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Is your clock broken? Then visit a Repair Café before you decide to buy a new one. In many cases, clocks and watches can easily be repaired. That is the conclusion of the RepairMonitor, the online tool that helps Repair Café repairers keep track of their records.

Watches popular at Repair Café
By the end of March, the repairs of 142 alarm clocks, clocks and/or watches were recorded in the RepairMonitor. This places timepieces among the top ten most popular items of the Repair Café. In more than half of the repairs (78) the watch was working again by the end of the Repair Café!

In three quarters of the cases, the repairer assessed the reparability with a rating of 6 or higher (on a 1-10 scale); a third even got an 8 or higher. This indicates that generally speaking clocks are easy to repair.

‘It stopped working’
The most common complaint (47×) about clocks is simply that they stopped working. Common causes are that a clock fell or that it is really old. But also wear and tear, poor material or poor construction are named – as well as a playful cat. All these may cause batteries to run out and springs, dials, or hands to come loose.

In the case of alarm clocks, the alarm sound, lights and buttons are often the problem. Just like larger clocks, watches are often about the battery. Sometimes you need specialist tools to replace them, such as a suction cup that can be used to remove the back of a watch. This kind of tool is present at many Repair Cafés.

Top five solutions
The RepairMonitor offers the following five solutions for problems with clocks, watches and alarm clocks:
1. Tinkering
2. Cleaning and/or removing rust
3. Replacing the batteries
4. Replacing parts
5. Greasing/Oiling

These seem like relatively easy tasks. But according to Wim van der Westen, clock expert of Repair Café Delft in the Netherlands, this is very often not the case. He warns that knowledge, special tools and lots of practise are needed to repair clocks. “Many clocks are even worse off than before because they have been repaired incorrectly.” Thankfully there are several Repair Cafés clock makers at work.

Tips from the clock experts
Often clocks are wound too tightly or the wrong oil has been used. Wim’s number 1 tip is to always use clock-oil, never sewing machine oil or penetrating oil. In the long run, this will result in a lot of sludge and dust that will hinder the next repair. Tip 2: Never turn a clock with chime counter clockwise. Tip 3: Support the weights if you are going to tinker with them; they are very fragile.

But Wim’s most important advice is: come to the Repair Café if you are not a clock expert yourself. “Clocks are repairable, but you need to know what you’re doing. A chime clock is very complex and many repairs are precision work involving millimetres, sometimes even fractions of millimetres.”

Needed supplies
Frequently needed supplies for watch repairs: clock oil, batteries, special clock or watch repair sets. 

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