Theoretically, your automatic watch should keep forever—or certainly for many years. However, that is as long as you look after it. That’s why an appropriate sub-question should be: how do I ensure that my automatic watch lasts as long as possible?
Here are some leading tips on how to ensure that your automatic watch lasts as long as possible.
General rule of thumb
The more complications your watch has, the more loving care and attention it will need in its maintenance. The reason is simple: the more complications to a watch, the more moving parts it has, most of them tiny and intricate.
Settings: An automatic watch can be a little demanding regarding how you do its settings. Examples of this include:
- Setting the time: A good tip is to always set the time forward rather than backward, as doing the latter can damage the mainspring.
- Remember the ‘danger zone’: It’s important to know that the so-called ‘danger zone’ of a watch is between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. Well, at least when setting the date for your watch. Why? Because it is during this period of time on your watch dial that the gears are set in motion to switch the date. The mechanism that changes the date engages the gear train at the 9 p.m. mark and only disengages after the 2 a.m. mark. A misalignment can occur during this ‘window period,’ and delicate parts of the movement can break. And remember that these are times according to what the watch reads, not the actual time where you may be.
- Always be careful: The above is true of any movement due to an incorrectly set complication. Once again, the more complications the watch has, the more one should take care with individual settings.
How you store your automatic watch can go a long way to preserving the intricate components found in most such watches:
- Maintain a suitable temperature: Excessive heat or extreme cold can be bad for your automatic watch. Heat is especially bad, as it can dry up or congeal the lubricant that is needed for the gears to function properly. Going from one extreme to the other can also be bad, in that it can cause parts within the watch to expand or contract. Room temperature is always preferable.
- Avoid humidity: Excessive humidity can cause water vapor to enter via the dial and cause damage to the movement or other constituent parts.
There are some other essential things to remember when owning an automatic watch. These include:
- Avoid magnetic fields: For most automatic watches, especially vintage models, a magnetic field can play havoc with the escapement, which regulates the oscillations of a watch and, thus, its proper timing. Therefore, avoid putting an automatic watch on (or for a prolonged period near) any electronic devices that may have a magnetic field, including mobile phones, modems, WiFi equipment, and tablets.