Where to get my vintage watch serviced?
It is important to get your watch serviced every 3-5 years (depending on the watch) in order to maintain optimal performance and prevent any extra wear to the parts. You have two options: Sending to the manufacturer or to a thrid party watchmaker. Here we discuss how each will offer a different process and experience. Firstly we will discuss how it works when you send your watch to the manufacturer.
Watch companies tend to have a process where regardless of how small the issue with the watch is, they will completely overhaul and service the movement, as well as restoring the hands, dial, bracelet and case. They will return the watch back to its original condition as when it first left the factory. If your watch is already in good condition then the cost of this may not be too much. If new parts are needed the cost will rise massively as you will need to pay for every part they replace. If a part is very old and no longer may even need to that part. If this the case you can pay well into the 4 figures for this.
The issue for vintage collectors is that originality is key for the value so as soon as a watch has replacement service parts the value of the watch is instantly decreased. There have been stories of people sending Comex Rolex Submariners off for a service and having the dial essentially ruins watch in terms of . I regularly see Omega Seamaster 300s with replaced dials sell for around the £2500 mark when original examples can fetch twice that.
If the commercial value of the watch is not overly important to you and you would simply like your watch to run well and be completely restored then this may a good option. It is also sometimes the only option if your watch is an in house complicated watch where parts may not be available for a thrid party watchmaker.
Sending to a third party watchmaker
This is a popular option for vintage watch collectors, due the fact you have the option to tailor your repair/service. As an ask the customer what work they would like done. A lot of the time with vintage collectors only want the movement serviced but the dial, hands, case and bracelet left alone. Other times people want it completely restored. It may be that there is a simple repair such as a crystal or crown replacement and this can be done without having to pay for a full service. With so many Swiss companies going out of business in the 70s a lot of watches cannot be sent to the original makers so this may be your only option.
It is also important to be sure you are using a qualified and trusted repairer. I would not advise giving your watch to 'Bob' down the road who used to fix clocks and will have a go at repairing your watch for £20. Ensure you get a receipt, quote and some form of guarantee for any work done on your watches.
There is no right or wrong option but consider how you want the watch to be before handing it over for any maintenance.