Watch Owner FAQs


A Tag Heuer Chronograph during reassembly.


 How can I maximize the life and investment value of my watch, and insure years of trouble-free operation?

 How often will I have to wind my mechanical watch?

 Is my chronograph watch a "Chronometer?"

 My watch is running too fast or too slow.  What is normal?

 My watch has an extra "crown" (external knob) whose function is a mystery to me.

 The buttons on my chronograph watch do not seem to work properly.  What is wrong with them?

 I had my watch battery replaced at the jeweler's last week, and now my watch is fogged up and appears to have water inside?!!!

 How long will a new battery last in my quartz watch (not Kinetic)?

 Is my watch "high-end" or low/mid-grade quartz?

Are there watches that you will NOT service.  If so, where can I send mine?


  How can I maximize the life and investment value of my watch, and insure years of trouble-free operation?

One of the biggest THREATS to your watch is WATER.  What MUST you do:

AFTER, and 
BETWEEN exposures?

* Exposure to Water - If you decide to swim with your water-resistant watch, please first insure ALL of the following:

1. The watch has been recently serviced (within the last year), to include the replacement of all gaskets (crystal, crown/case tube, caseback and pushers - if applicable), sealing and PRESSURE TESTING by the company that service it.

2.  Your watch's water-resistant rating (normally displayed on your dial &/or caseback) is at least 5 ATM or 50 meters/165 feet.  This means that if the rating is 3 ATM or 30 meters, you should NOT take it in the water.

3.  The type of crown or winding knob on your watch is a "screw-down" (AKA "divers") type crown.  This crown configuration provides the added security of retaining the crown or winding knob in a "closed" position to insure that the crown and case tube o-ring gasket is properly seated.  If your watch does not have this type of crown (meaining that the crown simply "pops" out to set the watch), it is NOT recommended that you immerse the watch under water, even if its water resistance rating is 50 meters/156 feet.   

4.  If the crown is a "screw-down" type, next verify that it is securely positioned and/or "screwed down."  CAUTION
: Do NOT over-tighten the crown as this will provide no additional o-ring security, but WILL insure the crown's stripping of the screw threads!  It may also rotate a friction-fitted/epoxied case tube, rendering the watch case wide open to water intrusion. Over-tightening the crown does NOTHING to improve the water resistant seal of this area, and will compromise the water resistant seal.
5.  If your watch has "pushers" (buttons that operate/activate additional watch functions) do NOT depress them when under water!

6.  The crystal does not appear to be cracked, even slightly, anywhere either on the edge or center of the glass.  Even a small crack can spell disaster.  If your watch has a "see-through" caseback crystal, be sure to inspect this area as well.

7.  You have not, since your last service, dropped or banged the watch onto a hard surface.  If there is a "dent" on your case, and you do not know how it "got there," this means you have (or someone has) dropped or banged the watch.  Make sense?

If all seven (7) of the above conditions have been met, then it is usually safe to swim with your watch, providing you do not exceed its rated depth. 

This being stated, it is important to note that one does not "swim" in the shower, the hot tub or the sauna.  These three environments (the shower, the hot tub and the sauna) all will expose your watch to high heat, high pressure and/or chemicals and lubricants (such as soaps and oils).  One should never expose a watch, even a diver's-rated watch, to any of these conditions as the o-ring gaskets can degrade and/or fail, allowing water to enter the watch case and ruin the watch's expensive internal components (dial, hands, movement, inside aspect of a coated crystal, etc.). 

Realizing the above, some customers exclaim, "But I like to take my watch in the (shower/hot tub/sauna)!  I have always done that!  No one told me I could not do this when I paid $XX thousand dollars for this watch!"  Our response, and the response of most credible watchmakers is as follows (and is normally only privately shared among other watchmakers),

"If they (the customers) want to take the risk and responsibility of ruining their watch, and are pig-headed enough to ignore the advise of the manufacturer and the technicians who service these watches, go right ahead, make our day . . ."


IMPORTANT:  If you notice that water has accumulated under the crystal, known as "fogging," it is important to have the watch serviced by a competent watch repair professional immediately, within at least several hours of the episode.  The slightest amount of water inside a watch can cause a surprising amount of damage in a very short time.

You shoud also be clearly informed that NO watch company, or the manufacturer, will provide warranty service for your watch (a free repair of your water-damaged watch) when damaged by water, even IF damaged during the watch's original or repair warranty time period. 

Warranties do NOT cover water damage. 
Kick, scream, complain, threaten to sue (you won't win), be a jerk.  It will not help to have your watch repaired.  You will just thoroughly upset the watchmaker, and insure that no one credible will work on your watch.  You WILL have to pay to have your water-damaged watch repaired.  You will then have to become a more educated and diligent consumer and user of luxury watches.  Regrettably for many watches, this task appears impossible for some watch owners.

