Automatic or mechanical watches are one of the hottest trend nowadays. It’s mechanical-based inner workings are sought after due to its novelty and difference with current digital world. However, what’s the lifespan of these automatic watches? As a fellow owner, I decided to find out and will share it with you in this article.
How long does automatic watch lasts? Automatic watch can last a very long time as long as it’s been taken care of properly and serviced regularly.
In addition, there are some must-do tips to ensure your watch can last for a lifetime. You also need to know the correct way to store your unused watches as it has a huge role to play in maintaining it. Lastly, selecting a good quality watch is also important to get the most out of your watches for the longest time.
Automatic Watches Can Last For A Very Long Time As Long As…
If you take care of your watch properly and service it regularly, you can bet that it will be able to last long. Now, our watches are just like cars in which it can last thousands of miles IF it’s taken care of properly.
One of the biggest enemy for automatic watches is lack of servicing. As with cars, this is a must with watches too. Inside the watch, there are hundreds of small components that continuously move 24/7/365 – all year round. The thing with mechanical stuffs is the movement will generate friction and this friction will eat up some components and this can be handled by regularly servicing your watch.
The next big enemy is improper care of the watch. If you think that automatic watch can be used as rough as normal watch, then you are wrong. Even the toughest marketed automatic dive watch should be used with care and gentler than any ordinary quartz watch.
Servicing Your Watch Is A Must To Keep It In Good Condition
Throughout its lifetime, a watch inner workings (or called movement) is subjected to thousands if not millions of cycles of movement as it ticking away to show you the time. These will create lots of friction inside the watch and its components, hence causing wear and tear in it.
In addition, the oils used as lubricant for the components will generally go bad in few years, and will not be as viscous as it need to be. These factors are the reason why servicing the watch regularly is a good idea to keep its lifespan long. Not to mention a watch that is not serviced will not be accurate as you want it to be – another reason why regular servicing and adjusting its accuracy is a good idea.
So how often should automatic watches be serviced? The rule of thumb is to service automatic watches once every 3 to 5 years. However, do bear in mind that some manufacturers may suggest otherwise (e.g Rolex with its 10 years servicing interval) so I fully recommend checking the small user manual that you get with your watches to confirm on the service interval for your model.
Upon servicing, the watch will be taken apart where the components will be cleaned and re-oil. The parts will also be inspected for any problems and if anything is faulty, it will be replaced. Lastly, the watch will be closed back and you will get yourselves a watch that runs like new. (read more about servicing automatic watches in my previous article here).
Some Useful Tips On How To Take Care Of Your Watches
Actually taking good care of your automatic watch is also another important factor that will determine if your watch can last a lifetime or just a couple of years. As this is a very important topic, I’ve already written an entire post about this (read: 13 Tips On How To Take Care An Automatic Watch So That It Can Last Long) but here are the 3 topmost tips that I religiously share to anyone new with watches:
1- Don’t Drop It!
The first and foremost rule is to never drop it. I don’t think I can stress enough about this and how damaging a drop can be to your watches. The thing is our watch is not a small round object. Instead, it’s actually made up of hundreds of components in the movement – those are the things that cause an automatic watch to tick.
Any sudden fall of the watch onto a hard surface will cause an impact that can shake these small components out of place or worse, damage some of them. Thus, you should always handle your watch as a fragile item, just like a glass jar by carefully taking it, wearing it on your wrist, and putting it down at the end of the day.
Yes, it might seem cool to just throw off your watch onto the bed/table after a long day at work but you never know if it will bounce and fall on the floor. A 3 feet drop is enough to cause havoc on most automatic watches so be very careful when you handle it in future or it will not last long!
2- Moisture Is Your Watch’s Enemy
There are 2 reasons why I’m always be very careful when my watches are in contact with water (even though most watches nowadays have at least 30 m water resistance).
First, watches are made of metal and moisture presence might cause it to corrode, especially if you kept it in a wet place. In addition, water can wet and weaken your expensive leather strap or other cloth base straps which is definitely not something that you want to happen. Even with a metal bracelet, the small links on it will be a place where water can accumulate and wreak havoc in the long run.
