One of the great unanswered questions when buying a new watch is, how much will it cost to service down the line? With it becoming increasingly difficult for independent watchmakers to get parts, the only real option left is to send it back to the manufacturer, but it still represents a bit of a unknown; you’re often left guessing until the mysterious quotation is sent back, with numerous items you may not even know were serviceable. Jaeger-LeCoultre have made a great effort to reduce the confusion by introducing an online service price calculator to clear up some of the mystery as to what a trip to the service centre entails, and what the long term ownership cost will look like.
There is often a healthy debate about the correct interval for servicing: some feel that you can wait till the watch is gaining or losing time dramatically, but often by this point the damage is done, which is why most manufacturers recommend sending a watch in every 5 years. Regular inspection allows for issues such as excessive or insufficient oiling on pressure points such as the escape wheel to be spotted, or premature wear to the parts such as the mainspring barrel, rotor and other parts of the winding system, in addition to demagnetising and regulating the watch when required, ensuring the watch is running as accurately as possible.
Having listened to feedback from collectors, the turnaround times from the major brands have been dropping, as service centre capacity has increased in regional locations to ensure fast turnaround times for the majority of watches, and the pricing for a standard overhaul has been maintained at around 500 to 1,000 USD (depending on the brand and model);it’s not unreasonable given the amount of work required, making it not-as-painful an experience to send a watch in for servicing as it was only a few years ago.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s online portal makes it even quicker and easier to find out the cost and to arrange dropping off a watch at a boutique for servicing. It’s currently a bit fiddly to put in the reference number, as it requires a specific format (although it does auto-populate as numbers are entered).You are then guided through two steps, one asking if there are any specific problems with the watch or if it is just a regular service, then another to see if you would like any specific parts replaced such as the crown, pushers or clasp, before the final estimated price being revealed, including a breakdown for specific components.
Having played around with the platform for a few difference references, including a Grande Reverso 1931 (4,600 HKD), Master Geographic (6,100 HKD) and Gyrotourbillon 1 (36,600 HKD), the cost of the regular service seems to be tiered, and there is a nice note on the final page explaining that retailers can invoice a price lower than the one indicated, but not higher. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a similar tool rolling out with other Richemont brands, and that something comparable will arrive from other manufacturers.
Below is a walkthrough of the process; for more information visit www.jaeger-lecoultre.com/hk/en/service-price-calculator.html.