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How to Demagnetize a Watch at Home? In Less than a Minute

Magnetization of watches can harm the inner working components. That's why you need to know how to demagnetize a watch at home.
Feb 03, 2022

Attractive mechanical watches have quite a number of enemies. One of them, I am not talking about someone who steals but magnetism. Joking aside, magnetic fields have been the bane of mechanical timepieces since the earliest days of the watchmaking industry. A magnet has the ability to attract or repel several metals such as steel and iron. If your mechanical timepiece is made of ferrous materials, then you need to know the steps on how to demagnetize a watch. Why? The reason lies in the watch's loss of accuracy.

Exposure to magnetic fields may not cause permanent harm to your watch. Yet, the moment your watch gradually stays in the range of magnetic fields, it becomes demagnetized. Your watch doesn't have to visit our planet's core or the furthest North to be demagnetized. Nowadays, magnets come in many shapes. They can be found in children's toys, kitchen hardware, audio speakers, even bags with magnetic clasps. From such a regular exposure, the watch can run a bit or too quickly, slow, or cease to operate. Now, it's a problem when your watch accuracy is off the chart, right?

How does magnetism affect a watch?

Some watches have a strong resistance to magnetism while some may retain the effect even after exiting the magnetic field. That's why if the latter happens, you have to know how to demagnetize a watch. Watches contain some ferrous materials. The inner working parts are especially so. When you put the watch near things that have magnetic force, the hairspring coils tend to stick closer due to their sensitivity of magnetization. The shorter oscillation of the hairspring leads to friction and makes the watch run a bit faster than usual.

According to the standard of ISO 764, a watch must, at least, be resistant to direct exposure to magnetic fields of 4800 A/m which is equal to 60 gauss. Meaning, such a watch's accuracy range must be within ±30 seconds per day to be called a magnetic resistant watch. If one day your watch ticks several minutes faster than normal, there's a high probability that it gets magnetized. In general, a small iron magnet or a strong refrigerator magnet is 100 gauss. This magnetic field can disturb a standard watch performance. In the worst case, a stronger exposure to magnetism can stick the hairspring coils together. Such a condition makes the watch stop. So, keep them away from it!

See also: Take a Peek at Celestial Objects from Astronomical Watch

How to tell if a watch gets magnetized?

A watch is magnetized when it becomes erratic in telling time or it gains more than one minute per day. However, the cause of this condition might not be limited to magnetization. For more accurate results, you can use a timegrapher. A timegrapher can tell a watch's beat rate, amplitude, and beat error. If the beat rate of the movement gains or loses more than ±30 seconds per day and there is an inconsistency from the balance wheel beat and rotation, it's an affirmative that your watch is magnetized.

Alternatively, there are two common ways to tell if a watch gets demagnetized: using a compass and a mobile application. You can place a compass on a flat surface. Then, move the watch around the compass. If the compass' needle moves according to the watch location, the chance is higher for your watch to be magnetized. Another alternative is using a mobile application. Most smartphones have a magnetic sensor. If your smartphone comes with or supports the use of compass apps, then it has a magnetic sensor.

To use the sensor, you need to download mobile apps that can identify magnetism. There are a lot of mobile apps that have such a function, for example, Watch Tuner Timegrapher, Lepsi, Tickoprint, etc. Other mobile apps with a magnetometer or gauss meter use can do the job, too. Each app has different settings but it detects the chance of magnetism in your watch. However, there are some cases when the apps keep on saying that your watch is magnetized. The apps can detect the surrounding magnetic fields. So, it's better to be far away from things that emit magnetic force when you want to use the apps.

How to demagnetize a watch at home?

Don't demagnetize your watch if it isn't showing any sign to have a problem. This can cause unwanted issues for the watch. So, make sure that the result is positive for the watch to suffer magnetization.  Knowing how to demagnetize a watch at home can save you time and some bucks. In addition, the process is simple and easy. You only need to use a demagnetizer for this. There are many kinds of demagnetizers but you can buy the little one on the market for under $30.

First, your mechanical watch should not be active. You can set the time to stop and empty the watch power reserve. After everything is done, hold the watch's strap upward to make sure that the dial or case back can face the demagnetizer surface (above the on/off button). Now, you can slowly lift the watch in a vertical direction while pressing the red button at the same time. There is a red light to show that the magnetizer is on. When the height reaches your eyes level, let go of the red button. Last is to slowly move your watch down and close to the magnetizer surface.

There you have it, the steps on how to demagnetize a watch at home. You can check the watch status after the last step. Should it still leave some effect of magnetization, you can repeat the process for the best result. Or, you can go to the nearest watch experts if you're unsure about the exact condition of the watch.

You might also like: Top Watches for Fervent Hunters: From the Retro to the Robust One

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