What's going on with my Swatch watch?
August 8, 2005 7:51 PM   Subscribe

This is sad, but: until this summer, I'd never owned a conventional watch with hands -- only geeky digital watches like the Iron Man. Long story short, thanks to eBay, I now own a kitschy blue Swatch watch, but I've noticed it's been running about ten minutes slow every hour. I've also noticed the minute hand occasionally goes backward a few tics before sputtering forward. Is this a dying-battery problem, a watch-needs-winding problem, or a possible sand-in-my-watch problem stemming from last week's beach vacation?

It's also important (and humbling) to note that I've never wound a watch before. If I pull the winding mechanism all the way out, it changes the time. If I pull it one step out it changes the date. Winding it in the default position doesn't seem to do anything. If it's fully wound and the battery is new-ish, are there other problems to check for? Thanks!
posted by highsignal to Technology (5 answers total)
Autoquarz and Solar Swatches will alert you to a low battery by pausing the second hand then jumping it forward to catch up. Is it one of these?
posted by krisjohn at 8:07 PM on August 8, 2005

I would guess that the battery is running low, from what you describe, but I am not a watch expert.

Also, since most (all?) Swatch watches have quartz movements that are powered from a battery, you don't need to wind your watch. Only manual watches that store its power in a spring that graudally winds down need an occasional winding.
posted by scalespace at 8:08 PM on August 8, 2005

OK. If it has batteries you don't need to wind it. Watches use stored energy to make the hands on the dial turn through various gears. This stored energy comes from a mainspring in a mechanical watch but comes from a battery in a quartz watch (like the swatch). The only purpose a stem has on a quartz watch is to make it look more traditional and to set the time and date. Typically there are three positions the stem can be pulled to on a quartz watch. All the way in, when winding the stem does nothing. Half way in, which will change either the date or time, and all the way out, which will change the time or date (the opposite of half way in)

I've never had a quartz watch fail to keep accurate time from bad batteries but I've never owned a swatch either. All of my watches just work and then they don't work and I replace batteries.

I would try new batteries though, they're cheap.
posted by substrate at 8:10 PM on August 8, 2005

While it's not a guarantee that the battery's the culprit, it's likely the problem and is cheap to replace in any case. Also, when you get the battery replaced, try and get it replaced at a swatch store or a store that has someone who knows watches. That way, you can ask them to check the watch out to see if there are any other problems with it. Or at the very least, ask them to see if sand might have gotten into it. While there might be a gap between the battery cover and the rest of the watch that stuff might get through, there is typically a rubber o-ring that seals the space between the battery cover and the watch. Since you bought the watch used, however, the seal may be worn out or missing.

If it's not the battery or the seal, it could be anything. One problem I've had with a watch like that is magnetic fields. I used to have a magnetic money clip that I'd keep in my left pocket. When my arm dangled down, my watch on my left wrist would end up very close to it. As a result, for some reason, my watch would get messed-up, time-wise. Getting rid of my money clip also got rid of my watch problems. I doubt that's your problem, but I bring it up just in case.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 12:26 AM on August 9, 2005

You don't need any help changing the battery on a Swatch. All you need is a nickel or a quarter to open the hatch. Plop the battery out, plop a new one in. Unless you have some kind of magical. unusual, rare, freakish ugly kind of Swatch that I don't know about. (I have about 60.)

It's almost certainly the battery. A newish battery does not mean a fresh battery. Try another.
posted by sageleaf at 5:44 AM on August 9, 2005 [1 favorite]

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