I know what you’re thinking—it’s just a watch, right? How hard can owning and wearing a watch be? Well, you’re probably doing just fine to be honest, however it’s worth running you buy these little mistakes that a surprising number of watch enthusiasts make, just to be sure. So here they are, three mistakes you may quite likely be making with your watch.
Alright, here we go, let’s get the nagging one out of the way first: the mechanical movement inside your watch is pretty much an engine. Sure, it doesn’t detonate old dinosaur guts to make it go, but there are moving parts inside that rub together, and when things rub together, what do they make? No, not babies: friction.
Friction has many useful properties in day-to-day life. It keeps your car on the road, stops you falling on your behind—but it isn’t always your friend. In a system of parts designed to transfer energy, for example, friction is bad, leaking that energy, converting it into heat—and in the case of your watch movement—little teensy tiny bits of metal.
These fragments can hardly be called fragments, almost a microscopic sand that saturates the lubricating oils designed to reduce said friction, but as anyone who’s ever been to a sandy beach can attest, that fine, granular texture in your moving parts is not the most comfortable of experiences. That’s how your movement feels when you leave it too long before a service.
It doesn’t need to be done often—many brands’ service intervals are five years these days, and some even ten—but it does need doing. The ramifications for not doing it will largely not be catastrophic, but the slow abrasion of precision parts is only ever going to reduce the performance of what should be a finely honed machine.
Not Putting It On A Strap
When you buy a watch with a fantastic bracelet, you want to wear that fantastic bracelet, don’t you? Of course you do, you paid good money for it. I appreciate a good bracelet, too, who doesn’t—but there’s a line: it’s not the be-all and end-all. Sometimes you just a want a bit of hot sauce on your fried chicken, and sometimes you should want to put your watch on a strap, too.
There’s no excuse: a decent strap from a manufacturer like Hirsch can cost less than a cinema ticket, and there are endless variations of colour, style and material to keep your watch looking fresh and, more to the point, feeling fresh—and that’s important.
Chuck a new strap on your watch and you might save yourself a lot of money, because you might just tame that urge to buy something new and shiny just a little longer. A comfy NATO or a waterproof silicone can completely change the dynamic of your watch, and all you need to do it is a new strap and cheap strap-changing tool. Go on, give it a try—it’s not rocket science, but it will have you over the moon.
I’m not naming any names, and I don’t want to put off all you folks who might now be considering buy something pre-loved, but guys, come on—every once in a while, give your watch a clean. I’m talking about the parts that sit up against your wrist all day, getting warm and sweaty, gradually stealing layer after layer of skin and hogging it all in those darkest of corners …
You know what I’m talking about, I don’t need to belabour the point. It’s just a part of being a human, but there’s no need to let it become its own ecosystem. When you put your watch down on the side in the evening and you wake up the morning and its crawled off in the night—that’s too late. You need to get in there much, much earlier.
A soft-bristled brush—an old toothbrush perhaps—very lightly damped and used with a little agitation is all you need to put things right. And not only will you now have a watch that won’t spark the next pandemic, it’ll also look surprisingly fresh and new to boot.
And not only that, but like the abrasive properties of metal-laden oil in a watch’s movement, that organic paste will no longer be able to get into links and seams and cause irreparable damage of its own. So, for just a few minutes every now and then, you get a number of wonderful benefits—and our watchmakers will be really, really grateful!
There’s not a huge amount you can do wrong with your watch. It’s a hardy technology refined over centuries, but that doesn’t mean a little bit of a love and attention from time to time will go amiss. Make sure you’re using it, enjoying it, taking care of it—appreciating it. If you are lucky enough to have the ability to purchase such a thing, do me a favour and avoid the biggest mistake of all—make sure you appreciate that privilege to its fullest. We’re very fortunate to have it.