Watch repair: authorized v. unauthorized

My IWC is losing time. It uses a not uncommon ETA movement, so I guess most repair centers would be able to fix it. But, I know IWC does make some modifications to the movement that may make an authorized repair center a better choice. Just curious if anyone thinks its worthwhile to ship a watch out to the authorized center rather than using a local (reputable) service center that doesn’t specialize in your watch?

Also, the tritium is a bit discolored and I was thinking of having it replaced with super luminova. Does anyone have an idea of how much that might cost? Or if it’s worth doing?

Lastly, it was last serviced about four years ago and at that time I had it refinished. Since then its gotten a little dinged up, but is four years too soon to refinish again? Can you refinish a watch too much?

Thanks for your help.

No idea about cost from a local repair center, but a couple of my data points…

I had my Omega Seamaster Pro Chrono serviced about five years ago and it cost ~$450 at the Omega repair center in Philadelphia. The cost was due to the chronograph movement.

Last year I sent in my Omega Speedmaster Pro (moon watch) and they totally gutted it for ~$750, though it went to a different facility (Swatch Group US).

This is the bag of bits they sent back, along with my rejuvenated watch.
I included this because you can see that the repairs included replacing the dial, which might be needed to do your Tritium fix.

I figure you just have to assume you will pay somewhere around $500-1000 for the work and send it in. At that rate, I wouldn’t bother having just any old Joe do it, since they wouldn’t have the same access to original parts (though my Speedmaster was probably an extreme case).

I figure my own watch is a modern day example of the Ship of Theseus.
“This is my grandfather’s axe; it’s had three new heads, and four new handles, but it’s still the same old axe.”

No kidding. How much of your pre-rejuvenation watch is on your wrist now? The band?

As for the OP, this message board post makes it sound like IWC takes base ETA parts and refines the daylights out of them in a process not unlike “tuners” taking a stock car engine and replacing the heads, pistons, valves, and crankshaft, leaving only the original block that holds all of those parts. Would the local Pep Boys be able to work on that engine? Sure…it’s still an engine. But they probably won’t have those enhanced components in stock, and they may be unfamiliar with how to set them up.

For the watch, the local shop will probably be able to make sense of it, but they’ll have to special-order parts, whereas the authorized shop will be far more likely to have them on hand.

Not even that much. I replaced the 70’s era hollow link band with a modern solid link one several years ago. I think the only original metal is the case and back and maybe a couple of tiny gears.

I took my '70s-vintage Sub to an authorised dealer who sent it to Rolex for overhaul. The luminous marks on the original dial were no longer luminous, and they’d gone ‘puffy looking’. They don’t refinish dials. Instead they replace them. The new dial has the luminova (or whatever they call it there) like my GMT II. It also has metal ‘rings’ around the markings so it doesn’t look like an actual '70s watch (except for the curved acryllic crystal, which became flat glass in later models). The hands and bezel were also replaced.

I don’t know how much the parts cost, but the whole job (overhaul, new parts, polishing out the scratches) cost about $650 two years ago.

If you have a high-end watch, with a quartz movement, don’t the repair centers automatically replace the movement? I recall reading that a quartz watch movement goes for about $4.00, so it would not make any sense to attempt any repair on them.
As for mechanical movements, most ETA movements are machine made-why would you spend several hour’s labor disassembling and cleaning, then re-assembling?
seems like complete replacement would be cheaper.
That is what happens when you send your swiss army knife in for repair-they send you a new one!


That’s like getting a high end sports car with an automatic transmission.

The fact is a LOT of high-end psorts cars come with ATs today. ROLEX markets both mechanical and quatz-movement watches-though the quartz ones are not marketed in the US. Older=better?

Nitpick nitpick nitpick. You knew what I meant.

For those who are curious, the mechanical vs. quartz watch debate is akin to Mac vs PC or tube amp vs. solid state: there are valid points to be made on each side and no one is going to convince anyone to change sides.

FWIW, I am firmly in the “mechanical” camp. I like having a finely engineered machine ticking away on my wrist, even though a cereal-box quartz watch is more accurate. It has soul. (boy, that sounds just like the kind of argument that audiophiles make about tubes)