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General Wristwatch Troubleshooter

Have a question about your watch? We’ve got answers. Here’s a list of frequent questions or problems that have to do with unexpected behavior of mechanical, automatic and quartz watches.

  1. I don’t think that the hands or bezel markings are lining up perfectly – can you fix that?
  2. Why are my minute and second hands not hitting their marks at the exact same time?
  3. My automatic watch keep losing time? Does it need repair or adjustment?
  4. Why does my automatic watch stop at night or run down in less time than the stated Power Reserve?
  5. How can I tell if I’m getting the stated Power Reserve on my automatic watch?
  6. Why does my date not change right at midnight?
  7. Why does my date change at noon instead of midnight?
  8. Why does the date sometimes drop 1, 2, or 3 days behind or show the 31st when it is actually the 1st?
  9. Why is my “sweep second hand” actually moving in small jumps?
  10. My mechanical or automatic watch is off a few seconds per day, how can et better accuracy?
  11. Why don’t identical watches/moments run exactly the same?

I don’t think that the hands or bezel markings are lining up perfectly – can you fix that?

This is normal with most watches. Here are the most common places where you might notice minor misalignment:

  • The markings on a rotating bezel compared to the corresponding marks on the dial.
  • The second hand of a quartz watch, where it stops every second.
  • The second hand of any watch when the watch is stopped.

All watches have moving parts with exact stopping positions controlled by mechanical components such as springs, gears and ratchets. Over time, these stopping points can change, but only slightly. It’s normal to have barely perceptible misalignment as the timepiece settles in and experiences gradual wear, so don’t worry. It’s likely not a defect or problem.

There are other reasons why you might think the watch has minor misalignments. It may be just the angle you’re looking at the watch, since the moving parts on the face, the hands, dials, and rotating bezels, are set at different heights relative to each other, and alignment can changed based on that angle. The manufacturer may even intentionally set components a small fraction of an inch off to compensate for how the mechanism is expected to settle in from use.

So in short, it can’t be fixed because there is nothing to fix! It’s not a defect or imperfection. They are simply minor differences within normal tolerances of precision and wear for these mechanisms. If you have any further questions or concerns about alignment, however, feel free to call us at (877) 655-2347 and we’ll be happy to discuss things further.

Why are my minute and second hands not hitting their marks at the exact same time?

There’s a simple way to fix this. It’s all about how you set the watch. Do that perfectly, and it will align perfectly. Here’s what you do:

  1. Stop the second hand exactly at 12.
  2. Set the time, positioning the minute hand *exactly* on the appropriate minute mark.
  3. Restart the watch.

And that’s it! Once the hands start off correctly aligned, it will stay that way, unless you set it again without following this procedure, or it receives a strong physical shock that knocks it out of alignment again.

You’re probably wondering why the watch doesn’t align like this automatically. Good question. It’s just a matter of practicality. Watches simply aren’t designed to do that automatically; it all depends on how you set it yourself. The minute hand on mechanical watches stays in whatever alignment relative to the second hand that you leave it in when you set the watch, so set it perfectly, and it will stay perfect.

My automatic watch keeps losing time. Does it need repair or adjustment?

Probably not. It’s likely that you’re not keeping it properly wound, and thus, not maintaining an adequate power reserve. This happens most frequently when people don’t wear a watch often or only save it for special occasions, and thus, don’t wind it very often.

Without enough power stored in the spring, the mechanism of the watch runs slightly slower than normal, or may even stop. So don’t waste your money on unnecessary repairs. Do some more research on maintaining your watch’s power reserves and your watch should be good to go.

Why does my automatic watch stop at night or run down in less time than the stated Power Reserve?

It is likely because you’re not wearing or winding the watch enough.

Automatic watches gain power from manually winding it, or from the automatic winding that occurs from your motion while you are active while wearing it. So simply put, if you’re not wearing it, your power reserve will run out.

The power reserve is the number of hours the watch should run after being fully wound up. So to keep an adequate power reserve, wear your watch more than just a few hours a day, or every few days, and wear your watch during the weekend, too, to make sure it’s adequately wound by the time the workweek begins on again Monday.

Here are a few tips on how to keep your power reserve up:

  • If your automatic watch stops, manually wind it about 20-30 turns when you put it on. Don’t depend on the automatic winding to get your watch back up to power–that can take too long and still leave your watch low on reserves by the end of the day.
  • In general, an average watch wearer’s motion is enough to power an automatic watch for 2-3 times as many hours as it is actively worn.
  • If you wear your automatic watch at least 10-12 active hours 7 days a week, you should maintain 50% (about 20 hours) of power reserve by the end of the day when you take it off.
  • It does not hurt an automatic watch to manually wind it every once in a while to make sure its power reserve is ‘topped off.’
  • If you simply won’t wear your watch enough to keep it powered up, get a good automatic watch winder to wind your watch while you’re not using it.
  • If you’re unhappy with your automatic watch, try battery-operated quartz watches! These types of watches will run for days or months without attention or need to wear. It’s not better or worse than automatic watches, just a different type of watch for a different type of lifestyle!

How can I tell if I’m getting the stated Power Reserve on my automatic watch?

Try following these steps:

  1. Make sure the time is correct and manually wind your watch at least 40 turns.
  2. Let the watch sit for two or three days, and take note of how long it lasts before it stops.
  3. If it runs for close to the stated power reserve (usually 40-44 hours for many modern mechanical watches), then your watch is running normally. If it’s a lot less than that, let us know. It may need cleaning or an adjustment.

