FAQ - CLOCKS
ANTIQUE MUSIC BOX REPAIR
BUYING GOLD & SILVER
How do I get an
estimate for the repair of my vintage or antique watch?
Bring your item into the shop
and we will quickly
examine and determine the necessary work required and also provide you with a
no-obligation estimate for the repair of your watch.
Do you guarantee your
vintage watch repair work?
All of our watch
repairs carry a one year guarantee... that's one of the best vintage watch
guarantees in the business!
Do you give free
Yes we do. Although
doing a detailed examination and estimate for a vintage watch repair takes
time, we try to quickly determine the problem and provide you with a very
close estimate as to amount of time required and the cost involved to put your
watch back into good working condition. If our estimate is acceptable, no
deposit is required up front, however the full amount covering the cost of the
repair is due when the item is picked up in the shop.
Do you have parts to
repair my vintage pocket watch?
entirely on the watch and which parts are needed. We have in stock, or can
obtain, replacement parts for many of the more common watch brands, although
sometimes an extensive part search is required. Parts may either be new
old-stock, or used parts taken from an identical watch movement. In some cases
we are just not able to find the parts needed to complete a particular repair
(see below "what if you can't fix my watch").
Is my vintage pocket
watch worth repairing?
That's a question
that only you can answer. If your watch is a family heirloom that you've
inherited, then it may have sentimental value that, for you, makes it worth
repairing at almost any price. We can tell you what it's going to cost to
repair your watch, and we are always willing to share our opinion about
whether a watch is a good candidate for repair, but whether it's "worth
it" to proceed with a repair is a decision that only you can make.
If I send you a
picture (or serial number) of my pocket watch, can you provide me with a repair
Sorry, but no we
can't. We are unable to provide an estimate without actually seeing the watch
in question. A photograph is simply not able to convey what may be wrong with
the internal mechanisms of a watch.
How do I know if my
vintage watch needs to be serviced?
If your watch isn't
working, then it obviously needs service. But it may need to be serviced even
if it seems to be working properly. We often have people tell us, "I
found my great grandpa's old railroad pocket watch, and it ran great for a
while but then I heard something snap and now it won't run anymore." Now
just think about that for a minute. Would you take grandpa's old model-A Ford
out of the barn where it had been sitting idle for the past 50 years, and
start it up and try to drive it off down the road without making sure that the
engine was in good condition and that everything was properly lubricated? Of
course not! But many people do essentially the same thing with a delicate
piece of machinery like a 100 year old watch without so much as a second
thought. If your watch hasn't been serviced in years, or maybe even decades,
then it needs to be properly serviced before being used. Running a watch
"dry and dirty" is a sure way to cause damage that could be very
expensive to repair.
How long will my
vintage watch repair take?
Repairing a 100
year old watch made by a company that went out of business 75 years ago isn't
like getting your washing machine fixed. Unfortunately, we can't just call-up
the factory and have them send us the new parts we need (you might be
surprised how many times I've heard a customer suggest that). As such, there's
a fairly wide range in how long a repair can take depending on whether or not
parts are required and/or available. Repairs that are in for simple services
like a crystal replacement can often be completed in only a few days, while
difficult repairs requiring an extensive search for parts can take much
longer. Each watch is serviced in the order received, and we give each watch
the attention it deserves when its turn for service comes. We are always
willing to answer questions about the status of your repair, and your patience
will be rewarded with a watch that's been repaired carefully and correctly!
Is there a faster way
to get my watch repaired?
Many of our
customers come to us because they know our reputation for doing the
highest-quality work, or have been turned down by 2 or 3 other shops who tell
them their watch is no longer fixable, or that parts can't be found. The
reason those other shops reject these repairs is because they are not easy.
They take a lot of time, a lot of searching for parts, and a lot of custom
"fitting and adjustment" work. Sometimes a repair that starts out as
a straightforward cleaning can turn into a bigger project if we discover a
broken part or an internal problem that must be corrected. When this happens,
we work through the problems to get the repair done right... and that takes
When I contacted you
about my vintage watch, you said you were not accepting repairs at the present
time. Why not?
