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But I just had my watch serviced!

by Jordan Ficklin

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It is very rare that I do a partial repair. When you are inside a watch messing around the only way to guarantee everything is clean as it should be is to completely service the watch. Sometimes when I estimate a full service the customer tells me that they just had their watch serviced, so it shouldn’t need a full service. Here are some examples from the real world why a watch would need a full service.

Shattered CrystalExample one is a shattered crystal on a Rolex. Sapphire is hard but when you hit it just wrong it shatters. It doesn’t really scratch but it doesn’t like direct hits on tile floors or countertops. When this sort of thing the watch has to be serviced. I can’t just fit a new crystal. Why? you ask. Simple, The shattered crystal is in all kinds of tiny pieces and the date window in the dial is a path to the movement. Something as hard as a sapphire is not exactly what you want bouncing around inside a watch movement. I need to completely clean the movement to be sure that there are no pieces of the crystal left inside the movement.
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Example two is a watch a customer purchased at auction. It wasn’t working properly so he sent it back and they supposedly serviced it for him. When he received it back the second time it still wasn’t running quite right. The moon phase wouldn’t advance because the finger (post) was missing from the moon phase wheel. I estimated the new part and a full service because it would involve my getting deep into the movement and because the movement generally looked like it needed a cleaning. As I disassembled the watch for cleaning I found the post from the moon phase wheel in the barrel recess. It was a matter of time until it found its way into one of the pinions and brought the watch to a grinding halt. — On another note the center wheel post was half missing, the fourth wheel pivot was bent and the pallet jewel was cracked (all of which I will take care of). — But it has “just been serviced.”

If you are considering becoming a watchmaker, consider this, it’s better to do it right the first time (and charge for the full service) so you can guarantee your work than to have to do the full service later under warranty. If you are a consumer, ask your watchmaker to explain why the full service is necessary, he should have a good reason like the two above.

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