In this article I want to show you what is the process that I follow in the repair of mechanical watches and their periodic maintenance. I do this process equally for both manual winding watches and mechanical watches.

Why maintain or repair mechanical watches?

In a mechanical watch, all the parts that are part of the movement are continuously subjected to intense wear. For this reason, the lack of recommended periodic maintenance causes the lubricants to dry out over the years, together with the wear and tear that this causes, resulting in the total stoppage of the watch.

It is common to see mechanical watches that have not been serviced for more than fifteen years, when I recommend doing it every five. Not doing so can cause wheel locks, rust buildup and other factors that can cause expensive breakdowns to repair in the future.

If you prefer to see it on video, here I show you the process:

What does the operation of a mechanical watch consist of?

The first mechanical wristwatches were made in the 19th century and to this day the operation has not changed much. The mechanical watch, unlike quartz watches, does not need electrical power to work.

I’ll summarize it briefly:

The mechanical watch gets its energy from a coiled spring inside a beaker. This spring is known as the mainspring and exerts its force on a set of toothed wheels, which is known as the undercarriage. The hands are directly attached to the undercarriage, this is how we can see the time.

Coiled mainspring inside the goblet
mainspring open clock

Mainspring deployed outside the goblet
The mainspring is recharged in two ways depending on the type of watch:

Manual Winding Watch:

With the action of manually turning the crown of the watch. When we do it completely, we will notice that we can no longer wind up. It is very important not to force the winding at the end of its course, doing so could damage the watch.

Automatic mechanical watch:

In this case, we do not recharge it directly as in a manual winding watch. An oscillating mass is responsible for rotating following the movements of our arm, automatically recharging the mainspring. In this case it can be said that our movement is the energy source of the watch.

What I have explained to you in this section is a very short and simple summary compared to the real complication that a mechanical movement has. If you want to know more about how it works, at the end of this article I leave you a link, where you can go deeper into reading how a mechanical watch works.

Mechanical watch repair and maintenance service

We have already seen how it works, now I show you how I maintain and repair mechanical watches. The first thing we have to do is take the movement out of its box. Then disassemble the dial and hands and we will have it ready to start disassembling it for later cleaning.

Then with extreme care we are disassembling all the pieces one by one.

In this photo we can see the dirt on this caliber, in that state it was impossible for the watch to run smoothly.

On some occasions, when I open the back of a watch, I find surprises like this, where rust has damaged the entire mechanism.

The arrangement, cleaning and lubrication in the repair of mechanical watches

For cleaning in the repair of mechanical watches I use a rotating robot, which through several stages of cleaning and drying with special watchmaking detergents makes the pieces so clean that they seem to have just left the factory.

Once we have it clean and degreased, now is the time to look at all the parts before assembling it. It is not only about cleaning, we also have to observe and repair possible broken or worn parts. I show you a photo where you can see how this wheel is missing several teeth, enough for the clock not to work.

In mechanical watches – always quality lubricants

In this process I only use oils made in Switzerland. It is useless for the movement to be clean if it is not lubricated again with the appropriate oils for each movement. Each part of the watch has a different lubricant, each lubricant its density, each one fulfills its function. To proceed with its lubrication, I follow the instructions recommended by each manufacturer.

Special care must be taken with the lubrication of the rubies that the watches have inside. They are very resistant to wear and are placed at the points of greatest friction. For this reason, it is extremely important to lubricate it accurately, as it is the part that suffers the most wear and tear over time inside the watch.

Here you can see what a clean movement looks like after having gone through the maintenance and lubrication process.

In all mechanical watch repairs, the final test is essential

Finally, once we have the watch assembled again, we subject it to running tests on the chronocomparator. This highly accurate device listens to the “tic tock” of the clock and calculates through its sound what the deviation will be in 24 hours, among other technical parameters.

In the event that they are not correct, we will have to make the necessary adjustments until the values are optimal for the operation of the mechanical watch.

It must be taken into account that mechanical watches will always have a deviation of several seconds per day depending on the model or the state of wear of their parts, especially in old watches. Mechanical watches are not as accurate as quartz ones, but thanks to the progress of using this measurement technology, we make sure that the mechanical watch tells the time correctly.

Apart from this, to complete this service if it is a submersible watch, it is also advisable to do a hermetic test. If you want to know more, enter this link where I show you what the hermetism consists of in the submersible watch
To finish we give it a few laps

Once we make sure that the watch works correctly and has passed all the control tests, we assemble the movement in its case and place it on a rotating support for observation for at least 24 hours.

This machine simulates the real movements that the watch can find later in its day to day. This way I make sure that when your watch is on your wrist, it has already gone through quality control and filming before delivering it to you.

Work results

All hard work has its reward, this is how these two watches looked once repaired.

In summary, what are the fundamental parts in a mechanical watch repair job?

Complete disassembly of the watch piece by piece
Go through a cleaning process
Assembly and replacement with new parts if necessary
Lubrication with special oils
Tests, control and rectification of the running state
Gait observation for at least 24 hours

If you have a mechanical watch to repair or have any questions, write to me on this form and I will contact you as soon as possible.

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