Watch FAQ’s


What is Horology?Horology is the art and science of time measurement. Professionals who make or repair timekeeping devices are called “horologists.”

Why is it important to look for AWCI members when choosing a watch maker?Watch makers who belong to the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute (AWCI) are part of an organization of industry professionals that sets technical standards and encourages ethical practices. Watch makers who go the extra length to join the national trade association are displaying pride in their profession. They are also demonstrating the value they place on their reputation, integrity and professionalism.


watchmakerThis is a watch maker who has passed a stringent certification exam given by the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute (AWCI), the premier trade association for professional watch makers and clock makers. These professionals should adhere to the Standards and Practices set forth by the Institute. The first level of certification is known as CW21 which means “Certified Watchmaker of the 21st Century.” The top level of certification is known as CMW21 (“Certified Master Watchmaker of the 21st Century.”) These watch repair professionals are required to maintain their certification by taking continuing education courses.

You’ll find certified watch makers in your area on the Member Directory.

>> Click Here to view AWCI Watchmaking Standards & Practices


Parts of Watch
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Although this depends on how the watch has been cared for, it is recommended that you schedule a watch service every 3-5 years. A watch is a precision instrument that must be occasionally serviced to replace specialty oils and to remove dust, moisture and any other contaminants that may have infiltrated the watch case. Over time, old oil and dust may combine to produce an abrasive paste that actually causes wear in precision parts which may result in a broken watch.


pocketwatchMany AWCI-member watch makers have the qualifications to perform watch service on both new and vintage watches and pocket watches. However, watch makers often specialize in the service and repair of specific brands. If you have a broken watch or one that needs service, it’s best to check with AWCI or use our Member Directory to find a watch maker who can perform quality work on your particular type of wristwatch or pocket watch.


To ensure your watch gives many years of service, avoid the following:

  • Moisture and saltwater (with the exception of specific manufacturer recommendations for water-resistant watches)
  • Strikes or blows against hard surfaces
  • Chemicals, solvents, strong detergents
  • Perfumes and powders
  • Temperature extremes (above 140°F/60°C or below 32° F/0°C)


What is a mechanical watch?The mechanical watch movement has a mainspring that must be wound. As the mainspring unwinds, it provides force to a series of gears that power a balance wheel which oscillates back and forth at a constant rate. This oscillation causes the ticking sound that is heard in a mechanical watch.


Automatic WatchMechanical watches that are automatic or self-winding rely on the natural motion of the wearer to keep the watch wound. The watch mechanism has an oscillating weight that turns when the person wearing the watch moves their wrist. The movement of the oscillating weight keeps the mainspring wound.  If the watch is not worn for a period, you may turn and/or wind the crown a dozen or so times to start the watch.


Quartz WatchThis watch mechanism uses a quartz crystal to regulate an electronic oscillator which produces a high degree of accuracy in keeping time. Quartz watch dials can have either an LCD (digital) and/or analog (standard) read out.


What should I know about winding and setting the time on my mechanical wristwatch?For best performance, fully wind your mechanical watch once a day around the same time of day. Make sure you fully wind the watch, but do not force the crown past the point where it is taut. For self-winding watches, wear them every day to ensure continued accuracy. If the watch is not worn for a period, turn the crown a dozen or so times before wearing it again.


When setting the date, check the procedures of the manufacturer. Some watches, for example, must not be set between specific periods (i.e. between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.), because the mechanism positions itself to automatically change the date during this period and parts could be damaged.


battery-replacementIt is highly recommended that you contact a watch repair professional who can perform a watch battery replacement without damaging your watch. Simply opening a watch case can cause damage if handled improperly. For example, some watches have cases that twist, while others snap to open. Opening the cases of luxury watches also requires specially-designed tools. Water-resistant watches, especially, should only be opened and re-sealed by trained watch makers with the correct tools and testing equipment.

When considering watch battery replacement, you must use the exact type battery in the same position as the prior battery. Polarity markings must also be observed. If a wristwatch has two batteries and only one battery is dead, both batteries should be replaced. White powder or liquid in the battery compartment can be a sign of previous battery leakage which may have damaged the movement.

As of January 1, 2012, some states in the U.S. will require the use of only 0% mercury button-cell batteries. Old batteries should be properly recycled to avoid mercury contamination to the environment.


