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The Problem of the "Comeback"

From The American Horologist magazine, May, 1937

The Problem of the "Comeback" 
By FRED M. LUND National Technical Board Member

Many watchmakers have figured, more or less accurately, their percentage of comebacks, that is watches returned after being overhauled because they stopped or ran inaccurately.

But no matter what the number or per cent, their correction represents a total loss to the watchmaker, except perhaps the value of the experience gained, which is of course valuable.
The customer is undoubtedly very often responsible for the comeback. He, either thru ignorance or carelessness, abuses his watch; but the cost to the watchmaker is the same. It is, therefore, up to the watchmaker to educate his clients, as far as possible, to respect their watches and not to bang them or throw them about. Also, to wind them fully at a regular time. And wouldn't it be a great help if we could take out of people's minds the notion that watches stop from overwinding?

But the real purpose of this article is to discuss what is probably the greatest cause of comebacks and that is taking in watches for partial repairs instead of thorough overhauling. When a watch comes in with a broken mainspring, or because it has had a fall, the customer should be told that it probably needs a general overhauling, and that an estimate of cost will be given after a thorough examination. If a mainspring only is fitted, or a partial job done on a watch, it is hard to convince the customer that you are not to blame if it stops shortly after.

It is a protection and the right of the watchmaker, that he be given the job of overhauling a watch if he is to be held responsible for the constant and accurate performance of so delicate an instrument.  To prevent comebacks, the examination and estimate should include everything that might make trouble. If the mainspring is set, a new one is called for. If the hairspring is rusted, or any parts worn, they should be replaced.

You can't afford to take chances.

The crown, particularly on a wrist watch, is the source of much trouble and many comebacks. If it is too small, or worn a bit smooth, it should be replaced, for many a wrist watch is only half wound because of a bad crown.

If watchmakers will use the examination and estimate plan more generally, they will have fewer comebacks. The result will be more profit to the watchmaker and greater satisfaction to the customer.

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