Can my mechanical watch become magnetized?
The simple answer is Yes, and in some cases quite easily. Many watch repair centers will cite magnetism as their number one source of watch timing issues.
The good news is that in most cases the process and cost to demagnetize a mechanical watch are both minimal, and periodic demagnetizations can prove to be useful maintenance procedures to apply at home.
Mechanical watches can become magnetized from a variety of sources. Although the culprits are too numerous to list in full, here is a summary of the types of items and/or equipment that can generate magnetic fields sufficient to magnetize mechanical watches:
- Medical diagnostic equipment
- Most equipment in a medical setting
- Patient care and transport equipment
- Large monitors used for video, IT, diagnostic
- IT and other large computer/data center equipment
- Telecommunications switches and equipment
- Electrical equipment rooms
- Large speaker systems (or close proximity to smaller speakers)
- Large audio and video equipment
- Larger microwave ovens
- Security systems (including at airports)
- Frequent flying (exposure to higher altitudes)
- Very close and frequent proximity to cell phones, laptops, hard drives
How Do I Know If My Watch is Magnetized?
Many times, but not always, the watch will suddenly begin to keep very fast time. For example, you may notice that in one afternoon it has advanced one hour or more. In other cases when the exposure to magnetism is less, the timekeeping may not be "up to par" and the only way to truly know is to demagnetize the watch and document any immediate improvement in the timekeeping rate.
Aren't Some Mechanical Watches "Magnetic Proof"?
No. This term would imply that it is impossible for them to become magnetized.
Some mechanical watches are more "magnetic resistant" or "anti-magnetic" than others. For example, most mechanical watches are rated to a basis 4,800 a/M which provides a very basic level of magnetic resistance. A few watch companies, one of which is Sinn, do offer a number of models featuring technology which substantially increases the level of magnetic resistance to 80,000 a/M (for a list of such watches click here ). These watches can still become magnetized but offer far greater protection than standard models.
Can I Demagnetize a Watch? Where Do I Buy the Equipment? Is it Expensive?
There is an excellent YouTube video prepared by our friends at www.ofrei.com (good people to know in the watch tool and gadgets business). We invite you to spend a view minutes viewing their video to learn more.
Please note that as you watch this video, they will demonstrate several types of watch demagnetizers, and in some cases they show individual watch parts being demagnetized rather than the watch as a whole (they sell tools to both watch repair professionals and to watch enthusiasts). Professional watchmakers will often demagnetize individual watch parts when they disassemble a movement, but it is rarely necessary for a watch to be opened or taken apart to be demagnetized.
If you are considering the purchase of one of these tools, take a close look at the second item where the watch head is placed on the tool and a button is pressed to demagnetize. Note that this process may need to be repeated several times for optimal results, but this is an excellent, inexpensive and simple solution to watch demagnetization and offers potential noticeable improvements to the timekeeping accuracy.