How much do you care about the accuracy of your mechanical watches?

How much do you care about the accuracy of your mechanical watches?

Over dinner a watchmaker and I both agreed that as long as a mechanical watch isn’t gaining or losing too much time, we don’t really measure the accuracy of our watches. Rolex expects their modern watches to be plus or minus two seconds a day. 

Photo by Millenary Watches

When I brought my Submariner to Rolex Service Center to get a broken bezel click spring fixed, they recommended a full service because my watch was not keeping time within those specs. I declined the full service as I was pretty sure that the watch was still within plus-or-minus 10 seconds a day, which is good enough for me. In reality my watch was probably running about five seconds fast per day.

I get why Rolex adheres to such stringent standards, it’s the cornerstone of their brand. What is the right expectation for accuracy?

Some watch collectors who are obsessed with accuracy and own timegraphers. This breed of enthusiast may even own the tools to regulate their movements so they are within a certain range of accuracy. To me that type of careful control takes too much time out of simply enjoying and wearing watches.

Photo by Millenary Watches

Sometimes I will set my watch to match, but after that I don’t worry too much about its timekeeping. I might be lucky, but most of my watches keep pretty good time. 

In the battle of accuracy, Rolex’s Superlative Chronometer status offers plus or minus two seconds a day, which is pretty amazing, Seiko and Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive movement promises accuracy within a fraction of a second per day. 

Photo by @rolex_and_luxury_watches

I understand that striving for top-notch accuracy with mechanical watches is a worthy challenge, but under 10 seconds of deviation per day is amazing for such an intricate machine. Hodinkee’s Jack Forster covered this topic in an extensive article that is worth a read.

The watchmaker I was discussing this topic with said he will generally get a sense of which watches are running slow or fast in his collection. Accordingly he will set his watches after they’ve stopped either 10 seconds fast or 10 seconds slow and move on with his day.

I wear my MONTA Oceanking regularly and will only notice it running a minute or so fast after weeks of wearing it. This means it’s pretty accurate and probably more accurate than my Submariner at this time. I simply reset the Oceanking about once a month or whenever I notice it is running a little fast.

Photo by @anglo_irish

This is not to say I do not enjoy super accurate watches. I just relegated that role to my solar and atomic time-synced G-Shock and my quartz Grand Seiko, which is rated to plus or minus 10 seconds per year. I’ll use these watches as a reference for my mechanical watches and when I want to enjoy very precise timekeeping. 

Where do you stand on expectations for accuracy for your mechanical pieces? Let us know in the comments below or on Instagram.

Find a great strap for your very accurate Rolex Submariner Date here.

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