Expensive Swiss Watches: The High Cost of Maintenance

Many buyers think that buying an expensive watch is like buying a bottle of precious wine. Purchase the item and enjoy, right? That might be the case with vino but it couldn't be further from the truth with pricey timepieces, especially if they house complicated mechanical movements. These need to regularly serviced every four or five years and this can be an involved and expensive process lasting months and costing as much as the original purchase.

For example, to service a pricey movement, a watchmaker must first disassemble. Next, the parts are placed in a chemical solution to dissolve oil, dirt, and dust. Finally, lubricants are applied before careful reassembly. It is a highly technical job that requires an experienced watchmaker.

In the past 10 years, the number of mechanically sophisticated watches has grown exponentially, just as the number of qualified watchmakers has decreased. This combination is creating a potential servicing time bomb for the manufacturers.

Categories: Swiss Watch Tips & Trivia, Watch Repair.

Comments (2)

  1. Excellent reference here, SWB!

    This is one of the most important and least understood (let alone addressed) issues in James Bond watch collecting. It’s further complicated (no pun intended) by the range of brands we’re talking about (minimally, Breitling, Omega, and Rolex). So, someone wants to own a pre-Daytona chronograph like the 6238 that George Lazenby wore as 007 in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969).

    Are they actually gonna wear it, or simply hold it for display?

    Beyond this, as you all at Swiss Watch Boutique can attest, there’s the additional issue of “how far do you go?” We now know that the original, literary James Bond wristwatch was a Rolex 1016 Explorer with a radium dial. Many of these pieces in the field can be brought up and kept to original performance specifications in terms of accuracy and even water resistance.

    But will the folks who’re working on it know the point at which enough is enough?

    Thanks for this post.

    Dell Deaton
    Guest Curator, NAWCC, 2010-2011
    “Bond Watches, James Bond Watches”
    link to twitter.com

  2. Todd Punderham

    Though it is recommended you clean your timepiece every 4-5 years this doesn’t mean it will just stop working in it’s 6th.

    Many factors are at work such as dust, shock and moisture exposure. what is happening within your watch is that your lubricant is now either evaporated or has turned into resinous dust and metal particulate paste thus exponentially increasing rate of wear on the jeweled bearings, spindles etc.

    Regular cleaning and lubrication will undoubtedly extend the lifespan of your timepiece.

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