Somebody answered this on a different question:

All mechanical watches need to be maintained properly. Every year or two they should be taken to a watchmaker for a service. This will include lubricating the watch, checking the bearings, for signs of wear and checking the seals within the watch to ensure their specified level of water tightness.

Other than being fascinated with old-timey watches and their mechanical beauty, I actually bought my mechanical pocket watch (quite recently) for the purpose of not having to go to some store regularly to have the batteries changed. I know there are "kits" you can buy to do it yourself, but after watching instructions on how to perform that, I got convinced that I didn't want to risk damaging my watch by "doing surgery" on it like that, not to mention it's yet another thing that eats batteries and the sheer stress of knowing that it has to be done at some point. I much prefer the idea of mechanically winding up the watch daily or when it's needed instead.

But now, according to this person, even my mechanical pocket watch has to be "maintained" with me being required to go to some store/watchmaker (not even sure if these exist at all where I live anymore...), even though it has no battery or electronics. I expected this thing to be going forever as long as I wind it up, possibly breaking after many, many years of constant and heavy use.

If I were to follow the maintenance recommendations for things, I would do nothing other than maintain my stuff all day. Is this really necessary? What would cause such a "closed" system of physical objects to require somebody inspecting and fiddling about with it?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The Fundamental Law of Advice: "Never ask a barber if you need a haircut". $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Commented May 16, 2021 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ Every morning, when you are enjoying your coffee, go to time.gov and set your watch (if it is "very" far off) if it is important to you. After all most of us have phones, whose time is set by the cell towers, and our phone alarms and reminders that we set do fairly well. You could also get a self-winding watch if you wanted. $\endgroup$
    – Jim Clark
    Commented May 16, 2021 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ ...what would cause such a "closed" system of physical objects to require somebody inspecting and fiddling about with it? Answer: Job security. $\endgroup$
    – Jim Clark
    Commented May 16, 2021 at 14:04
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Sensible people carry out preventative maintenance (on cars, lifts, pumps, electric toothbrushes...) to reduce or avoid the inconvenience of breakdowns. Your choice... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented May 16, 2021 at 18:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ it certainly depends on the watch itself. There are plenty of high-end mechanicals (new and antique) designed more for "classiness" than utility, so rather like a British automobile, need lots of regular maintenance just to keep running. Others, such as inexpensive Timex windups, may lose or gain minutes/week but otherwise will run forever or until you hit them with a hammer . $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2021 at 12:30

1 Answer 1


Every mechanical system will wear out. What you will find is that over time your mechanical watch will become more and more inaccurate until it stops working altogether.

No, it doesn't have to be maintained every two years, but it likely won't last a decade without needing service.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.