Sunday, 10 June 2012

Diseases of Watches

Diseases of Watches
Unattributed, from The American Boy magazine, July 1911. Digitized by Doug Frizzle, June 2012.

To most people the whims and caprices of a watch are a deep mystery.
When a watch leaves the hands of a reputable house it is always in first-class condition, and if it does not behave itself afterward it is generally the fault of the man or woman who owns it.
One very common cause of a watch gaining or losing is the disposition made of it at night. If you wear a watch next to your body during the day and place it on a cold surface, as a marble mantle-piece, at night, or anywhere in a cold room, the watch is sure either to gain or lose. Cold causes contraction of the metals used in the construction of a watch, and the watch consequently gains. When the heat of the body causes the parts to expand, the pivots and bearings will tighten up and the watch will lose time. Thus your watch is slow when you retire and fast when you get up. It will vary according to the temperature in which it is running. An expensive watch which has a compensating balance is, of course, not affected by changes of temperature. Some metals expand in cold and others contract, and the compensating balance is made of both kinds of metals, so that the contraction of one may balance the expansion of the other.
Everybody knows that the proximity of a dynamo will magnetize the steel parts of a watch and disarrange it for the time being. A watch may be affected by electricity without the owner's having been near a dynamo. The amount of electricity in some people is so great that it affects the steel parts of a watch. Watches slightly magnetized are often sent to the jeweler to be demagnetized. When delivered to the owners they are cautioned to keep away from dynamos. But when a man has the same trouble continually it is a proof that the electricity in his body has affected his watch. An observant watchmaker said that dark people are more likely to affect their watches in this way than light people, and women more so than men. The amount of electricity in the human body is, of course, very slight, but a very small amount is required to magnetize the delicate steel parts of a watch. Persons of high electric organizations may wear a watch with a steel case if they wish to use extra precaution in retaining an accurate timepiece. A watch will give better service if kept in a perpendicular position at night. It may be hung on a nail or left in the vest pocket.
It is well known that a watch will stop for some unexplained reason and go on again all right if it is given a slight jolt. The same trouble may not occur again for years. This is an accident to which all watches are liable when worn on the person. It is due to the delicate hair-spring catching in the hairspring stud or in the regulating pins. The cause is generally a sudden jump or quick movement, such as boarding a car, etc. A jolt is given to the balance wheel and hairspring and this renders the catching possible. The jolt must come at a particular fraction of a second during the revolution of the balance wheel, otherwise the spring would not catch.
A watch should be cleaned and oiled every eighteen months, because no oil can be made which will not dry up in that time. A watch will sometimes run a number of years without oiling, but the wear and tear on a watch in which the oil is dried up is much greater than when it is regularly and properly oiled.
In proportion to the number of watches repaired, there are more for women than for men. Women frequently drop their watches, and rarely wind them regularly. A watch should always be wound every morning, so that the spring shall be at its strongest tension during the day, when the watch is jolted more or less. At night the weak spring has nothing to disturb it.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.