How often should my Rolex timepiece watch be serviced? Why does a watch need a service? What is a service?

July 17, 2019

A common question asked at Family & Co. Jewelers is, “How often should my Rolex be serviced?” I asked multiple watchmakers and they generally went along with the watch industry recommendations. Most experts recommend having any fine automatic serviced every five years.  While I am mostly discussing Rolex timepieces here; this advice applies to any fine Swiss mechanical timepiece.

What does a service entail? Servicing (aka: Overhauling) is completely disassembling the movement and placing the parts in special chemical solution that dissolves oil residue, dirt and dust. The movement is then reassembled and special oils are applied to lubricate the essential parts. The watch is then put back together. Our watchmakers will change the gaskets if you are having the watch serviced. This will make sure your watch stays to the water resistant specifications it came with.  Your watch will be pressure tested to confirm this.

There are different oils used in wristwatches. Thin lubricants are used for low-torque, high-speed applications. Heavier, thicker oils are used for high-torque, low-speed applications. Thin oils can dry up and thicken and heavy oils can lose their cohesiveness and move off the pivots over time. The gaskets that ensure water resistance are the other reason for wanting to get your watch serviced. The gaskets generally do not get much action and can stay effective for much longer than the oils.

Water-resistance cannot be guaranteed indefinitely. Ageing of the seals as a result of temperature fluctuations, sharp impacts or cosmetics (body lotion, perfume, etc.) can impair the watch’s water-resistance. We recommend regular checking of the water-resistance and frequent replacement of all seals.  Family & Co. Jewelers’ watchmakers perform replace the gaskets during the overhaul. Keep in mind, if you ever see your crystal fog up; do not ignore the warning signal. Get your watch to a Family & Co. Jewelers as soon as you can. The moisture will rust and corrode your movement, dial and hands.

Please note the following recommendations:

Always rinse your watch under running lukewarm water after swimming in the ocean (saltwater) or heavily chlorinated water (hot tubs).

Leather is a natural, porous material. You should therefore avoid allowing a top-quality leather strap to come into contact with oils, solvents and cleaning products or cosmetics. By doing so, you can prevent discolorations or premature ageing of the material.

If you own several watches, always keep them well apart to prevent them from scratching each other.

Avoid vibrations and impacts (e.g. when playing golf or tennis, mountain biking, etc.) as well as extremes of temperature (over 60°C/ 140 °F and below 0 °C/ 32 °F).

Do not adjust the date on you Rolex or any mechanical timepiece between 9 in the evening and 3 in the morning as this could damage the date-setting mechanism in the movement.

If you have a mechanical watch that you are not wearing, be sure to wind it at least once per month. This slows down the ageing process of the oils and lubrication. Or keep the timepiece on a watch winder.

Avoid the magnetic fields to which we are all exposed every day (e.g. microwaves, television, loudspeakers, locking systems on handbags, etc.).

The crown MUST be screwed all the way down for water resistance; this is true for your Rolex or any truly water tight timepiece.  If your watch does not have a screw down crown; we do not recommend swimming with it even if it is marked water resistant.



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