Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this “shiok” Sunday, I’m reviewing the services of Global Watch Service Centre.
This is my first time covering a watch service centre, and I’m immensely stoked to do so! If you follow my Instagram, you would know that I’m an avid fan of vintage watches. Recently, a few of my vintage watches have been acting up, and I decided to pay Global Watch Service Centre to get them serviced. In this article, I chronicle my experience at Global Watch Service Centre, as well as a quick review of how the servicing and repair services.
Global Watch Service Centre – Interview
To know more about the company, I sat down with Agnes for a short interview.
Tell us more about Global Watch Service Centre, and how it came about!
A: I saw a gap in the market for an independent, reliable luxury watch service operator. In my previous job at a watch AD, I heard many customers complain of exorbitant prices and long waiting time by agents and how some brands in the market operate without a service centre. Furthermore, the market for preowned watches is thriving and there is certainly a lack of qualified technicians to service the reseller purchase of watches. I decided to explore this venture with a close friend (who is now my partner), a highly skilled & honest technician. I recalled, at that time when we discussed, he was recovering from an operation. He shared his fear of not able to perform his craft when illness strikes and he dreamed of a sustainable watch servicing business for major Swiss Watch Brands, one that would continue even if personal illness strikes. He also has a heart of gold and wanted to help many of his fellow technicians who were asked to retire or were retrenched when watch brands closed their service division.
Today, Global Watch Service Centre prides itself as a leading watch service centre dedicated to watch services and refurbishment works for watch owners, retailers and watch manufacturers, who are seeking reliable & trustworthy professionals with both integrity & competency in watch servicing.
In your opinion, what are the considerations one should have when it comes to servicing our watches? What should one look out for when bringing their watches to service?
A: In my opinion, there are 5 main points to consider.
1. Proper set-up and procedure
Having a designated location and space to carry out the watch repairing and servicing provides a place where you can go back anytime to check on your watch. There is greater security as opposed to entrusting your watch with freelance technicians who work from home. In the procedure of watch servicing, one step that cannot be overlooked is proper documentation that marks the exact condition of your watch. Proper documentation serves to protect both sides, for instance, in the event the after-condition of the watch is being disputed.
2. Credibility and feedback
With watch service centres establishing a strong online presence today, customers easily take to online platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to leave reviews of their experiences. Pay attention to testimonials from tried-and-tested customers that are likely to be impartial and grounded in reason. Use these reviews to guide your choice of a watch service centre. A note of caution – sometimes negativity may be a product of misunderstandings, so be discerning when reading reviews.
3. Customer-centric staff and technicians
Staff and technicians with expertise on watch servicing allow you to communicate your problem clearly and receive the right solution from them. But more than that, the staff and technicians should always have your interests at heart. Sometimes, not servicing your watch or not repairing a certain part of the watch is the right advice – even if it costs their business.
It is not easy leaving your watch with someone, especially if it has gone through thick and thin with you, cost your hard-earned money or holds deep sentimental value. Hence, the watch service centre should be able to answer important questions such as how long the warranty period is or whether the centre has been insured. In unforeseen circumstances, the service centre must offer firm accountability and take ownership for your watch.
5. Long-term relationship
Ultimately, entrusting your watch to someone all boils down to trust. You know you’ve found the right service centre when it is somewhere you will revisit and the staff are respectful and care for your watches as much as you do. In cultivating a long-term relationship with the watch service centre, do remember that respect and care go both ways.
What makes Global Watch Service Centre different from the other repair services in Singapore? What would you consider your strengths?
A: I wouldn’t comment how different we are against other repair centres. However, I believe these are our strengths: i) being customer centric helps us understand customers need and expectation in the restoring their time piece ii) integrity & accountability certainly helps in building trust with our customers iv) our high quality, value for money service cost attracts iv) ability to source for genuine/ original parts, which is important for this business.
Do you have any interesting stories to share? Any interesting watches that you have serviced till date, or interesting clients?
A: Yes, of course – from demanding clients to loyal clients.
One interesting male client (referred by his friend) checked in a Rolex Daytona for a full service and polish. When told that service turn around time is 3 to 4 weeks, he commented that it was too long and decided to cancel the service. About 3 weeks later he came back, and said he wanted to service it with us because he went to several other centres andthey quoted him about 2 to 3 months (industry standard including agents) for his servicing. So we are not so bad in our turn around time after all! Thereafter he recommended his family who owns a number of Rolexes to send all their watches here 😊.
