Your watch is a sophisticated piece of machinery, so once in a while it’s going to need service. This type of regular service is known in the business as a “complete watch overhaul”, although this term isn’t entirely accurate. It’s more like a ‘tune-up’ than anything else.
Like a luxury car, fine watches need regular maintenance to function their best. How often you need your watch overhauled depends on how often you wear it. If you wear it regularly, then three to five years would be the recommended time interval between overhauls for most watches. If you don’t wear your watch as often and you store it properly, you may be to go longer between overhauls. If you’re not wearing the watch regularly, however, you should at least wind and run the watch monthly. This is to keep the parts lubricated—a watch has oils inside that can dry out.
If you have a water-resistant watch that you wear in the water or take into the shower, you likely should get your watch serviced more often. Every two years, the watch should at least be tested to ensure the water resistance is not in danger of being compromised. This type of watch has an O-ring rubber gasket that can crack, and screw-down threads that can develop problems. Regular servicing is imperative to ensure that water doesn’t get into the internals of the watch.
If your watch has grand complications or tourbillons, you may also consider getting your watch overhauled more frequently. More gears inside the watch mean more friction, and more points that need regular lubrication. This is especially true if your watch is particularly complicated. Minute repeaters, perpetual calendars, and split-second chronographs are much more complex than standard watches, with many more parts inside. These extra parts are thin and tiny, thus can easily become damaged if their lubrication dries out. If metal parts come into contact without lubrication, the friction wears the metal down. As replacement parts are very expensive, it’s very important to have the watch serviced watch regularly—every three years if worn regularly, and every five years if worn occasionally.
So, there you have it! With regular maintenance and care, you can keep your watch running for a very long time, and avoid a lot of costly repairs.