There are watchestrendy, plastic, disposableand then there are timepieces:
favorites that have a (sorry!) timeless quality. When these mechanisms
go on the fritz, you need a repair shop you can trust.
Fortunately, we found plenty of area shops that can help. At the time of
our last full, published article, 20 of the 62 shops evaluated on our Ratings Tables were rated superior for overall performance by at least 90
percent of their customers we surveyed. But not all shops do so well: eight
of the shops got such favorable ratings from fewer than 60 percent of their
surveyed customers. (Click here for
further discussion of our customer survey and other research methods.)
When selecting a shop, ask about the guarantee it offers. Most will guarantee
overhauls (disassembling, cleaning, lubricating, and regulating) and other
major repairs for between six months and one year. Most guarantees apply
only if the watchs movement is involved in the repair; replacement of
a crystal, for example, is unlikely to carry a warranty. Guarantees typically
cover either stoppage or failure to run accurately.
Because some shops send out their watch repair work, find out whether the
shop has a watchmaker on the premises. Communicating directly with a watchmaker
makes it easier to get answers to questions, determine whether repairs
are feasible and worth the money, obtain an accurate estimate, and get
simple repairs made on the spot.
Also find out whether the shop employs watchmakers who have passed the
written and hands-on tests for certification offered by the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers
Institute (www.awci.com). While certification indicates that a watchmaker
is capable of good work, it is no guarantee, and many capable watchmakers
have never become certified.
To help you compare prices, our Ratings Tables report price comparison
scores for the shops that were evaluated in our last full, published article.
To calculate these scores, our researchers (without revealing their affiliation
with CHECKBOOK) called the shops for price estimates on three sample repair
jobs. We found big price differences. The highest price comparison score
($183) is nearly five times higher than the lowest score ($37). Table 1
shows examples of the big price differences for specific repairs. For example,
to replace the crystal on a womens watch, prices ranged from $20 to $185.
Table 1Low, Average, and High Prices Quoted by Shops for Illustrative Watch Repairs
|Overhaul (clean) a Hamilton pocket watch that has early 1900s movement ||$75 ||$190 ||$525|
|Replace crystal on a women’s Tiffany & Co. titanium wrist watch ||$20 ||$54 ||$185|
|Replace stem and crown on a men’s Wittnauer dress watch ||$30 ||$49 ||$80|
|1 For each of these jobs, the shops were given additional, detailed specifications.|
Using a shop that charges low prices doesnt mean you wont get good work.
In fact, in many cases the opposite is true. When shops are divided into
two equal-sized groups based on price comparison scores, the lower priced
shops score about the same, on average, on the doing work properly question
on our customer survey as the higher priced shops.
Your watch will last longer if you follow a few basic guidelines in caring
Be wary of water. Water resistant means the watch is protected from accidental
wetting. Dont wear it in the shower or when swimming. If it gets wet,
dry it as soon as possible. With watches specially designed for underwater
use, comply with the conditions specified in the manufacturers instructions.
Even if your watch is shock resistant, as most are, dont press your
luck. Take it off before operating a jackhammer, rushing the quarterback,
and similar activities.
Even if you are very handy, dont try to repair your watch yourself. Leave
it to a professional.
Have a dead battery in your watch replaced immediately. It might leak or
Replace a cracked crystal right away. Even a tiny crack can allow dust
or moisture to get inside and interfere with the mechanism.
Have a mechanical (as opposed to battery-powered) watch serviced every
couple of years, unless the manufacturer suggests a longer interval. Tiny
particles of dust can get inside, increasing friction on moving parts.
As a rule of thumb, the smaller the watch, the more it will be affected
by dirt or lack of lubricant because the partsincluding the mainspringare
smaller and more delicate. Womens watches generally need more frequent
overhauls than mens watches.