Instructions for good use of wristwatches

1. General notes

To begin, we report some general notes that are always useful for correct use of the watch.

  • Avoid tampering with the watch for the purpose of polishing the case, opening the caseback, acting on the mechanics or dial with unsuitable instruments and without adequate and certified preparation
  • To prevent the watch from getting excessively scratched on the case and bracelet, we recommend not wearing the watch next to bracelets, which could scratch the material if they rub.
  • To prevent the watch from becoming magnetized and not telling the correct time, it is best to keep the watch away from objects with magnetic fields. In the case of magnetization it is necessary to contact an expert watchmaker who will solve the problem using suitable machinery.
  • Avoid letting the watch come into contact with chemical agents such as solvents, cosmetics, detergents, paints, which could cause deterioration or discoloration on the case and bracelet.
  • Avoid, unless specifically indicated in the sales documentation, using the watch in contact with water (shower, hand washing, sports) or immersed in water (swimming pool, sea).
  • In case of use of leather straps, it is suggested to avoid use during the hottest and humid season.
  • Periodically check the efficiency of the bracelet closure system and the absence of parts of the bracelet that are loose and at risk of opening or breaking due to the removal or movement of pins / screws etc.

2. Manually wound mechanical watch

Normally in the evening it is recommended to remove the watch from your wrist and place it on the bedside table (or in any case on a surface). Carefully lay the watch horizontally and with the strap stretched out. It is advisable to avoid leaving the watch precariously balanced or in strange positions which could affect the running precision and damage the strap.

Every morning it is advisable to wind the watch (in any case every 24 hours), even if we have greater autonomy (e.g. 48 or more hours), because the spring discharges in a homogeneous and optimal way for the first 18 or 36 hours (depending on depending on the type). Beyond this time, unwanted operating irregularities and variations in driving consistency may occur. If we operate with these attentions, the watch will have maximum charge during the day, when - worn - it will suffer the greatest external stress, such as: accidental impacts, sudden movements, vibrations, etc...

The winding operation and possible resetting of the time requires some care, for the good of the timepiece.

1) Winding: avoid, as many unfortunately do, winding it by turning the crown back and forth. It serves no purpose and contributes to increased wear on the ratchet and the tiny winding gears. Then rotate the crown only forward and gently, stopping as soon as you feel resistance. If you persist, providing excessive torque to the axle, you will cause the mainspring or the gears mentioned, or the axle itself, to break. If it goes really well, we will not be able to avoid "retorting", that is, accelerating the balance, putting abnormal stress on the anchor, the stones and the escape wheel. All this will negatively affect the precision and consistency of time measurement.

2) Setting the time: Please absolutely avoid using the crown with the watch on your wrist. If you have already worn the watch, remove it from your wrist. However, by proceeding with the wrist, you risk damaging or breaking the winding axis because non-axial stresses are applied to it and not foreseen by the manufacturing factory. This warning is particularly important for vintage watches! Therefore, be careful: extract the winding crown delicately and without forcing it. Hold the watch firmly with one hand, to avoid possible falls or impacts, with the middle (or index) finger and thumb of the other, acting in opposition, to modulate the force and tangential loads, carry out the extraction. If you encounter resistance, rotate it ½ turn or 1 full turn to find the best alignment of the gear teeth. The crown will come out easily. Also pay attention to the play or gear ratio of the wheels on whose axles the hands are keyed, due respectively to wear (vintage watches in particular) or to technical choices of the manufacturer. As a consequence of this, an unpleasant acceleration or sticking of the minute hand could occur. By touching the crown, the hand itself can be significantly moved, making accurate adjustment problematic. It is therefore a good idea, to avoid this inconvenience, to let the hand go beyond the desired position, then move it back until it indicates the exact time. Sometimes, if the internal frictions are sufficiently high, when carrying out this backward operation it may also happen that the second hand stops, together with the balance wheel, stopping the watch. No problem. Once the above has been ascertained, it will be necessary to take due consideration by proceeding as follows: once the winding has been completed and the time has been reset, if, upon releasing the crown, the second hand (and the balance wheel) do not start up again immediately, rotate without violence, horizontally, from left to right the watch, after having returned the crown to the rest position. Alternatively, you can also act gently on the crown itself (retracted), as in the act of winding, with a very small rotation, releasing it immediately, to avoid overtensioning the spring. Normally these last operations are not necessary, but they have been described anyway, because in case you realize that you need to resort to them more and more often and that everything is difficult or in general, it seems that it does not happen correctly, it is advisable not to wait to have your watch serviced: you will certainly avoid greater costs and annoyances due to unexpected breakages.

