How To Look After Your Watch

Written by: Maz P
Updated on:
Rolex Sea Dweller Watch

A watch is more than just a timekeeping device, it is an expression of personal style, an engineering marvel and, in many cases, a valuable heirloom or investment. Knowing how to look after your watch is essential to ensure it remains in top condition and there are many ways to help you preserve your timepiece’s beauty and functionality. Your timepiece deserves appreciation and care and with daily attentiveness, regular cleaning and frequent servicing, your timepiece will remain in prime condition.

In addition to watch cleaning and servicing, there are other important care aspects to consider including protection from magnets, maintaining water resistance, limiting sun exposure and protecting from chemicals. Understanding these aspects of watch care is crucial to keeping your prized possession in its best possible condition.

Your watch is more than just a functional accessory, it’s a reflection of your taste, your sense of style and your commitment to quality as well as a remarkable investment piece. Whilst caring for your watch may seem like a simple task, there is certainly an art to it and if you look after your watch correctly, your timepiece will remain a cherished companion for years to come.

The Importance of Looking After Your Watch Regularly

Properly maintaining your watch is essential to ensure its longevity, functionality and appearance. Regardless of whether it’s a luxury timepiece or a cherished heirloom, your watch requires routine care to keep it in top condition. Well-maintained watches are also more likely to operate accurately and periodic servicing helps ensure that your watch functions as it should, allowing you to depend on it for accurate timekeeping. Neglecting maintenance can lead to more significant issues that require expensive repairs so regular care can help you avoid these costs.

Regular maintenance and daily care can significantly extend your watch’s lifespan, allowing you to enjoy it for many years to come. Keeping your watch clean whilst free from scratches and damage maintains its aesthetic appeal which is especially important for luxury timepieces. Luxury and vintage models appreciate in value over time so with proper care and maintenance, you can preserve or increase the watch’s value making it a great investment.

How to Clean Your Watch

Regularly cleaning your watch is a crucial part of watch care and maintenance. Over time, oils, dirt and everyday grime accumulate on your watch, creating a dull and lacklustre appearance. Neglecting a regular cleaning routine can potentially lead to more severe issues such as damaging the watch’s components so keeping your watch clean is vital for preserving both its aesthetic appeal and functionality. Plated or embellished watches in particular, require frequent cleaning and it is recommended to clean them at least once a month to ensure that they maintain their shine.

Case Cleaning

To keep your watch looking as good as new, you can use jewellery cleaning wipes which are convenient for on-the-go cleaning and many of which feature an anti-tarnish shield to prevent your watch from losing its shine. If you don’t have specialised wipes available, a soft, slightly damp cloth can also effectively remove surface dirt and oils.

Strap Cleaning

When cleaning your watch, you also need to consider the strap. For metal straps, you can use the same methods as for the case. For cleaning between the links, you can use a cotton bud, toothpick or pegwood to get into the tight and narrow corners. Rubber straps are the easiest to clean as they are wipeable but fabric straps come in a variety of materials so it is best to check your watch manual. Some types of fabric are machine washable whilst many can be hand washed with laundry detergent.

Make sure to double check prior to cleaning to avoid any damage to the fabric. Leather straps are the trickiest to clean and you may need to invest in a special leather cleaner. Most importantly, avoid getting leather straps wet, as moisture can damage their appearance and integrity. Additionally, it’s crucial not to immerse your watch in hot water whilst cleaning, even if it’s water resistant as hot water can damage the gaskets and seals that protect the watch’s internal components.

Ultrasonic Watch Cleaning

Ultrasonic watch cleaning is an advanced and highly efficient method for cleaning timepieces. Using ultrasonic waves, an ultrasonic watch cleaner creates microscopic shockwaves within a cleaning solution, dislodging dirt and contaminants from the watch’s components. This method of cleaning has excellent precision, reaching intricate watch parts that are difficult to clean manually and is widely used by professional watchmakers.

Professional Care

Whilst you can clean your watch yourself at home, if you prefer professional care, you can have your watch cleaned by an expert team. This ensures a thorough and safe cleaning process.

Frequent Watch Servicing

Just as you would regularly service a car, a watch is an investment that also requires frequent servicing to keep it in top working order. The servicing time period depends on the type of watch but also how often you wear it and how it is stored. Quartz watches need to be serviced approximately every two to three years whilst mechanical watches can be serviced every three to five years. Each watch manufacturer differs and it is therefore important to check your manual for an accurate time frame of how often your watch should be serviced.

While watch servicing comes at a cost, it is certainly worthwhile. During the process, the watch will undergo disassembly, thorough cleaning, re-lubrication, accuracy checks and an examination of its water resistance. Repairs will be conducted if necessary before it is reassembled, professionally resealed and pressure tested to ensure watertight integrity.

Many brands also offer additional services as part of the service such as crystal replacement. These extras need to be carefully considered, especially for older watches where value often lies in their original condition. Collectors often pay a premium for unpolished watches with all their original features and signs of ageing contribute to a watch’s unique history. If you’re concerned about retaining the value of your investment, you can request that they refrain from these additional services.

