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18 Sep

How Is It Done - Luxury Watch Repair and Servicing

Mitchell Lodowski during watch assembly

The world of luxury watches is one which we are, of course, synonymous with here at Manhattan Time Service and we have fixed and serviced thousands of timepieces in our time and we know from experience that high end watch owners are extremely interested in what we do and would like to know a little more about the process and the ins and outs of watch repair in New York (and the world over) so we’ve decided to share some of the most common questions and intricacies of servicing some of the world’s finest watches.

watch repair

There are questions as old as time with regard to luxury watches - such as how often they need servicing, what the process actually consists of and how much does it cost - and, to be quite honest, there is often no definitive answer to these questions but we’ll do our best to cover the basics of watch repair to give in an insight into what it is we do day in, day out here at our Manhattan Time Service workshop.

Patek Philippe Movement during repair at Manhattan Time Service

A luxury watch is an investment and it stands to reason that an owner of a Patek Philippe, Rolex, Hublot, IWC or Breitling timepiece are going to want to make sure it’s always at optimum working order and this is something that is accomplished through servicing and repair. But just how often should you service and when do you know if a repair is in order? Well, that’s just some of the things we’ll look to cover below with our guide to watch repair.

Watch Repair 101

Repairing a watch is something that any luxury timepiece owner will likely encounter at some point or other during their high end watch ownership so it’s always good to be savvy about the industry and what to expect when working with a master of watch repair so we’ll do our best to fill you in how at Manhattan Time Service.dismantled rolex movementOne of the most common questions that anyone working in the world of luxury watch repair is how often it should be brought in for a service and, to be frank, there isn’t a definitive answer to this conundrum because it is dependent on a whole host of factors such as the brand of watch, how you look after it day to day and the sort of mechanism it has to name but a few.

What we discover here at Manhattan Time Service quite regularly is that if, in the past, a timepiece has been serviced to a high calibre, then the likelihood of it needing servicing regularly will decrease. A good service in the first place makes the world of difference and will mean it will be much longer before it needs servicing again.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak assembly process

There are invariably a lot of different mindsets when it comes to watch repair with some adopting the stance of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and others deciding that a regular service will ensure tip top performance at all times and, to be honest, there’s merits to both. Something as simple as re-oiling the components of a watch will help make sure they don’t get too worn in the long-run and, in a lot of cases, you may not realise a service is required until your luxury watch begins to lose its timekeeping accuracy.

With this in mind, it is important to realise that worn parts within a luxury timepiece can often have knock-on effects on other parts of the watch mechanism which will lead to further problems down the line so if you worry about the performance of your watch, considering a regular service may well be a good idea.

So, What Do We Do…?

Oiling a ruby at manhattan time service horology practice

Well, if we had a dollar for every time we got asked this at our workshop, we’d be rich but it’s a valid question and one we’re always happy to answer. If you’re bringing your watch in for a standard service then, generally speaking, will ensure to give your timepiece an oiling, a good polishing and a comprehensive clean. We will also assess it and see whether there are any parts that are damaged or maybe need replacing because there can be an awful lot going on under the hood of a luxury watch.

audemars piguet hnr tourbillon movement

The cost associated with a servicing of a high end timepiece comes down to the fact that there is a need for a highly skilled individual to fully take the timepiece apart and understand if and where there may be any issues that need rectifying with the mechanism and movement.

watchmaking cleaning machine greiner vibrograph acs 900

You always want to ensure that you go with a reputable watch repair company when taking your luxury watch for a service because, anything but the best, and you run the risk of them not doing a good enough job of taking the watch and putting it back together again after the service. Servicing watches is a real skill and one that we feel privileged to carry out at Manhattan Time Service.

Something that regularly plays on a watch owner’s mind when considering a watch service or repair is whether or not to go with the brand’s repair team or to opt for a third party servicer. This is something which will come down to personal preference but it can often be much more expensive (not to mention longer wait times in most cases) if you go with the brand directly. This is testament to why third party watch repair services are becoming ever more popular.

Finding The Right Watch Repair Company

Experience is critical when finding a watch repair company and it is never advisable to send a high end watch to a watch repair company that doesn’t have the requisite experience dealing with the complications and mechanisms that these brands are so synonymous with.

You need to be certain that they have had worked on these calibre of watches before and that’s why we’re so well-regarded here at Manhattan Time Service because we’re well versed in dealing with the vast majority of high end watches on the market - in fact, we relish working on the biggest and best timepieces in the world.


Practiced horology since the age of 15, successfully took apart, cleaned and assembled a Rolex Submariner Cal. 3135 at the age of 19, further improved his watchmaking skills with NAWCC School of Horology. “It has been 15 years since I took apart my first watch, my goal is to repair every timepiece ever produced”.

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posted on 11/6/2016 11:24 PM
I love your goal of wanting to fix every time piece created. I'm 28, and new to the trade, however, my passion is real and true. I hope as well to own some of the finest pieces ever made, as well as restore/fix,hold, learn from every piece that comes into my hands.


posted on 8/16/2016 6:38 PM
Cool article! Thanks for sending! Always great service on my old Corum.


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