-clock using a hook and a rope to the wall, to avoid a possible fall in case of a bump.

Check that during the oscillation the pendulum does not touch other parts and do not worry if it oscillates more towards a direction that to the other. 

If the clock should have some functioning problems, it is not with an over-winding up that you will solve the problem, but on the contrary you could only worsen the situation causing a damage to the spring. 

After a long period of stop, do not wind the spring completely up, but make the key turn only for three or four revolutions and proceed with the complete charge only the next day. In this way all lubrications, especially those inside the spring box, can reach the necessary parts.

When you are going to set the right time of the pendulum-clock, move the hand of the minutes and it will be automatically followed by the one of the hours, with a proportional movement in clockwise direction. Turning the hands you will pass a certain point where the alarm usually starts ringing. Stop there for a while and wait until the alarm finishes ringing, in order not to put the bell out of phase, causing a wrong number of beats if compared to the right time shown by the hands.

Sometimes, some clocks do not have to face this problem and in this case the watchmaker will inform you about this (if he remembers), when you go and collect your pendulum-clock after the check-up.

Also the clock-face of the pendulum-clocks can easily get damaged for a wrong use of solvents or detergents. Dust the clock using a simple dry painter’s brush. When you wind the pendulum-clock up with the weights or with the spring, gently release the key or the chain in order to avoid wrenches to the wheel jack, which could brake down causing big problems to your hand due to the heavy contrary push of the spring.

And last but not least, the more of the given information you are going to remember, the less work I and my colleagues will have to do to repair your watches.

Many thanks!

Cristiano Lini

23.10.2001 - copyright C. Lini

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