3) Wearing the watch: after winding and resetting the time (if necessary), you can finally wear the timepiece. Secure the watch securely to your wrist with its strap (or metal bracelet). Do not tighten it too much, to avoid premature wear of the strap (be careful when doing so: risk of breaking the strap, the buckle, the buckle coming out or breaking, with the obvious sudden fall and possible loss of the watch. ) We recommend never pulling the strap excessively, even when fastening it. However, it is also not advisable to keep it too loose, to avoid twisting, continuous pulling, impacts and unwanted vibrations (in the metal bracelet, this is the best way to damage it and cause the links to loosen and therefore moving too much which also compromises the pins).

The operations described, although they may seem trivial, are not at all. Let's remember that sometimes all it takes is a little common sense and a minimum of care to maintain the correct functionality of the watch we use for a long time.

3. Automatic watch

The first automatic watches were pocket "calibres" that were recharged via an oscillating mass activated by the owner's walking and/or by taking it out and putting it back in the pocket after consulting the time. It is obvious that the autonomy of these watches left something to be desired and it was often necessary to "help" the charging system to carry out its task.

Today in modern wristwatches the oscillating weight no longer exists. It is replaced by the more effective rotating mass in the shape of a circular sector. With each movement of the wrist, the mass rotates around its axis and, through a series of added gears, transmits its energy to the mainspring barrel. In order to avoid overloading or breakages due to excess charging, the spring is equipped with a device that limits the charging itself.

There are essentially two charging systems. They are:

Unidirectional - the rotor recharges the mainspring with useful rotation in one direction only, while in the other it spins idle.

Bidirectional - the rotor recharges with useful rotation in both directions, thanks to the inclusion of reversing gears.

As regards the time in which the watch is worn, its measurement does not give the definitive answer, as the complete recharging of the automatic also depends on the type of physical activity carried out by the owner. Simply put, it is all too obvious that an automatic on the active wrist of the tennis player while he carries out his activity will reach its maximum charge in much less time than the one that is on the wrist of an employee, stopped in front of his desk for 8 hours, or Almost...

Speaking of charging systems, it is also necessary to clarify and say that both choices regarding the systems have pros and cons. Bidirectional charging is certainly more effective than monodirectional charging because it uses every movement of the rotor in both directions, but it is more expensive to implement. It is not necessarily the best in every condition, otherwise it would have prevailed over the other (see the other now obsolete systems). In fact, given the same mass of the rotor, the tennis player in the previous example, with the bidirectional system, would wind his watch excessively, forcing the mainspring to slip frequently inside the barrel. With the one-way system, wear would be less, even if charging will always be quite energetic! So we have to ask ourselves: what type of charging will our tennis friend's watch have and what frequency will its movement have? It is important to know this if we want to get closer to how things actually go: If the balance oscillates at 36,000 A/h, i.e. the maximum frequency on the market today in automatic watches, we must say that, with both winding systems, the watch will certainly always be at its maximum “strength”. But the same watch, transferred to the wrist of the employee (or in any case of someone who doesn't do much physical activity), will instead be more likely to stop suddenly due to lack of energy and percentage-wise more with one system than the other! Wanting to ignore any further considerations, the simplest conclusion is: those who carry out a sedentary activity or little physical activity in general, with few wrist movements and want to use an automatic, to avoid having it frequently empty, it is best to focus on the movement that adopts bidirectional charging and whose balance wheel does not have a very high oscillation frequency. You will therefore have to look for this type of watch on the market, you will have to have the technical characteristics explained correctly and also guarantee its minimum autonomy.

We summarize the main technical variables that influence the correct winding of the automatic watch. They are:

  • Type of charging adopted
  • Type of movement and its complications (which absorb energy to function...)
  • Frequency/alternations of the balance wheel (the higher they are, the "harder" the mainspring is to recharge, to cope with the greater energy consumption)
  • State of wear of the movement, its correct lubrication, maintenance and any possible congenital defects

Knowing exactly the above, it is necessary to add variables that are not well determinable such as the type of activity of the owner of the watch, the frequency of movements and their acceleration, carried out by his wrist.

You also need to know:

  • That there is no automatic watch that can never run down
  • That every mechanical watch, even if the construction today is highly automated, can differ even slightly from its similar one but this can already make the difference

To complete the picture we will also mention the manual charging solution. We recommend proceeding in this direction (only if essential) with the utmost caution and we will explain the reasons. The automatic mechanism usually does not like this operation very much because the small gears responsible for reloading, which are widely sized in the manual, are much thinner in the automatic caliber, delicate and in any case not suitable for transmitting high torques of effort and for withstanding continuous stress caused by the manual rotation of the crown, also aggravated by the possible twisting of the winding shaft!

So be careful! It is necessary to avoid breakages or unpleasant blockages, which are always lurking. Their expensive repair will make you seriously think about whether it was really worth it! Therefore, we do not recommend using this system as usual.