Unless you are a professional or advanced in watchmaking, you should seek the help of a professional for your watch service. You can get your watch serviced as a local accredited service centre or alternatively, you can send your timepiece off directly to the brand for an expert service.

Avoiding Magnets

Magnetic fields pose a significant threat to the accuracy and functionality of your timepiece. It is essential to keep your watch clear from magnetism wherever possible to ensure the precision of your watch. Your watch could end up running fast, slow or even stop all together if exposed to magnetism.

It’s important to steer clear of strong magnetic sources at all times but especially when storing your timepiece as if positioned close to a magnet, it would be exposed to the magnetism for a considerable amount of time. Powerful magnets can be found in stereo speakers, refrigerators and magnetic clasps on bags so it is crucial to avoid storing your watch near magnetic items like these. You should also avoid resting your watch near phones or iPads as they also feature strong magnets.

The reassuring news is that if your watch is exposed to magnetism and suffers any damage, it is typically very easy to rectify. Make sure you consult a professional watchmaker to get your timepiece demagnetised.

Understand Water Resistance

Understanding your watch’s water resistance is crucial to avoid accidentally damaging it. Each timepiece has a water resistance level so it’s important that you know yours. You also need to ensure that the crown is always securely pushed or screwed in as this is an area where water could enter the watch case and damage the internal components.

If you are unsure of your watch’s water resistance, most have an ATM stamp on the back of the case. Alternatively, you can consult the watch manual but below are some of the most common water resistance levels.

  1. 3 ATM / 30m: Suitable for splash resistance and minor exposure to water
  2. 5 ATM / 50m: Can withstand submersion and is suitable for shallow swimming
  3. 10 ATM / 100m: Can be used for swimming, snorkelling and water sports
  4. 20 ATM / 200m: Can be used for scuba diving
  5. 30 ATM / 300m: Can be used for professional and deep-sea diving

You also need to understand that the water resistance of your watch is not permanent. Seals can deteriorate over time due to wear and tear, ageing or accidental damage to the crown. It’s advisable to have the seals of your watch tested annually to ensure continued protection against water damage. Regular maintenance safeguards the longevity and performance of your timepiece.

Protect the Face

While it may sound obvious, it’s important to steer clear of subjecting your watch to knocks and any impact. Despite their durability, watches, especially the crystal glass, can be damaged. Luxury Swiss watches feature sapphire crystal glass which is exceptionally sturdy with a greater capacity to resist cracking and scratches. However, if the crystal does happen to get damaged, this can impact the entire watch face. It is possible for tiny shards of glass to get caught in the dials which may scratch the watch face as the hands tick or even bend the hands. Therefore it is extremely important to take care of your watch by protecting it from bumps and bangs.

Safe Storage

When you’re not wearing your watch, it’s advisable to store it correctly, whether in its original box or a high quality watch box. Watch boxes will protect your timepiece from scratches and damage by keeping them safe and secure. They also have the ability to store multiple timepieces at once, perfect for collectors.

One great feature of some watch boxes is a winder. Automatic watches rely on wrist movement to keep running and can stop if left unworn for an extended period. A watch winder is specially designed to keep your timepiece ticking when it’s not in use and helps maintain your watch’s health.

Stay Clear of Chemicals

Protecting your watch from chemicals is one way to ensure the longevity of the timepiece. Chemicals have the potential to tarnish your watch’s aesthetic and structural integrity making this protective measure all the more vital. Chemicals can pose a threat to timepieces, especially those with coloured platings or leather straps. Leather straps are particularly susceptible as exposure to chemicals can weaken the material and lead to potential tears. When thinking of chemicals to avoid, it includes chemicals as simple as household cleaning products and perfume. Perfumes can be particularly detrimental causing discoloration or even eroding the plating on your watch.

To prevent these risks, there are a few precautions that you can follow.  When applying perfume or cologne, don’t wear your watch until it’s thoroughly dry.  When cleaning, make sure to remove your timepiece first.  These simple practices can safeguard your timepiece from unnecessary exposure to chemicals, ultimately preserving its appearance and functionality.

Limit Sun Exposure

Exposure to sunlight, while enjoyable for us, can be detrimental to your watch. Prolonged and direct exposure to the sun’s UV rays can lead to fading, discoloration and overall deterioration of your watch’s appearance. This damage is especially noticeable on leather straps which can become brittle and prone to cracking. Not only can sun exposure dull the colour and affect the straps, it can also dry out the lubricants that keep your watch efficiently working. To top it off, heat can also reduce the battery life so there are many reasons to limit sun exposure.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear your timepiece on a sunny day or summer holiday, it just means that you should have a degree of protection over it. When not wearing your watch, consider storing it in a cool, dark place out of sunlight. You could also consider a watch box that shields it from UV rays allowing you to display and store your watch wherever you like whilst also protecting it. These protective measures can significantly extend the vibrancy and lifespan of your watch.

