For the third and final installment of our guide to watch maintenance, we check in once more with our panel of experts — Florin Niculescu, vice president of product development at Parmigiani Fleurier; Maximilian Büsser, founder and CEO of MB&F, who spent time at Harry Winston Rare Timepieces and Jaeger-LeCoultre before founding his own maison; Jean-François Sberro, Hublot of America’s managing director; and Paul Boutros, head of Americas, international strategy adviser and senior vice president at Phillips — who answer some larger questions and offer a parting thought.
The Big, Inevitable Question: What Does a Complete Overhaul Cost?
With all due respect to our illustrious panel, we’ll cite famed luxury-goods connoisseur the Notorious B.I.G.: “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.” Pricey toys require costly service, making fine timepieces no different, in this respect, than a classic sports car. Again, the rate varies based on the make, model, age and condition of the timepiece, but expect to drop between $250 and $1,250, not including additional repairs (a cracked crystal or case back; a broken part) or a new band (which can add another $200 to $500 depending whether it’s rubber, calf leather, or an exotic leather such as alligator or crocodile).
How Long Will it Take?
Here’s the rub. Although you certainly don’t need an excuse to own more than one fine timepiece, this is a pretty good one: An overhaul will take anywhere from four weeks to six months. Unless you have a major problem that needs to be repaired, though, expect your watch back in four to six weeks.
What Else Do You Need to Know?
If you have a vintage timepiece, a watch manufacture’s service center might not accept it — this is a common complaint amongst Rolex owners. If you encounter this, ask watch collectors you know or other trusted sources for a recommendation of a watchmaker who’s familiar with vintage pieces.
Additionally, most watchmakers and service centers offer a one-year limited warranty on the functions and water resistance — if your watch then quits working or has other problems, they’ll repair it at no charge. If you’ve dropped the watch or otherwise damaged it yourself, though, they’ll charge you again.
Finally, Keep Your Records.
If you ever plan to trade in, sell or swap your watch, it’s important to have documentation of its repairs and general upkeep. On this matter, we deferred to the most logical choice on our panel, Phillips’s Boutros. “Records, especially if the service was performed by the factory, provide a superb history of a watch that documents an owner’s care,” he says. “Collectors appreciate and value careful handling of a watch by a prior owner, and proper servicing provides convincing evidence. Furthermore, service records document component changes such as hands, dials or movement and case parts, and whether a case was refinished. When selling, documentation serves to explain to interested parties any inconsistencies from when the watch was originally sold until the present. Potential buyers would even be willing to pay a premium if the service occurred recently, factoring this cost into their buying decision.”
Sberro is quick to note Hublot’s Information Age database, which keeps such records as long as you use one of Hublot’s authorized repair centers. “It’s very important to keep the repair history,” he says. “For this reason and others, our database has this information readily available at the client’s request.”
MB&F’s Büsser likes our overused comparison of timepieces to sports cars (who doesn’t?) and offers this on the importance of getting your watch serviced regularly: “Imagine driving a car 100,000 or 200,000 kilometers without service. No one in their right mind would do that.” And yet that’s exactly akin to what you’d be doing if you fail to service your timepiece. And now you know exactly how to do just that.