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“Avoid hard knocks.” Seems obvious, but what does it really mean?

  1. M'Bob

    M'Bob Aug 1, 2020

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    A number of watch company instructions advise to “avoid hard knocks” to one’s timepiece. I was thinking that it’s hard to get a sense of how fragile, or robust these things are.

    One would guess that the typical “hard knock” is dropping it on the floor when it slips out of one’s hand. So what typically happens that’s of concern? Beyond the possibly of external damage, is it usually that a pivot will beak, or the hairspring will tangle?

    For instance, I had a cal. 321 Speedmaster on, wheeled around, and rapped the crown bluntly when it caught on the edge of a metal door. No damage to see, but again, maybe inside? And is direction of the blow important? Thanks for sharing your experiences.
     
  2. MRC

    MRC Aug 1, 2020

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    To my mind it's Cover-Our-Asses advice from Legal. You don't see a knock in the distance as it approaches covered in HiVis and daylight running lights. You turn round and bump!. Only time I'm particularly careful is with new eye-glasses because the distortion of straight lines, such as door frames, will have changed. It's particularly bad if going from contact lenses to glasses.

    I have broken a tendon in a finger by wild gesticulation sitting at a meeting table but never damaged a watch like that.

    My first Omega fell onto a rough concrete floor and survived. After parking my car I wanted to check oil & water so carefully put the watch into a pocket of my jacket and put the jacket on the passenger seat. After doing the check I grabbed the jacket and pulled. A bit too hard perhaps. Result :- no visible damage. But it may have landed on the leather strap. Live an honourable life and perhaps karma won't bite you on the backside.

    Or perhaps it will.

    EDIT: 50 years of abuse by @MRC ....

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    Edited Aug 1, 2020
  3. M'Bob

    M'Bob Aug 1, 2020

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    Thanks, great post.
     
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  4. Professor

    Professor Aug 1, 2020

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    The Balance wheel staff can break if a watch is impacted hard from a particular angle. Apparently a not uncommon problem with early pocket watches.
    Shock protection for watches became a real issue after the Kipton Ohio train wreck which was caused by a watch stopping for four minutes after being dropped.
     
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  5. kip595

    kip595 Aug 1, 2020

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    This may just be my view, but I always viewed this as your basic, general, "good advice" like "wear your seatbelt" and "eat too much candy and you'll get cavities".

    And it's important to remember what a big deal 'shock-proof' was back in the day; contemporary pieces - of quality, at least - are normally made to endure some inadvertent abuse, so to speak, just in the course of wear, so while I don't plan to go drop my SMP on the concrete patio to test it, I'd sooner do it to that than say, a 1930s Cartier, etc.

    *Edit: @Professor Beat me to the point about how important shock absorption came to be, historically. :)
     
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  6. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Aug 1, 2020

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    It depends. A number of things can happen depending on the specifics of the watch. In watches with modern shock protection, it would be unusual to see a broken balance pivot, but certainly the issue of a tangled balance spring is a result I've seen several times - Omega 1152:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Not unique to Omega - Rolex here:

    [​IMG]

    What it should look like:

    [​IMG]

    Sticking with Rolex, shocks can damage the jewels of the rotor axle, and sometimes the rotor itself (I've had several of these cracked rotors show up):

    [​IMG]

    This one someone had done a shitty solder repair on, so I had it properly repaired using laser welding:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    On Omegas, the axle base can crack:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I've seen dials shift on impacts and they jam against the hour wheel, stopping the watch:

    [​IMG]

    This can lead to dial feet shearing off also.

    This Speedmaster had been dropped after I had serviced it, so it was sent back with the hour recording hand broken off:

    [​IMG]

    The post of the hour recording wheel had actually broken off, so the wheel had to be replaced:

    [​IMG]

    The bushing in the hour recording bridge that this post went through was deformed and had to be replaced:

    [​IMG]

    And part of the hammer for the hour recorder had broken off as well:

    [​IMG]

    So although one could argue this advice from brands is just a bunch of CYA, there are real consequences to large shocks. Of course broken crystals, lume falling out of hands, marker falling off the dial, damage to cases - all those things happen as well, but are all pretty obvious when they do. Note that if you have dropped the watch, it stops and you take it to the brand, they can often tell it's been dropped even without external damage...by looking at some of things I have posted above...

    Cheers, Al
     
  7. M'Bob

    M'Bob Aug 1, 2020

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    Great post, thanks Al. In your experience from what the owners have reported as to the type of trauma that caused the various problems pictured, were they pretty much expected given the magnitude of the event, or were some subtle and therefore the amount of damage incurred was surprising?
     
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  8. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Aug 1, 2020

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    The dropped watches were obvious, but for example both the tangled balance springs I show here they claimed not to have hit the watch at all...
     
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  9. M'Bob

    M'Bob Aug 1, 2020

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    What would be the most common symptom of a tangled balance spring?
     
  10. S.H.

    S.H. Aug 1, 2020

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    Watch stopped, or running very fast I'd say.
     
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  11. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Aug 1, 2020

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    Fast rate
     
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  12. M'Bob

    M'Bob Aug 1, 2020

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    Thanks again.
     
  13. Foo2rama

    Foo2rama Keeps his worms in a ball instead of a can. Aug 1, 2020

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  14. Professor

    Professor Aug 1, 2020

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    Less cultural appropriation please.
     
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  15. OmegaP99

    OmegaP99 Aug 3, 2020

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    @Archer (And anyone else) What about cumulative "knocks" such as using vibrating machinery (noooooooo, I mean drills and saws and such you filthy animals), I would imagine this could cause deformation of bushings and such, but is there specific, predictable damage caused simply by using a watch as a beater around tools and everyday projects? I ask specifically because of my IWC that I wear for everything, it still works great, but when it's next service comes I feel like there will be some parts worn more than on my other watches that live an easier life. I have had the rotor screw come loose from vibrations but that was an easy fix naturally.
     
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  16. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Aug 3, 2020

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    Specific and predictable would likely be something very specific to the movement in question. Every movement is going to have its weak spots, so those would likely be involved if there was something.

    With normal use, I don’t really see there being anything to worry about.

    Cheers, Al
     
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  17. janice&fred

    janice&fred Aug 3, 2020

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    Oh man I could only imagine the whack necessary to crack that rotor!
     
  18. OmegaP99

    OmegaP99 Aug 3, 2020

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    Any particular weak points you've experienced on Valjoux 7750 (aka IWC cal 7792)? I consider my use normal for a tool watch, but I doubt most IWC wearers would.
     
  19. OmegaP99

    OmegaP99 Aug 3, 2020

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    I was thinking that too! It looks like the watch would have landed flat on it's back and the added outer-section weight is enough to snap it in those spots. Really surprising.
     
  20. Professor

    Professor Aug 3, 2020

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    Many years ago I wore a ring with a zircon stone. At work I used a tube cutter mounted on a drill. After a few days of that I found the stone loose in its setting with large chips missing.
     
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