Secondly, water intrusion into the watch is one of the most common problems with not just automatic watches, but to normal quartz watches as well. If you see fog inside your watch glass, then that’s the sign of moisture intrusion. For an automatic watch, this is a more critical problem as this means you have to bring it out for service or else the parts will get rusty and can cost you more to get the whole movement replaced.
The watchmaker will have to disassemble the watch, clean it up and re-oil it. He then have to close it again and changed the water proofing gaskets to avoid the same thing happens again. All of this will cost you money and if you neglect this, you can be sure the watch will not lasts long.
However, there’s few easy things that you can do to avoid all of this. Number one, avoid any contact with water when you’re wearing your watch. Number two, in the event that you cannot avoid water, ensure the watch’s crown (the round knob at the side for setting time) is tightly secured and pushed all the way down to the watch body. Number three, don’t use any of the watch’s functions (chronographs, etc.) while in the vicinity of water.
If you do all of these 3 things, you’ll be able to avoid the terrible moisture intrusion into your watch.
3- Avoid Magnets and Electronics
Another important thing that many don’t realize is magnetization of your watch is possible and one of the most common issues on why your automatic watch can have gross inaccuracies.
As you already know, the components inside a watch movement are mostly made of steel and there is a possibility that the steel components will be magnetized by being held close to strong magnets or some electronics.
While being magnetized is not harmful to your watch, but it will severely reduce the accuracy of it and only a trip to a watchmaker can rectify this which will cost you more money to maintain it.
(I’d like to note that you can also rectify magnetization of your watch by yourselves by learning about it from various sources in the internet)
For more tips on how to take care of your watches, check out my previous post where I’ve detailed out the 13 best tips that I’m to keep my automatic watches in good condition (link here).
Keep Any Unused Watches In A Proper Watch Box
For those with more than one watch (I know there are many of you out there lol!) keeping the unused watch should be done properly as it could be the deciding factor on its longevity.
An automatic watch, like any other small appliances, should be stored in a dry and cool place, free from any moisture or sunlight that could degrade it.
The best way that I found is to use a proper watch box to keep your unused watch. It’s more secure and you can see all your watches at the same place, thereby making it easier to spot any missing watch. In addition, some watch box also comes with locking mechanism for protection against theft.
Quality Of The Watch Also Plays A Role
The quality of the watch in question is also a very big aspect in determining if it can lasts for a lifetime or not. While you can do everything in your ability to ensure your watch stays in perfect condition, the inherent quality of the watch plays a big role.
A more sturdily built watch with robust movement will be able to weather the storms without much fuss, hence making maintaining it a much easier effort. On the other side, a watch with cheap movement is like a ticking bomb – it can go faulty with even the slightest knock!
But don’t get me wrong. Although buying a watch from well-known watch brands will undoubtedly serve you well in terms of longevity, such watches are going to be very expensive and can be out of budget for most of us.
If you don’t want to spend too much on a watch but still wants a great degree of dependability, you can also go for the likes of Seiko, Citizen, Tissot, and other famous low-end brands. Although they are more affordable, their automatic watches are still great machines that can last for years of use. (check out this list of the affordable automatic watches that you can buy).
However, beware of the smaller niche brands that you don’t often hear with questionable origin and history, especially if their offerings come at such low prices. Often times, these brands uses low quality China-made parts that won’t last as long as the other automatic watches can. If in doubt, do a quick internet search for any feedback on these watches before forking your money for it.
Automatic watch can have a long lifespan provided the necessary precaution and maintenance were performed on it. It’s not uncommon for automatic watches to go on for decades with some even being passed of as heirloom to the next generation (incidentally that’s what Patek Philippe’s slogan is about).
For me, it’s all about trying to ensure my prized watches are kept in pristine condition. Without a doubt, an automatic watch is not a cheap purchase and I’ve bought my watches after countless web searches, visit to shops and trying it out on my hand.
It is because of this I feel that all of my watches are special with special bonds created between me and my watches that fueled me to try to ensure my watch can lasts for a long time. If you’re the same as me, then don’t let it all go to waste and start taking care of your watches!
Till next time then.