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September 4th, 2023

Reasons Why Your Mechanical Watch Stopped Working

Mechanical watches have long been admired for their intricate craftsmanship and timeless appeal. That little disc on your wrist is a culmination of hundreds of tiny elements working together in perfect harmony to keep accurate time. So, when they go wrong, it can be rather tedious and distressing.

If you are reading this blog, it means, sadly, your watch has stopped working, and you don’t know what to do! What causes these fascinating devices to stop working? In this blog post, we’ll explore all those reasons that can cause your mechanical timepiece to stop functioning and look at how to prevent them.

8 Most Common Reasons Why Your Mechanical Watch Stopped Working

1. Dry or Dirty Movement

A mechanical watch movement consists of an intricate arrangement of springs, gears and other components that work in sync to keep precise time. Unfortunately, even the smallest amount of dirt, dust or debris can give rise to significant problems.

When the lubrication of your watch dries up or is dirty, it affects the movement and causes friction between the components, impacting the overall watch's functioning. In this situation, the best thing to do is to service your mechanical watch. The professionals will dismantle the movement and place all the components into a specialised ultrasonic cleaner along with a cleaning solution, effectively removing any dirt or debris. After this, they clean the parts, dry them and apply lubricants to reduce friction and prevent wear and tear.

The Luxury Hut suggests servicing your mechanical watch every four to five years for the best performance.

2. Loosened Screws

Wearing your watch regularly can loosen the screws over time. The screw in a watch’s movement is responsible for holding the various components in place, such as the pallet fork or the balance wheel. If the screws loosen up, it can cause the components to drift apart from their original position and even fall out entirely.

3. Overwinding the Movement

Winding a mechanical watch involves tightening the mainspring so that the power is stored and the timepiece keeps operating. However, if you keep winding the watch even after the mainspring is fully wound, it puts excessive pressure on the components inside, causing it to break or get damaged. This also puts extra tension on other parts of the movement, such as the balance wheel, gears and other parts, causing them to wear out more quickly.

Quick Tip: You know your mechanical watch is fully wound when you encounter resistance while turning the crown. 20-30 full crown rotations are necessary to wind a mechanical timepiece fully.

4. Setting Functions at the Wrong Time

Certain strict timings exist when a mechanical watch makes its own mechanical calculations. For example, avoid setting the date on a calendar watch between 9 pm and 2 am because, during those hours, the date-changing mechanism of the timepiece is gearing up to change the date automatically. The gear disconnects at 2 am. The mechanism could break off if you try setting the date function during those hours.

5. Impaired Balance Wheel

The balance wheel helps regulate the watch’s speed and ensure that it shows accurate time. An impaired balance wheel affects the oscillation amplitude, causing it to swing too narrow or too wide, resulting in incorrect timekeeping. And, in worst cases, it causes the watch to stop running completely. Moreover, any harm to the balance or supporting pivot can result in excessive friction between the components, causing wear and tear to the other parts.

6. Damaged Escapement

The watch escapement consists of a pallet fork, a balance wheel and the escape wheel. All these parts work together to regulate the movement of the hands and the watch’s gear. Unfortunately, regular wear and tear causes these parts to become worn or get damaged due to friction and other reasons.

When the escapement gets damaged, it fails to regulate the power correctly, resulting in irregular timekeeping or even stopping the watch from running altogether.

7. Impact Damage

Impact damage is one of the most prevalent reasons for mechanical watch malfunctioning. When your watch experiences sudden shocks or impacts, the delicate components within the mechanism get damaged or shift out from their original location, causing the watch’s operation to cease.

The mainspring powering a mechanical watch is broken in the most common form of impact damage. It is a delicate component prone to breaking when subjected to sudden impacts.

8. Broken Rotor

The rotor is the semi-circular weight staged on the movement and is responsible for winding the mainspring that powers the watch. As you move your wrist, the rotor spins 360° around its axis to wind the mainspring, supplying energy to power the timepiece. A broken rotor causes unbalanced weight distribution and prevents the watch from properly winding the mainspring.

How to Avoid Damaging Your Mechanical Watch?

Wearing a mechanical watch is a responsibility- the responsibility of taking care of a precious item. If you want your timepiece to work for several years without any significant issue, here are some of the tips:

1. Avoid Winding It While It’s on your Wrist

Winding the watch while it is still on your wrist puts extra pressure on the winding stem. The stem is the part that connects the crown to the watch interior. It is the interface between the movement and the crown. While you cannot overwind an automatic timepiece, a manual watch will resist you from winding it further when fully wound. You must stop trying to wind the crown upon facing resistance.

2. Wear it Regularly

How a mechanical watch functions depends entirely on its wearer. If you’re all about preserving your delicate timepiece by keeping it locked in your closet, get ready to welcome problems soon. All watchmakers have one thing to say in common- do not keep your timepiece unused for long as it dries the lubricant, thus immobilising the functions inside.

Moreover, in the case of automatic watches, the wrist's movement is responsible for providing energy to the mechanism. So, if you don’t wear it daily, the watch will automatically lose its functionality.

3. Don’t Operate Under Water

If your mechanical watch has a stopwatch (chronograph) built into it, do not use it underwater. Pressing the chronograph's pushers will cause the water to seep inside the case and the movement, further causing rust and corrosion on the internal parts. However, if you’re planning to dive wearing your mechanical piece, it is best to time your dive using the rotating bezel.

4. Keep it Clean

Water and dust hinder the performance of your mechanical watch. As dirt can accumulate when you open the crown for setting, remember to dust the watch before pulling it out to set the date or time. Also, clean or wipe the watch case occasionally, as oils and dirt from the skin can build up.

5. Be Gentle

Unless your watch is made of high-end materials inside-out, it is best to avoid wearing them while playing outdoor sports. Remember, a mechanical timepiece has several tiny parts inside that work in an orchestrated manner. So, if you drop it accidentally or expose it to high-impact stresses, you can break it.

6. Don’t Forget Servicing

Just like you service your car frequently so it runs smoothly, a mechanical watch or any luxury watch requires regular servicing or check-ups. It is always recommended to get your watch serviced by professionals every four to five years to ensure its condition. The professionals shave the required tools and lubricants to service your watch rightfully.

7. Be Careful of Magnetism

This is a long-known problem. Mechanical watches are very vulnerable to magnetism that causes the spiral of the hairspring to stick together, causing the watch to run very fast. The traditional alloys used in the watch movement of mechanical timepieces cause it to lose its preciseness. 

While brands like Rolex, Omega, Tudor and Oris use special alloys to keep the watches anti-magnetic. Others are yet to advance in this area. So, if you have any other brand than the ones mentioned, it is best to keep them away from magnetic fields and electronic appliances.

IN CONCLUSION

Your mechanical watch is more than a timekeeping device. It’s a testament to fine craftsmanship and engineering. While occasional stoppages can be frustrating, thankfully they're often due to factors that can be addressed. By understanding the reasons behind your watch's temporary halts, you can take proactive steps to keep it running smoothly for years.

Regular maintenance, responsible usage, and professional care ensure your mechanical watch remains a reliable companion throughout your journey. And this is where The Luxury Hut comes in. We provide end-to-end watch repair service for all watch types and ensure your mechanical watch runs in its best condition.

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