As soon as possible after exiting the water, rinse your watch with cool or warm, clean water.  This is necessary to remove the salts, chlorine and/or mineral deposits that will otherwise attack the gaskets in your watch - compromising your water resistance.  Again, avoid bathing and/or showering while wearing your watch as soap will reduce the surface tension of the water, which in turn may allow the water to bypass the seals and damage your movement, dial, hands and crystal's interior polarized coating.


If you are a lover of the water, and your watch spends alot of time in the water on your wrist, it must be serviced yearly (this means every 12 months) to insure that it remains water resistant to its test rating.  End of discussion. 

* Cleaning & Drying your Watch and Bracelet - if you find it necessary to clean your watch and bracelet, and your watch is water resistant to at least 100m, you may do so with clean, distilled diluted soapy water and a soft natural bristle brush.  Dry your watch with a lint-free polishing cloth, designed for fine jewelry, and never by using excessive heat, such as with a hair dryer or by setting it out in direct sunlight.  Avoid getting leather bands wet to the point of soaking the leather.  

* Shock & Excessive Vibration - avoid these altogether as they can damage your movement.  If your bracelet or band becomes loose or insecure, stop wearing the watch immediately until it can be repaired. 

* Temperature Extremes - avoid allowing the watch to be exposed to temperature ranges >140F & <30F.  

* Chemicals & Cleaners - such as house-hold cleaners, detergents, solvents, liquid soaps, alcohol-based perfumes, etc. may permanently damage your watch - avoid them by removing your watch whenever you will be working in or around these products.

* Magnetism - avoid placing your watch near sources of magnetic fields such as are found near the large magnets utilized in stereo speaker and large electric motors that run many of your large household appliances.  Generally, the watch would have to be within a few inches of these magnets to cause damage. 

* Storage - if you find that you will not be wearing a watch for any length of time, consider putting it up properly.  For a quartz watch that will not be worn for at least a year, or which has already stopped working, at a minimum the owner should have the battery removed so that it does not leak and damage the watch movement.  For a mechanical watch that will not be worn or wound for at least six months, consider that it will require more frequent service, as the synthetic oils may have evaporated leaving the miniature gear train and other levers dry.

  How often will I have to wind my mechanical watch?

Two types of mechanical watches exist which differ in how they accumulate power.  Some mechanical watches require that the wearer wind them in order for the mainspring to store power.  This is done by rotating the crown (winding knob) at least 30-40 revolutions (when the watch is fully unwound or stopped).  Once resistance is felt on the knob, winding attempts should cease, and no benefit is gained by "adding just a little bit more force" to the winding knob, and may cause damage.  Once fully wound these watches will typically run for a total of 30-40 hours (the "power reserve").  If the watch can not be wound more than a few turns, if any, and is not working once the crown is parked, then service is required.

A second type of mechanical watch is an "automatic," meaning that the watch movement has an oscillating weight that revolves when the wearer's wrist and/or arm are in motion, and the mainspring is wound without the need to wind the crown.  Most automatics worn for 8-10 hours daily require no winding by the wearer at all, as the this duration of wear will store up to 20 hours of power reserve - enough for the watch to power itself during the evening and night.  However, if an automatic mechanical watch is infrequently worn, then it will be necessary for the wearer to wind it at least a dozen or so times in order to store sufficient mainspring power for the watch to function accurately.  If the automatic is not worn regularly, consideration can be given to the use of an "auto-winder," a machine that simulates the motion of the wrist and arm.  Utilizing an auto-winder on an automatic watch can keep the watch functioning more accurately over time, and reduce the need for more frequent servicing.

  Is my chronograph watch a "Chronometer?"

This misconception is common, but easily explained.  First of all, a chronograph watch is one whose movement possesses at least a secondary function, independent of the recording of constant time, to gage the passing of time from a known starting point.  Think of this as the "stop-watch" function of the movement.  A "Chronometer" is a title given to watches who have passed a rigid series of 15-day tests, administered by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute ("C.O.S.C.").  These tests require that the watch function in various positions and at various temperatures with regard to obtaining an accuracy standard of no less than four (4) seconds lost and no more than six (6) seconds gained per day.  Watches which have this certification awarded typically have the title "Chronometer" or "Chronometre" affixed to the dial and/or case back.

  My watch is running too fast or too slow.  What is normal?

If your MODERN MECHANICAL watch is loosing more than a few seconds a day (2-3), or gaining more than ten (10) seconds per day, it may be time for service.  If you QUARTZ watch is loosing or gaining more than 15 seconds per month, it may require servicing.  This is also known as an "overhaul" or "basic/complete service," and should include, at a minimum, a full disassembly and ultrasonic cleaning of the watch movement, in an automatic ultrasonic or infrasonic cleaning machine which utilizes NO HEAT during the cleaing and rinsing cycles, AND AGITATION during the cleaning and rinsing cycles.  Very few machines are capable of this, and those that do tend to be very expensive to own and operate, with only the BEST repair shops possessing them. 