We also sometimes go beyond our scope of work to help our clients. Recently, a male client bought a Datejust on Ebay. He came in to service his wife’s Rolex and asked if we could authenticate his newly purchased watch. As it turned out, the Datejust was a replica. He was stunned and clearly upset. He wanted to pay for the authentication but we decided to waive it as we empathised with his situation. Fast-forward a few days later he came back and asked if we could do him a favour by producing a document & photo to help him for submission to eBay for a claim. We don’t usually do this, but we did for him, and this time he insisted we collect payment because he said he might be able to collect a refund from Ebay on the “fake” watch he received. We were happy when he called and informed us that he managed to clear the case and got his money refunded.
Global Watch Service Centre – the Experience
Two of my vintage watches were having accuracy issues, and I decided to bring both to Global Watch Service Centre for a look.
After warming greeting me, Agnes examined the two vintage watches I brought in – a Rado NCC 101, as well as an Omega Geneve.
She does so with a loupe, meticulously scrutinizing all aspects of the watch, looking for discoloration on the dial, rust on the hands, scratches on the case, etc.
Going one step further than I expected, Agnes actually passed me the loupe for me to examine the watch for myself! She proceeded to show me the various defects she has noticed, such as discoloration at the sides of the dial, slight rust on the hands, as well as scratches on the case and plexiglass. To be honest, these are defects that are almost imperceptible to the naked eye, but to Agnes it is important for her clients to fully understand the condition of the watch – she states that such transparency helps protect both parties.
After painstakingly pointing out to me the various defects of the watch, Agnes proceeded to jot all of that down, as well as writing down the agreed remedial procedures. For my Omega Geneve, she recommended an overhaul of the movement, which includes changing the mainspring for better amplitude. She then asked if I would like to polish the plexiglass and the case, both of which had scratches – she explained that some collectors prefer not to polish their vintage watches, as they wished to preserve its “character”. Personally, I like my vintage watches to look the best they can be – I buy vintage for value and aesthetics – and thus told Agnes to proceed with the polishing, as well as the touching up of the hands. Agnes did also offer me the chance to re-lume my Omega Geneve, but I declined it as I didn’t see a need for lume on a dress watch.
Thereafter, Agnes handed me the invoice to sign, on which she had extensively detailed the condition of the watch, as well as the servicing and repair procedures that will be undertaken. This way, the customer (me) has a clear understanding of not only the condition of his watch, but only what will happen to it.
As an additional level of transparency, Agnes proceeds to take a few photos of the watch, and sends it to me for reference. “Sometimes the customer disputes what I write on the invoice, saying I forgot to write that it came with an original buckle, etc, so I always send them photos,” Agnes said. Finally, Agnes packs my Omega Geneve in a clear plastic (along with a copy of the invoice), where it awaits its servicing and polishing.
As mentioned earlier, I also brought along my vintage Rado NCC 101, which had been experiencing some accuracy issues, for Global Watch Service Centre to have a look at.
However, I was called back a few hours later. Mike – the technician of Global Watch Service Centre – came out personally from his workshop to explain to me the (terrible) condition of my Rado watch. He shared that the watch has been improperly serviced before, with the previous technician – damn you, whoever you are – essentially gluing the dial to the rest of the watch. Over time, the glue has weakened, some of which has gotten into the movement, thus causing accuracy issues. Mike then elaborated then if I really wanted, he could try removing the glue from the movement, but it would be a painstaking task and thus cost me quite a pretty penny. He then advised me not to opt for the servicing – the fee would likely be significantly more than the amount I initially paid for the watch. Whilst I was pissed that I got burnt in this vintage purchase, I appreciated the honest advice of Mike and Global Watch Service Centre, who dispensed the advice even though it came at the expense of my business.
Overall, I have to say I was highly impressed by my experience at Global Watch Service Centre. They really stuck to their values of transparency and doing right by the customer, and I left the service centre assured that my watch was in good hands.
Global Watch Service Centre – Before Servicing
Just so we are able to see the “before and after” of my Omega Geneve, here are some pictures of its condition before servicing and polishing!
