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Wristwatch Lifespan: How Long Does It Last?

I have had several wristwatches over the years, but truth be told, only a couple of them are in working condition now. In fact, the reason I buy so many wristwatches is that they can’t seem to last on me. If they don’t stop turning, then the straps would most likely give away, or something along those lines would happen.

But I believe that’s on me. And honestly, the wristwatches I had weren’t exactly expensive, so I guess this is a case of “what you get is what you pay for.”

However, exactly how long should wristwatches last?

Are Waterproof Watches Legit?

creative photo of luxury wristwatch surrounded by splash of water with black background

It’s assumed that if you’re wearing a watch that’s designed to be worn underwater, you’re not actively adjusting it. Unfortunately, people may not always respond in predictable ways, and they may sometimes begin hitting buttons when immersed in liquid.

Water has a possibility to get into the assembly every time this occurs because the button cavity is open. And, particularly with saltwater, this may cause rusting. Moisture will get inside your watch unless it is entirely watertight and unaffected. Even a teeny-tiny amount can cause issues.

It’s a Bad Idea to Drop Your Watch a Great Deal

closeup image of person wearing a damaged smartwatch on wrist

Damage can occur from a variety of sources and methods, such as slamming it against anything while walking or dropping it on concrete ground or surface. The mechanical components inside the watch, on the other hand, can misalign every time it is jarred.

As a result, the harm increases. It doesn’t take much of a fall to cause serious injury. Aside from the possibility of the watch’s glass bezel shattering, the internal components may be shaken just by dropping it a few feet against concrete or anything similar. The key to avoiding dropping a wristwatch is to keep it on a soft surface all of the time.

This eliminates 95% of the potential negative impact that a typical watch may have over its lifetime. The remaining 5% is simply common sense; if you know you’ll be walking through locations where you’ll be making a lot of interaction with walls and the like, take your watch off and put it in your pocket. The difficulty has been resolved.

The Wristwatch’s Enemy: Magnets

closeup image of magnet attracting smaller magnets

Metallic objects and magnets don’t mix well. Magnets can also be found in far more places than most people realize. Even small magnets can cause problems in classic wristwatches by causing the escapement mechanism to drag. This component controls a watch’s ability to maintain time. Big magnets are commonly found in stereo speakers, but they can also be found in cell phones.

Be Careful When to Date Change

Before going to bed, how many of us set a watch? We all do it. This is, however, the most inopportune moment to do so. A mechanical date change watch is trying to adjust for the calendar change. Even if only by an hour, resetting a watch can cause a misalignment in the assembly’s gearing.

Although this risk is unlikely to be mentioned in an owner’s manual, it is a contributing factor in a wristwatch’s mechanical life being shortened. The “danger zone,” which runs from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., is most noticeable as misalignment once the dates appear to be inaccurate or halfway wrong later on.

When a person attempts to reset an analog watch backward rather than forwards, a similar risk exists. The mainspring in the wristwatch assembly becomes stressed, and it may even break.

Storing Your Watch Incorrectly

Who’d have guessed that keeping your watch in a safe place could harm it and shorten its lifespan? The temperature has a significant influence on a watch, believe it or not. To begin with, the majority of high-quality watches are built of metal. Temperature also causes metal to expand and contract. Mechanical parts deform enough when exposed to extremes of heat or cold to compromise the watch’s gaskets.

It also affects how the pieces mesh and operate together. If moisture enters the watch, corrosion can occur, putting the watch’s internals at risk. Heat, on the other hand, dries up the internal lubricant, causing components to grind against each other, causing friction. Both are dangerous and will rob an innocent watch of years of its life.

DON’T Wind a Watch While Wearing It

When twisting at an angle, as is common when wearing, you run the risk of overwinding the mechanism or breaking the crown. Only a clean right angle, i.e. straight out, should the crown be pulled on. Overwinding isn’t a problem with modern watches, but it was a problem with early models. Only blow until you feel resistance and then come to a halt.

Prevention vs Repairs

closeup image of wristwatch with leather straps being repaired

Preventative maintenance, like anything mechanical, can save you a lot of money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs or reconstruction. A watch maintenance checkup, on the other hand, is a relatively simple task that any watch repair shop can perform. The problem is that most people aren’t aware of the alternative because watches are now considered disposable and are discarded when they develop problems.

Even a mediocre-quality assembly can benefit from general maintenance check every 3 years to extend its life. When this is combined with good storage and avoiding dropping the watch every other week, the timepiece’s lifespan may be significantly extended.