Magnetism is a term that has been heard by any individual who has attended an elementary science class. However, what we don’t know is how this scientific occurrence can equate to a such an inconvenience for watch keepers. Magnetization can alter the very purpose of a watch – its ability to tell time precisely.
So, what if my watch becomes magnetized?
Magnetic interference can either cause your watch to move faster or slower. This is one of the most obvious effects of magnetization. This poses a huge problem because your watch would then reflect inaccurate time, may it be a couple of seconds late or in advance. This defeats the purpose of having a watch in the first place. It even makes measuring time unreliable. A magnetized watch won’t be able to accurately measure a certain number of time because of its changed pace. A watch may move faster than it should and will reflect that five minutes has passed when in fact, only four minutes of actual time has moved. Another unfortunate event caused by magnetization is making your watch stop running at all.
What causes it to be magnetized anyways?
Magnetization is generally caused by anything that has a magnetic field. That can include everything found in our homes – from cellphones, to clocks, to microwaves. However, these items generate a small amount of magnetic activity that places negligible harm on your mechanical timepieces. It is only when you come close to bigger magnets, such as MRI machines or hand-held security scanners in airports, when you notice your watches not behaving as they should. The closer you get to these strong magnets, the more your watch’s behavior alters.
But why do these magnets affect your watch? Keep in mind that the mechanism inside your timepiece consists of small metals. The piece that is greatly affected by magnetic interference is the balance spring, or hairspring. This is attached to the balance wheel of your watch, which controls how fast the wheels of the watch moves and affects the speed at which the hands move. A faulty balance spring means a faulty balance wheel, equating to inaccurate hand movements. Magnetization causes the coils of the balance spring to stick together. This shortens the spring, resulting in the watch to gain time (i.e. making the hands move faster than they should). The coils could be so stuck that the watch will stop running all together.
What can I do about it?
First, you have to know whether your watch has been affected by magnetic interference. This can easily be done at home if you have a compass. Placing your watch and the compass side-by-side, you’d know your timepiece has been magnetized if the compass needle moves. If the needle doesn’t move, then you have nothing to worry about.
After knowing that your watch is magnetized, you have two options – have it fixed by a professional watchmaker or do it yourself. Either way, your watch would need to go through demagnetization for it to function normally again. Demagnetization is a process of altering the electric current of a watch in order to remove its magnetic field. This will allow your watch to operate as it should. Professional watchmakers have their own equipment and can do the magnetization reversal in a couple of minutes. However, there are several brands of demagnetizers that allow watch owners to do the reversal on their own in the comforts of their own home.
All in all, magnetization will not lead to the death of your precious timepieces. Watch magnetization is a normal occurrence that has happened to many people. It brings trouble only because it affects your watch’s ability to tell time accurately. Watch magnetization brings inconvenience but people need not worry about long lasting effects because there aren’t any. To further ease your mind, it is fairly easy to have your watch fixed back to how it was. Have it fixed by a professional or do it by yourself. Either way, you won’t have to worry about ruining your timepieces. Your watches are timeless; and not even magnetization will take that away.