To conclude, the final considerations:

  • It is common to own more than one automatic watch and it is certainly not usual or advisable to wear more than one on the wrist at the same time.
  • Furthermore, complicated automatics should not stop for long periods, given their complexity of adjustment after stopping. Generally, if the watch is stopped for a long time, it may subsequently experience greater difficulties in precise and stable running and also greater wear. This may at first sight seem impossible but, it must always be remembered that the movement, to function correctly, must have the lowest internal friction. To make this possible, manufacturers use special lubricants, the progressive deterioration of which, for example due to non-use, contributes to altering the general ride quality, without wanting to go into further details...

When someone tells that their automatic suddenly no longer runs with the original precision, due to discontinuous use, the probable causes are to be found in the above.

4. Automatic watch with date

In addition to the above, please note that rapid resetting of the date (where present) should be avoided if the clock indicates a time between 8.00pm and 2.00am. It is recommended to manually advance the time until the time indication is around 12:00pm, after which you can quickly adjust the date without running into problems.

5. Mechanical chronograph

In the case of mechanical chronographs, whether automatic or manually wound, it is always recommended to avoid operating the chronograph with the mechanism unloaded. If the chronograph is manually wound, set the time using the crown, put the crown back in the closed position and proceed with manual winding following the precautions explained in the previous chapters.

Once the watch is running and correctly indicating the time, the chronograph can be activated using the appropriate start/stop/reset buttons, variable in number and position based on the mechanics mounted on the chronograph. We strongly advise against repeatedly operating the chronograph with successive start/stop/reset cycles.

6. Watch/chronograph with screw-down crown/buttons

If the watch is equipped with a screw-down crown and/or buttons, it is obviously essential that after using the winding crown for winding and/or setting the time, the crown is correctly screwed back onto the tube and not remains in the open, unscrewed position.

The same note applies to the chronograph buttons, in the event that these are of the screwed type and therefore need to be first unscrewed before being operated.

7. Full calendar watch

If the clock is equipped with a complete calendar, with an indication of the day / month / number of the month, always pay attention when using the correctors/buttons that may be present for the setting, taking care to set the time first. the watch away from the automatic date change between 10pm and 2am (so let's say around 12pm).

8. Quartz watches

If the watch is equipped with a quartz movement, be sure to request battery replacement as soon as problems with keeping time or with the functioning of the watch appear. Do not leave the watch in non-functional conditions for a long time with the exhausted battery inside.

9. Mechanical watches with perpetual calendar

If the watch is equipped with a perpetual calendar, with indication of day / month / number of the month / ordinary or leap year, always pay attention when using the correctors / buttons that may be present for the setting, taking care to set first the clock time away from the automatic date change between 10pm and 2am (so let's say around 12pm).

10. Magnetism

Magnetic fields can be harmful to the correct functioning of watch mechanics. Normally we say that the running rate of a good watch is not significantly affected by magnetic fields that do not exceed 30 Oersted. Unfortunately, exposure for a brief moment is sometimes enough to magnetize the watch, with the result that its running suddenly becomes "disorderly" for no apparent reason!

Warning: the loudspeakers operating on a small radio device (recorders, portable televisions and similar) exceed 100 oersted, telephone earphones are at 40, small domestic electrical devices (dryers, whisks, razors, etc...) reach 40/50 near the engine manifolds... Fortunately, larger devices such as vacuum cleaners, radios, televisions, etc. are less harmful because they are better protected and their electromagnets are further away.

In summary: the most dangerous objects are those that possess permanent magnets and sources of open magnetic fields. Don't underestimate the magnetic closures on refrigerator doors, certain wardrobes or various pieces of furniture (which are often opened and closed with the hand in which you wear the watch, bringing it dangerously close if not even in contact with them). Even some children's toys are potentially dangerous! The magnetic fields of free magnets reach intensities of several hundred Oersteds, depending on their size and power.

It is clear at this point what and how many potential danger factors we subject (unwittingly or without knowing) our beloved watches to in daily life. Manufacturers are now aware of all this and both the materials used and the protections adopted in the case take it into account. Vintage watches, on the other hand, are easily affected by magnetization problems, with the exception of very rare and special cases.

11. Accelerations and impacts

Impacts and accelerations, sometimes very violent, are quite frequent and are often unconscious.

Let's think about when we applaud, clap our hands or fists, bump into other objects, when we carelessly place the watch on a piece of furniture, etc... Add to all this accidental falls and the picture gets worse.

Mechanical watches, especially vintage ones, are not designed to have efficient shock absorption systems. Maximum attention must therefore be paid to avoid risky situations due to accidental impacts and falls.