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Recently, a customer asked about his watch getting magnetized when it was near his smartphone or tablet. We turned this over to our watchmaker, Garrin Fraze, and he had some terrific information …
A watch movement contains many metal components. Most of these are brass or steel, sometimes paired with other specialized alloys like silicon, to overcome magnetism. Brass is completely non-magnetic, but steel is a paramagnetic material, meaning when it is exposed to a magnet it maintains trace levels of magnetism. To avoid a very lengthy explanation I’ll put it simply; this makes the watch run fast.
Magnetism likely won’t cause long-term damage to the watch itself, but smartphones can affect the rate of a watch. I have an iPhone 11 and an iPad Pro and I have tested both against a couple of my Seikos. They usually run 5-15 s/day fast after sitting on top of my iPhone or iPad while the device is on.
Safe proximity depends on the strength of the magnet in the device. I wouldn’t worry about holding your phone in the hand you wear your watch on - or using an iPad - but I take my watch off and set it aside when using a laptop. Many people will set their watch on top of their phone while it charges and that will certainly lead to magnetism.
Demagnetization is a very simple and easy process. I demagnetize every watch I work on. Any watchmaking workshop should have a demagnetizer on hand, and most have a tester to see if a watch has become magnetized. If someone brings their watch(es) into the Ridglea store, I can test and demagnetize them free of charge. It only takes about 30-seconds per watch, and there is no permanent damage that can occur from this process.
And that’s why we love having Garrin at Haltom’s! If you have any questions or concerns about the care and repair of your watch, please give us a call or stop by.