Consult Your Manual

A watch manual acts as your trusty guide to understanding the intricate features and functions of your timepiece in addition to care and maintenance. Each watch is unique and the manual unravels its specific intricacies. It is a roadmap for maintaining the watch’s accuracy and upkeep with detailed instructions from setting the time and date to adjusting more advanced functions. Watch manuals often include information about the water resistance of your watch and understanding its limits prevents water damage which can be costly to repair.

Troubleshooting common issues is easier with a manual in hand. Whether it’s a sudden loss of accuracy or a small malfunction, you’ll find answers within the pages of your manual. A watch manual transforms your timepiece from a simple accessory into a highly functional companion and helps you get the most from your investment.

Watch manuals are also vital for adhering to warranty terms. Manufacturers often require you to follow specific guidelines and servicing schedules outlined in the manual to safeguard your watch’s warranty and ensure you won’t incur additional costs for repairs or servicing.

Not only can your watch manual help you understand your timepiece, keeping hold of your manual is a smart move for preserving its value. Many collectors and enthusiasts place a premium on watches with their original boxes and manuals. Therefore, if you ever decide to resell or trade your watch, having the manual can significantly increase its worth.

Leave it to the Professionals

Unless you are experienced in watchmaking yourself, there are some aspects of looking after your watch that are best left to professionals. Whilst there are many things that a novice can tackle, watches have a lot of intricate elements that require precision and expertise. Although the convenience and savings of DIY might be tempting, a trained watchmaker is the best person for the job.

Entrusting your watch to a professional watchmaker for cleaning, servicing or repairs ensures ultimate care, fine precision and superior attention to detail. A professional watchmaker possesses the technical expertise to diagnose issues accurately, service, repair and replace parts as needed before reassembling the watch with precision. They have access to a comprehensive array of specialised tools that make the process safe and smooth. Your timepiece also undergoes rigorous quality control checks to guarantee that it operates correctly and within manufacturer specifications.

If your watch is under warranty, attempting self-servicing or repairs can void the warranty. Professional watchmakers work in a way that adheres to warranty requirements ensuring that your watch remains protected under the manufacturer’s terms.

In addition, a professional watchmaker understands the value of your timepiece, not just sentimentally but also from a monetary point of view. They’ll handle your watch with the utmost care, making sure that no damage occurs during the servicing or repair process. This is critical for maintaining or even increasing your watch’s value which can be diminished if you make mistakes during a DIY attempt.

How To Maintain Your Watch FAQ

To take care of your watch, you need to follow some basic steps such as regular cleaning, periodic servicing, avoiding magnets, water, sunlight, chemicals and impacts. You also need to store your watch properly and consult the watch manual for specific instructions.

Keeping your watch in good condition requires routine maintenance and daily care. You should clean your watch at least once a month with a soft cloth or jewellery wipes and service your watch every two to five years depending on the type. You should also protect your watch from external factors that can damage it such as magnets, water, sunlight, chemicals and impacts.

Taking care of an expensive watch is similar to taking care of any watch, but with some extra precautions. You should clean your watch more frequently and carefully, using specialised products and tools. You should service your watch at an authorised service centre or directly with the brand. You should also avoid any alterations or modifications that can affect the watch’s value and originality.

You can clean a watch yourself at home or have it cleaned by a professional. To clean a watch yourself, you need to use a soft, slightly damp cloth or jewellery wipes to wipe the case and the metal strap. You can use a cotton bud, toothpick or pegwood to clean between the links. For fabric straps, you need to check the manual for the best cleaning method. For leather straps, you need to use a special leather cleaner and avoid getting them wet. You should never immerse your watch in hot water, even if it’s water resistant.

The frequency of watch servicing depends on the type of watch and how often you wear it. Quartz watches need to be serviced approximately every two to three years, while mechanical watches need to be serviced every three to five years. You should check the manual for the exact time frame recommended by the manufacturer. Servicing your watch ensures its accuracy, functionality and appearance.

Magnetism can affect the accuracy and performance of your watch, so you should keep your watch away from strong magnetic sources. These include stereo speakers, refrigerators, magnetic clasps, phones and iPads. You should also avoid storing your watch near magnetic items. If your watch is exposed to magnetism and suffers any damage, you should consult a professional watchmaker to get your watch demagnetised.

Storing your watch correctly is important to protect it from scratches, damage and external factors. You should store your watch in its original box or a high quality watch box that can protect it from UV rays, dust and moisture. If you have an automatic watch, you can use a watch winder to keep it running when it’s not in use. You should also store your watch in a cool, dark place away from sunlight, heat and chemicals.

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

AUTHOR

Photo of author
I started WatchmakingTools to share my passion and knowledge with those already bitten by the watchmaking bug. I’ve often spent hours searching online for answers on a specific issue, and even though there is a wealth of information out there, it hasn’t always been very useful, hence why I wanted to share my own findings.

Leave a Comment