Beginners Guide to Watch Oils and Greases

Written by: Maz P
Updated on:
Watchmaking Oils

In the realm of watchmaking, proper lubrication stands as the unsung hero behind the durability and accuracy of mechanical watches. My fascination with horology has taught me that through the careful application of watch oils and greases, enthusiasts and professionals alike can preserve the intricate movements that drive watch movements.

Navigating through the various options of watch lubricants can seem daunting at first, but understanding their purpose is both enthralling and crucial. I’ve discovered that each type of watch oil and grease serves a unique role, from ensuring smooth gear operation to preventing wear and tear. By the end of this guide, you will grasp the importance of selecting the right lubricant for each component of a watch movement and the techniques for applying them with precision, knowledge that will enrich your appreciation for the delicate science of keeping time.

Watch Oil Key Takeaways

  • Proper lubrication is a key practice for maintaining the longevity and performance of mechanical watches.
  • There exists a variety of specialized oils and greases designed for different components of a watch movement.
  • Selecting and applying the correct lubricant is an essential skill for anyone interested in watch maintenance or watchmaking.

Essential Role of Lubricants in Watch Mechanics

When servicing watch movements, my choice of lubricants, oils, and greases is critical to ensure optimal performance. Here are some important steps and considerations for applying these lubricants:

Moebius Synt-A-Lube 9010

Minimizing Friction and Wear: The intricate components like gears and pivots demand consistent, gentle motion. By strategically applying lubricants, I majorly decrease the metal-on-metal contact that leads inevitably to wear and tear.

Corrosion Prevention: Metallic watch parts are prone to rust. I create a defensive shield with the right lubricant to stave off moisture and halt unwelcome oxidation.

Keeping Out Debris: To avoid operational hiccups, I apply greases and oils that act as sealants, barring dust and particles from entering the timepiece’s inner sanctum—a necessity for preserving its intricate mechanics.

Viscosity Specificity: Matching the lubricant’s thickness to the needs of each part is key. Here’s my approach:

High viscosity grease for heavy load areas such as the mainspring barrel.

Lighter oils for high-speed, low-torque components like the escapement.

I choose watch lubricants meticulously, understanding that each component from the balance staff to the setting system demands its own specifics—expressly synthetic oils for their remarkable age and pressure resistance. Correct application to pallet jewels and cap jewels, for example, is not just about lubrication, but precision—too much or too little, and the delicate dance of the gear train could falter.

Essential Advice for Applying Watch Lubricants

When servicing a watch, it’s imperative to create an environment that’s free from dust to prevent contamination of the watch oils and greases. I always ensure my workspace and tools are immaculate before starting, dust covers and dust blowers are my go-to tools for preserving the movement’s integrity.

As a watchmaker, selecting the right lubricant for each component is critical. I rely on established guidelines or trusted sources within the watchmaking community to choose the right type of oil or grease, taking into account factors like viscosity and material compatibility.

Here’s how I apply lubricants effectively:

  • Use the Right Tools: For precision, use specialist tools such as oilers and oiling pots and mainspring oiling tweezers. The aim is to avoid excess oil which can cause more harm than good.
  • Minimize Quantity: A small drop or a thin film is usually enough. Over-applying can hinder the movement, while too little may lead to increased friction and wear.
  • Target the Right Points: Be meticulous. I apply lubricants to specific movement parts, such as the pivots, gears, and jewels, which prevents over-lubrication.

Timekeepers’ Choice in Lubricants – Moebius Selections

Each watchmaker has their individual preferences for oils and greases. It takes a lot of trial and error to find your preferred products, however, through recommendations, you can get a head start at narrowing it down.

Moebius watch oil is by far the most widely used watchmaker oil and grease manufacturer worldwide and with good reason. Founded in 1855 they specialize in the production of high-quality oils and greases guaranteeing an ideal lubrication of your watches. They produce a range of watchmaker oils and greases to cover all watchmaker needs as well as all climates.

Essential Lubricants for Watchmakers – Moebius

Versatile Moebius Greases for Main Springs and Barrels

As a watch enthusiast dedicated to care and precision, I find that the longevity and functionality of watch springs are of utmost importance. I particularly choose to apply Moebius Natural Grease 8200 for its notable consistency changes under stress, which benefit spring performance significantly.

