Goal: $300, Received: $305.00 (102%) Contribute Now
Donate whatever you can or Join the 14,000 other NAWCC members for only $80 (plus $10 for hard copy publications). Check it out here.




NOTICE Notice: This is an old thread. The last post was 1201 days ago. If your post is not directly related to this discussion please consider making a new thread.
Page 1 of 7 12345 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 102
  1. #1
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    5

    Default pocketwatch cleaning?

    I've read on here that one should be able to get a pocketwatch
    cleaned/oiled for between $50 - $150. I emailed a guy here
    in Newton, MA and he quoted me ballpark of $175 to $275.
    Can anyone provide a few recommendations in the greater Boston area
    that are a little more reasonable? Tia

  2. #2
    Registered User doug sinclair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta
    Posts
    14,368
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: Xena)

    Every watchmaker knows what his work is worth! If you value your watch, do NOT go for the lowest quote! Half a job is worth half the price. If possible, let the shop you emailed have a look at the watch. Most shops won't quote unless they can examine the watch. If pressed for a quote, it only stands to reason they will cover their butt by quoting on the high side. Get several recommendations if possible, then have the watch checked and competitive quotes given. Prices are likely affected by the locality.

  3. #3
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Westminster. MD
    Posts
    2,390

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: doug sinclair)

    My automobile mechanic charges $80.00 per hour for his labor time. How long do you think it takes to disassemble, clean, polish pivots, reassemble, oil and regulate a watch? $175 seems very low to me. I know I can't do one in less than about three or four hours.

  4. #4
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: Dave B)

    Thanks for the responses. I sent several close up pics of the movement and thought
    that a cleaning for it might not be difficult to quote since he's probably cleaned
    many of them so should be aware of the time involved.
    I figured it took several hours or more and I have no problem paying
    someone what the time is worth but I also know.... In most any line of work, there are always
    old school/old timers out there doing their thing on the side with no overhead, and who know
    their stuff and who charge a lot less than what the younger newbs charge. Folks like this are
    out there so I was hoping for maybe a reference in the boston area. I'll keep my eyes open
    and ask around. Not in any hurry to jump on the first shop I found either.
    Last edited by Xena; 06-21-2009 at 04:57 AM.

  5. #5
    Registered user. Scott Erholm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Bozeman, Montana (Southwestern Montana)
    Posts
    213

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: Xena)

    Now c'mon... for most American watches it takes maybe 10 minutes to disassemble them. You can't really count the time in the cleaning machine or ultrasonic, although that is overhead which much be paid for in some way. Then to peg-out all the jewels, inspect for worn or broken parts, oil and reassemble is probably a half-hour for and experienced person. Then time it and regulate it, which takes another few minutes on the timing machine.

    So grand total, I'd say an hour's labor, plus the overhead of the equipment. I think I'd be concerned if the fee was $50, unless it was from a little old retired watchmaker who just did it on the side. Even then, I'd probably feel guilty about paying so little. But $175 I think around $100 - $125 would be more reasonable.

    Now of course, we're talking about a straight-forward cleaning. If there's a cracked jewel that needs replacing, or excessive endshake in a staff, or some other repair or labor-intensive adjustment, then that would obviously incur a higher cost.

    I think there are even members here who would perform such a service. I myself am too much of an amateur to be trusted with someone else's watch, but there are very experienced folks here who are quite reliable. Xena, you don't have to have your watch serviced locally, unless you really want to deal with a person face-to-face. It only costs $5-6 to send a watch fully insured, so we're talkin' $12 round trip.

    There's a few in The Mart that I see. Who here services watches professionally or on the side for extra money?

  6. #6

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: Xena)

    Quote Originally Posted by Xena View Post
    I've read on here that one should be able to get a pocketwatch
    cleaned/oiled for between $50 - $150. I emailed a guy here
    in Newton, MA and he quoted me ballpark of $175 to $275.
    Can anyone provide a few recommendations in the greater Boston area
    that are a little more reasonable? Tia
    Xena,

    After our good members in this forum give you their take on this question, you might ask the moderator to move your question to the Watch Repair forum.