We have a
reputation for doing excellent work on vintage watches, and the demand for our
services consistently exceeds our repair capacity. We almost always have more
requests for repair work than we can possibly fulfill, and we would rather
provide excellent repair service for fewer watches than increase our repair
volume at the expense of quality. Each repair we accept is done carefully and
properly, and we prefer not to take short-cuts to save time. When our work
backlog gets too long, we feel it is more fair to our customers to hold off on
accepting new repairs until such time as we get "caught up". If your
request for repair was declined, please don't take it personally, and feel
free to check back with us in the future. We apologize that we can't take
every repair, but it's an unfortunate reality of too many watches and not
enough skilled vintage watchmakers!
I'm going to be in
the Connecticut area. May I drop my antique watch off at your shop?
This is the
preferred method for me to evaluate your watch. Although I do receive repairs
through the mail, I prefer to have the customer stop by the shop so that I may
do a hands-on inspection of your watch in order to determine what is wrong so
that I may provide you with an accurate repair estimate.
How should I package
and ship my pocket watch to you?
We recommend that
you stop by our shop first for evaluation of your specific needs.
How will you ship my
vintage watch back to me?
We prefer local
pickup of your serviced item at our shop.
Should I find a local
watchmaker instead of mailing my watch to you?
It used to be that
every town had a skilled watchmaker or two, but that is no longer the case.
Mechanical watch repair, especially antique watch repair, has become a very
specialized skill with fewer and fewer skilled practitioners. It is much more
important that you find a good watchmaker with plenty of experience with
vintage watches than to find a close or convenient watchmaker, especially when
you're talking about the restoration of a family heirloom. So don't eliminate
a watchmaker from consideration just because they do not live in your
Should I take my
vintage watch to a jewelry store for service?
Taking your vintage
watch to a random jewelry store is probably one of the WORST ways to get your
watch serviced. Now before I get a lot of angry emails from jewelry store
owners, let me state that I'm sure that there are jewelry stores who still
employ a skilled watchmaker... but they are getting to be few and far between!
There was a time when every jewelry store had a skilled watchmaker on staff,
but that is no longer the case. Many jewelers still claim that they repair
watches, but most actually send all mechanical (wind-up) watches out to
someone else, or they have someone on staff who's pretty good at changing
batteries, but doesn't have a clue how to repair a mechanical watch. So
chances are, you'll either end up paying a lot more for your repair by having
a "middle man" in the transaction, or you'll get bad results. Of
course, if you know that your jeweler has a top-notch watchmaker on staff,
then by all means use them... but be sure to ask a few questions before
leaving your valuable watch with just any random jewelry store.
How often should I
have my antique pocket watch serviced?
That depends on how
the watch is used. The main enemies of your watch are dirt, moisture and lack
of lubrication. If you carry (or wear) your watch daily, it's going to need
service sooner than if you have it on display under a glass dome, or tucked
away in a drawer. We recommend servicing a regularly-used watch every 2-3
years, and for a watch that is on display or used only occasionally every 5
years. Even the finest lubricants (which we use) will dry out after a number
of years, so 5 years is about the longest you can go and still hope to have
some lubrication on the watch.
What if you can't fix
my vintage pocketwatch?
As much as we would
like to believe that we can fix anything that comes through the door, that is
simply not the case. Our acceptance of your watch for repair is not a
guarantee that we can fix it; but it is a guarantee that we will make our best
effort to do so. We do occasionally encounter situations where we accept a
watch for repair that turns out to require parts that cannot be obtained, or
we discover another reason why the repair cannot be completed. In those cases,
we will return the watch to you and you will not be charged for any parts of
the repair that we were unable to complete .The one exception is if you have
had us arrange for or purchase outside services for your watch, such as case
repair or dial refinishing. In those cases, you will still be responsible for
all outside-service charges for work that has been completed whether or not we
are able to complete the mechanical repair of your watch.
What is included in a
Clean-Oil-Adjust watch service?
