How much should it cost to clean/repair a high-end watch?
August 2, 2011 12:01 PM   Subscribe

How much should it cost to clean/repair a high-end watch?

I bought a Cartier Tank quartz watch for $300 that seems to not be working. The person I bought it from said that they took it to a jeweler who said that replacing the battery was not enough to repair it and that it would need to be cleaned, but that it could be made to work.

I called a local jeweler and asked about getting it cleaned. They said that they would do a full overhaul, which includes cleaning, of the watch and that they couldn't tell me what it would cost without seeing it (which makes sense) but that it would be at least "a few hundred dollars" because of the name.

So I will bring it in and let them take a look, but I feel a little out of my depth as I have never had a watch repaired before. Since I am looking at paying as much as I paid for the watch itself to get it working, I want to make sure I am not getting overcharged.

Does anyone have any experience with this sort of thing? Or Cartier watches in particular, as I understand the brand makes a big difference? The jeweler explained that Rolex watches are much cheaper/easier to repair because they train people outside of their company, but that Cartier does not do this, so it is more difficult to repair their watches.

How much should something like this cost? And is there no simpler way to just clean the watch rather than "full overhaul" it, that might be cheaper?

Regardless, I would like to get the watch repaired and if in the end the watch cost me $600+ I think it was still worth buying as the watch is very nice.
posted by doomtop to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (4 answers total)
I inherited a delicate antique watch from my great-aunt and it cost me $125 to get it cleaned and serviced. Do get multiple quotes, though; the first jeweler quoted me nearly twice that.
posted by something something at 12:05 PM on August 2, 2011

That number doesn't sound unreasonable to me at all. I had a Rolex that had a gear in the winding mechanism break (it also needed to be cleaned). I don't recall the exact quote, but it was well over your estimate, and that was the friends-and-family rate from my cousin's jewelry store.
posted by mkultra at 12:11 PM on August 2, 2011

I can't directly answer your question because I am way out of date on going rates. However, I do want to second the recommendation that you get multiple quotes, and have them tell you very specifically what they're going to do.

I worked at a watch repair shop a long long time ago, and there was something they called a WD-40 overhaul, where they'd just spray a little WD-40 and charge for a full overhaul. I am fairly certain that they only did it with customers they thought wouldn't question what they were doing; and at the time (this was in the 80s), I think it was $45 or so. I don't know if they would have done that on pricier ones.

Just FYI so you can BOLO. YMMV.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:34 PM on August 2, 2011

Response by poster: I called another jeweler who is an hour away. They told me if it just needed to be cleaned and replace the battery, etc. that it would cost like $75. If it needed to have a part replaced, then it would cost more and they could not say without knowing what part(s). They also said that there are some parts that they simply cannot get from Cartier.
posted by doomtop at 12:44 PM on August 2, 2011

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