You raise a very valid point. Cheap does not mean rubbish and expensive does not mean good.
The life of any mechanical watch, cheap or expensive depends upon its servicing. I have a three hundred year old pocket watch, brass plates, no jewels, steel arbors, pinions and pivots, verge escapement, chain and fusee drive, which still keeps time within 5 minutes a day.
The life of a standard, non-jewelled Timex is all about regular cleaning and oiling. Because the plates are brass and the pivots steel, failure to properly regularly clean and oil results in pivot hole and pivot wear. Once this happens the train loses its geometry and the watch fails to function properly.
I know I've banged on about the soaking and lubrication method a bit but with some reason. The need to split the plates and properly clean out pivot holes in order to reduce wear is key to the long life of the watch. Oiling dirty pivot holes causes the oil to combine with muck and dirt and forms a very effective grinding compound which, when the movement is in motion, can wear away pivot holes very fast. Result, excessive side shake on the pivots and loss of geometry. The only course then open is to jewel or re-bush the movement. Costly to say the least.
Any watch should in reality be oiled annually. This slows down mucky deposits forming and prolongs the need for cleaning.
Ironically many Timex watches have survived the years because they are cheap. I recently purchased £400 worth of Timex parts from a watch repairer in Ireland. Amongst this was 35 Timex watches all perfectly good, just needing proper servicing. I guarantee he took them in part exchange years ago and left them unattended because they were not cost effective to revive.
Full servicing costs of a Timex outweighed its overall value and most repairers didn't want to employ the recommended Timex service approach as it was unreliable. Consequently when the watch stopped working, the owner more often than not discarded the watch and bought new. Therefore, in many cases Timex watches are found to be relatively unworn when examined. Getting them ticking is initially no more than oil in the right place, albeit hte action is unlikey to be fluent and other moving parts which need more than oil get unattended. However, it is the after care of the watch once it is going that is key.
If the watch is regularly wound and operated, then proper cleaning is important. Deposits will build up immediately the watch is in motion and will nestle into and line the pivot holes. Cleaning the watch with the pivot in the pivot hole does not allow this muck and dirt to be released. The result is twofold. Pivot holes become elliptical and pivots 'mushroom' (wear in the middle until they become mushroom shaped). Some of the modern Rolex movements suffer with this problem on their autowind units due to sub-standard materials and lubrication problems. They need to be oiled and greased annually to avoid costly repair bills. I know, I've had a number in recently.
In a Timex watch non jewelled, the consequence of incorrect servicing is pivot and pivot hole wear, as well as pinion wear if teeth become dirty. But, the consequences are exactly the same in a jewelled watch, even the highest calibres, with the problem of cracked jewels rather than worn pivot holes. Pivots wear exactly the same way.
Conclusion: doesn't matter what your watch is, failure to properly service it will shorten its life. (I exclude quartz watches in this explanation. Their lifespan is limited come what may.)
Proper regular cleaning and servicing can keep your watch going for many years.
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