Moebius Natural Grease 8200 is a highly versatile lubricant that finds great utility in the field of watchmaking. This semi-fluid thixotropic grease exhibits excellent adhesion properties, making it an ideal choice for various applications. While at rest, it maintains a relatively thick consistency, ensuring stability and long-lasting lubrication. However, when subjected to stress or movement, it undergoes a remarkable transformation, transitioning into a more liquid state that allows for smooth and effortless flow.

For watchmakers residing in hotter climates, Moebius Natural Grease 8300 serves as a viable alternative. Although slightly less thixotropic than its counterpart, this grease maintains its effectiveness even under higher temperatures. However, residing in the UK, where hot climates are not as prevalent, Moebius Natural Grease 8200 remains a suitable and reliable option for watch lubrication, providing consistent performance and protection.

By selecting Moebius Natural Grease 8200, watchmakers in the UK and other mild to cool climates can confidently ensure the proper functioning and longevity of their timepieces, even in the face of varying stress and temperature conditions.

When oiling a mainspring I recommend using specialist mainspring oiling tweezers or making your own mainspring oiling tweezers.

Moebius Natural Grease 8200 / 8300

Where to Use

Mainspring, Inside Wall of Mainspring Barrel

Shelf Life

Moebius Natural Grease 8200: 3 Years

Moebius Natural Grease 8300: 3 Years

Notes

New mainsprings come pre-lubricated and need no additional oil or grease. Just pop them into the barrel and you’re all set.

Both Moebius Natural Grease 8200 and 8300 are available in a fluorescent variety.

Moebius Natural Grease 8200
Moebius 8200
Moebius 8300
Volume:
2ml
Volume:
20ml
Shelf Life:
3 Years
Shelf Life:
3 Years
Primary Rating:
4.8
Primary Rating:
4.7
$37.50 ($55.97 / Fl Oz)
$33.95
Moebius 8200
Volume:
2ml
Shelf Life:
3 Years
Primary Rating:
4.8
$37.50 ($55.97 / Fl Oz)
Moebius 8300
Volume:
20ml
Shelf Life:
3 Years
Primary Rating:
4.7
$33.95
03/08/2024 03:58 am GMT

High-performance Synthetic Oils for Speed and Stability

When handling the robust demands of high-speed watch parts, I turn to synthetic oils for their reliable performance. Moebius Synt-A-Lube 9010 and Moebius Synta-Visco-Lube 9020 are two exceptional 100% synthetic oils designed to meet the diverse lubrication needs of the watchmaking industry. Their exceptional resistance to aging and pressure makes them indispensable for ensuring the smooth operation and longevity of watch components.

Moebius Synt-A-Lube 9010, with its balanced viscosity, is specifically formulated for fast-moving components. Its ability to withstand high levels of pressure and stress makes it an ideal choice for critical parts that experience rapid motion. Whether it’s the rotating gears, pivots, or other high-speed components, Synt-A-Lube 9010 ensures minimal friction and wear, contributing to optimal performance.

On the other hand, Moebius Synta-Visco-Lube 9020 offers a higher viscosity, making it better suited for slower-moving components within a watch movement. This synthetic oil retains its exceptional resistance to aging and pressure, ensuring reliable lubrication for parts that demand a slower and smoother motion.

By utilizing the superior properties of Moebius Synt-A-Lube 9010 watch oil, you can maintain the efficiency and durability of the fast-moving components in your watches. Whether it’s for chronographs, rapid date change mechanisms, or any other high-speed components, this synthetic oil will continue to deliver exceptional results, ensuring the precise and reliable operation of your timepieces for years to come.

Moebius Synt-A-Lube 9010

Moebius Synt-A-Lube 9010 / Moebius Synta-Visco-Lube 9020

Where to Use

Gear Train Pivots/Jewels on Escape Wheel and Fourth Wheel, Balance Staff, Barrel Arbor

Shelf Life

Moebius Synt-A-Lube 9010: 6 Years

Moebius Synta-Visco-Lube 9020: 6 Years

Notes

Moebius Synt-A-Lube 9010 is available in blue, fluorescent, and film-forming varieties.  Moebius Synta-Visco-Lube 9020 is available in red, fluorescent, and film-forming varieties.

