Hello everyone, and welcome to another of my reviews. In this article, I’ll be reviewing my experience of getting my watches authenticated, serviced, and polished at watch repair centre The Xcess.
I previously headed down to the Xcess to authenticate my fake IWC Le Petit Prince Chronograph – read about that fiasco here. After indirectly helping me get my money back (which I’m eternally grateful for), I decided to bring three of my watches to the Xcess for some love and care. Let’s see how my experience went.
The Xcess – the Brand
Founded in 2017, the Xcess calls its service centre L’Atelier and describes it as “located in Singapore, built to Swiss standards”. Currently, the Xcess is the authorised service centre for brands such as Baume & Mercier, Vulcain and Anonimo, and sets itself apart through its bevvy of professional equipment that is relatively uncommon in local watch repairers.
Currently, the Xcess servicing team comprises Lawrence, Richard, and Terrisa. The former two are watchmakers with decades of experience at the likes of Rolex (Lawrence) and Audemars Piguet (Richard), while Terrisa specialises in polishing, and is one of the few female polishers in the industry locally. Meanwhile, Syerzan oversees customer experience, while Eugene, Bruce and Boon Chong oversee company operations.
The Xcess – Video Review
For those interested in seeing some hands-on footage of my experience with the Xcess, do watch the Youtube video below:
The Xcess – the Experience
With such an experienced roster, the Xcess was the first place I thought of when I needed servicing done.
My first touchpoint with the Xcess was Syerzan, who is in charge of the customer experience at the Xcess. In other words, he’s the one who handles customers when they send in/collect their watches.
I brought my vintage Rolex Datejust ref. 16234 in for authentication and maintenance (the IWC fiasco made me want to double-check that my Rolex was genuine), an IWC Portugeiser chronograph for servicing and polishing, and a quartz Calvin Klein timepiece that needed a movement change.
For each timepiece, Syerzan carefully inspects its external condition, and took great pains to point out cosmetic defects.
Afterwards, Syerzan takes photos of the timepieces, and sends the photos to the customer. This is to ensure that the customer has clear documentation of the “before” condition of their watches. This transparency is important lest there be any arguments on whether a scratch was pre-existing or caused by the servicing team, etc.
With the documentation done, the team commenced the authentication of my Rolex Datejust. Firstly, Lawrence removes the bracelet from the watch.
Afterwards, he removes the caseback to expose the movement.
Next, he places the exposed movement under a microscope, where customers can personally see the magnified components of their watches in high fidelity. This is important, as while most counterfeits may look real to the naked eye, they often fail to stand up to scrutiny when magnified. That was the case for my fake IWC as well.
After examining both the movement and the dial, Lawrence reported – much to my relief – that my Rolex Datejust was genuine. The entire process took around 15-30 minutes, and I’m appreciative of how I (as the customer) was included in the process by being able to see the magnified aspects of the watch on the screen.
However, Lawrence noted that there was unusual resistance while winding the crown, and suggested that I do a maintenance of the overall watch. This means that he will ensure the watch runs smoothly (timekeeping, water resistance, winding, etc), without taking apart the entire movement to be serviced. Given the vintage nature of the Datejust, I decided that the maintenance would do it a world of good and gladly took Lawrence up on his suggestion.
In contrast, the IWC Portugieser was in desperate need of total service, running as badly as over two minutes late per day in various positions. Therefore, I decided to send it for a full service, as well as a simple polishing to have it look brand new.
And as for my quartz Calvin Klein timepiece, Lawrence discovered that the circuit board of the movement was basically a goner, and required replacing. Usually, I would simply buy a new timepiece (especially as the watch is relatively inexpensive), but in this case, this particular Calvin Klein watch actually has deep sentimental value – it was the watch my mum bought for herself after my birth. After hearing the provenance of the watch, the team at the Xcess promised me that they would try their best to find a replacement movement (no mean feat, given the age of the watch).
After about two weeks, I returned to the Xcess to collect all three timepieces. Firstly, the team were pleased to report that they were able to source a replacement ETA movement for my mum’s Calvin Klein timepiece and that it was now functional.
The team also showed me my Rolex Datejust on the timegrapher, where it kept time close to COSC specs. The amplitude and beat rate were healthy too, especially for a vintage watch. This was remarkable, given the fact that the watch wasn’t technically serviced (the movement was not stripped apart), but merely tweaked and regulated.
The team also placed the Datejust in the waterproofing machine, which denoted that it was waterproof up to 10ATM. That was reassuring, especially given the neo-vintage nature of my Datejust ref. 16234. This means I no longer have to worry about getting caught in the rain or running my hands under the tap with the watch on, which is perhaps the foremost concern regarding vintage watches.
Lawrence also opened up the caseback for me to see the movement, which had been cleaned and greased. As aforementioned, there was some slight resistance while winding the crown, which apparently was the result of dirt and grime being built up around the crown stem. After cleaning and lubricating the movement (including the crown stem), the watch now winds like a charm.
Last but not least, the team also placed my IWC Portugeiser chronograph on the timegrapher. I’m not sure if it’s clear on the photo (one might have to squint) but the timegrapher actually displays that the watch is running at a rate of +2.1s/d, which is significantly better than the -160+s/d that it was at pre-service.
The Xcess also took before/after photos of my IWC Portugsier pre- and post-polishing. Comparing the photos side-by-side, the difference is actually staggering. Not only are the dings and nicks polished away, but Terrisa actually managed to recapture the original satin-brushed finish of the watch. It’s no exaggeration to say that it actually looks like it just came out of the factory.
Honestly, I was very impressed by the polishing job. Every minute aspect was attended to – I noticed that even the caseback screws have been polished to a gleam. In the industry, watch servicers are often prized, with polishers often an afterthought. After all, servicing an intricate chronograph or calendar movement seemingly takes more skill than smoothing away a scratch. I’m afraid I was also guilty of not knowing much about polishing work previously. However, this polishing experience with Terrisa has imparted in me a deep sense of appreciation for the work polishers do – they literally make a watch look like new again. There’s a visceral reaction to seeing your decade-old watch look the same as when you first bought it, and it’s a reaction only polishers can deliver.
Conclusion – so the Xcess “shiok” or not?
I was already appreciative to the Xcess for aiding me with the counterfeit IWC, but actually bringing my watches down to service/polish really cultivated in me a deeper appreciation for watch aftercare. The team was highly professional and skilled as well, and I fully trusted them with my watches. I’m really happy that I can now wear my Rolex Datejust without any worries about its authenticity or its reliability, and that my IWC Portugeiser currently looks and keeps time as if it just left the factory. The Calvin Klein timepiece is also a testament to the length the Xcess will go for their customers – I imagine it couldn’t have been easy trying to find a long discontinued movement.
As the icing on the cake, the prices at The Xcess are quite reasonable. A simple maintenance (like I did for the Rolex Datejust) would cost $199-299, while a full service (like I did for the IWC Portugeiser) starts from $599. While not exactly cheap, these rates are substantially cheaper than bringing the watches back to Rolex/IWC for servicing. And for readers, the Xcess has also kindly extended a 10% discount on all services (valid till 31st March) – simply flash this post while at the Xcess to enjoy the discount.
Learn more about the Xcess here.
The Xcess Location: 1016 Geylang East Ave 3, #04-153, Singapore 389731
P.S: Check out The Shiok Store here – it serves as a curation of my favourite products from my favourite brands.
P.P.S: Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.P.P.P.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.