MAGNETISM – is YOUR watch affected?
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  1. #1
    Member Border-Reiver's Avatar
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    MAGNETISM – is YOUR watch affected?

    This thread would normally go into the watchmaking section, but I am thinking here more about vintage timepieces which do not run correctly and could be affected by magnetism and how to check this and what to do about it in case of need.

    There are different opinions about how much a watch can be affected by magnetism, to what extend, what causes it and above all, we are told that modern materials, especially for hairspring, such as NIVAROX, would make any discussion obsolete anyway.

    He, who does not believe in the bad influence of magnetism on a watch, must now be convinced: We got an opinion on the matter from one of the highest of the highest authorities, from Jaeger-LeCoultre. Read it and then follow my humble elaborate. The ones who know all this already might find at least an interest in how and what I did.

    Watch magnetism | Jaeger-LeCoultre

    Image 1: For testing purposes, I have taken and old watch from my late mother. Sorry Mom, it’s the cheapest I have. But if I would have screwed up, I would have given it away for a repair – promise!

    Image 2: I put the watch on the micro of the timegrapher to have the present reading for comparison.

    Image 3: Initial readings on the timegrapher.

    Image 4: How do I know that my watch is affected my magnetism (not just recognizing that it is running fast?). Like Jaeger-LeCoultre suggested, simply take a compass and see if the needle goes astray when the watch comes near. I have somewhat refined the process by downloading a compass app on my smartphone and one which gives me also the strength (STAERKE) of the magnetic field (here in µTesla). You have to find the sensor on your smartphone by moving around a magnetic object. Calibration is not necessary here, as we do not need to have exact measurements.

    Image 5: I then magnetized the watch by putting it next to a strong magnetic soure. It could be anything like a loudspeaker etc. etc. - see article from Jaeger LeCoultre. I do not recommend this thing, which does both magnetizing and de-magnetizing, for de-magnetizing watchmaker's screwdrivers. It works excellent on larger screwdrivers but does not always get rid of magnetism completely. I tried it 100 times and still could lift up a tiny screw from a watch movement.

    Image 6: Back to the compass again. The needle strongly moves away and the Tesla reading has gone up (again, this does not have to be exact, it's just interesting to see how that compares to the initial reading).

    Image 7: Total disaster on the timegrapher (like the watch you buy from eBay - ‘runs well, accuracy not tested’).

    Image 8: De-magnetization: There are a lot of cheap devices around which might do the job or not, but if you have enough grease on the chain and allocatable to tools, don’t go for a compromise here (unless you can construct something yourself). There is just one touch of the button, no moving around of the object, no moving away at whatever speed and to whatever distance with the button still held down. It shuts off itself in fractions of a second before you have time to get your finger off the button.

    Image 9: Back on the compass again. Magnetism gone.

    Image 10: Readings on the timegrapher good enough for an old and serviced watch.
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    Last edited by Border-Reiver; June 15th, 2017 at 22:28.

  2. #2
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: MAGNETISM – is YOUR watch affected?

    I wonder how much they charge for demagnetization at a JLC boutique.
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  3. #3
    Member Border-Reiver's Avatar
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    Re: MAGNETISM – is YOUR watch affected?

    Quote Originally Posted by badbackdan View Post
    I wonder how much they charge for demagnetization at a JLC boutique.
    I would do it for free...

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  5. #4
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    Re: MAGNETISM – is YOUR watch affected?

    This is a great little study you've conducted. Thanks for sharing.

    Interested to hear watchmakers' perspectives, as I know there are plenty lurking on here. However, I'm sure it'll be 'you demagnitised it' - curious if there's other variables...
    Border-Reiver likes this.

  6. #5
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    Re: MAGNETISM – is YOUR watch affected?

    Ive gotten watches on ebay that would not run at all and I demagnetize them and they run fine. So now the first thing I do with a watch wound tight and not running is try and see if demagnetizing them starts them running!
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  7. #6
    Member Paul_S's Avatar
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    Re: MAGNETISM – is YOUR watch affected?

    You should routinely demagnetize watches, for sure. It seems a few people think magnetism is some sort of urban legend, like a mysterious ectoplasm that afflicts good people's watches, but it is the real deal.

    I occasionally work in an MRI facility next to a massive, 3 Tesla coil, so I know that magnetism is no joke. You can't take a watch anywhere near that place.

    There's no one single symptom of a magnetized watch: they will commonly run very fast (the hairspring coils stick), but often they just run erratically, with wavy timing machine traces. That's why you have to always demag, just in case.
    There is something more to the art of watchmaking and repairing than that of merely assembling a watch and making it 'tick.'
    ---Walter Kleinlein, Rules and Practice for Adjusting Watches (1940)

    Member, National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors

    My blog about precision timing: AdjustingVintageWatches.com


  8. #7
    Member Paul_S's Avatar
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    Re: MAGNETISM – is YOUR watch affected?

    For the curious, here's what one of my magnetized watches looked like on the timing machine. Notice that the watch was running slow but had oddly shaped traces that bulged in and out.

    There is something more to the art of watchmaking and repairing than that of merely assembling a watch and making it 'tick.'
    ---Walter Kleinlein, Rules and Practice for Adjusting Watches (1940)

    Member, National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors

    My blog about precision timing: AdjustingVintageWatches.com


  9. #8
    Member Border-Reiver's Avatar
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    Re: MAGNETISM – is YOUR watch affected?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_S View Post
    For the curious, here's what one of my magnetized watches looked like on the timing machine. Notice that the watch was running slow but had oddly shaped traces that bulged in and out.

    and what did it look like after the de-magnetization?

  10. #9
    Member Border-Reiver's Avatar
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    Re: MAGNETISM – is YOUR watch affected?

    I you happen to have one of these audio-head demagnetizers lying around, they also do the job (to a more limited extend) if you know how to do it. Good for certain pocket watches which are a special issue in this respect.

    I did not want to magnetize and demagnetize another watch again, so I took a screwdriver instead. 352 µTestla after magnetization and 41 µTestla after demagnetization (Stärke = strength). The 41 µTesla are the surrounding magnetic field and initial reading (don’t have to move to another place or calibrate anything, it’s just the difference what counts). The screwdriver on the right is a bit further away, but that’s not so important. There is no magnetism left anymore, measurable at whatever distance.
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    Last edited by Border-Reiver; June 16th, 2017 at 14:58.

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    Re: MAGNETISM – is YOUR watch affected?

    Quote Originally Posted by Border-Reiver View Post
    and what did it look like after the de-magnetization?
    That makes sense. I've seen a magnetized watch in the act of a sudden burst of speed. The seconds hand races a several times it's normal speed and then, when the coils in the spring stop touching, it seems to go back to a more normal rate. I've also seen YouTube videos of magnetized springs touching. This can't be good for the movement.
    busmatt likes this.

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