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  1. #1

    Default Why might these watches be gaining time?

    Afternoon all,

    Now that I have three very nice pocket watches in very good condition I've discovered something odd, to me anyway. Two are Waltham and the third is an Elgin. One of the Walthams has just been repaired and serviced and the other two will be sent out for that this year. After taking one to the beach last week I decided to try a modest experiment. I wound all three and set them to the same correct time based on a new wristwatch that I wear on occasion. I've kept all three wound once a day and they have all run for 6 days now and I compare the times on all three each day. They all seem to be gaining time at exactly the same rate. All three are keeping exactly the same time but all three are now five minutes ahead of the wristwatch and another digital wristwatch that I wear nearly every day. Since I began this I have not carried any of them, they've all stayed in the drawer. Could this lack of motion be the cause for a consistent gain in all three? Some other common reason?

    Rick H.

  2. #2
    Registered User musicguy's Avatar
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    Jan 2017
    New York State

    Default Re: Why might these watches be gaining time? (By: f2shooter)

    I would think it to be coincidence.


  3. #3
    Registered user.
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    Apr 2015
    Lincs, UK

    Default Re: Why might these watches be gaining time? (By: f2shooter)

    I would have to say it can only be coincidence. If your watches are being exposed to harsh climate or electro/magnetic forces causing them to drift out of tune I would expect each to react differently. The only common thread would be the watches that you are using to check the timing, but for both of these to be out by 5 minutes would also be coincidence. Check to see if another family member isn't playing tricks on you

    5 mins in 6 days is not bad, but not good either, especially as you have had one of them recently serviced. I would expect a freshly serviced watch sitting quietly in a drawer to gain/lose no more than a few seconds each day depending on the quality of the movement.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Why might these watches be gaining time? (By: f2shooter)

    Yup, interesting coincidence...
    Maybe for all 3, whoever serviced them last didn't have a timing machine, so settled for a setting that seemed to be "about right or a maybe bit fast" in preference to "slow".

    Until I started collecting PWs I always assumed that "losing" would be far, far more common than "gaining". I know now that that isn't the case.

    I suggest testing them in different "positions" - dial-up, dial-down, stem-up, etc.

    You could also try putting them in a different part of the house, just in case there is a strong magnetic field or other environmental condition in the drawer.

  5. #5
    Registered user. pmwas's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    Sosnowiec, Poland
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    Default Re: Why might these watches be gaining time?

    Silly question perhaps - isn't it possible that you checked the time on your watch and accidentally set them all five minutes ahead? It happens from time to time
    I got they were all 5 minutes ahead checked after 6 days, but I admit I had a little trouble understanding how often you checked on the timing...

  6. #6
    Technical Admin Tom McIntyre's Avatar
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    Aug 2000
    Boston. MA USA
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    Default Re: Why might these watches be gaining time? (By: pmwas)

    You might expect them to run a little fast of their carry time when they are lying on their back all day. It would not be so if they were properly adjusted, but there is less friction when the watch is face up.
    Tom McIntyre Click me.
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    you won't have anything to laugh at when you're old.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Why might these watches be gaining time? (By: Tom McIntyre)

    pmwas I checked the timing each morning when each was wound. It is possible I set each one incorrectly because after I realized all were five minutes fast they all stayed exactly that fast. I'll have to try this experiment again and see where I went wrong. I've let all three stop for now.

    Rick H.

  8. #8
    Registered User
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    Dec 2001
    New Hampshire

    Default Re: Why might these watches be gaining time? (By: f2shooter)

    I am not surprised they all ran fast although setting 5 minutes fast is an easy error to make. When you get this corrected, I suspect they will still be a bit fast. Generally, watches especially pocket watches tend to go faster as they approach their intended service time. One way to spot a watch that went a long time without service is that its regulator is set to or beyond maximum slow. This is because most watches run fast in short motion which occurs as lubricants deteriorate.

    It is a rule of thumb tat when your watch starts running faster it is ready for a cleaning and lubrication.

    It is not always this way but it usually is.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Why might these watches be gaining time? (By: Dr. Jon)

    I have found that any mechanical watch that is sent through the Postal/shippers system needs a good de-magnetization when you get it back as they pass through all sorts high powered conveyors and some places possible x-rays so the easy fix is some times run it through a good de-magnetizer may help.

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