Just a word of caution in our hectic and hurly-burly world:
Vintage watches and clocks are elderly, and deserve some extra care and respect. In particular, because you might be carrying it on your wrist or in your pocket a lot, watches are the subject of today's missive.
I've mentioned it before, but it bears mentioning often: Old watches, either wrist or pocket, are probably NOT water resistant in any way shape or form. Even if they were rated at some time in their past, or carry the wildly misleading imprint of "WaterProof", chances are they are no longer any such thing. Old wristwatches, in particular may not even be dust proof. Likewise they may not have any kind of shock protection. Now, take this with a bit of common sense, if your watch is a dive type and has some gaskets and a rating of some kind, these you might not worry as much about as say, a vintage Tank watch from the late thirties or forties. Military watches from the same period might be more robust, but not always. With this in mind, here's a few do's and don'ts for your vintage watch:
- Don't drop it! Always put your wristwatch on over your nice soft bed or over something soft in case you let go of it while you are fiddling with the clasp or band.
- Don't take it off in the washroom and set it on the counter while you wash your hands or even worse, run a shower. Your watch is all nice and warm from being worn, and is now cooling. Old cases will now begin to suck ambient air into themselves as they cool, and you are filling that ambient air with moisture. Keep them well away from the sink, especially the older types. Watches with screw down crowns should be ok, I'm talking the watches from the teens through the sixties unless they have some form of water resistance and it has been verified.
- The same thing goes for being out in the rain, keep your wrist covered.
- Magnetism is everywhere these days, keep your watch away from magnetic fields and don't put them on the desk next to a cell phone. Cell phones kick out a field that will easily magnetize a vintage watch.
- Don't work on your stripping your boat's hull or jackhammer your driveway while wearing your heirloom. We have actually had issues with this....
- Don't let the watch get overly hot, like on the dash of a hot car or in direct sunlight on a hot day while you catch some rays. Black dialled watches doubly so. (This also applies to modern Quartz watches big time)
- Even if your watch has a water resistant rating, and even if it HAS been pressure tested and passed, do NOT immerse it in hot water a la Hot Tub or hot shower. Heat shrinks gaskets, see where I'm going here? Hot water voids most (if not ALL) warranties. In order to maintain your watch's depth rating (If it has one) you must replace the gaskets every one or two years, if the watch is getting wet on a regular basis. Otherwise, the gaskets should be changed during your 4-6 year CTR.
- If your watch does get wet, and it shows signs of moisture in the case like fog on the crystal, it is a good idea to get it to a watchmaker STAT. Rust happens very quickly inside a watch. This also applies to quartz watches.