When is it advisable to have your mechanical watch overhauled?
A watch is supplied with an internal mechanism composed of several toothed wheels, always moving – and touching each other. The friction produced by the several mechanical parts is mitigated by special lubrificating oils, which preserve the mechanism from the wear of time. But oils deteriorate, and the friction can cause the production of fine dust which can go inside the small mechanisms, causing jamming or breaking.
Even our hand, when winding the watch, setting the hour or activating, for instance, the chronographic function, causes further stresses to the mechanism.
For this reason, even though the watch seems to work normally, Watchmaker companies suggest, on average, to overhaul it every 4-5 years. Delaying the overhaul does not always means immediate damages to the watch, but it significantly increases the possibility that, in the future, the wear can be irreversible, and the only solution will be replacing one or more parts, operations that, in case of prestigious brands, can cost even one thousand euros.
Your watch may need to be overhauled also if its winding does not last enough (even though it has been winded constantly, through manual winding or, in case of self winding watches, through an adequate physical activity) and if it does not run evenly (especially in case of delay). It is advisable to ask for your watchmaker’s assistance in case of violent falls or knocks and, of course, if some parts like crown, buttons, glass, etc. are broken.
As for those watches which have not worked for a long period (years, not months), the situation is different. The movement of the mechanism helps keeping it lubrificated, and a long period without working often causes an early deterioration of lubrificating oils. For this reason, especially in case of valuable watches, it is not advisable try to make them work without the examination of a trustworthy watchmaker, who will probably recommend a check, at least with the aim of cleaning the mechanism from scaling and supplying lubrificaiton.