Rolex Running Fast or Slow - Here’s Why (& What to Do)

Rolex Running Fast or Slow - Here’s Why (& What to Do)

Rolex watches are delicate pieces of mechanical craftsmanship. Whilst Rolex's watches are known for being robust and reliable, their mechanical movements consist of hundreds of delicate parts. These parts are carefully assembled to create a functioning (and accurate) movement.

All Rolex watches today are automatic. This means that they consist of many small parts and are powered by a rotor that rotates from movements of the wrist as you are wearing it. When the rotor spins, it generates energy to the mainspring, thus powering the watch.

It’s important to point out that because they are just mechanical movements, they are not able to be as precise as quartz movements. Quartz watches tick at 1 beat per second whilst Rolex’s automatic movements beat 28800 beats per hour. With that in mind, in terms of accuracy, Rolex watches and quartz watches should not be compared.

But Rolex’s watches are still specified to function with an accuracy of +/-2 seconds per day which is actually quite impressive for an automatic watch that is powered by a movement containing hundreds of small parts and components.

But since you are here, there’s a chance that your Rolex watch isn’t keeping good time and is running fast or slow. There are several different potential reasons for this that we will look into to help you take the appropriate action.

You can think of the movement of your Rolex watch like the engine of a car. Occasionally, things will happen to the engine of a car, no matter how well-built a car it is. This is a natural thing for all mechanical objects that contain many parts and have moving parts, friction, and so on. When you think of your Rolex movement as an engine, it’s easier to understand why it needs occasional care and servicing.

But before you can service or take the proper care of your Rolex watch, you need to understand the reason it is running fast or slow. Here are the most common reasons.

Why is my Rolex running fast or slow?

As mentioned, today’s Rolex watches are specified at an accuracy of +/-2 seconds per day which are approved according to the Superlative Chronometer Certification. Prior to this, Rolex watches were only COSC certified. This meant that Rolex COSC-certified chronometers were accurate to within -4/+6 seconds a day.

But if the accuracy of your Rolex watch is much poorer than that, it can be problematic, and you may want to look at the reasons why it isn’t keeping good time. Not only will you not be able to rely on the time that your watch displays, but it is also not ideal to leave a movement that shows possible issues alone, as it can cause even greater issues further down the road if you do.

The oils have run dry

All mechanical movements use oils for various parts, in particular in those areas where there is a lot of movement and friction. Whilst Rolex invests heavily in developing long-lasting and well-performing oils and lubricants, they will naturally run dry over time. This is part of the reason why Rolex watches need occasional services. During a service, the oils are cleaned and replaced with new and fresh lubricants. When the oils run dry, the moving parts have more friction to them, and therefore, they will wear out faster. This is why it is advised not to have your watch serviced too infrequently because the result may be that you may need to replace more worn-out parts than if you service it more regularly. And this brings us to our next point.

Worn out parts

The parts inside the movement are subject to friction every single day as the watch ticks. Just like an engine will get worn out and need to have some parts replaced after some time, the same goes for movements.

A Rolex movement consists, as mentioned, of hundreds of parts, many of which move as the watch ticks. Naturally, these will get worn out over time and may need to be replaced. Today, Rolex watches have a recommended service interval of 10 years which is extremely impressive for an automatic watch, and way above most of the competitors. But nothing lasts forever, and the same goes for your Rolex watch. If your Rolex is running fast or slow, it may be because it has not been serviced for a long period of time and thus some parts may be worn out. The solution to this is obviously having it assessed and serviced by a watchmaker to replace the parts that need to be replaced.

It has become magnetized

Magnetism is one of the great enemies of any mechanical movement.

All modern Rolex watches today are built to withstand a certain level of magnetism. One of those solutions is by using Parachrom blue hairsprings, but too much magnetism can have a negative effect on the accuracy of the watch. The reason is that magnetism makes the coils stick together as a result of the balance spring being magnetized, making the watch run much faster. The good news is that a magnetized watch is a rather cheap and easy fix that can be fixed by a watchmaker or by buying a demagnetizer. These usually run for about 10-20 euros.

Keep in mind that there are magnets in many different places with which you may come in close contact throughout the day such as in stereos and laptops, so be mindful about where you have your watch in order to keep it from being magnetized.

It has been subject to shocks and bangs

Whilst Rolex watches are tested and developed to handle shocks and bangs, they are not immortal to shocks and bangs. With that said, if you accidentally drop your Rolex watch to the floor or subject it to great vibrations and shocks, its accuracy may be affected. The result of a great shock may be that the watch stops altogether as a result of something inside the movement breaking. But in other cases, it may just cause it to run too fast or too slow. If you drop your Rolex, it may cause the last winding in the spring to skip forward.


Rolex movements are tested in several positions to ensure great accuracy, but gravity and how you wear your watch will naturally affect the movement’s accuracy. The good news is that if your Rolex is running fast or slow, you can try using gravity to your advantage to see if it helps adjust its accuracy. This is an easy fix that is worth trying before exploring other ways.

This can be done during the night whilst you are sleeping by the way you lay your Rolex watch.

If your Rolex is running too fast, you should place it vertically.

If your Rolex is running too slow, you should place it flat.

The way your Rolex is positioned impacts how gravity affects the movement and the friction that the balance staff is subject to. This method will not make huge differences to your Rolex’s accuracy, but it does work for small adjustments.

It needs cleaning

Over time, your Rolex movement may need a cleaning. Generally, if your Rolex needs cleaning, it will show itself by running too slow. Over time, movements get ”dirty” as a result of dried oils, but also tiny particles, often as a result of friction between the parts which cause particles to come off the various parts. If your movement is dirty, it can cause the movement to run slower. The good news is that cleaning is a natural step in servicing, so servicing your Rolex will solve this issue.

Rolex 5 year warranty

All Rolex watches come with a 5-year international warranty. The Rolex warranty thus guarantees the accuracy of your timepiece for 5 years. If you are experiencing timekeeping issues with your new watch, you can seek assistance from any official Rolex retailer around the world. Just make sure you bring your warranty card and consult with the store. They will be able to assess your watch and help make the appropriate solutions free of charge in order to perfect its accuracy.

A service is often a good solution

If you come to the conclusion that your Rolex needs to be serviced (which they need, just like a car), a watchmaker will disassemble the whole movement, clean it, replace worn-out parts, regulate and adjust it, and give it new oils and lubricants. Servicing your Rolex is crucial over time in order to ensure its precision and longevity.

Evaluating the reason why your Rolex is running fast or slow by yourself can be difficult, and this is why it is always advised to have a professional watchmaker assess it. Having a watchmaker inspect the watch will allow them to identify the reason for its inaccuracy and allow them to take the appropriate action. In many cases, this is a service, but not always. In some cases, it may just be enough to regulate and fine-tune the watch.

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