So, you’ve saved up your money to buy that Rolex you’ve always wanted. Or perhaps it’s an Oris or a Tissot. It doesn’t matter. You’ve wanted it for years and it costs thousands and you’ve saved the money.
You buy it, and fork over that hard-earned cash. Now you have it. It’s paid for. You’ve spent a fortune, but aside from perhaps a bit of additional insurance on it you don’t have any other ongoing expenses with it, right?
Wrong. If you’ve purchased a high end luxury mechanical watch, you will be spending money on it regularly for the rest of your life. Not only that, but the money you spend on that watch could work out to hundreds of dollars per year, depending on the brand.
“How is that?,” you ask. Mechanical watches are mechanical devices. Parts move. Parts break. Parts wear out. Parts get dust and dirt and grime in them and on them, and those things can prevent the watch from keeping accurate time, or from being able to keep time at all.
Most luxury watchmakers recommend that you have your mechanical watches serviced at regular intervals. “Serviced” means that you’re going to put the watch in a box, mail it back to the manufacturer so that they can work on it at their factory, and wait for them to send you a bill.
That bill could easily be $500 or more, and you might need to do that as often as every two years, depending on the model.
Why so expensive? There are a number of reasons. When you send a luxury watch in for service, a trained technician will disassemble it and carefully examine the movement to see if there are any worn or damaged parts. If so, they will need to be replaced.
Those parts may or may not be on hand, depending on the make and model of the watch. If they aren’t available, the company may have to fabricate new ones. Regardless, there’s going to be a bill for the new parts. After that, the movement will need to be thoroughly cleaned and adjusted for accuracy. Finally, after the watch has been put back together, it will need to be cleaned and polished on the outside.
When you get it back, it will likely work and look like new. Those are good things. But you’ll have to repeat the process again in a couple of years.
Friction is the enemy, and mechanical watches have moving parts. Some of them move millions of times in a year. Jewels in the movement are intended to reduce friction, but physics is physics, and everything has friction.
A few companies are introducing new movements with composite parts that are intended to reduce friction. But a watch that will never require regular service is just a dream. If you want to own a mechanical watch, you’re going to have to accept that it will require regular maintenance.
On the plus side, a well-maintained high end watch will work well for decades. On the downside, it comes with a recurring bill that you’re just going to have to pay as part of the price of owning an amazing piece of technology.