5 Tips to take care of antique pocket watches
A pocket watch is a classic piece of jewelry. They’re beautiful, and they can also be incredibly valuable. However, all this beauty comes at a price: antique pocket watches require much more care than their modern counterparts. So if you own an antique pocket watch or are thinking about buying one, read on for tips on how to take care of your new (or old) timepiece:
Inspect the case first.
When you first pick up your pocket watch, sift through it. Check for dents and scratches on the outside of the case that might be hiding more severe damage underneath. Look for signs of rust or corrosion in nooks and crannies you can’t see with your eyes alone. Also, make sure that there are no cracks in the crystal or base of the watch; if either one is damaged, it’s essential to get it repaired by someone with experience restoring antique watches. Finally, inspect both ends of your timepiece very closely to determine whether they’ve been damaged at all—if they’ve been bent out of shape or banged up in any way, then these need to be fixed right away because otherwise, they won’t function properly later down the road.
Check the mainspring and gears.
If your pocket watch has a mainspring, you can check the condition of the mainspring by looking through a loupe or magnifying glass. As with any item, practice makes perfect when assessing the gears’ situation and functionality.
You won’t be able to see all of them if they are hidden inside, but you can use your fingers to feel the teeth of each gear. You should be able to handle any unevenness in their alignment and wear on them.
Start the mainspring by twisting the crown.
The mainspring is wound by turning the crown. It would help if you did not wind the watch for more than a few seconds at a time, or you could damage the mechanism. If you can’t wind your watch, you may have to replace the mainspring with a new one.
If your crown is stuck and won’t turn, disassemble the watch and remove it from its case so that you can get it unstuck and out of harm’s way before attempting to fix any other issues with your pocket watch’s internal workings.
Check to see that the gear train is running smoothly as well.
After you have removed the mainspring, check the gear train for excessive wear. The first step is to remove all the wheels from their pivot points. Then check each wheel’s pivot points and teeth for excessive wear, broken teeth, or broken pivots. Next, remove each wheel axle from its respective pivot point, then inspect it to see if there is any play in it as it rotates freely on a flat surface. Finally, reattach your gears and ensure they are properly aligned before putting everything back together.
Many watches have a “slide” that disengages the mainspring when pulled out.
Many watches have a “slide” that disengages the mainspring when pulled out. This is called a “crown,” which winds the watch and sets the time. It can be pulled out just partway or all the way; pulling it out too far could damage your watch.
The best thing to do is leave the crown in place and set your time using this method:
Turn clockwise until you feel resistance (you will hear a click). That indicates full winding. Then turn counterclockwise 2-3 turns until another click occurs—this shows that you’ve wound enough to power one hour’s worth of timekeeping without pushing down on any buttons or slipping off any catches that might open up additional functions within your pocket watch. If desired, repeat this process after an hour has passed—you’ll know when because there’ll be another audible click.
Antique pocket watches have an old-fashioned winding mechanism that needs to be wound up every 1-3 days (or even once weekly). It’s best not to replace it with batteries. Batteries will only last for a short time for everyone but the most devoted collectors.