Can Old Watches Be Repaired?

Can Old Watches Be Repaired?

Do you have an antique pocket watch that stopped working generations ago? If you do, you've probably wondered if you'll ever hear it ticking again. Can you get an old watch repaired? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know from the experts at Martin Busch Jewelers.

Can Old Watches Be Repaired?

a hand holding an open gold watch reading 2:39

If you're into vintage accessories, don't shy away from purchasing an old watch. If you discover one at an estate sale, go ahead and take a chance. If you plan to enjoy it yourself or gift it to someone you love, you can always have it restored if it's broken.

The interest in antique watches has grown tremendously in the last decade. Whether you've got a wrist or a pocket watch, it's essential to keep it in good condition. From cleaning to a complete restoration, a master craftsman can do it all.

Find a Reputable Watch Shop

Once you've decided to get yours repaired, the hunt for someone to tinker with your old watch begins. These delicate adjustments are best left to the professionals, but how can you be sure you've found a reputable watch shop?

Most people start their search online, or you can ask a friend for a recommendation. If Martin Busch Jewelers is in your area, ask around for a referral or check Google reviews. These horologists have built strong customer relationships that span generations.

Visit the Shop

Take a few minutes to stop by the shop you're considering. You may need to call ahead depending on the business's social distancing guidelines. Your mission here is to get a feel for the watchmaker and their expertise. Ask questions such as:

Get an Estimate

The next step is to get an estimate. Expect the locksmith to open and examine the watch's inner workings. Just like with any craftsman, appraisals vary widely. It's not always the best idea to go with the lowest quote. In addition to price, consider quality customer service and experience you can trust.

Insist on In-House Work

Ensure that the work is done onsite and not shipped to another repair shop. Demand that a professional watchmaker oversees the project.

Get a Warranty

Don't forget to ask about a warranty, either. Most businesses offer some type of guarantee on their work and the materials they use to complete your restoration. If there are any problems within a specific time frame, they should fix them for free.

Processes to Repair Old Watches

If it's been a while since you serviced your watch, it's time to get it in for repairs. The process can take a couple of hours or several weeks to complete, depending on its condition.

Your watch is a complex machine, and the last thing you want to do is open up its case back and start poking around. It's easier to damage the mechanisms than it is to fix a problem. What sort of processes do they go through to repair old watches? Let's discuss the most common types of watch repair.

Cleaning, Oiling, and Adjusting

This process is commonly called "COA" in the industry. It's traditionally the first step in any repair or restoration project. This basic process sets the foundation for more complex adjustments and includes:

  • Complete disassembly.
  • Thorough inspection.
  • Ultrasonic cleaning.
  • Lubrication of all moving parts.
  • Reassembly.
  • Polish the casing.

Full-Service Restoration

A full-service restoration will keep your watch running like new for many years — when performed properly. This comprehensive process may be a bit time-consuming, and it's usually not cheap. Your skilled watch repair person will entirely dismantle and clean the timepiece and address every aspect of your item to ensure it performs exactly as its maker intended.

Vintage watches are less resistant to the elements than their contemporary counterparts. Even dust and water damage can cause significant issues. A full watch restoration may cover processes like:

  • Refinishing the dial.
  • Cleaning and straightening the hands.
  • Installing a new crystal.
  • Attaching a new leather band.
  • Replacing a broken crown, stem, or mainspring.

Minor Repairs

With an old watch, extensive wear and tear to its complicated series of moving parts mean that more things are likely to go wrong with its mechanics. However, a complete restoration isn't always necessary. If your timepiece stops working, the solution may be as simple as replacing the offending part. Some minor repairs include:

  • Replacing scratched or broken glass.
  • Restoring a worn or damaged bracelet.
  • De-magnetizing the watch.
  • Completing any necessary accuracy adjustments.

Date Your Piece

A knowledgeable repair person can also determine the age of your watch. Perhaps you have an heirloom piece that you think artisans made in the 50s, and it turns out to be a valuable antique from the Roaring 20s.

What Can You Do At Home?

Most watchmakers don't recommend any at-home repairs. Watches are complicated and require specialized equipment and years of experience to carry out. Even replacing a band can cause scratches on the case. Let the experts do what they do best while you take advantage of these tips to care for your old watch at home:

  • Use a soft cloth to gently polish the glass and metal parts once a month.
  • Avoid leaving your watch near anything that creates a magnetic field, such as cell phones, stereo speakers, refrigerators, or handbags with magnetic clasps.
  • Store your watch in the dark and avoid leaving it in direct sunlight as it can cause fading.
  • Perfumes can weaken and damage leather straps. Let your scents dry completely before placing the watch on your wrist.

There you have it! The watch restoration and custom jewelry experts at Martin Busch Jewelers just provided you with loads of information about old watch repair. Next time your vintage timepiece stops telling you the correct time, use this tidbit of insider knowledge and find the right watchmaker near you. If you have any questions about your old watch, just ask us!