My Watch Is Running Fast! Is It Magnetized?

Watch Talk With Watch Gang

Through your time collecting watches, you may encounter a mechanical watch that you notice has a significant change in its timing. A watch that would typically run fast seconds per day will suddenly increase to hours per day. This is an indication that your watch may have somehow become magnetized. The article below discusses magnetized watches, its causes and how it can be addressed. 

So, How Does This Happen?

Without knowing, you are exposing your mechanical watch to the risks of magnetizing throughout your daily routine. Many everyday appliances and electronic devices produce magnetic fields, such as microwaves, refrigerators, computers and all speakers. In addition, there are a wide variety of devices used in the medical diagnostic fields that emit very strong magnetic fields. The strength of these fields varies widely, but they all can adversely affect your watch. When your watch is exposed to these fields, all of the metal parts of the watch become magnetized to some degree, including the watch’s balance spring, which is the main culprit for causing the timing issues related to magnetization. When the balance spring becomes magnetized it sticks to itself, which causes the watch to oscillate faster and causes the watch to run fast.

How Can I Tell If My Watch Is Magnetized?

Your watch is running minutes fast a day and you suspect that it may be magnetized, but is there a quick way that you can tell? Actually, there is! However, in order to check for the presence of magnetism in your watch, you will either need a compass or a special phone application that has been designed specifically to address this issue (Lepsi – Watch Magnetism).Checking for magnetism with either of these methods is quite simple and is outlined below:Using a Compass:
  • Set the compass flat on a table.
  • Hold your watch over the top of the compass.
  • If the presence of your watch makes the needle move on the compass, your watch is magnetized
Using the Lepsi App:
  • If you do not already have it, it can be purchased on iTunes for free (Apple only).
  • Setup the App to position the magnetic sensor on your phone (follow instructions).
  • Click start and wait 3 seconds Put your watch approximately 1 cm away from the sensor, without touching the screen.
  • A message will display “Magnetism Detected”, if you watch is magnetized, if not your watch is fine.

My Watch Is Magnetized, What Now?

Now that you have determined that your watch has been magnetized, you will now need to find a means for getting it degaussed (demagnetized). Fortunately, demagnetizing a watch is an incredibly quick process and easy to do! Generally, you have two options:

  1. Bring your watch to your watchmaker. Every watchmaker has demagnetizing equipment available in their shop and will be able to take care of your watch in a few minutes. The cost of this service is generally nominal or even free, depending on your relationship with the watchmaker.
  2. Buy your own equipment. Generally, you can buy your own demagnetizer online for less than $20 and just wait for it to arrive. The process of reversal is as simple as pressing a button for 10 seconds and then slowly lifting your watch off the device.

Are There Anti-Magnetic Watches?

In a nutshell - Yes, many! However, there are some differences in how they approach avoiding magnetism.Over the years, many brands have developed methods that help reduce the effects of magnetic fields on mechanical watches and prote. Watchmakers have devised two primary approaches to counteract magnetism:
  1. Protect the entire movement with an internal cage, made out of a very magnetically permeable material, such as soft iron to draw the magnetic field away from the watch movement. Since soft iron is easily magnetized, it doesn’t remain magnetized once the source of the magnetic field is no longer present. Therefore, it effectively remains as a reusable protection from recurring exposure to magnetic fields.
  2. Make balance springs and other parts from nonferrous (non-iron) materials, which are not easily magnetized. Since steel is a highly magnetic material, watchmakers have replaced steel balance springs with springs made from marterials such as Nivorox (owned by Swatch) and silicon.
If an anti-magnetic watch is something that you would be interested in exploring, some of the current leaders in the market are Sinn, Omega and Rolex. Of the three brands, Sinn has the most offerings and has the lowest pricing of the three.

(Photo Credit: Omega)

(Photo Credit: Rolex)

(Photo Credit: Sinn)

Okay, now you are armed with enough information to be dangerous regarding magnetized watches! So, the next time that your or a friend's watch is running fast, you will know how to identify and resolve this common problem.

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