Can a mechanical or automatic watch be magnetized? Effectively, These types of watches do not have electronic circuits, they do not have LCD screens, but they do have many metal parts that can be magnetized.
The problem is that we are surrounded by magnetic fields that can affect the correct functioning of the watch.
What happens to a magnetized watch? Some of the essential parts of the watch caliber, such as the balance and hairspring, literally stick together and this causes the watch to lose accuracy in keeping time.
- Can Quartz watches also get affected by this problem? Yes…especially the ones with steel hands as they are sensitive to magnets (Analog quartz watches). The ones that are not affected by magnetism are digital quartz watches (source: Seiko ).
And the real problem is that many people don’t realize that the problem their watch is manifesting is due to the magnetic fields it has been brought close to. Many go to the watchmaker thinking that the watch cannot be fixed and in a couple of minutes, to their surprise, they have the watch again in perfect condition and giving the correct time.
How does magnetism affect each type of watch?
The analog quartz watch stops completely if it’s magnetized. The hands spin very fast. Get away from the magnetic field and set the clock.
Mechanical clock watches movements get Late or early due to magnetism. If the problem doesn’t go away on its own, you need a watch degausser/demagnetizer.
Quartz digital watch doesn’t get influenced by magnetism.
NOTE: The difference between a magnetic field created with AC ( Alternating Current ) or DC ( Direct Current ) is that a DC magnetic field naturally emanates from the earth (which allows a compass to find the magnetic north).
AC magnetic fields emanate from man-made electrical systems. More information: StackExchange and engineering.com.
What magnetic fields are around you that can affect your watch?
You’ll be surprised that there are a lot of magnetic fields around us. The luck we have is that a lot of the equipment that causes them is well insulated and usually doesn’t affect the watch… or the watch has anti-magnetic properties.
Get in position. You are very tired at night, and you leave your mechanical watch on top of your tablet all night. The next morning your watch goes ahead 10 minutes for no apparent reason. What an annoyance. The curse of magnetization has taken place.
FACT! You have to keep your watch at least 5cm away from these devices… it’s not that much, right?
These are the main culprits:
- Medical diagnostic equipment
- Magnetic cases and accessories for Android mobiles or tablets or for iPad/iPhone
- Computer monitors and equipment
- Telecommunications equipment
- Electrical equipment rooms
- Large speaker systems or small speakers that we have nearby
- Audio and video equipment
- Microwave ovens
- Security systems
- Frequent airplane flights (exposure to higher altitudes)
- Very close and frequent proximity of mobile phones, computers, and hard drives
How can you tell if your watch has antimagnetic properties?
Basically looking at your build specs. It should indicate that it complies with DIN 8309 which was published in 1981 or ISO 764.
- According to DIN 8309 (Deutsche Industrie Norm), an antimagnetic watch must withstand a magnetic field of 4,800 A/m (amperes per meter) or about 60 gausses and have a maximum deviation of 30 seconds per day.
This is going to be achieved by manufacturing certain components of the watch caliber with antimagnetic materials. A few have been invented such as Nivarox (beryllium, chrome, iron, nickel, titanium), and Invar (carbon, chrome, iron, nickel).
But it can also be achieved by surrounding the movement with an antimagnetic casing made of some conductive material. Many brands combine the two options.
Examples of antimagnetic watches? The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Milgauss which withstands 1000 Gauss or 80,000 A/m, the Omega Anti-Magnetic Seamaster (15000 Gauss), or Alpina’s Alpiner 4 (60 Gauss).
In this article, you have a good review of the efforts that have been made throughout the history of watchmaking to avoid these problems: A Brief History of the Mechanical Watch’s Fight Against Magnetism.
What is the problem with watches that only comply with DIN 8309? They support very weak magnetic fields. The standard is somewhat old and nowadays the magnetic fields can be much stronger. Translation? Even if you buy a watch that supports the standard, the watch may be magnetized.
How can you know that your mechanical watch is magnetized?
