Watch servicing is an operation that aims to restore the watch to its original condition, so that it is certain to work and to be aesthetically pleasing. Every operation involved in servicing a watch is extensive and fascinating as it involves every one of the watches’ component parts: we will show you with a series of videos of a technical nature, filmed in our Servicing Centre.
Checking and disassembling
Servicing watches in our workshop, starts with an in depth check to assess the type of operation that needs performing. The appointed watchmaker examines every part of the watch: from an aesthetic standpoint, to check for the presence of any superficial damage and on a mechanical level by using a comparison chronograph to test its accuracy of operation. The functioning of any additional features (timer, power reserve, etc.) and of the apparel elements such as the bracelet and the clasp are also checked. The back of the watch is then opened to assess the state of preservation of the movement and to check for any breakages.
Once this first stage has been completed, all the parts of the watch are taken apart. The bracelet is removed from the case, the movement is removed and the case is dismantled into its component parts. The movement stays with the watchmaker, who separates the spheres (the hands!) from the dial, while the case and the bracelet are sent to the Polissage department for polishing.
Repairing the movement
The movement, free of the case and the other apparel elements, is washed internally using ultrasound equipment. The movement, (still assembled) is immersed and rotated in a tank of detergent liquids. The action of the detergents allied with the ultrasound removes any oil residue and encrustations. The pre-rinse enables the technician to start work right away on clean parts that are not stuck together, making it easier to assess any damage and dismantle the movement. The watch can now be dismantled completely: once the watch is completely unwound (all the winding spring’s energy is released), the balance wheel is extracted and the anchor removed. This operation makes it easier to check the gearing: a very slight winding of the crown makes the cogs rotate freely (without the breaking effect induced by the anchor and balance wheel) and the absence of the anchor bridge means one can see the entire train of wheels and check their tolerance. The Watchmaker can thus make a last check to establish the actual causes of the malfunction. Before reassembling the movement, the Watchmaker replaces any damaged parts with original spares provided directly by the Manufacturers.
The original movement parts and the new parts that have been replaced have been subjected to a second washing, inside a special washing basket, to remove any residue that hadn’t been removed during the earlier washing process. The machine that carries out the washing, from a technical point of view, is the same as the one used for the first rinse, but having two machines, specifically assigned to the different phases, means that the cleaning liquids for the components to be reassembled are kept as clean as possible.
The various parts that make up the movement, now perfectly clean, are ready to be reassembled.
The first part to be reinstalled and lubricated is the winding mechanism. Then comes the gearing: the gear train is reinstalled, which is responsible for subdividing time into hours, minutes, seconds, etc., and to transmit the power of the winding spring to the escapement. Once the gearing has been put back in place, it is very carefully checked for any play and smooth wheel turning. Then we move on to the lubrication of the wheel pinions to reduce friction as much as possible. The last part of the watch to be reassembled is the escapement-balance unit (escapement wheel, anchor and balance with spiral winding spring), which is the key to any watches’ correct operation and accuracy.
The last operation is performed on the balance wheel, the regulation. The speed at which the balance wheel oscillates is optimized bearing in mind the various positions the watch may find itself in during daily use. This last operation makes it possible to achieve the ultimate precision in terms of operation.
The serviced mechanism can then be reinstalled in the case, which in the meantime has been polished along with its bracelet. One must then proceed to replace the dial, which is very delicate and must be handled with care, and reassemble the mechanism’s spheres. The movement, with dial and hands, is placed in the case, but not before dismantling the crown and the crown piping, which are reassembled once the movement is back in place. The glass and the back are now replaced along with their gaskets and the joints that ensure that the watch is watertight, using a machinery that applies a constant and controlled pressure,
The final checks
Before a Hausmann & Co. service can be deemed complete, the watch must pass a series of quality controls.
The watertightness is tested using three different machines, used in order to establish the level of the case’s resistance to water:
Air testing, using a pressure chamber, is carried out on all watches.
Water testing. The watch is dropped in water and subjected to the maximum pressure specified by the various Watchmakers. This test is only performed on screw crown watches.
Thermal shock. After the water test, the watch is heated up on a special plate and then moved over onto another plate that cools it very fast. The resulting thermal shock enables to check whether any water infiltration has occurred by checking the presence of condensation on the glass.
Once the watches’ watertightness has been confirmed, its operation is checked. Automatic watches are reset and positioned on special rotors that simulate the movement of a human wrist, so that the accuracy of the watch can be tested along with its capacity to store power. Manual winding watches are instead set to the right time and kept wound up for the entire duration of the test, which usually lasts a week.
The last stage of a watch revision is quality control. Each serviced watch is reviewed by the attentive gaze of a Technician, who checks all the aesthetic and functional aspects. The hour adjustment system is checked, as are any button and complications. The correct positioning of the dial and the bracelet are checked and any presence of impurities on the dial is also verified.
Now that the movement has been tested and correctly replaced in the case, all that remains to do is to reapply the bracelet or the strap to complete the service and return the watch to its rightful owner!