    Robert

  7. #7
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    1,215

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: Robert Sweet)

    For the automotive field labor runs the gamut from 28-75+ dollars depending on what shop you go to. Is a GM mechanic any less qualified to work on a car than a Lexus mechanic, no not at all and there will be a labor costs difference between GM and a Lexus dealer. I've dealt with very good watch repair guys that did not chop off your arm for payment and some that chopped off your arm and still did a crappy job so price is no indication of the quality of job as long as someone doesn't quote you 5 bucks of something. Sometimes I have had to switch watch guys over the years, because of death, retirement, job transfers etc but usually when I find a guy I look at his qualifications, send one of my less valuable watches to get it cleaned, when it comes back I check, does it run right, does it looked hacked, are screws or anything missing or not installed correctly. Going back to cars, some people can do wonders in repairing cars and charge you 80 buck per hour labor and others can do wonders with a car and only charge you 35 bucks labor, labor cost does not always mean the quality of the work as long as it is within reason. And Xena the range mentioned is what I pay, for my Elgin 270 that look like it was smoked in a smoke house, I paid $85 total with shipping back for a clean/oil, for my 18s 21J Vanguard I paid $115, both watches came back running better, looking better and no indication of "foul play/workmanship", if someone wants to argue that I should have paid 2x that and it would have been a better clean/oil job I really doubt that would have been the case.
    Last edited by 49stude63; 06-21-2009 at 09:00 AM.

  8. #8
    Registered User doug sinclair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta
    Posts
    14,368
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: 49stude63)

    ,I recently had a pocket watch brought to me that the customer indicated had been at another shop for six months. The customer was referred to me by a mutual acquaintance. He really wanted the watch fixed. The other shop claimed they couldn't get the parts. It didn't NEED parts. It needed someone who could diagnose the problem, and who knew how to fix it! For me it was a routine repair, and I called him in a week to tell him the watch was ready. He was speechless!
    I started learning this craft back in the days when the prized collectibles we cherish today were every day items that people used, every day. We learned our trade on these items. We acquired the tools, the acumen, the respect, and the patience to cope with these watches. These are the components that are often lacking in the repair trade today. With more and more watches on more and more wrists and in more and more pockets, and fewer and fewer people around to service these watches, the skill set in use today is different to what it was all those years ago. Shops today most often won't turn down an antique, hoping what it needs will fall within their limited range of capabilities.

    Today, a lot of modern shops have to rely on huge volumes of repairs that they can pump out with a minimum of labor content. Transplant the dial and hands to a replacement movement, clean the case, repair done. They might pump out six repairs, or more, in the time it takes to properly service an antique. An antique messes up their production.

    There is a local "high production" shop that would love me to continue bailing them out after they give up on an antique. I used to clean up their messes until I took the cure. I don't apologize for what I charge because I am often a last resort shop that has to salvage what's left. Want a cheap repair? Go ahead, I'm waiting to bail you out! It will be a fair price but it won't be cheap!

  9. #9

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: doug sinclair)

    It appears again that we are trying to standardize a watch cleaning sevice on a specfic amount.. In the end the customer needs to feel that what they received was a good value.. If one service is done like Doug's, great job, and finished in week and you are completely satified he charges you X..The 2nd job is done with the same quality results and takes 9 months, but is $50 less,what is that worth? To some a lot, to others not much.. Pick a repair person on qualites that apply to your values.. Ask a lot of questions, but make the price question toward the end of the list.. Watch repair people are alot like Dentists, you need their services, sometimes just a cleaning, and sometimes the big extraction.. but you also need to feel comfortable with them..

  10. #10

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: doug sinclair)

    Xena, A pocketwatch overhaul (cleaning/oiling/adjustment) routinely includes installing a new mainspring. Only about a year ago, mainsprings cost in the $5-7 range each. In the past year, prices have skyrocketed. Today a mainspring can cost in the range of $50/each. I got several a couple of months ago for $25 each. I thought it was a bargain.

    Those quoting a $50 cleaning can't be changing a mainspring.

    The bottom line is that you mostly get what you pay for. If you pay bargain basement price you will get bargain basement work.

