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Thread: How often does a quartz watch need servicing!

  1. #1

    How often does a quartz watch need servicing!

    I bought my wife a Tag Heuer quartz aqua racer (menís version but wears very slim) over 10 years ago in a sale. Believe it or not it cost just £300. Anyhow, itís first battery died about 4 years ago, and as I just couldnít get the back off even with a case opener I sent it back to Tag, waited about a month and £180 later (for a battery change and service) it was back. A few weeks ago the battery died again and having checked I could open the case back myself I just got a new Renata battery (expiry date 2025!)which I fitted it last night. Compared to the fiddly battery clips on an old g shock 5600 which I changed the night before, it was an absolute doddle. Took apart the bracelet, cleaned it all up, silicone lubed the gasket and itís back in full working order. Wife is delighted, it took me about 30 mins all in and cost £2.27
    But my question regards the service element - I have another old quartz Tag in a drawer where the movement appears to have seized, how often should a quartz movement be serviced or do they just chuck the old one and put in new? Iím hoping the wifeís watch lasts another 3 years on this battery but have no interest in spending £100ís on it if the movement grinds to a halt. What are other peopleís experience of keeping an Ďexpensiveí quartz watch going? Iíve told her if she wants a new one when this one does die, Iím not spending £1500 -£1800 on a replacement quartz Tag, she can have a Seiko Diver and be happy with it (this current watch looks fine but has so many micro-dents and abrasions the case almost looks beadblasted!)


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  2. #2
    Craftsman
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    My wifeís Tag,lasted twenty years with just regular battery changes before a service was required.

  3. #3
    Master mycroft's Avatar
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    I don't know for sure but my suspicion is that in most cases if it stops then it's easiest to replace the whole movement on most quartz watches.

    Not long ago I changed the battery on my quartz Doxa Aquaman and clearly was my usuual hamfisted self, because when I put the back on and looked at it it was running... backwards!

    The cheapest and easiest solution was for the excellent Paul Walker to drop in a new movement - a Ronda 705 Swiss movement that cost less than £10 to buy from Cousins!

    Simon

  4. #4
    Master KavKav's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobDad View Post
    I bought my wife a Tag Heuer quartz aqua racer (menís version but wears very slim) over 10 years ago in a sale. Believe it or not it cost just £300. Anyhow, itís first battery died about 4 years ago, and as I just couldnít get the back off even with a case opener I sent it back to Tag, waited about a month and £180 later (for a battery change and service) it was back. A few weeks ago the battery died again and having checked I could open the case back myself I just got a new Renata battery (expiry date 2025!)which I fitted it last night. Compared to the fiddly battery clips on an old g shock 5600 which I changed the night before, it was an absolute doddle. Took apart the bracelet, cleaned it all up, silicone lubed the gasket and itís back in full working order. Wife is delighted, it took me about 30 mins all in and cost £2.27
    But my question regards the service element - I have another old quartz Tag in a drawer where the movement appears to have seized, how often should a quartz movement be serviced or do they just chuck the old one and put in new? Iím hoping the wifeís watch lasts another 3 years on this battery but have no interest in spending £100ís on it if the movement grinds to a halt. What are other peopleís experience of keeping an Ďexpensiveí quartz watch going? Iíve told her if she wants a new one when this one does die, Iím not spending £1500 -£1800 on a replacement quartz Tag, she can have a Seiko Diver and be happy with it (this current watch looks fine but has so many micro-dents and abrasions the case almost looks beadblasted!)


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    I know some will disagree with me but I think £180 for a battery change and a Ďserviceí (which the watch in all probability did not need) is nothing more than a rip-off!

  5. #5
    Master
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    I replaced the battery in my Apeks diver last night. Whilst I was online checking I had the correct battery etc... I happened to notice that the replacement movement for my watch is a Seiko / Epson VX42E and can be bought online for less than a tenner.

    This leads me to suspect like others, that in most cases its probably more economical to replace.

    I'm sure other items will need attention though such as seals and gaskets etc.... especially as they will deteriorate over time.

    Mike

  6. #6
    Grand Master
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    How long's a piece of string?

    Typically, a quartz watch will need servicing after around 10-15 years, that's based on my own limited observations. The lubricant eventually dries up and gets sticky, causing an increase in friction, until the watch ceases to run even with a new battery. Shorter battery life is an indication that the watch may need attention soon, the current needed to create each pulse of the seconds hand increases and consequently the battery life is reduced. If the circuit develops a fault it's either a new circuit or a new movement, circuits are hard to source separately thesedays which is a shame because usually they're not hard to replace.

