Abbey Group

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When our oak dining table was damaged during our move we didn’t for a minute think that anyone would be able to restore it to its former state. The table was a wedding present, and so we are thrilled that you have not only repaired the damage so well that we can’t even tell where it was, but the table looks better than it has in years. I’m sure we’ll be back in future, and will be recommending your restoration services to our friends

James and Vanessa

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Fire and flood

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Antique Furniture Restoration

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Caring For Your Antique Watches

29th August 2018

 

Your antique watch has enemies. They include dust, dirt, moisture and shocks, to name a few. It’s also probably mechanical, meaning is has between 200 and 400 moving parts, all crammed into the tiny space between the plates. Antique watches are beautiful, a relic of a simpler time, and often passed down the generations as keepsakes. But left alone, they will struggle to stay working, and you could end up with a non-functioning watch before you know it. So today, we’ve put together some tips to help you keep your antique watch in good condition.

Keep It Wound (But Not On Your Wrist)

Even modern watch lubricants, good as they may be, congeal over time. If you’ve inherited or bought an old antique watch, the odds that it’s not full of gunk are low. So first thins first, get it serviced (more on that later), and then keep it wound often. A well lubricated watch will work better, for longer, and winding the watch effectively spreads the lubricant throughout the mechanism. You don’t have to do this daily – but once a month is a good idea. And when you do wind it, make sure it’s over a soft surface. We’ve seen people wind their watches while they’re on their wrist as they walk down a cobbled road – and that adds up to a whole lot of potential damage and risk to something of valuable. So when you do wind your watch, take it off your wrist and focus purely on winding it.

Check Gaskets and Seals Regularly

Antique watches aren’t quite as water resistant as their modern counterparts, so you need to make sure you are taking care of the water resistant elements more than usual. This means the gaskets and seals, which can easily dry out and flake, leaving you prone to water damage. Most watchmakers and repairers have machines that can check water resistance (without actually getting the watch wet), and it isn’t an expensive test to do. If you do get caught in a torrential downpour while wearing your antique watch, make sure you take it off and put it in a pocket, or somewhere less likely to get wet than your exposed wrist.

Keep It Clean (But Not With Soap)

A really dirty watch doesn’t look good, even an antique one. Sure, antiques will always have that well-worn quality to them, but that doesn’t mean they have to be filthy. However, unlike many modern products that are simply ‘clean with soap and water’ – soap is not your antique watch’s friend. That’s because the molecules in soap can work their way into the smallest spaces in your watch, where they will stick and cause damage. So instead, just use a microfiber cloth to clean off your watch. You can use a little water if you know that your crown is secure, but avoid getting any leather straps wet, as this will just degrade the leather.

Don’t Push The Limits

Watches nowadays are designed to withstand pretty much everything, but even they have their limits. So you can imagine an older, antique watch probably isn’t as resilient as its modern counterpart. So don’t go trying to test how strong it is, or forget that it isn’t indestructible. After all, one big impact on a golf swing, or one knock against a wall, and you could be in trouble. It’s worth remembering that most antique watches are  mechanical and work due to swings in the lever escapement, and the shock protection won’t be up to the level of automatic watches.
Change Straps Carefully

Shocks to the mechanism are awful, but the more likely cause of damage to your antique watch is small nicks and dings. One of the easiest ways to scratch your watch is to change the strap. Now to be fair, you may not want to change the strap on your antique watch, but if you plan to wear it, it’s prudent to do so. To change straps, learn how to do it, either by having someone teach you, or at least watching an online tutorial. Make sure you use the right tools (like a springbar) and never a knife.

Get It Serviced Often

In just one day, a watch will make 691,200 beats. Lubricants do dry up and congeal over time. Cogs and teeth wear down. So if you want to keep your antique watch in good condition, you need to make sure it’s serviced regularly. This means that a professional will completely disassemble your watch, clean it and reassemble it, replacing any parts that need replacing. Reassembly is often trickier than it would be on a new watch, since the parts have worn and no longer fit together perfectly. There is no ‘right amount of time’ to leave between services. Watches tend to let you know when they need servicing, as symptoms manifest themselves. The watch runs too slowly, too fast, or just stops completely. It doesn’t stay wound, the date doesn’t change despite winding, and so on. It’s worth getting your antique watch valued and serviced when you first receive it, and then servicing when it appears to need one.

At Abbey Group, we specialise in the restoration of antiques from across the Essex area. We’ve seen many antique watches come through in out time, and each has been utterly beautiful in its own way. To find out more about our restoration services, just get in touch today.

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