We do our
clean-oil-adjust (COA) watch service the old-fashioned way, except we've added
the advantages of modern tools, lubricants, and techniques. First your vintage
watch is completely disassembled. Then the watch is thoroughly cleaned in a
multi-step ultrasonic cleaning process. Cleanliness is critically important to
the proper operation of your watch. Once clean, we can begin the reassembly of
your watch. Each part is carefully inspected, adjusted, and lubricated as the
watch is reassembled. We use as many as 3 different types of watch lubricants
while reassembling your watch, and use only the finest synthetic horological
lubricants. Once the movement is assembled, we thoroughly clean and polish the
watch case. Final assembly consists of re-attaching the dial and hands, and
re-casing the watch . Each watch is then timed on an electronic watch
timing-machine for best-possible timekeeping. Finally, we give each watch at
least a 30-hour "run in" period to ensure proper operation and good
timekeeping. We know that there are cheaper and faster ways to clean a watch
(like the "dip and swish" cleanings offered by some shops), but we
don't know any better way to ensure that the job has been done properly.
You said my pocket
watch needs a new mainspring, but the mainspring in my watch isn't broken. Why
do I need a new one?
The mainspring is
the "gas" in your watch's gas tank: It's the motive power source
that drives the watch. Many of the older pocket watches are driven by strong
"blue-steel" mainsprings that can soften and lose their resiliency
after many cycles of being wound and unwound. When this happens, watchmakers
say the mainspring is "set," and it will no longer provide enough
power to properly run the watch. New alloy mainsprings are not as prone to
this condition, but they can also require periodic replacement.
Why does your
warranty not cover certain items like broken pivots?
Broken pivots (the
tiny "tips" of the balance staff) are only caused by one thing:
IMPACT! A broken balance pivot or cracked balance jewel is a sure sign that a
watch has been dropped, or that it has undergone some other significant shock
that was severe enough to cause the pivot or jewel to break. We have never
seen a balance pivot break on its own under normal use. As clearly stated in
our guarantee, damage caused by impact or abuse is not covered, so if you send
your repaired watch back to us with a broken balance staff or shattered
jewels, it will NOT be a warranty repair.
Can you repair my
damaged watch case?
between watch repair and case repair is like the difference between the
mechanic who repairs your car's engine, and the shop that does the body work
when you have a dented fender. They are completely different trades. We do not
do major case repair in-house, but we have an established relationship with an
excellent manufacturing jeweler who can handle some of our repairs. For those
repairs that we can't handle locally, we will gladly provide you with a
reference to a case specialist upon request.
Can you refinish my
worn or damaged pocket watch dial?
That depends. If
you have an enamel/porcelain dial on your watch that is badly cracked or
chipped, there is really nothing that can be done for it other than a
superficial repair. Cracks in enamel are like cracks in glass; they can be
cleaned or glued, but you can't make the crack go away. It's often the dirt in
the crack that makes the dial look bad, and many dials can be cleaned up to
where cracks are much less noticeable.
If you have a metal
dial on your pocket or wrist watch, it can be refinished to "like
new" condition. We do not refinish dials in-house, but send them out to
the best dial refinisher in the country. They do beautiful work and can work
wonders on your old, faded dial.
Is dial refinishing a
good idea for my vintage watch?
refinishing can produce a result that looks "nearly new." By
"nearly new" we mean that the dial will probably not look as perfect
as a factory original, but it will look very very close. An expert could
likely tell that it was refinished, but most non-experts could not. It's a
great option for worn, faded, or stained metal dials where a significant
improvement in cosmetic appearance is desired. Dial refinishing is only
possible on metal dials; enamel dials cannot be refinished.
If your goal is
absolute originality, then you should not refinish your dial. Some collectors
would consider a refinished dial as "inferior" to an original dial,
and a refinished dial may adversely impact the value of a collectible watch.
The dial refinisher will match the details of the dial as closely as possible,
and they have dial "prints" for tens of thousands of dials. But they
don't have every variant of every dial for every watch... so minor changes in
font size or style, dial signature, color, and other design details are always
a possibility. If you want your dial to be precisely "the way it was
before" then you would be better to keep it as is and not refinish it.
How accurate will my
vintage watch be after it has been serviced? Do you guarantee the accuracy of my
watches are capable of extremely accurate timekeeping and some are not. We can
only bring the watch up to its inherent level of accuracy based upon its
current condition, and can't make it better than it was meant to be. That
said, a good quality mechanical watch that is in good condition is capable of
timekeeping within a few seconds a day, and most leave our shop keeping
excellent time. As part of our clean-oil-adjust service, a watch is adjusted
for best possible timekeeping. But since these are vintage watches, we make no
guarantee as to the ongoing accuracy of any antique watch or its suitability
for any particular timekeeping purpose.
