Archive for the 'monday myths' Category

Tick Talk is moving

Thanks to the generous contributions of my readers I am able to move my blog to a self-hosted domain. Why am I doing this? It gives me more control over my blog content and it allows me to put some advertising on my blog – creating more revenue to improve content.

Your generous contributions have also helped me to begin outfitting a shop at my home. I hope to be able to continue equipping a shop at home because it gives me a forum to work on some projects which will help me form some really great posts.

What you need to do to continue getting my posts:

If you subscribed to my blog using one of the links in the upper right you shouldn’t have to do anything. This applies to all e-mail subscribers. If you subscribed by typing my url ( in your rss reader you will need to change it to my new url or visit my new site and then click on the subscribe to this blog in the upper right.

If you receive the next post titled “Bug’s Clock” you’re getting posts from the new blog. If you don’t receive it, come a calling.

Should I run my chronograph all the time?

Monday Myth Running my chronograph all the time will cause it to wear out sooner. Is this true? Short Answer: No

There are many different kinds of chronographs: Quartz, Mechanical, Two function, Three function, Column Wheel, Cam, Sliding Clutch, Vertical Clutch, integrated, modular. What do they have in common? For all of them the answer is no, running your chronograph all the time will not cause it to wear out sooner.

A chronograph is a watch which has an additional complication which allows you to record elapsed time, usually by pressing a button to start the timer and to stop it.

ETA 251.272┬áChronographThere are two basic quartz models of chronograph. One has 4 or 5 motors (one for the time of day, one for the seconds counter, one for the minute counter, one for the hour counter, and one for the division of seconds if equipped.) The second kind has a standard quartz movement with a mechanical module added on to the dial side of the movement adding the chronograph function. Running either of these all the time will cause your power cell to deplete faster but the forces are so small that the parts aren’t going to wear out any sooner because you are using them. These parts will need to be serviced the same time as the other quartz components.

Mechanical Chronographs have much greater forces throughout. The basic movement has a fairly large spring providing power to the gear train forcing it to rotate. When not properly lubricated and/or dirty these parts can be ground into nothing (see post on servicing). With each gear the forces are reduced. The chronograph mechanism is usually driven by the fourth wheel (whose forces are not terribly great) and as we continue through the chronograph mechanism the forces get smaller and smaller. When a watchmaker services these components he cleans and lubricates them in such a manner so that they should be able to run for 5 years without causing any wear (assuming the watch remains clean and dry). We apply the same principles to the chronograph section as we do to the regular gear train. Since the forces are smaller in the chronograph train it should be able to withstand the same period of service. When the chronograph is disengaged the wheels don’t turn (and therefore don’t have any chance of wearing) but when it is engaged they don’t turn any more than the base movement. Your base movement will begin to wear out or stop working well before the chronograph parts begin to wear.

With a vertical clutch chronograph like in Seiko chronographs or the Rolex 4130 the clutch actually slips when the chronograph is stopped, potentially causing this part to wear more when the chronograph is stopped than when it is running. This part is still designed to perform well for the same service interval as the rest of the movement.

The bottom line: Have your watch serviced every 5 years by a qualified watchmaker and nothing will wear out, chronograph or otherwise.

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Monday Myths – the battery

As long as I am aware of myths which need to be dispelled I will do so on Mondays.

“If I pull out the crown on my watch will the battery last longer?” – I can’t tell you how often I hear that. Well I’m here to clear up the myth.

The short answer is yes, but is that what you really want? On most modern quartz watches there is a switch which turns off the motor when you pull out the crown to the setting position. The quartz oscillator continues to vibrate and the total drain on the battery is generally about 15% what it is when the crown is in. On some really low end watches however, the motor continues to use up just as much energy – or more. But this saving of energy comes at a cost.

Sure, the battery may last longer but is it worth the risk. First, when the crown is out the watch is much more open to water, dust & humidity. Depending on the design of the watch this may be significant, or it may not, but no matter what if you pick up that watch, forget to set it and put the crown in and go wash your hands you may be risking destroying it for good. A little water in a watch can do a lot of damage in just 24 hours. Second, The battery is designed to last a certain amount of time. The longer it sits around (being used or not) the more likely it is to leak. By prolonging the length of the battery you are increasing the risk that it leak and do significant and often irreparable damage to the watch. Third, when your watchmaker changes the battery it gives him/her a chance to examine the seals of the watch case and the condition of the movement and recommend any preventative maintenance which will help you prolong the life of your watch. Is it worth the risk? Probably not, those little power cells aren’t very expensive, even when installed by a professional.

So, how long should my battery last? That depends on a lot of things, how big is the battery, how new is the watch, how many functions does it have and how often do you use them? If your watch has only hour and minute hands the power cell should probably last 5 years of more. If it has a second hand as well, 2 to 3 years probably. If it is digital maybe 10 years or more, if it has a chronograph and you use it 1 to 2 years, if it has a light you could probably use the power cell up in a couple of weeks if you live in a cave and it is your primary source of light. Here is the important part. If your first power cell lasts you 5 years and your second one last you 4 years but your third only lasts a year, you have a problem. It could be you got a bad power cell – it happens, or (more likely) your watch needs to be serviced. As the oils dry up the motor has to work harder to turn the gears and it uses up more energy; draining the battery more quickly.

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