Watches & Resolutions: Time to Take the Old Timepiece in for a Service

(Photo: Clark & Company / Getty Images)

It’s an extraordinary thing, the modern wristwatch. One can pick one up for a few pounds, strap it on and be confident that, thanks to a tiny battery, a tiny microchip and an even tinier sliver of quartz, it’ll tell you the correct time to within a couple seconds, day after day, year after year. It’s an extraordinary little miracle disguised as an ordinary little machine.

But just as there are ‘clothes’ on the one hand and ‘tailoring’ on the other, there are watches… and there are watches.

The thing about the latter, whatever one may say about the fusion of beauty, utility and ingenuity, is that mechanical ones need servicing from time to time (every four or five years, as a general rule). All those cogs and jewels, wheels and springs, pins and escapements need a little TLC. By and large, the process takes a day or two and costs about a hundred pounds.

A little like taking one’s shoes in to be re-soled, it’s not a task that floats readily to the top of one’s to-do list. We would recommend, then, turning it into a small, private, twice-a-decade ritual.

There are many excellent watchmakers all over London, and of course the shop where one bought one’s watch should generally be the first port of call when the times comes for servicing. But with so many little expert shops to choose from, why not pick one according to geography?

One might, for example, make a booking for one person for lunch at Wiltons one Saturday in February; then, on the appointed day, pick a PG Wodehouse off the shelf, drop the watch off at David Duggan in Burlington Arcade ( and then potter over to Jermyn Street for a fine lunch and a glass or two of something red. One might find that one looks up from the world of Bertie Wooster from time to time and reflects on how nice it is, if only for a day or two, not to be watching the clock the whole time – however pretty its face might be.