    Tom

  11. #11

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: Tom Huber)

    I don't know I used to hear quotes all over the board, and some were really high. I finally took the time to learn to do it myself but I'm not about to work on someone else's stuff. I guess the cost would depend entirely on the complexity of the project at hand. A simple disassembly and cleaning with a watch with no worn parts obviously would be the cheapest. For me it might take two or three hours, but I've done quite a few especially recently with this new cleaning machine I got from a retired watchmaker.

  12. #12
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    1,215

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: man114)

    I remember when I was in college at the University of Tenn. and I wore my dad's pocket watch all the time and one night I came back to my door room and took my pants off my watch fell out and broke the balance staff and I took it to a Seiko/Rolex jeweler/repair service and had the staff replaced and paid a hefty fee for that service at that time (1978) and then when I came back home I took the watch to the guy who had fixed it for me, old jeweler in his late 60's and asked him to look it over since it didn't run quite right. When I went to pick it up he ask "what hack did you let fix this watch?" and I told him what happened and he charged me 1/2 what the other guy did and did twice as good repairs (it currently still runs fine). So again I don't always equate higher service charges as an indication of the quality of work.

  13. #13

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: 49stude63)

    It is true that you sometimes do not get what you pay for. You very seldom get more than what you pay for.

    It takes me three hours to do a pocket watch without problems. Only about 20 minutes of this time is on a cleaning machine, when I can be working on another watch. Much of the time is inspecting each part and cleaning jewel holes.

    Of course, if there are problems, then it can take much longer. Sometime I spend hours just looking for a jewel to replace a broken one in a vintage watch. Sometimes I have to make a part, that is after I have contacted all my friends asking them if they have a part. I spend many hours at marts looking for vintage parts so I shall have them on hand when I need them.

    Oh yes, a mainspring now costs in excess of $40.

    I do not repair watches professionally. There is not enough money in it. If you want to see what it costs to do the job really right take a look at http://www.rgmwatches.com/repair.html

    Don

  14. #14
    Registered User doug sinclair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta
    Posts
    14,368
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: Don Dahlberg)

    "There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." John Ruskin.

  15. #15

    Default Re: pocketwatch cleaning? (By: Don Dahlberg)

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Dahlberg View Post
    It is true that you sometimes do not get what you pay for. You very seldom get more than what you pay for.

    It takes me three hours to do a pocket watch without problems. Only about 20 minutes of this time is on a cleaning machine, when I can be working on another watch. Much of the time is inspecting each part and cleaning jewel holes.

    Of course, if there are problems, then it can take much longer. Sometime I spend hours just looking for a jewel to replace a broken one in a vintage watch. Sometimes I have to make a part, that is after I have contacted all my friends asking them if they have a part. I spend many hours at marts looking for vintage parts so I shall have them on hand when I need them.

    Oh yes, a mainspring now costs in excess of $40.

    I do not repair watches professionally. There is not enough money in it. If you want to see what it costs to do the job really right take a look at http://www.rgmwatches.com/repair.html

    Don
    I think you do have to do some research when you need a watch repaired.
    If you had a rare classic car that you wanted to have restored, you wouldnt' take it to the corner service station. And if you had a Chevy that was just your daily driver and needed a tune up, you wouldn't take it to a place that specialized in high-priced foreign luxury cars.
    The same holds true with watches, there are rare and/or complicated watches that only a few specialized watchmakers should work on and you will pay a premium. There are also many common watches that can be worked on by many watchmakers for a lot less money.
    Do your reseach and ask some questions.

Similar Threads

  1. Cleaning cases... what is the bestway?
    By blood sweat and gears in forum Clock Case Restoration and Repair.
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 09-18-2006, 01:27 PM
  2. Your opinion on the necessity of cleaning a movement.
    By Tom Kloss in forum Clock Repair
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 08-29-2006, 02:41 AM
  3. Info on Lady Elgin pocketwatch
    By StuartB in forum American Pocket Watches
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 03-24-2006, 09:59 AM
  4. Black Chelsea ships clock - many take apart & cleaning questions
    By Cathy in Hawaii in forum Clock Repair
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: 03-25-2005, 06:02 PM
  5. pocketwatch/wristwatch - Girod
    By Grant Perry in forum American Pocket Watches
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 10-03-2002, 09:22 AM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •