“Either this man is dead or my watch has stopped”. – Groucho Marx
An automatic watch is a treasured possession, especially if it is a branded one and bought with hard earned money or handed down as a prized family heirloom. A .lot of people are of the opinion that once they buy a branded automatic watch, all they need to do is polish the sweat off at times, but that’s just the beginning; there’s a lot more to the maintenance of a branded watch than meets the eye.
Let’s get down to the basics firsts and I’ll try to speak in layman’s tongue. The heart of the automatic watch is a tightly coiled spring, adjusted for temperature differences as well as tensile forces. The spring is called the “mainspring” and if left unattended it unwinds and releases its potential energy. So the makers came up with the barrel which could house the mainspring and the barrel ends in an escapement. The escapement, in turn has a wheel that is locked and released by a pivoting lever. Bear with me; we’re near the end of our science class. Finally the pivoting lever is controlled in turn by a spiral so fine and sensitive that it’s called a “hairspring”. The lever arrangement with the escapement allows the energy released by the mainspring to be controlled, thus feeding it back into the gear train. This makes it possible for the hands to move and give precise readings of time.
The major things to care for in your automatic watch are:
- In automatic watches, there is the mainspring, maintaining tension all the way thanks to a weighed rotor. The mainspring will oscillate with the movements of your hand or arm. You really do not have to wind your automatic watch if you wear it every day. If you do wind it, restrict it to about twenty, not more. Also, if it is required to set the watch’s time, the golden rule is not to do it when the watch dial is between 9 pm to 2 am. I say this because the mechanism that changes dates engages the gear train after 9 pm and remains in action till 2 am.
- Avoid moisture because this is a common factor often overlooked. Almost all the automatic branded watches have a rating of 3 atmospheres, sounds impressive right/ but it’s actually the minimum requirement. If water sports are a passion , get your watch tested for water resistance at regular intervals of about ten months to a year.
- A shock or bang against a hard surface can cause major problems for your automatic watch. You have to respect the delicate craftsmanship of the watch, not just its so called robustness, which in reality is a myth, no watch is robust enough to take a very hard knock. So be a bit careful and take off your watch before joining the bar brawl.
- Magnets also screw up the workings of an automatic watch to no end. It can make the hairspring spirals to stick and thereby shortens the spring. This makes the watch run fast, very fast. Even though watch manufacturers have gone to great lengths to protect the automatic watches from the effects of magnetism, the hairspring remains largely vulnerable. Keep your wristwatch away from gadgets like IPods, TV’s and speakers which contain magnets. An experienced watchmaker can demagnetize your watch should it be affected, but rather be safe than sorry.
At the end of the day it boils down to how much you love your watch and are willing to follow the above guidelines. I can assure you that with these maintenance tips, you will not be needing a visit to the repair shop soon.