Moebius 9010
Moebius 9020
Volume:
2ml
Volume:
2ml
Shelf Life:
6 Years
Shelf Life:
6 Years
Primary Rating:
4.7
Primary Rating:
5.0
$33.89 ($484.14 / Fl Oz)
$75.00 ($441.18 / Fl Oz)
Moebius 9010
Volume:
2ml
Shelf Life:
6 Years
Primary Rating:
4.7
$33.89 ($484.14 / Fl Oz)
Moebius 9020
Volume:
2ml
Shelf Life:
6 Years
Primary Rating:
5.0
$75.00 ($441.18 / Fl Oz)
03/08/2024 02:52 am GMT

Moebius 9010 Affordable Alternatives

One of the cheaper alternatives to Moebius 9010 is Moebius 8000. Though not fully synthetic, it provides decent lubrication for escapements. Keep in mind that selecting an alternative to Moebius 9010 often means sacrificing some of its benefits, such as increased resistance to aging and a longer shelf life. Nonetheless, Moebius 8000 can still serve as a viable option for those on a budget.

Moebius 8000

Where to Use

General purpose including lubrication of fast mobiles with low torque (Pendulum Pivots, Escapements, certain Wheels)

Shelf Life

Moebius 8000 = 2 Years

Notes

Natural oil is based on mineral oils and highly refined natural oils with remarkable stability. With excellent lubricity and adhesion, this oil is ideal for many applications.

Moebius 8000 Multi-Purpose Lubricating High Grade Watch Oil Moebius 8000 Multi-Purpose Lubricating High Grade Watch Oil
$8.93 ($297.67 / Fl Oz)
Volume: 1ml
Shelf Life: 2 Years
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/08/2024 01:43 am GMT

Superior Synthetic Options for High Pressures and Temperatures

In my repertoire of lubricants for watches that face rigorous conditions, Moebius’s Microgliss D-5 and Synt-HP-1300 9104 are noteworthy choices. The former, a mix of mineral and natural oils with additives, brings stability and pressure resistance to watch components. The Synt-HP-1300 9104 steps it up with a synthetic formula geared towards high-pressure scenarios, offering a remarkable operational temperature range and a lifespan that’s double that of the D-5.

Moebius Microgliss D-5 is a blend of mineral and natural oils enhanced with specific additives to ensure stability and pressure resistance. This combination results in a lubricant that delivers reliable performance in various watch components. Its viscosity provides effective lubrication, and the additives contribute to its stability under pressure.

On the other hand, Moebius Synt-HP-1300 9104 is a 100% synthetic high-pressure oil, exclusively formulated for demanding applications. With its synthetic composition, it offers distinct advantages such as extended shelf life and a broader temperature range compared to Moebius Microgliss D-5. The Synt-HP-1300 9104 exhibits remarkable stability and can withstand temperatures ranging from -25 °C to +100 °C, making it suitable for a wider range of environments.

While both lubricants have a similar viscosity, Moebius Synt-HP-1300 9104 presents several benefits over Moebius Microgliss D-5. It boasts twice the shelf life, ensuring its longevity and reliability over extended periods. Additionally, its broader temperature range indicates its versatility in varying climatic conditions, providing optimal lubrication even in extreme temperatures.

Moebius Microgliss D-5 / Moebius Synt-HP-1300 9104

Where to Use

Centre Wheel / Third Wheel Pivots, Keyless Work, Winding Stem, Canon Pinion

Shelf Life

Moebius Microgliss D-5 = 3 Years

Moebius Synt-HP-1300 9104 = 6 Years

Notes

ETA recommend using Moebius Synt-HP-1300 9104 in their movements. Moebius Synt-HP-1300 9104 also comes in a fluorescent and colorless variety.

Temperature Suitability: HP-1300 9104 is stable across a wide range – from -25 °C to +100 °C, ensuring versatility for most locations.