The main clue you have is that they do not give the time correctly. Specifically, the clock will run very fast. It is possible to advance several minutes every hour, being able to have a daily advance of more than 1 hour.
What if it just jumps ahead a few seconds each day? Depends. You have to look at the specifications of each manufacturer to see if it is within the margin of error for that particular caliber. The watch may be magnetized but it is less noticeable…
It is also possible that it stops completely. In this case, you may need to check that it has a load reserve. You can wind it up manually or wiggle it around your wrist a bit to see if it revives. But in this case, many other things can happen: something could have gone wrong within the movement.
- You can also bring a compass close to the watch and see if it affects the position of the needle that marks north, or you can use an app like LEPSI – Watch MAGNETISM, which allows you to use the magnetic sensor of your iPhone or iPad to detect the magnetization of your watch.
- If you want to keep track of how well your watch tells time, you may want to use Toolwatch, an app available for Android and iOS that allows you to keep track of the watch’s accuracy on a daily basis.
Okay. You are almost sure that your watch is magnetized… What can you do?
If you are sure that your watch is magnetized then you will have to get it demagnetized to keep it running smoothly.
How can you demagnetize a mechanical watch?
You basically have 3 options to demagnetize a mechanical watch.
You can go to your watchmaker and ask him to check it. They usually have demagnetizers and it is an operation that can be carried out in less than a minute. It is likely that you will take the opportunity to see if your watch is working properly or needs maintenance.
The second option is to do it yourself. Right now you can buy demagnetizers online for about 10, 15 dollars to $700 that can carry out the operation in less than a minute. The operation is safe if it is done correctly.
Let me show you how to demagnetize a watch with three different types of demagnetizers and how to test for a magnetized watch.
Now we know for sure that the watch is magnetized. We’ll fix this by using a Demagnetizer. Here we have three types of demagnetizers, ranging from very cheap to pretty expensive.
The first one is a cheap made-in-China demagnetizer. Place the watch face up on the box, hold down the red button, then slowly lift the watch from the box in around 5 seconds.
Essentially, you are dragging the watch for a magnetic field of decaying, strength, and changing orientations. So the magnetism on the watch is disrupted and thus demagnetizes the watch.
You can also check if the watch is still magnetized, if this is so then repeat the bove process for one more time.
Next up is another kind of deemagnitizer with a hole in the middle. This costs a bit more than the last one, and the demagnetizing power is much better.
It works in a similar way. You hold down the button, put the watch into the hole slowly, and slowly take it out. One or two passes will do.
If you want to go fancy and you have the money to do so, you can opt for a piece of German engineering that is going to do the trick. It’s as simple as this.
Now let’s see how the watch is doing. After the process, the readings are back to normal and the watch is back to its usual accuracy. I might want to regulate it to improve its accuracy later. But for now, this is good enough.
So that’s how you demagnetize the Watch.
You can see how it is done in the following video:
The procedure is simple. In our case, the clock advanced approximately 1 hour each day… an outrage. It is a brand new watch and possibly has been magnetized in transport by plane or road.
The instructions indicated on these devices are usually not very good. Do what we have told you and you will be doing it correctly. It can be purchased online at Amazon Spain, eBay, or Aliexpress.
They indicate that it cannot be used more than 3 times in a row. Then you have to wait an hour to use it again.
There is a third option. It seems somewhat more complicated since you have to have an old CRT TV or monitor in your house. If you have it, it seems that you just have to bring the watch close to the screen and the magic will take place.
These televisions or monitors have a degaussing function that serves to remove electrons that cause distorted images on the television screen (source: Toolwatch.io ).
Conclusion: If your clock advances a lot (several minutes every hour) it is possible that it is magnetized
And best of all, the solution is simple. You can get your mechanical watch back to working order in just 1 minute with the right tool.
We recommend that if you notice this behavior on your watch, try to fix it as soon as possible to prevent any part of the movement from working properly.