As can be seen in the photo above, the accuracy and general condition of my Omega Geneve isn’t that great. In particular, the deviation rate (-23s/d) is on the high side, whilst the low amplitude is a cause for concern as it signals a weakening mainspring.
The case is pretty banged up too, with several obvious scratches on the lugs as well – understandable, given that the watch is around 50 years old!
Lastly, slight rust and pitting is also visible on the hands. In addition, minor discolouration can also be seen near the edges of the dial, particularly near the 4 and 5 o’clock region.
Global Watch Service Centre – Servicing
A servicing process is a long, tedious, painstaking one – no stones is left unturned.
First, the watch is disassembled, whereby the dial, case, and glass are separated.
Secondly, the beating heart of the watch – the movement – is dismantled into its key components.
After the movement has been dismantled, it is then ultrasonically cleaned in formulated solutions, removing the grime that has accumulated over time.
Next, the movement is examined in order to identify if there are components that needs to be replaced. In my case, the mainspring needed to be replaced due to the low amplitude that was indicated on the timegrapher.
After replacing the necessary components, the movement is lubricated – to reduce friction in the movement’s gears – and then reassembled. This is an extremely tedious task as individual parts have to be removed to be lubricated separately.
With the movement serviced, the case and plexiglass is thereafter polished to a gleam. No more scratches – the case and plexiglass looks like new!
Afterwards, the dial of the watch is touched up. Here, work is done to remove the discolouration on the dial, while the hands have also been cleaned to reduce the amount of rust and pitting on it.
Finally, the watch is reassembled in its entirety. The watch – after it is reassembled – then undergoes a final waterproofing test to ensures it meets the pressure-resistance requirement. To do so, a 3-step process is undertaken – a vacuum test, a compression test and a condensation test. Only after the watch passes all the tests is the watch ready to be returned to its owner!
Global Watch Service Centre – After Servicing
Needless to say, I was absolutely delighted with the result!
First and foremost, the accuracy of my Omega Geneve has been improved tremendously. It is now within +2s/d (from a -23/d previously) – that’s well within COSC specification! The amplitude has increased significantly as well to a healthy 294 degrees (up from 210 degrees), while the beat error has plunged to a miniscule 0.1ms. That’s much better than several of my modern watches!
I was impressed with the case polishing as well. Not only has the scratches been removed, even the bevels has been polished! That was a detail that I didn’t expect, and after interacting with the watch in the metal I love its new looks.
Finally, the dial has been touched up wonderfully too! The discolouration marks around the 4 and 5 o’clock area are gone, and the hands are much cleaner now. After the touch-up, I’m struck by how beautiful the dial is – why doesn’t Omega produce such dials anymore?
Conclusion – so Global Watch Service Centre “shiok” or not?
Definitely so – I was tremendously impressed along every step of the way. Firstly, I really appreciated the transparency of the Global Watch Service Centre experience. They made meticulous care to document almost every facet of my watch, and left me with no doubt about their reputability and competence. I’ve serviced watches before (mainly with the old uncles in Chinatown) and others are nowhere that transparent about things, and can leave you short-changed. Secondly, the people of Global Watch Service Centre (Agnes, as well as technician Mike) are very knowledgeable about all things horological, and I was stunned by how detailed their servicing and polishing processes were. Lastly, the results speak for themselves – my 50-year-old Omega Geneve runs within Rolex’s superlative chronometer standards, and looks as good as new!
For those interested in their services, Global Watch Service Centre has kindly offered my readers a discount – readers get to enjoy $20 off complete overhaul services for Swiss branded watches! Alternatively, for those who own a Rolex (Stainless Steel), you can opt for a free polishing (worth $120) when you send in your Rolex for overhaul services from now till the end of October (do note that this promotion does not stack with the $20 discount). Simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” while booking an appointment with them via Facebook, or flash this post when at Global Watch Service Centre. So act fast if you want to give your Rolex or your prize timepiece a new lease of life! Having a reputable service centre to rely on is a must for all watch collectors, and I believe I’ve found mine in Global Watch Service Centre.
Global Watch Service Centre’s full range of services can be viewed on their website here. They are also now the official service centre for Maurice Lacroix timepieces, so if you have a ML timepiece that needs servicing, go look for them!
Global Watch Service Centre’s Location:
Blk 333 #02-18, Kreta Ayer Rd, 080333
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!