In this 21st century world of instant gratification, tech hacks, life hacks, shortcuts and DIY, let me present:
A quaint old trade, you might think. Must be almost dead, like blacksmithing.
Millions and millions of mechanical watches are produced every year, and watchmakers service them. That's how it works, and it has been like this for a very long time. (Numbers have varied, obviously)
I do not share the view that phones and tech replace the watch. Or the clock, for that matter. Sure, I can set my phone to wake me up or look at it to see what time it is, but that means it's handy enough to just grab and look. (Which in my case, it isn't. I no longer carry my phone in my pocket after seeing what it did to a solid metal Rolex movement. See the cell phone blog post)
As long as it's charged up and all, and this goes for the Apple watch also.
Now I'm no Luddite, but I certainly do admire the craftsmanship of antiques and well made mechanical devices, like watches. My automatic chronometer on my wrist tells me what time it is, and I don't have to wind it. I take it off at night and put it on in the morning, pretty simple, pretty green tech.
Vintage watches, which we specialize in, require proper care and maintenance, more so usually because they almost always end up in front of me after decades of neglect.
I need to stress this, there is no shortcut to this, no hack. The procedures in watchmaking are time consuming, and skill heavy. You can't 'just oil' or 'just clean' a watch. The full service for a mechanical watch is called a 'CTR' in the trade. I've seen watch movements that are 'dipped' or rinsed with various solvents and the result is either destruction of the watch or various other problems.
The watch MUST be completely disassembled to properly clean it, and once you are at this point, you are deeply into a full CTR. Repair or replacement of parts, lubrication and regulation follow, and the case is cleaned also, usually polished. Bracelets are re-conditioned and leather bands replaced if necessary.
I remember a Flea Market I used to go to every weekend, and there was a guy there selling vintage watches, claiming that they were serviced by 'his guy'. I asked him a few times what this service entailed, but he obviously did not know.
So one weekend I bought an Omega Seamaster from him, which he swore up and down was fully serviced and guaranteed. I took it home and looked inside.
It was filthy.
It was swimming in oil, and had rust issues under the dial. It had most certainly NOT been serviced in any way shape or form, in fact, only the balance side had been lubed at all, so half the watch was not lubed. There was oil everywhere it did not belong, and very little where it did. I did a CTR on the watch and took it back the following week to show the guy in the market.
He was not the least bit impressed with my Smart- Assery, to say the least. He suspected I was trying to shake him down or something, but I insisted that I did not want my money back, I just wanted him to know that he was not getting value for his money. He told me the 'guy' knew what he was doing, and only charged him $40.
So you get what you pay for. We argued for a bit, and I agreed that to service every old watch would certainly cut into any profits he was making.
Plus, it was quick.
Of that I have no doubt. Open the case, put some oil in the jewels that were visible and close the case, maybe regulate it a bit.
But what I am getting at here, is that quality takes time, and you can't hack watchmaking, you just can't. There are no shortcuts, especially in the learning part of the trade. If you don't fully understand what you are doing you are unlikely to do it well. There is school, and then apprenticing. The days of having a Master, where you just walked in 'picked up' the trade with no schooling are long gone.
I have a sign that I have been meaning to put back up in the shop, it is something I have kept since my gun smithing days:
FAST CHEAP GOOD
Pick two, invert the third.