Can You Break a Watch if You Drop It?

By Nic King •  Updated: 06/09/22 •  6 min read

The short answer is yes, you can break a watch if you drop it. However, the long answer is slightly more complicated.

What We’ll Cover

Does dropping a watch damage it?

First things first, we need to define what ‘breaking a watch’ actually means. Because for some, it means the watch not keeping time. For others, it would mean that the watch is externally scratched or damaged. With that, we need to look at both potential outcomes and what could happen.

Will dropping a watch stop it from working?

This depends on the type of watch you have. Battery-powered quartz watches should, for the most part, continue working after being dropped.

That doesn’t mean that every time you drop a mechanical watch it will stop ticking though. It simply means that it could break the watch completely. You also may end up with a watch that doesn’t keep great time meaning it could run fast or slow. This may not be noticeable right away, but over a few days, you may notice your watch is losing or gaining time.

Dropping a mechanical watch could also result in zero issues with the movement. I hate to say it, but there is a bit of luck involved here. It depends on tons of different factors. From how high the drop was to the kind of movement your watch has to the material your watch fell on, all of these factors and more will come into play.

Will dropping a watch cause external damage?

External damage is a different story. No matter what kind of watch you have from a Citizen quartz watch to a Rolex Submariner, any watch can sustain external damage to the case, bezel, or crystal when dropped.

How much damage depends on a few different elements, but one to consider is the material the watch is made out of. For example, fully hardened stainless steel watches are stronger than platinum or white gold watches. However, this is not the case if it is stainless steel that isn’t fully hardened. Also, keep in mind the watch’s bezel may be made out of a different material than the case.

The same can be said about the crystal the watch is using. Acrylic is the least durable type of watch crystal followed by mineral crystal and sapphire crystal. The likely hood of the drop scratching a watch with an acrylic crystal is much more likely than it scratching one with a sapphire crystal.

So whether or not a watch gets damaged externally when dropped depends on the material the watch is made out of and, of course, a bit of luck.

How do I know if my watch movement is damaged?

How do I know if my watch movement is damaged?

You have dropped your watch, but how do you know if the watch movement is damaged?

The first thing you will watch to do is see if the second hand is ticking. If it is, this is a good sign as it means that the watch is still getting power to the hands.

From there, watch the second hand and see if it moving normally. It should be sweeping around the dial. If there is any sporadic ticking or skipping, the movement is damaged.

If you have gotten lucky, and the second hand appears to still be moving normally around the dial, your watch most likely wasn’t severely damaged by the fall, and you can keep wearing it.

One more thing to look for though will show itself over time with using the watch. If you notice that your watch keeps getting off-time this may have been because of the drop. In most cases though, watches don’t lose enough time for this to even be noticeable. If your watch is, you may want to take your watch to a jeweler to get it serviced.

What to do if you drop and break your watch?

You dropped your watch, and that drop broke it. What do you do now? Well, it kind of depends on the watch.

Watches that cost less than $500, unless they have sentimental value, can honestly just be replaced with a new one. This is because getting the watch fixed will likely cost more than this.

However, it is impossible to find any watch from Rolex, Omega, or many other brands for under $500. These watches are worth getting fixed, and to fix a broken watch after dropping it, you will need to find a jeweler in your area who will work on the watch.

External restoration may be a bit more tricky, and in many cases, will require you to go to a dealer for the exact brand of watch that needs to be restored. Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer, Breitling, and most other high-end watch brands allow you to easily locate service centers online. Some brands will even allow you to ship them your watch for restoration.

Is there a watch you don’t have to worry about dropping?

Caring for a luxury watch can be overwhelming especially considering you can’t even accidentally drop a mechanical, luxury timepiece without worrying it will break.

With that, what watches do you not have to worry about dropping? The answer to this was already mentioned off-hand earlier in the article – quartz watches. These watches are battery-powered meaning that there aren’t many moving parts to break if you drop them. Oddly, they also keep better time and are more affordable.

Truthfully, quartz watches are what everyone who isn’t a watch collector should wear. Timex’s slogan for decades was “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking”. This is because they are quartz watches making them more durable than mechanical watches.

Nic King

My watch journey started when my dad gave me a quartz watch customized with the company he worked for on the face. From there, it evolved into other quartz watches and eventually to the world of mechanical watches. My first luxury watch was a 1960s vintage Omega, and the collection has only expanded from there.

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