A chronograph or chronoscope is a precision timepiece that provides both timekeeping and stopwatch functions. The stopwatch function is operated by a pushbutton mechanism on the watch. (Do not confuse with the term “chronometer.”)


This is a highly accurate watch with a seconds display that has undergone stringent testing by an independent, neutral body such as the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, or COSC.

Each chronometer will be unique and will have its own certificate from COSC. It is up to individual manufacturers to determine whether they want to seek this certification and/or provide certificates for luxury watches.

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These watches use a solar conversion panel and an energy cell to provide power to the watch mechanism. The eco-drive watch can use light from any source to generate electrical power. This power is held in a storage cell that does not have the charge/discharge cycle which is typical of most types of batteries, which means eco-drive watches can give long term performance.


A kinetic energy watch is powered by the movement of the watch wearer’s body. The watch mechanism has an oscillating weight that turns when the wrist of the person wearing the watch moves. This movement creates a magnetic charge which, in turn, produces the electricity (held in a storage cell) that powers the watch. There are no batteries and no winding of the watch is required.


JewelsThe term “jewel” refers to a type of bearing in a watch mechanism. Modern jewels are typically made of synthetic sapphire or ruby. Jewel bearings reduce friction, therefore they offer a high degree of accuracy in timekeeping. The number of “jewels” is often used to characterize the quality of a watch. A watch with 17 jewels or more would indicate a high quality, precision watch. Jewels in watches have little monetary value.


TourbillonA tourbillon is a sophisticated regulator added to some mechanical watches. It was designed to eliminate timekeeping errors caused by the slight difference in rates at which a watch runs in the horizontal and vertical positions. This difference is caused by gravity.


The term “waterproof” has not been used to describe watches since the late 1960s. “Water resistant” is now the term used to describe a watch’s resistance to an ingress of moisture. A watch receives a water resistance rating based on laboratory pressure tests. These tests simulate the water and pressure a swimmer or diver is subjected to under static conditions. However, it’s important to note that most water activities will subject a watch to motion and various temperatures and water pressures, all of which are dynamic in nature. That’s why many manufacturers and watch makers suggest you purchase a water resistance rating that is two levels beyond the static rating you would select for your anticipated use. You may see these “levels” of water resistance sometimes expressed as “Atmospheres.” For example, a watch rated for:

3 Atmospheres (100 Feet or 30 Meters) can withstand splashes or brief immersion in water, but may not withstand the rigors of swimming.

Refer to the chart below (expressed in feet and meters) as a basic guideline for water resistance:

water-resistance

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Additional considerations: Water-resistant watches have rubber seals (either natural or synthetic). However, rubber does not have an infinite life span and may eventually crack. If you have a diver’s watch over 10 years old, you may want to have all the seals and gaskets replaced to insure the watch retains its water resistance level. Whenever a watch is opened (i.e. for battery replacement or service) there is a risk that the water resistance may be compromised. The watch should undergo a pressure test for water resistance before it is immersed again.


Swiss MadeSwiss-made watches and clocks have long been valued as precision timepieces. “Swiss-made” speaks to a concept of quality that has been developed for centuries. The concept includes both the technical aspects and the aesthetics of the design. However, there are many other manufacturers throughout the world that create high quality luxury watches.

For your knowledge when purchasing a Swiss wristwatch, pocket watch or clock, there is a law that regulates the use of the name “Swiss” when applied to timepieces. It requires that the assembly work on both the movement (the motor of the watch) and the exterior of a watch (the dial, hands and case) should be carried out in Switzerland. At least 50% of the components of the movement should be manufactured in Switzerland. The timepiece must also undergo final testing in Switzerland.

The term “Swiss-assembled” simply means the watch was assembled in Switzerland; the parts may be manufactured anywhere.

For professionals who are qualified to perform Swiss watch repair, use the AWCI Member Directory to find a watch maker near you.

This has long been a tradition when displaying or photographing a watch or clock. The only reason is that the 10 and 2 position is considered visually pleasing. Some think this seems “welcoming,” while others say it looks like the dial is “smiling.”

This has long been a tradition when displaying or photographing a watch or clock. The only reason is that the 10 and 2 position is considered visually pleasing. Some think this seems “welcoming,” while others say it looks like the dial is “smiling.”

Yes, it can still chip. However, watch crystals which protect the watch face can be made to resist scratches from everyday wear. Watch crystals made with synthetic sapphire—or a combination of synthetic sapphire and mineral glass—provide the most scratch resistance.

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