When your watch starts ticking slower than usual, it might be time to bring it to a specialist. These expert craftsmen mend, service and restore items that tell time. They can do everything from replacing batteries to a full-scale watch overhaul. The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute recommends getting a full service every four to five years.

Unlike a modern car, which you can plug into and poke around, mechanical watches are tiny and complex. To find problems, a horologist will often need to take the entire watch apart and lubricate, clean and replace gaskets.

That can take a long time, and cost a lot of money. But it’s also the only way to be sure your watch is in good shape for years to come. And while it may feel tempting to buy a cheap knockoff at the mall, a quality piece can be worth many times that amount when repaired properly.

You’ll pay a bit more at these specialty shops, but you’ll get a much better repair job. Some will even give you a warranty on parts and labor.

The first thing to look for is cleanliness. “A shop that is sloppy and dusty shows a lack of pride in the work they do,” says Kivel.

Next, a good horologist will be able to communicate with you clearly. “You want to know exactly what you’re paying for,” he adds. “So a good shop will tell you everything that they’re going to do and the total cost up front.”

Ideally, your watch will have a unique history that can be traced back to one of these independent repair shops. That gives the owner and their employees the opportunity to develop a close relationship with your watch, which will be important in future repairs or if you decide to sell it.

A good horologist will also be able to provide you with references from other customers and show you photos of work they’ve done. A reputable independent will also be willing to offer you a free estimate on a service.

This tiny Midtown shop is a Yelp favorite, with many customers praising the speed and affordability of its services. The owners are experienced watchmakers who can change your battery, resize your band or re-attach a broken link for under $10. This neighborhood gem is known for its quick service and friendly owners.

Some Yelp reviewers complain about the wait, but most agree that the prices are reasonable. This Upper West Side shop is a great alternative to the crowds at more expensive downtown spots. This small, cluttered shop is run by an older gentleman who has decades of experience. Reviewers call him a “real pro” and say he’s honest and fair.

The most common repairs are replacement of a worn battery and adjustment of a bracelet strap. If your watch is an antique or vintage creation, the craftsmen at NY Watch Lab can polish and re-plate the case to restore its original shine. They can also refinish the dial, remove scratches and replace missing pieces. This process involves removing an extremely thin layer of metal, so it’s only recommended when needed. Watch repair near me