FAQ-WATCH REPAIR

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 repair estimates?

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?

That depends 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 estimate?

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 time.

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 hometown.

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?

The difference 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?

Professional dial 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 watch?

Some vintage 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 probably is?

Please consider 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?

Unfortunately, rust 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 replica watches?

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 (chain-drive) watches?

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 watch accessories?

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 environment.