I know for some of you the headline of this story might seem weird but having repaired Citizen Eco-Drive and Seiko Kinetic watches for a long time now, I can tell you that there are things that need to be covered.
It seems to me that the end user customers have no idea how their watch generates power. This is evidenced by their telling you that the watch was running when they put in the jewelry box or in their underwear drawer.
Kinetic watches act like automatic watches in that it is the motion of the arm while wearing the watch that powers the watch. In an automatic watch, this motion winds the mainspring. In a Kinetic watch, the motion charges the storage capacitor. Regular watch batteries cannot be recharged. Storage capacitors act like a battery; however, they can be recharged.
Like all rechargeable batteries, if we run the battery down too often and do not fully charge the storage capacitor it will fail prematurely. Replacing a storage capacitor is much more costly than replacing a simple watch battery. With that said, you can see why a jewelry box or underwear drawer is not the optimum place to keep this type of watch.
Eco-Drive/solar watches, on the other hand, generate power from ambient light in order to recharge their storage capacitors.
All solar, Kinetic and Eco-Drive watches have a symptom that lets you know when the storage capacitor needs to be charged–the second hand begins to trip. What is meant by “trip” is that the second hand will skip two seconds for every second it ticks.
Often, we receive these types of watches for repair with the instruction for a new storage capacitor. The first thing we do is put a Kinetic on the watch winder to recharge the capacitor or an Eco-Drive or other solar watch under an incandescent light bulb for a few hours (mine is a 40-watt LED that is as bright as a 100-watt incandescent light.)
An Eco-Drive/solar watch will be fully charged in about four hours. If after 10 minutes it is still tripping, the watch will in fact need the storage capacitor replaced. In our experience, seven out of 10 need only the storage capacitor charged.
Do yourself and your customers a favor and try recharging the capacitor before going through the process of sending the watch to your watchmaker.
If the customer is keeping the watch in a place where it won’t remain charged, the customer will be back with the same problem even after the replacement of the capacitor if you don’t explain how to care for these watches.
Too often I–not the salesperson–was the one to explain to the customer that their watch needed light to keep the storage capacitor charged. This information needs to be given to the customer at the point of sale to avoid problems later, such as an angry customer who thinks you sold them a faulty watch when all they need to do is keep the watch in a place where it can get some light or wear it more often (or at least shake it once in a while).
A side note: As I have told many of you, we are working on getting our videos into downloadable format. When we have them up, the watch battery replacement video will be free of charge and we invite all of you to download it for your staff. We’ll let you know as soon as they are ready.