If you’ve invested in a luxury timepiece, you want to be sure that you’re taking proper care of it. But how do you know when your watch needs to be serviced, or even if it needs to be serviced? What does servicing a watch entail? Where can you get it done?

To help you take the best care of your timepiece investment, we’re answering all these questions and more.

What exactly does watch servicing include?

Servicing a watch is a little similar to servicing your vehicle, or even going in for your annual physical. You’re simply asking a qualified professional to give your watch, car or body a little check up, to ensure there are no underlying problems that you’re unaware of, so that you can address them. You paid a lot of money for that luxury vehicle, after all, and you don’t want it to be damaged by some unknown issue!

The same is true for your watch. Without servicing, those unseen, unknown issues can grow larger and larger, until you’re facing incredibly pricey costs in repair — costs that might not even be worth it, forcing you to give up your favorite watch in lieu of buying a new one.

When you take your watch in for servicing, a specialist (you want to always find a certified specialist, like the ones at Yamron, to do this) will take your watch apart and thoroughly inspect all of the mechanics. Any mechanics that need to be replaced or repaired will receive that needed treatment. The watch will also be cleaned and polished, and checked for accuracy.

Are there any signs that your watch needs service?

But while watch servicing usually checks for unseen issues, there are a few telltale signs that your watch may be in need of an upcoming service sooner rather than later.

For example, if your watch is not running on time consistently, it’s likely that it could use a service, especially if you haven’t had one in a while (or ever!). If there are other features on your watch that aren’t working, such as the alarm, moon phase, leap year, etc., those could also be an indication that your watch needs service. Yes, you may not use these features and others like them on a daily basis, so you might not care all that much, but it is still an indication that something’s wrong, internally.

Does your watch have any moisture inside of the case? What about occasional condensation? If so, that’s a sign that your watch has some damage and you need a service ASAP.

Have you noticed that some of the exterior watch parts are a little loose or a little tight? That’s likewise a sign of some damage.

You also want to consider your watch’s age. If it’s only a few years old, you can likely get by without service for at least the next year. However, if it’s older than that, and you haven’t had it serviced, it’s probably time for a check up. Additionally, if your watch is new to you, as in, pre-owned or vintage, and you don’t have a record of the previous owner taking it in for service recently, you’ll want to get that taken care of as soon as possible, just in case (though, when purchasing any vintage or pre-owned luxury item, it’s just good form to check with the seller on things like service records and any related paperwork).

So how often should I service my watch then?

A good rule of thumb? Get your watch serviced every four to five years. However, while this is a good rule of thumb, it does come with a few caveats.

If you only wear your watch on occasion, like maybe once or twice a month, you can hold off on service for a few more years. If, though, you wear your watch a lot, or you frequently get your watch wet (even if it’s waterproof) or your expose it to other harsh conditions, you absolutely don’t want to wait longer than those four years for your next service appointment.

Who can service my watch?

As mentioned, you always want to have a certified professional service your watch, but where exactly can you find someone like that?

In general, you can find that certified professional either at the retailer where you purchased the watch originally, or at any retailer that’s a certified seller for your watch’s brand.

Is watch service included in my warranty?

Not typically. Your warranty is there to cover anything that goes wrong with the watch. Servicing is more of a check up and part of your regular maintenance, not necessarily related to an issue. So, you can expect to pay out of pocket for your watch service, in most instances. Watch service costs will vary depending on your watch brand, as well as the particular style. Service can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

And don’t expect to be able to simply drop off your watch for service in an afternoon and then swing by the jeweler to pick it up later. Servicing is a time-intensive process and can take up to a few weeks.

Are there any watches that won’t need service?

Servicing is primarily for mechanical watches that have a lot of moving parts and need a lot of extra care in order to keep those moving parts going. So, if you have a watch with fewer of those parts, like a quartz watch, then you might not need service. Likewise, if you have a digital or smart watch, you won’t need service.

What happens if the jeweler finds something wrong with my watch during service?

There are two things that might happen to your watch if your jeweler finds something wrong with the watch during service. In the best case scenario, they’ll simply fix the issue. If they can’t, though — which is sometimes the case if you have a vintage watch — they may be able to send the watch to the maker, who may be able to assist. This, however, can be extra-costly, as the maker may charge an additional fee just to look at your timepiece, before letting you know if they can assist with repairs.