I saw a watch repair
site on the internet that charges less than you do for a cleaning. Why is that?
A quick search on
the Internet will show that there are a wide range of prices being advertised
for watch "repair" services. We have even heard about someone who
advertised that they will "completely overhaul" your watch for $25!
Didn't your mother teach you that when something seems too good to be true, it
this: mechanical watch repair, particularly antique watch repair and
restoration, is a dying art. Parts are becoming more and more difficult to
find, and there are fewer and fewer skilled watchmakers who really have the
tools, skills and materials to keep these old watches alive. There are simply
far more watches to repair than there are good watchmakers to repair them, and
every skilled watchmaker that we know of with an established reputation for
doing quality work has all the work they can handle and then some. So if
someone is offering overly low prices simply in an effort to attract business,
that likely speaks volumes about their experience and/or the quality of their
work. We're not trying to put anyone down... just pointing out the realities
of the marketplace.
There are some very
fine vintage watchmakers out there but not all the people offering repair
services have consistently high-standards for the work they do. I have seen
more than one watch completely destroyed by botched repair work... and it's
often impossible (or very expensive) to undo the damage caused by someone who
didn't know what they were doing.
So before you
entrust your valuable heirloom watch to just any watchmaker (including us),
we encourage you to check the reputation carefully, ask questions, and
please don't make your decision based on price alone. If you opt for that
bargain basement overhaul, you will likely get exactly what you paid for,
and your watch may never be the same.
My watch went through
the washing machine. What should I do?
is one of the leading destroyers of mechanical watches, so if your watch has
been exposed to water, you should get it to a watchmaker as soon as possible!
This is especially true if the watch has also been exposed to detergent, as
the phosphates in most modern detergents can be very corrosive. Look carefully
to recover any parts that may have come off the watch. If you can find the
crystal, hands, or other parts that may have fallen off, you'll save yourself
significant expense when you have the watch repaired. But don't wait. Get the
watch to a skilled watchmaker right away if you want to save it.
Do you repair modern,
battery-powered quartz watches?
One of the services
that we provide our customers, we carry an extensive inventory of all watch
batteries, and most watches can have a battery changed while you wait. We have
had a number of customers bring in a zip lock baggie with large quantities of
watches needing batteries. In this case, we will replace a battery in 1-2
watches while you wait, the rest will be taken in and you may pick them up at
a later date.
We also have a wide
selection of all leather watch bands, speidel flexible bands, and watch
crystals. Many quartz movements are non-repairable (not designed to be taken
apart and repaired). If your movement has died, we can replace your movement
with an identical original manufacturers movement.
Do you repair
No, we definitely
do not. "Replica" is just a nice name for "counterfeit"
and we do not support the counterfeiting of goods. The sellers of replica
watches rip-off their customers by selling them a cheaply made watch for which
there are no repair parts available. They also rip-off the companies whose
watches they copy. The sellers of these fake watches don't have any intention
of standing behind their product. If you buy a replica (counterfeit) watch
you'll get even less than you paid for. Only battery service will be provided
for these watches.
Do you repair
"cylinder" or "cylindre" watches?
No we do not. The
cylinder escapement was quite advanced when it was invented in the 1600's, but
it fell out of use in the late 18th century as it was supplanted by the far
more efficient and accurate English Lever escapement. Some cylinder watches
continued to be manufactured until the late 1800s. We find that, in most
cases, the cylinder watches we run across are not good candidates for
restoration and can seldom be made into good timekeepers (there is just too
much friction in the constant-contact cylinder escapement). We also find that
the cost of restoration often exceeds the value of the watch (just try finding
someone to make a cylinder staff from scratch). As such we have made the
decision to not repair cylinder watches.
Do you repair fusee
We are not
accepting repairs for verge fusee watches at this time as they are very
time-consuming repairs (thus very expensive) and can seldom be made to keep
excellent time. While a fusee watch is always a fascinating and challenging
restoration project, they are just not the best use of our limited resources.
As such, we prefer to concentrate our repairs on those watches that can be
restored to good working condition in reasonable time and with reasonable cost
to our customers.
Do you sell pocket
We offer watch
accessories including glass display domes and watch display stands so that you
can proudly display your beautiful watch. Keeping your watch under a glass
dome is an excellent way to both display it and keep it in a dust-free