Moebius Microgliss D-5
Moebius D-5
Moebius 1300
Volume:
20ml
Volume:
2ml
Shelf Life:
3 Years
Shelf Life:
6 Years
Primary Rating:
4.8
Primary Rating:
4.7
$39.99
N/A
Moebius D-5
Volume:
20ml
Shelf Life:
3 Years
Primary Rating:
4.8
$39.99
Moebius 1300
Volume:
2ml
Shelf Life:
6 Years
Primary Rating:
4.7
N/A
03/08/2024 01:15 am GMT

Moebius Synthetic Grease 9415

Moebius Synthetic Grease 9415 stands out as an exceptional lubricant within the realm of watchmaking, renowned for its impressive properties and specialized application. Crafted as a 100% synthetic thixotropic grease, it offers a multitude of benefits for watch components, particularly in the critical area of the escapement.

With its superior stability and excellent lubricity, Moebius Synthetic Grease 9415 plays a pivotal role in reducing wear and friction within the escapement. This vital mechanism, comprising the pallets, escape wheel, and balance wheel, is responsible for regulating the watch’s timekeeping accuracy. By applying this grease to the escapement, a highly effective lubricating film is formed, ensuring optimal performance and extending the lifespan of these intricate components.

The synthetic composition of Moebius Synthetic Grease 9415 grants it exceptional stability under varying conditions, making it a reliable choice for long-term lubrication needs. Its thixotropic nature allows it to maintain its viscosity and consistency when at rest, ensuring the grease adheres to the desired areas, even in vertical orientations. However, when subjected to stress or movement, the grease transitions to a more liquid state, facilitating smooth flow and efficient lubrication.

Moebius Synthetic Grease 9415

Moebius Synthetic Grease 9415

Where to Use

Pallet Fork Exit Jewel

Shelf Life

Moebius Synthetic Grease 9415 = 6 Years

Notes

Moebius 9415 also comes in a fluorescent variety.

Moebius 9415 Synthetic Grease
$55.99 ($559.90 / Fl Oz)
Volume: 2ml
Shelf Life: 6 Years
Check Availability
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/07/2024 09:13 pm GMT

Selecting the Ideal Watch Lubricants for Your Timepiece

When it comes to preserving the precision of your watch movement, choosing the right lubricants is key. Here’s what to consider:

  • Swiss Excellence: Opt for Swiss-made oils known for their superior quality.
  • Material Matters: Select greases compatible with your watch’s materials to avoid damage.
  • Lubricity Levels: Go for high-viscosity oils to maintain optimal lubrication over time.
  • Climate Considerations: Ensure your lubricant withstands your specific climate conditions, especially if you face extreme temperatures.
  • Budget Balance: High quality doesn’t always mean high cost; assess the value against the performance benefits.

Remember, the right greases and oils safeguard the heart of your watch, so invest wisely!

Watch Oils FAQ

Absolutely! Watches, like any finely crafted mechanical marvel, require regular lubrication to keep them running smoothly and ticking away with precision. The intricate gears, springs, and other components within a watch movement rely on the magic of oil to minimize friction and wear, ensuring optimal performance.

Generally speaking, watches should be oiled every three to five years to maintain their optimal performance. However, the exact interval can vary depending on factors such as the watch’s complexity, usage, and environment.

If you’re the adventurous type who wears their timepiece during extreme sports or underwater escapades, it might be wise to oil it more frequently to combat the effects of rigorous activities and exposure to water. On the other hand, if you have a more sedentary lifestyle and keep your watch sheltered from the elements, you can stretch the intervals between oiling a bit further.

The best type of oil to allow for the smooth and precise operation of your beloved timepiece is synthetic watch oil.

Synthetic watch oil is the cream of the crop when it comes to lubricating those tiny gears and jewels that make your watch tick with precision. Unlike its mineral-based counterparts, synthetic oil boasts exceptional stability and a lower viscosity, which means it flows effortlessly into the tightest of spaces, ensuring optimal performance. This high-tech wonder also offers superb resistance to temperature changes and oxidation, safeguarding your watch against the ravages of time.

For Centre Wheel / Third Wheel Pivots, Keyless Work, Winding Stem, and Canon Pinion oiling the best alternative is Moebius Synt-HP-1300 9104. It has double the shelf life of Moebius D-5, ensuring its longevity and reliability over extended periods. In addition, it has a broader temperature range to benefit varying climatic conditions, providing optimal lubrication even in extreme temperatures. Seiko Watch Oil S-4 is also another suitable alternative.