If your watch is functioning normally, all you need to do to keep it running smoothly is wear it frequently, wind it normally, and wind it when you take it off at the end of the day. You can also get an automatic watch winder to wind your watch when you’re not wearing it.

Why does the date not change right at midnight?

The answer depends on the way your watch displays the date.

Watches with slow date change

If your watch has a slow date change, then the date may take one to four hours for the date to completely roll over, which is perfectly normal. The date may be unclear in the middle of the night, so if you find that frustrating, maybe you’d prefer a watch with rapid change date instead.

Watches with rapid change date

The date on these watches happens within a fraction of a second. This is great if you can’t stand slow date changes, but it requires a more complicated mechanism. And with a more complicated mechanism comes more potential for problems. Rapid date change watches usually come from the factory set for the date change to within 10 minutes of midnight. But it is not unusual for this to get further out of adjustment over time due to a few causes.

  • Physical shock
  • Owner manually changing the date within three or four hours either side of midnight
  • Owner setting the time backwards across midnight.

These latter two won’t likely cause permanent damage, but can through the watch out of alignment. Luckily, this is an easy fix when you send it to us for repair or routine service.

Why does my date change at noon instead of midnight?

Mechanical watch calendars are very simple. They do not differentiate between AM and PM. They simply change the date once every other time the hands pass across 12:00. So when setting a watch, simply roll the hands forward past 12:00 so you can see when the date changes, then set the time so that the next date change will be when the hands pass 12:00 at midnight, not 12:00 at noon. Watches that display a simple 12-hour representation like this leave you to figure out which half of the 12-hour cycle, morning or evening, you are in.

Why does the date sometimes drop 1, 2, or 3 days behind or show the 31st when it is actually the 1st?

Our modern calendar follows somewhat complex rules, with some months have 30 days, some 31 days, and febuary varying between 28 and 29 days depending on if it’s a leap year or not. So even though our calendar is complex, mechanical watch calendars are very simple, leading to occasional incorrect dates on your watch. It’s extremely difficult to handle the complex computations of our calendar within the tiny space of a mechanical watch.

The most common, and most simple watch calendar, takes the approach that all months have 31 days. Meaning that the date on the watch rolls ahead from one to 31, and then stars over at 1, regardless of the month. This simple approach means you have to manually roll forward the date to the correct

The only down side to this greatly simplified approach is that five times a year, you have to manually roll the date forward to get the correct number.

There are perpetual calendar watches that can handle this complexity. But since they are more complex mechanisms, they are also more complex to set, and far more intricate and difficult to make and maintain. That’s why most manufactures opt to go with the simpler version to reduce the cost of their timepieces and make it easier for their customers to own and maintain.

Digital watches, of course, have no problem with this, since our complex calendar is simple in the digital realm.

Why is my “sweep second hand” actually moving in small jumps?

Sweep watches don’t actually turn in a continuous motion like in an electric watch, but work by moving 5 to 8 times in a second, depending on your watch’s “beat rate,” creating the illusion of continuous movement. This is by design, and probably why, when you look closely, the second hand seems to jump rather than move continuously.

My mechanical or automatic watch is off a few seconds per day, how can get better accuracy?

Mechanical watches work differently in different positions as you move your arm throughout the day, so a few seconds off is normal. If your watch is a Chronometer and is off by over 10 seconds per day, it might be worth it to send it to us to have it adjusted professionally.

Gravity and position of your watch play a role in how accurate it runs, so if your watch is only off by a few seconds every day, try the following to improve its accuracy:

  1. At the end of the day, check the accuracy of your watch against a reliable time source. Write the information down, then place your watch on the nightstand and go to sleep.
  2. When you wake up, measure the accuracy again, write it down, and put the watch on.
  3. The next night, do the same thing, but place the watch in a different position. Do this for several days, trying a new position each night: face up, face down, crown up, crown down, 12 o’clock high, and 6 o’clock high.
  4. Once you’ve tried and recorded the results for each position, you will be able to see how many seconds you gain or lose in each position, and thus be able to see which position keeps it at its most accurate or helps you gain or lose the seconds you may have lost during the day.For example: If your watch loses 5 seconds while being worn during the day, try to find a position in which the watch gains about 5 seconds overnight. That way, you may be able to cancel out the daily variations and have a very accurate watch!

Why don’t identical watches/movements run exactly the same?

Just like even identical twins are different, and grow even more different based on life experiences, so are identical watches different. There are imperceptible variations in each watch that can make a difference, along with how the watch is treated throughout its life.

Each watch, even identical ones, are built to exacting tolerances finer than 1/100ths of an inch, and each mechanical movement is counting out 672,000 beats per day. So even the smallest, almost imperceptible variations can make a watches run differently from each other. That, along with varying levels of lubrication, individual wear patterns, and the way a watch settles in make each watch’s movement run a little differently.

For example, if one or more miniscule variations in wear, alignment or lubrication makes a 0.00001 (one hundredth of a percent) difference, that will throw the watch off by 8 beats a day–or a difference of 1 second. So over relatively short periods of time, even miniscule variations are amplified into discernable variations in the accuracy.

Watches can compensate for this with a regulation screw that adjusts base speed of the movement.

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