Watch Maintenance 101: What Goes into a Full Service?

In this second installment of our guide to watch maintenance, we take a look at what exactly a complete watch overhaul entails.

What does an overhaul include?

It varies from manufacture to manufacture and from one service center to another, but the fundamentals are pretty consistent: A watch technician (also commonly called a “watchmaker,” though in this case he’s inspecting and repairing it) will take the following steps:

Bracelet removal

  • Case opening
  • Diagnose the movement
  • Check the workings using testing devices
  • Check the functions of the movement (tests of the time setting and pushers: start/stop/reset)
  • Perform an overall visual inspection
  • Demagnetize (if it’s suspected of being magnetized)
  • Offer an estimate (sometimes you’ll receive an estimate while you wait; in other cases, someone will phone or e-mail you a few days after you bring your watch in. Either way, they’ll tell you which services are necessary and which are optional.)

Once you agree to the estimate, the watchmaker will proceed with the following:

  • Complete case dismantling (bezel, crystal, pushers)
  • Case and bracelet cleaning in ultrasonic vibration for one hour
  • Replacement of all gaskets
  • Dismantling and cleaning of components
  • Replacement of worn components
  • Assembly and lubrication of the movement components
  • Regulation of the function
  • Precision control of the movement
  • Check of the functions of the movement (tests of the time setting and pushers: start/stop/reset)
  • Polishing of the case
  • Complete reassembly of the case
  • Case closing and locking of the case back

Next, the watchmaker will run quality-control tests to ensure that your watch is working at its maximum operational standards:

  • Water-resistance test according to model specifications
  • Hour and date setting
  • Final check of the movement and all functions over 72 hours in several positions
  • Bracelet refitting with replacement of spring bars
  • Check and adjustment of the clasp
  • Final inspection


If you’re looking for a visual reference of the process described above, we filmed one of our watchmakers in action. Check it out here.

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Crown & Caliber is the smartest way to buy or sell a luxury watch. As an exclusively online marketplace for pre-owned timepieces, Crown & Caliber exists to ensure that when it comes down to the final transaction, buyers and sellers can both win. For sellers, we do all the legwork of valuating, marketing, and selling—for buyers, we put trust back into the act of purchasing sight-unseen with our servicing and authentication process. By emphasizing transparency and placing value on quality, Crown & Caliber has become the preferred marketplace for watch collectors and casual enthusiasts alike.

Latest comment
  • i agree 100 percent on these statements. diagnosis takes more time as well if you are handing over to a professional. assembling back is a very DELICATE work as well.