If your watch is doing its job proper, you hardly discover its presence — you simply look at it now and again and it provides you the time. As lovely as that wealthy inexperienced dial on Ref. 5270 is, and as compelling because the calendar apertures on Ref. 5905 are, you’ll not be gazing lovingly at these all day lengthy. Loads is going on below that dial to maintain the watch going (no pun supposed, though in the event you noticed one there, good for you!) and, all too typically, we don’t take into consideration this. Well, that’s to say till the watch begins to lose or achieve time in an alarming approach, or to cease altogether. That is when you will want to expertise a elementary a part of the watch gathering expertise: servicing. We will go as far as to say that your journey as a collector goes to the subsequent stage the primary time it’s important to service your watch.
Having stated that, servicing timepieces tends to be ignored all too typically. This could be unimaginable for vehicles and even your property air conditioner, even supposing most individuals are usually not collectors of air conditioners! Somehow, there’s a sense within the gathering neighborhood that if nothing is flawed with the watch, you want by no means take into account servicing in any respect. Certainly, watches are typically fairly powerful devices that are likely to maintain ticking alongside, however even on the subject of quartz powered ones, servicing is essential.
You would possibly personal a Patek Philippe Twenty~4, which is splendidly constructed instrument, however the battery was not made by the watchmaker and can’t be thought-about in the identical approach. In different phrases, please keep in mind to often change your battery, even when the watch in query continues to be operating. Battery leaks can catastrophically harm a watch, past the purpose of no return. That covers all now we have to say about quartz watches, largely, as a result of mechanical watches are the category of timekeepers most in want of servicing as these are really meant to remain in service, theoretically eternally.
All Roads Lead to Servicing
This concept of watches serving a number of generations of householders is especially essential to Patek Philippe, which just lately invited choose press to tour its servicing services in Singapore. Patek Philippe’s regional subsidiary, Geneva Master Time, handles the majority of the model’s servicing wants at its 380 sqm Wheelock Place facility. Service is among the key pillars (values as Patek Philippe places it) of the model, so the enterprise of caring for watches which were bought is certainly taken very critically. It is properly price remembering that every one the 60,000 watches made by Patek Philippe yearly should finally discover their strategy to a service centre. In our current second the place demand far outstrips provide, this can be a sobering thought. You would possibly assume that this can be a given, however there are many manufacturers which are let down by their after-sales practices.
What is essential to know right here is that servicing requires certified specialists and might be fairly laborious. For instance, Patek Philippe says that it takes at the very least 200 hours to service a watch, on common; that works out to 5 weeks, roughly. The service centre representatives say that this period of time covers all of the bells and whistles, however just for essentially the most primary watches. Additional capabilities will take extra time, and even perhaps extra experience than is obtainable at this regional service centre. Patek Philippe sends all chiming watches, superior analysis timepieces and grand complications again to the manufacture in Geneva for servicing, for instance. All watches constituted of the Sixties and earlier are additionally despatched again to Geneva, in addition to any which may require specialised machining that’s unavailable right here.
For the needs of this transient story, we’ll solely be these watches whose actions that might be serviced on the Wheelock facility. This means each form of watch, from time-only all the way in which to manual-winding chronographs and perpetual calendars. All these watches, and quartz ones too (as talked about earlier) would require important upkeep. Upon receiving any given watch, 4 Technical Specialists will run a battery of processes, together with the next: diagnostics, battery alternative (if related), bracelet and strap adjustment; extracting details about the watch from the archives (Patek Philippe has data of all watches constituted of 1839); and setting the watch. Obviously, if the diagnostic doesn’t point out a particular downside, no intervention will happen (you might have despatched the watch in for sharpening, for instance, however the diagnostic will nonetheless be carried out).
The Whole Nine Yards
As for the complete service, it consists of the next, in line with the model: full disassembly and inspection of all elements; alternative of worn elements; cleansing, meeting, lubrication and calibration of the motion; adjustment of dial and arms; water-resistance take a look at; full testing and high quality management of the work as soon as completed. Once once more, repairs might be achieved if crucial and never as a matter after all. Similarly, sharpening is barely achieved if requested by the proprietor of the watch. Patek Philippe tells us that the watchmakers’ main concern is with the operating of the watch, and never in regards to the aesthetics.
Of course, actions differ in complexity however Patek Philippe has damaged down specifics for the servicing of easy automated calibres with 150 parts. Disassembling and checking parts (2.5 hours); assembling and lubricating parts (2.5 hours); regulating the actions (1.5 hours); and encasing (half-hour). We have tried our utterly unqualified arms at every of those steps on the service centre (and past), apart from casing, which now we have by no means touched.
We can confidently report that all of it takes the higher a part of a whole day — and that is with out the processes talked about above (diagnostics and such), as properly the act of truly figuring out and changing parts. In addition, we had the advantage of the watchmakers guiding us, together with on the service centre. If we solely had an instruction guide, illustrated or in any other case, it might take longer, and maybe not get achieved in any respect. Full disclosure: the actions we labored on on the service centre weren’t Patek Philippe actions however backyard selection Unitas pocket watch calibres.
While the meeting and disassembly of the actions, and oiling of the identical, was the spotlight of the tour, we had been most impressed by the sharpening actions on the service centre. There are two devoted specialists right here who work on sharpening instances, and every of them has greater than 20 years of expertise. This work is at all times achieved by hand, and takes so long as required. A gold case takes as much as 1.5 hours to shine, with the bracelet in the identical metallic taking as much as two hours. Platinum is by far essentially the most troublesome, with every case taking as much as 4 hours.
It is acceptable to finish with the phrases of Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern, explaining the significance of customer support. “We are satisfied that in our family-operated manufacture, the know-how required for servicing, repairing, and restoring our watches is simply as essential because the competence wanted to craft new watches. For this cause, we place nice emphasis on having this work carried out completely by watchmakers who’ve been educated and authorized by Patek Philippe.” In brief, your journey along with your watch merely begins if you take possession of it; the remainder is a lifelong relationship, which your youngsters will take up.
Servicing is an Institution
The Patek Philippe Service Centre in Singapore is one in every of solely a handful of such services on this planet, or it is going to be when Patek Philippe is finished streamlining its service centres, a few of that are operated by companions and retailers. As far as we are able to report, there are presently brand-operated service centres within the United States, Germany, France, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and Bangkok, other than the one in Singapore and Geneva after all. These centres act as hubs for his or her territories, and adjoining ones. The service centre in Singapore was final expanded in 2015, whereas the one in Bangkok was expanded final 12 months.
The imaginative and prescient of every centre is, to cite from Patek Philippe’s official assertion is to “assure excellence to each buyer anyplace on this planet for the service of all timepieces manufactured since 1839.” A noble and bold imaginative and prescient, to make sure, and the service centre may be very very like a miniature model of the manufacture itself. This brings us to a different approach during which the service centre in Singapore is distinguished.
One of solely 4 areas on this planet to accommodate a Patek Philippe Institute, the Singapore facility provides a coaching programme for watchmakers and different technicians and specialists. This features a full watchmaking apprenticeship course spanning two years, with a last stretch in Geneva itself that may see the apprentices create their very own watches. Along the way in which, they may even learn to make their very own instruments, as is conventional in Swiss watchmaking. This 12 months, 5 apprentices graduated from the programme, together with two Singaporeans. The different three Patek Philippe Institutes are in Geneva, New York and Shanghai.
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