    I got caught out with my wife's Omega Constellation, bought in 2009 as a 50th birthday present. Bought from a grey dealer, it may have been a couple of years old when we got it, I can`t remember, but after a couple of battery replacements it gave up the ghost in 2017 and began stopping intermittently. This happened a few days before we set off on a cruise holiday, she wanted to take the watch so I ended up servicing it very quickly before we left. A complete stripdown, clean and re-oil had the watch running fine and I should be OK for a good few years.

    On some watches, where the movements are cheap to replace , it makes more sense to fit a new movement. However, I`m always wary of the 'loosepack' movements that are sold by Cousins and the like, or new movements bought off ebay etc, as precaution I end up stripping and oiling them to ensure all's well, so it sometimes makes sense to strip and oil the original instead. Another pitfall is the height, some movements were sold with different hand heights and sometimes it's not clear which one is needed. If the seconds wheel, cannon pinion and hour wheel all have to be swapped over it defeats the object of buying a new movement.

    Another reason quartz watches need servicing is the ingress of dirt during battery swaps, it only takes a tiny fibre or spec of dirt on the train wheels and the watch will stop. Certain ETA movements have a very fragile coil which doesn't take kindly to being messed with, touch it with a metal tool and it'll be enough to kill it.
    Last edited by walkerwek1958; 3rd April 2020 at 13:06.

  7. #7
    Master mycroft's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KavKav View Post
    I know some will disagree with me but I think £180 for a battery change and a ‘service’ (which the watch in all probability did not need) is nothing more than a rip-off!
    I would have to agree, however it did apparently go for 6 years on a single battery and if it went back to Tag presumably it will have been tested to its depth rating? You don't get that with Timpsons or doing it yourself...

    Adds hastily... not that I'm suggesting anyone should ever go to Timpsons for a battery change...!

    Simon

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by RobDad View Post
    But my question regards the service element - I have another old quartz Tag in a drawer where the movement appears to have seized, how often should a quartz movement be serviced or do they just chuck the old one and put in new?
    A small selection of the quartz watches where I have replaced the movements.



    So long as one accepts and works within ones limitations, and appreciates that these are done purely for the challenge (i.e. I have no pretenses to be anything other than a ham-fisted fettler!) I find replacing quartz movements and getting a watch back up and running to be one of the most straight-forward, satisfying and pleasurable aspects of this hobby.

    With a few basic tools, a bit of care, and the (often minimal) outlay on a replacement movement, I find a watch that I have resurrected ends up being far more "personal" than a new watch bought outright.

    So my suggestion with regards to the Tag would be "why not give it a go"? You may find it is easier than you think!

  9. #9
    Just did a little research. Tag use either an ETA or Ronda quartz movement. Both movements are excellent, but neither cost a fortune. I used to own a tag myself, and once had the battery changed, it cost £80 including a re-seal and pressure testing. Pressure testing is a waste of time unless you are actually using it for diving. I then sold the watch, but changed the battery for the guy who bought it from me. The battery cost me less than £1, and took five minutes to replace, including a new seal and a bit of silicone. In answer to the question, no, the movements don't need servicing, and if they did it would be cheaper to replace them.

  10. #10
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    TBH I've never had a quartz watch pack up and I've still got a couple I bought new in the '70's.

    Hummers? Well that's a different kettle of fish.
    Cheers,
    Neil.

    My Speedmaster website:

    http://www.freewebs.com/neil271052

  11. #11
    Grand Master
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    Have to smile at the previous comment regarding pressure testing and diving. If a seal does fail through age the watch will leak water if it gets splashed, it doesn`t need to be subjected to significant water pressure to let water in. Trust me, this is fact not conjecture and it's based on my own experience. Fortunately modern seal materials don't deteriorate like the rubbers used in the 60s and 70s, but I`ve seen two cases where the white plastic (hytrel) glass seals have failed, I suspect that was due to poor quality materials.

    The most likely cause of leaks following battery changes is the caseback seal becoming dislodged or not locating properly. On snap-back cases they can get nicked by a case knife when prising the back off, this is obvious from visual inspection and it's something to be aware of.

    Replacing movements is fine provided replacements are available, but with ETA restricting supply of movements that situation won't last much longer. Generally, provided the circuit is still functioning OK the movement can be serviced, but stripping down a quartz movement isn't an easy task for a novice.
    Last edited by walkerwek1958; 3rd April 2020 at 16:54.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by willie_gunn View Post
    A small selection of the quartz watches where I have replaced the movements.



    So long as one accepts and works within ones limitations, and appreciates that these are done purely for the challenge (i.e. I have no pretenses to be anything other than a ham-fisted fettler!) I find replacing quartz movements and getting a watch back up and running to be one of the most straight-forward, satisfying and pleasurable aspects of this hobby.

    With a few basic tools, a bit of care, and the (often minimal) outlay on a replacement movement, I find a watch that I have resurrected ends up being far more "personal" than a new watch bought outright.

