Antique pocket watches are great collectibles and heirlooms. They were built long before “planned obsolesce” was thought of, and by observing a few basic principles you can preserve the value of your mechanical treasure. Future generations will thank you for your diligence.
- First of all, do not walk across the room carrying a pocket watch in your hand. If you stumble or drop it, the shock will damage your watch. Assuming the watch is not beyond repair, you can end up with an expensive bill from the watchmaker. Put the watch in your pocket or in a protective case before transporting anywhere.
- Putting an antique pocket watch in a box or case and forgetting about it is not the best way to care for it. These watches are not hermetically sealed. As temperatures fluctuate, dust is pulled into the watch thickening the oil until the watch can no longer run. The solution is to have the watch serviced every 18 to 24 months. Your watchmaker will disassemble the works and agitate the parts in a cleaning solution. Then he will reassemble the watch, lubricate it, and regulate it. This service is a lot cheaper than a repair bill and it will keep your watch in top condition.
- Just like you, (but not as often as you) your watch needs occasional exercise. If it is left in one position the works will eventually “settle” and the watch could refuse to run even though it was cleaned within the past year. Wind the watch and let it run at least every three months. Run it on its back, with the face down, on its left side, right side, straight up, and upside down. For a pocket watch to remain in good health it needs to be run occasionally in all six positions.
- If you have an open face watch, carry it in your pocket with the dial away from your body. This is not the most convenient way to carry a watch but if you smack into something or something smacks into your watch, a broken crystal is a lot cheaper to replace than it is for a watchmaker to try to get the dents out of a case.
- This may seem obvious to you, but not store your watch in the barn, the garage, or the attic. Even though it is made of metal does not mean it can endure extreme environments. The house or a bank box is a good place where your watch will not experience extremes in temperature and humidity.