For gear train pivots/jewels on the escape wheel and fourth wheel, barrel arbor, and balance staff best budget alternative is Moebius 8000. However, one thing to bear in mind is that the Moebius 9010 has a longer shelf life.

If you think I’ve missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.

AUTHOR

Photo of author
Discover the Art of Watchmaking by following my journey through the intricate world of watchmaking with WatchmakingTools.com. I've encompassed my passion and expertise into crafting this hub for enthusiasts and professionals alike, where the secrets of timepiece creation are unveiled. Explore this rich repository of knowledge, from the luxurious allure of Omega’s precious metals to Swatch’s revolution in affordable Swiss watches. Delve into Seiko’s innovative spirit, Rolex’s iconic designs, and the ethical considerations behind mechanical watches. Whether you’re choosing the perfect strap material for style and comfort or seeking the most durable watch case, my comprehensive guides are tailored to enhance your horological experience. Navigate the vintage watch market with confidence, and ensure your timepieces retain their water resistance and precision. At WatchmakingTools.com, we empower you with the tools and insights needed to master the craft. From selecting the best oiler tools to understanding the environmental impact of watchmaking, we cover every facet to elevate your skills and knowledge.

6 thoughts on “Beginners Guide to Watch Oils and Greases”

  1. This is totally disheartening. The prices here are exorbitant to say the least. Based on this price list I would need to spend $220.00 on 28ml of oil that have a shelf life of 3 to 6 years. Starting out, this is crazy to say the least. Add to this a basic list of tools, and I am $300 to $500 dollars in the hole. And I have not even bought a watch to practice on. Who on earth can afford these prices?

    Reply
    • Hi Peter, you really only need to purchase 4 oils/greases – Moebius 8200 or 8300, Moebius 9010 or 9020, Moebius D-5 or HP-1300 and Moebius 9415. Appreciate the costs add-up but these will last many years. If you’re able to buy all the basic tools needed for only $500 then you’re doing well. Unfortunately it’s not a cheap hobby to pick-up.

      Reply
    • Hi Peter. The price is high if you just look at the cost/quantity ratio. But with that little oil you can revise at least 100 watches, if not more. Also you are complaining that this does not even include a watch to practice on. Frankly, you are not going to practice on a Rolex or Breitling, are you ? Just check on online auction sites (even local auction houses) for entire lots of old watches, maybe even not working. They don’t cost that much. You can get bags full of watches for not much. And revive them.
      Have fun !

      Reply
    • I can understand where you’re coming from here. What I can say is that especially for a new hobbyist, if you do purchase these full bottles its enough to do probably hundreds of watches. You’ll probably only do a few movements a month at most right? I also believe in regard to the expiration date, personally i see that more relating to the lubricants once they’re in the movement. So if you buy say 4 different oils maybe 2ml up to 10ml or so, you’ll mist likely continue to use it for years especially if you don’t have paying costumers. I’d also say thatnince you have covered all your bases tool-wise, you won’t really have to do that again. I think its rounding up all the tools, and feeling the impact if buying several lubricants all at one time is what feels overwhelming. So once you’re set, you shouldn’t have to go through it again. Later on down the road, say you want to get a nee tool, then its not so bad its just one purchase, same with lubes there may come a day where you need one but likely not all of them again. I am also an ordinary man with ordinary money, but now that the first purchases are over I can handle getting something here or there. I hope this helps put it in perspective. Time heals all wounds lol so after some months you’ll just have all that you need. Good luck. One last thing you don’t absolutely need everything at once, as others have said in forums that you can get away with a couple lubricants, some even say you can get by with some moebius 8000 and molykoteDX as your grease, especially if you’re just learning and for a hobby you’ll still be abke to do the process and get some results, then later on when you want better results get an additional oil, or upgrade your screwsrivers etc.

      Reply
  2. What is the difference between Moebius oils and ISO VG synthetic oils at the same viscosity and density? … Besides the the 10,000% difference in price I mean….

    Reply
    • Hi Gerald, all my experience is based on using only Moebius and Seiko oils which have been specifically designed for use in watchmaking, so unfortunately I cannot provide a valuable opinion on the use of ISO VG synthetic oils for watchmaking. I do fully appreciate the pain with regards to the price of Moebius and am aware of some watchmakers that go for fully non-branded options.

      Reply

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