What is repassage and when is it necessary?

Wrist Watch

Repassage or repassage, from re (re) and passage (passage), is a professional term that comes from the French language, it means a complete overhaul of the wristwatch mechanism. The procedure applies only to mechanical watches, and its main purpose is to prevent wear and tear on the mechanism. Quartz ones do not need this; if necessary, they need to change the battery and carry out repairs of a different category.

Swiss mechanical wristwatch Epos Ladies 4314.133.20.50.10

What is the procedure and why is it needed?

For a wristwatch, repassage is the same as a complete inspection of a car engine, including complete disassembly of all parts and their cleaning/replacement, as well as replacement of fluids and consumables.

According to the masters, modern mechanical watches need this even more than those that were produced, for example, in the middle of the 15th century or earlier. This is associated primarily with higher requirements for precision (from the former error of sometimes a minute per day, today we have come to 20-XNUMX seconds, and even this is far from the limit) and the increased number of complications (that is, the multifunctional mechanism itself has become more complex) .

The main objectives

Although modern watches are designed to last for decades, parts that are subject to constant increased stress wear out over a long period of time. This applies, for example, to the automatic winding elements: the reverse wheel and the tightly wound spring. If replacement is necessary, parts are ordered from the manufacturing factory or (extremely rarely) made in a workshop.

In addition, any mechanism will sooner or later require cleaning, no matter how sealed the place where the back cover is attached and the connection between the crown and the case is. Even in the most gentle conditions of wear, over the years, the smallest particles of dust get inside the case, the lubricant of the parts dries out and thickens, and the operation of the mechanism becomes difficult. It is prevention and repair that are designed to make your wristwatch “work like a watch.”

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Swiss mechanical wristwatch Frederique Constant Classics Index FC-303V5B4

How often should repassage be done?

Most manufacturers recommend repassage every 3-5 years. Usually the period is indicated in the operating instructions. But the need for maintenance is always prompted by the conditions of wear and the actual condition of the mechanism. In professional workshops, before starting to disassemble a watch, they are tested, checking the main indicators, first of all, the accuracy of the movement. It also happens that the master may not undertake repassage, believing that there is no need for it. Also, after the final assembly of the mechanism, the watch is tested for movement, operation of each complication and the tightness of the case.

Swiss mechanical wristwatch Epos Ladies 4426.132.20.85.15

Who should and can do this?

Since the operation of the mechanism depends on the quality of assembly, this should only be done by a highly qualified craftsman. This service is provided by the manufacturers themselves (it is paid and is not included in the warranty service), certified service centers and independent workshops. In the latter case, you should make sure of the professional level of watchmakers, read reviews about their work and compare the conditions with those offered by the brand itself or an official dealer. The cost of work may be lower, but there is a risk, if not of damage to the mechanism, then of deterioration in its performance and reduced service life in the future.

The main signs that it’s time to have your watch repaired

  • A noticeable error in the movement, greatly increased compared to usual indicators (on average, an error of up to 20 seconds per day is considered normal for a mechanical watch; for expensive Swiss watches, especially certified ones, it is about 5-10 seconds).
  • The complexity of the winding is easy to feel when turning the crown. Its movement may become tight, and the plant may not reach the end.
  • Changed nature of the movement of the arrows: this is noticeable visually if the arrows begin to twitch or move more sharply/less evenly.
  • The automatic winding system has become less efficient, let's say you notice that your watch stops even when you leave it in the drawer for just a day.
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Swiss mechanical wristwatch Aviator Douglas Day-Date V.3.20.0.141.4

Cost and feasibility of repassage

Repassage is usually quite expensive; depending on the category of the watch itself, you can pay up to a third, if not half, of its price for this service. In this regard, some consider it inappropriate, preferring to sell the watch after some time of use and buy a new one.

If we are talking about models of the middle and premium segment, such as Rolex, Hublot, Jaeger-LeCoultre and others in this class, which, in addition to their direct functions, play the role of an investment and valuable property, they should in any case be repassed, and only from reliable ones masters and forgetting about saving (this, however, happens to their owners every time they buy new chronographs).