Repair, Restoration, or Preservation

You have a watch in disrepair or in poor condition
cosmetically. How to you approach servicing such a
watch? Do you have it restored to near perfect
condition? Or simply have it serviced so it is
working properly again. How far to you go (or
spend) to repair your antique watch?

To help answer these questions, we need first to
define these terms:

enerally, when you have a watch repaired, it is with
the goal returning it to a functional state so it can be
used. Repair simply involves fixing whatever has
caused the watch to stop running, or run incorrectly.
This may be due to dirt and old oil build-up and a
simple cleaning/oiling would suffice. Other common
repairs include replacement of the balance staff due
to a broken pivot or replacement of worn jewels. The
case, stem and winding/setting mechanism may
also need repair, as they are vulnerable to wear or
breakage. A qualified repair person completes this
type of work in an ethical manner, utilizing good
workmanship appropriate to the particular watch. If
the watch is of common grade, then spending more
money that it is worth would not necessarily be
advised (but of course this is up to the owner).

watch that is returned entirely to its original
condition is considered to be restored. This not only
involves putting it in working condition, but also
fixing movement and case cosmetic issues, and
refinishing the dial and hands if needed. Proper
restoration involves (to the extent possible) using
period materials, period methods, and restoration to
factory specifications. A qualified watchmaker will
know the correct methods needed to restore a
particular watch.
Contact me or call 530-520-1478

watch that is rare, or has special historical
significance may be a candidate for
preservation. The concept of preservation is to
maintain and stabilize the piece in its found
condition. Work is only performed on the watch to
ensure that any deterioration or corrosion that
may have started is arrested, and the piece will
be available for a good long time in a stable
condition. It is not necessarily put back in working
order, nor are parts replaced or polished. In fact,
it is desirable to retain the tarnish or "patina", as
the watch may loose value if polished.

So what type of service do you need? It is really
up to you. If you have a wrist or pocket watch that
you use regularly, then you may just want it
serviced to function properly but perhaps do not
need it cosmetically perfect. If you have a family
heirloom that has sentimental value or a
collector's watch that is valuable, you may want it
restored both functionally and cosmetically. If you
have come across a very special watch that is
very rare, you may opt to do very little to it, and
implement preservation techniques.

The responsibility of a qualified
watchmaker/repairer is to:

  • Help determine the approximate monetary
    value of the watch
  • Explain (in non-technical terms) the options
  • Explain the ramifications of each option,
    and make recommendations
  • Quote the cost for the repairs

Keep in mind that not all watchmakers are
qualified to make an accurate appraisal for
certain rare watches, but should be able to
provide a close enough value for most common
watches. Once you have all of the information,
then it is your decision.  As with any repair
service, they should not proceed with the work
until you have provided direction and