The above is one of BfW's L&R Tempo 400 Ultrasonic Watch Cleaning Machine.  Note the speed and time controls AND agitation capability.  Note also that the machine itself is CLEAN and well-taken care of.

  My watch has an extra "crown" (external knob) whose function is a mystery to me.

This knob may be a helium purge valve, or it may operate an internally rotating bezel ring.  Unless you are a professional diver who is operating at depths sufficient to require the use of helium during controlled resurfacing in a "diving chamber," you will not need to worry about this extra knob.  Its function is to allow helium to escape the internal case of the watch during controlled surfacing, so that the helium does not distort the case and potentially pop off the friction-fitted crystals on these watches.  If you are a professional diver, the use of this valve on your watch is well explained during your diving certification course.  

  The buttons on my chronograph watch do not seem to work properly.  What is wrong with them?

Most mechanical chronographs have two control buttons.  The first at or about the 1-2 o'clock position relative to the watch dial is the "start" and "stop" button.  The second at or about the 4-5 o'clock position is for "resetting" the chronograph hands to zero.  Not all chronographs buttons function this way, especially vintage chronographs.  If the buttons do not seem to be operating properly, the watch movement will require servicing to restore proper function.  If the chronograph is a quartz whose timing hands are no longer "zeroed," then the hands may be reset by positioning the crown in the first and second positions, respectively, whilst operating the pushers to obtain the necessary resetting.

  I had my watch battery replaced at the jeweler's last week, and now my watch is fogged up and appears to have water inside?!!!

We receive several watches every month with this problem.  The jeweler or "watchmaker" who worked on the watch did not properly seal it, or close the case back adequately.   You received an improper repair because you were searching for a 'budget' place to have the battery replaced, and/or you are a CHEAP person.   Either way, you got what you deserved, a CHEAP repair, albeit an INFERIOR repair, and your watch dial, hands and/or movement are now likely ruined. 

At BfW Co. we perform all of the following to insure this does not happen:
*Disassemble and inspect your case, crown/tube and pushers.
*Ultrasonically clean your case, crown/tube and pushers. 
* Dry your case, crown/tube and pushers with high-pressure air and heat to remove all trace amounts of cleaner and moisture.
* Inspect and/or replace your case, crown/tube and pusher gaskets.
* Reseal your case, crown/tube and pusher gaskets.
* Properly reassemble your case, crown/tube and pushers in a low-humidity, filtered-air environment.
* Pressure test your watch to its factory specifications to insure it is properly sealed.
If all of the above are done accurately, then your watch's water resistance will be restored and verified.

  How long will a new battery last in my quartz watch (not Kinetic)?
Battery life in your quartz watch is dependent on many factors:

  • the date the battery was produced
  • the battery's confirmed ability to support a 'load'
  • the consumption level of your watch movement
  • how frequently you utilize additional functions on your watch, such as an alarm and/or back light (both higher consumers). 
Multi-function quartz watches use battery power rapidly when utilized daily. One to two years is the average battery life, but some may work for three years if the watch has only to power analogue hands. Battery changes will be needed more often as your watch gets older. This is due both to the oil degrading inside the watch and the gaskets drying and cracking (letting in contaminants that land in the oil and produce more friction).

Friction is the enemy of all watches!  As the oil looses its viscosity (slipperiness), it places a strain on the gears in the train and the motor, and this will drains the battery at a faster rate than when the watch was 'new.'  The solution is easy.  Have a complete service.  Worst-case scenario - you will need a new movement, but the cost of this is usually less than a new watch. 

We only utilize batteries that will NOT leak in your watch, and currently the only brand we have found that meets this criteria is Maxell, the inventor of the silver-oxide power cell.  We also rotate our stock of batteries each year to insure that the battery installed in your watch is of recent production. 

  Is my watch "high-end" or low/mid-grade quartz?

This depends on the maker of your watch.  Most Seiko, Citizens, Pulsars etc. are considered mid-grade quartz watches.  High-end quartz watches include brands such as Movado, Baum & Mercier, Tag Heuer, Breitling, and others.  If in doubt, call us to discuss.  We provide the level of service dictated by the watch's quality level.  This insures it is done CORRECTLY, the first time.  In all cases, the quality of service is EXCELLENT, but the scope of service will vary depending on watch grade.

Are there watches that you will NOT service? If so, where should I send mine?

Yes, most definitely there ware 'watches' that we will NOT service.  In truth, we could service them but choose not to.  This is due to no fault of the watch brand or the watch itself. However, in our experience, quite a few owners of Timex, Casio and INVICTA watches are INCREDIBLY CHEAP (some call it 'frugal') PEOPLE.  They are so cheap that they quibble over a $40 service to change a battery and pressure test a watch.  In deference to these individuals we have located a company that will do FREE battery replacements.  That's right, just click on the BIG FREE BUTTON below to find the best place for your FREE watch battery replacement!

BestFix Watch Company is a state-of-the-art watch-repair facility.  If you have any questions, please use the Ask the Watchmaker Form.

BfW Co. Inc.


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