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Handle with care - unexpected ways to damage your watch

As we all know, watch repairs can be very expensive and take a long time. After spending a lot of money on a beautiful timepiece the last thing we want to do is have to pay a fortune having it repaired due to not giving it the correct care.

Of course, there are obvious ways that we can avoid doing damage to our watches, for example; don’t smash it with a hammer, don’t scrape it up a wall, and especially don’t feed it to your cat. However, not everything that can damage a watch is so obvious, therefore it is always important to thoroughly read through the watch’s instruction manual or do some online research before playing around with it. I know… boring right? But trust me it’s worth it.

Here at The Watch Village we want to help you protect your watch as best as possible, so we have devised a list the most common things that you may not be aware of that can damage your watch and how to prevent this from happening.

1) Adjusting the date, day and/or other functions at the wrong time

When setting the date, day and/or other functions of your watch, it is advised that the hands of the watch are not positioned anywhere between 9pm and 3am (this is known as the “danger zone”). Before changing any of the date/day/functions on the watch we recommend that you turn the watch hands to the 7 o’clock position (which we like to refer to as the “safe zone”).


When the watch is running as normal and the hands reach close to the midnight position, the date/day/function gear will begin to work and make its natural changeover (the day/date/functions gear for most watches will begin to engage at 9pm and does not fully disengage until 3am). It is advised that you do not force the watch to make any functional changes between this “danger zone” by using the quick set feature as it can cause misalignment to the date window and potentially break the watch’s internal mechanism.

When putting your watch on in the morning or after a long period of no use, you need to be aware of this potential problem if your watch has stopped whilst in the “danger zone”. Always make sure to advance the time to the “safe zone” first and then advance the day/date/functions setting.

How to prevent this.

Unlike Kenny Loggins, we don’t want to take you riding into the danger zone. So as a general rule of thumb, we like to advise that that before making any quick adjustments to the watch you bring the hands to the 6 o’clock position.

2) Cross threading the crown while screwing back into the case

A screw-in crown helps to maintain the added depth rating of the watch by keeping the stem snug and secure in the sealing gasket. After winding or setting a watch it is important to screw the crown back in correctly.


If the crown is not screwed back in properly or at the correct angle, this can allow water to get into the movement and dial. However, be careful not to screw the crown too tightly, take your time and avoiding using great force – this also applies when opening the crown. This will ensure that the crown does not get jammed or come out of place.

How to prevent this.

Think of the crown as a delicate creature, take your time with it. While a crown is being screwed in, it should rotate at least 1.5 full turns – up to 3. If the crown seems to stop quickly (under one full turn), do not force it anymore. Instead, unscrew the crown fully and attempt it again.

Bear in mind, you do not have to screw your crown in too tightly as it is possible that you can jam it to the point where it is almost impossible to unscrew.

3) Using a chronograph underwater

Most chronographs are water resistant to some extent, but it is advised not to use them underwater.


Whilst in their normal positions, the chronograph pushers should easily keep water out of the watch. However, when a pusher is pushed into the case it can compromise the seal and allow water to enter.

Additionally, some watches have screw-down chronograph pushers. If this is the case with your watch, be sure they are properly screwed in.

How to prevent this.

Simple. Don’t use your chronograph feature underwater. Timing underwater should be done with a uni-directional bezel rather than a chronograph.

4) Magnetisation

Have you ever stuck a paperclip to a magnet, then taken that paperclip off the magnet and stuck it onto the fridge? …no? You haven’t lived. Long story short, the paperclip becomes magnetised.

Like that paperclip, small metal parts in a watch movement can also become magnetised, particularly if you leave your watch on top of a stereo speaker or even an iPhone as the magnetic fields can transfer onto the small metal parts of the movement.

So what happens to the watch?

If your watch has become magnetised the escapement can begin to act quite erratically or even seize up. The escapement is what regulates the oscillations of the watch and helps it to keep proper timing. When the watch becomes magnetised it will usually start gaining or losing many seconds or minutes per day.

How to prevent this.

Avoid putting your watch on radios, speakers, electronic devices etc.

Some watches were specifically designed for high magnetic fields, such as the Rolex Milgauss and Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra. Watches that have a high anti-magnetic features are labelled with their Gauss rating. A Gauss is the unit for measuring magnetism. With the advancement of watch technologies, some brands are using alternative, non-magnetic, materials inside their movements.

5) Incorrectly aligning the pushers

Recessed pushers are not very common and many watch collectors are not even aware they exist. But they most definitely exist on many complicated and expensive timepieces such as perpetual calendars. Essentially, these flush-to-the-case pushers control adjustments of complications such as the date, day, month, leap year, and moon phase, etc.

Brands selling watches with recessed pushers generally deliver a stylus or push pin with them. Using the stylus, pressing the pusher all the way in and letting it come back all the way out will advance the watch by one day for example.


If the pusher is half-heartedly pushed in before it is let back out it can cause complications to get stuck in the middle of where they should be (between the 7th and 8th on a date, say). Sometimes this can be quickly corrected by advancing the watch a full 24 hours by rotating the hands, but in some cases it must go in for a costly repair.

How to prevent this.

Take your time. Push the recessed pusher all the way in and let it all of the way out.

6) Winding a watch on your wrist

Winding a watch on your wrist… what harm can that do? Well, its not life or death but it can actually damage your watch if done incorrectly.

Why? Wearing the watch whilst winding can cause you to accidentally pull the crown out or cause you to overwind. If you remove the watch before winding or setting, it is much easier to get a feel for the resistance and pull the crown out at the right angle.

Most watches have some resistance when the mainspring is close to being fully wound. However, some newer models do have a built-in feature that allows you to continuously wind without hurting the movement – check your manual first.

How to prevent this.

Pretty self-explanatory.

7) Improper storage

Just like us, a watch likes to feel safe and cosy. Improper storage of the watch can cause it to feel neglected.


Keeping the watch in extreme heat or cold can cause great damage to the movement and gaskets. Heat can dry out the lubricant, or cause it to congeal, creating friction on the gears. Quick transfers from excessive hot and cold temperatures can also cause the watch parts to expand and contract, leading to water vapour entering and causing damage.

None of this is nice for the watch to experience. After all, the watch can not pour itself a nice cold drink or a cup of tea to warm up or cool off.

How to prevent this.

Watches like to be kept at room temperature. Think of your watch box as the watch’s home. When your watch is not in use, it would rather be tucked up at home relaxing. Or if it is an automatic watch, perhaps treat it to a nice watch winder.

Hopefully this guide will help to save the lives of many watches and help you to save some money on what should be unnecessary repair costs.

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