    So my suggestion with regards to the Tag would be "why not give it a go"? You may find it is easier than you think!
    Awesome collections

  13. #13

    How often does a quartz watch need servicing!

    Quote Originally Posted by th6252 View Post
    Awesome collections
    Thanks!

    TBH other than the Victorinox and the Scurfa I doubt thereís any watch here that cost more than £40, and other than the two G10ís the remainder were probably under £15. The replacement movements had to be bought, but the fun they gave me in getting them working was more than worth the financial outlay.

    Strangely the two Smith & Wessons are probably the watches I wear the most - tritium hands that work so much better in the dark than regular lume (one needed a replacement minute hand tube from a duff Nite watch), tough as old boots, and if they end up being scrapped they will owe me nothing. In both cases I replaced the regular crystals with sapphire. Itís quite liberating really.

  14. #14
    Craftsman
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    Quote Originally Posted by willie_gunn View Post
    A small selection of the quartz watches where I have replaced the movements.



    So long as one accepts and works within ones limitations, and appreciates that these are done purely for the challenge (i.e. I have no pretenses to be anything other than a ham-fisted fettler!) I find replacing quartz movements and getting a watch back up and running to be one of the most straight-forward, satisfying and pleasurable aspects of this hobby.

    With a few basic tools, a bit of care, and the (often minimal) outlay on a replacement movement, I find a watch that I have resurrected ends up being far more "personal" than a new watch bought outright.

    So my suggestion with regards to the Tag would be "why not give it a go"? You may find it is easier than you think!
    I agree with your comments about finding satisfaction with changing your own movements.
    I changed the movement in my Tag Heuer F1 alarm this week and enjoyed doing it.
    The movement, an ETA, was £57 from HS Walsh and more expensive than the average Tag movement but somebody on Ebay wanted £170 for the same one.
    Getting all the right tooling is essential but if you collect it over the course of a couple of years it doesnt seems so expensive.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by walkerwek1958 View Post
    On some watches, where the movements are cheap to replace , it makes more sense to fit a new movement. However, I`m always wary of the 'loosepack' movements that are sold by Cousins and the like, or new movements bought off ebay etc, as precaution I end up stripping and oiling them to ensure all's well, so it sometimes makes sense to strip and oil the original instead.
    Paul

    I meant to ask you about this yesterday when you originally posted.

    How likely is it, do you think, that those loose pack movements have been hanging around - or been exposed to the elements - for long enough to degrade sufficiently to need re-lubricating?

    Iíve never really thought about it before, but I can absolutely see the logic in what you say. Most of the replacement movements Iíve bought have been cheap - £20 or less - so I havenít worried whether they were loose-packed or sealed. Based on your comments I might have to think about it more in future.

    Sadly I donít have the necessary skills to strip and reassemble a movement.....well, the reassemble bit certainly, as a number of disassembled movements would prove!

  16. #16
    Craftsman Curtis's Avatar
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    My wife's Omega quartz had a full service, strip down, clean and lube after 15 years. cost £250

  17. #17
    Master
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    My quartz SMP 300 is just over 8 years old and, judging by the last battery change, will need a new battery towards the end of this year.

    From Paulís, Walkerwek, previous responses to similar posts Iím probably going to have it serviced at the same time. Might be a little early but I tend to be overcautious with my watches and I wear this one a lot.

  18. #18
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeremyO View Post
    My quartz SMP 300 is just over 8 years old and, judging by the last battery change, will need a new battery towards the end of this year.

    From Paulís, Walkerwek, previous responses to similar posts Iím probably going to have it serviced at the same time. Might be a little early but I tend to be overcautious with my watches and I wear this one a lot.
    I think thereís little benefit in servicing a quartz watch before it starts showing signs of shorter battery life.

  19. #19
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by willie_gunn View Post
    Paul

    I meant to ask you about this yesterday when you originally posted.

    How likely is it, do you think, that those loose pack movements have been hanging around - or been exposed to the elements - for long enough to degrade sufficiently to need re-lubricating?

    Iíve never really thought about it before, but I can absolutely see the logic in what you say. Most of the replacement movements Iíve bought have been cheap - £20 or less - so I havenít worried whether they were loose-packed or sealed. Based on your comments I might have to think about it more in future.

    Sadly I donít have the necessary skills to strip and reassemble a movement.....well, the reassemble bit certainly, as a number of disassembled movements would prove!
    Short answer.......Iíve no idea! However, I always question why theyíve ended up as Ďloosepackí, once theyíve been removed from sealed packing theyíre prone to ingress of dirt and degradation of lubricant. They may gave been hanging around for years, thatís why I prefer to strip and re- oil them, I donít want watches Iíve fixed coming back to me with problems.

    Quartz movements arenít the best starting point for developing stripdown/ rebuild skills, I learned that the hard way in 2011!

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