Hello Watchie. If you are reading this then, like me, you must have a bit of a passion for watches. Perhaps you are an experienced collector, or just have a gentle fascination for timepieces. Whether you have your own watch, or a collection of watches, we could all use an extra smidge of knowledge about basic watch care…. So here are some top tips to help make your watch last longer and stay in tip top shape and although most of these are common sense but it never hurts to have a gentle reminder of good practice.
Take care not to drop your watch – an obvious one I know, but when winding it, putting it on, taking it off or even just admiring it, we can all have butter fingers from time to time.
Don’t wind or admire it while walking down the street or anywhere there’s a hard surface (tiles floors, hard wood floors). It is very easy to drop a watch when on the move or even standing still.
Be careful around water – If you are bathing (yourself or a little person), taking a shower, or washing dishes, it’s always a good practice to remove your watch – especial watches with leather straps and vintage watches. Not s much modern tool watches designed for water. The hot water and soap can permeat the gasket and weaken it, causing water to enter the watchcase. Always rinse your watch off after swimming to remove chlorine (pool) and salt water (sea). Never wear a watch with a leather band in water as very few leather bands can stand up to water. If you have a water resistant watch, be sure the crown is screwed down tightly before exposure to water. Don’t alter the time or push buttons under water as it will most likely compromise the seal.
Keep your watch away from magnets – Usually found in televisions, speakers, or laptops, keep your mechanical watch away from common electromagnetic devices. Never allow your watch to rest on your laptop. Magnets may adversely affect how the metal components inside the watch work which in turn will affect its operation. This doesn’t apply to digital watches, or any watch which does not rely on gear mechanics. If unavoidable, look for “anti-magnetic” watches which include technology to prevent damage from magnets.
Don’t wear your watch when winding or setting – Always remove your watch from your wrist when winding it or setting the time. Pulling up on the crown while it’s on your wrist to adjust it may damage and loosen the crown over time.
Consider activities you have in the day(s) ahead and select your watch accordingly – For example:
Sports – if you have a round of golf or game of tennis (or any fast moving or impact sport), don’t wear an automatic or manual wind watch the impact of these activities can jar the movement.
Rough or dirty activities – if you are such as rock climbing or gardening, working on motor vehicles, DIY, Moving house (or lifting boxes in general), be careful not to scrape, scratch, scuff or ding your beloved watch.
Holiday – take good care on holiday when on the beach, getting in and out of swimming pools, moving heavy luggage.
Kids – Oh the kids. Love ’em but how they can be linked to a damaged watch. Picking them up, putting them down, rolling around, ruff an tumble, pulling, scuffing and scraping your beloved timepiece. Food all over the place. Throw-up! I take my watch off when having a kid heavy day. Or wear my kid friendly beater watch.
Cooking – spitting fat, flour, grease, oils, heat, water… lots of watch unfriendly things here. Take it off or wear a cooking friendly watch.
Curry – as this is a website aimed at gents, Im going to throw this delicious but watch unfriendly one in the mix. have you ever seen what curry oil does to your kitchen or table top (or shirt cuffs). Not good right. Imagine that on your expensive leather watch strap or vintage gold watch case. Not a good idea. Just be careful.
In all tuff or grubby instances, consider purchasing an inexpensive watch that you don’t mind getting dirty or scratched or banged up.
Don’t wear any bracelets or chains on your same wrist – Wearing metal jewellery on the same wrist as your watch can potentially scratch the sides or the face of your precious timepiece. Leather or fabric bracelets are OK but do void metal on the same wrist.
Take your watch off for long periods at the office desk – long hours of repeated rubbing at the desk may slowly damage, scuff, scratch and mark your watch over time (especially leather straps). Be sure to place your watch on a soft ‘watch friendly’ surface. Ideally not a hard desk and not surrounded by clutter that can damage the watch. And whatever you do, don’t spill a hot drink over it!
Once your watch is off your wrist, store safely – once your watch is off your wrist, dont ram it in your trouser or jacket pocket with your spare change or car keys. It will get scratched and scuffed. Likewise, shoving it in your man bag will likely lead to unwelcome damage. If you do need to take your watch off regularly; prepare. Carry a watch travel case for quick and safe stowing, or, at the very least, a soft cloth protective drawstring bag.
Careful with lotions and potions – When putting on hand cream, aftershave, face moisturiser, hair products, try as you might, it is likely to go on your watch. A little bit, once in a while is just about OK but ongoing, constant cumulative build up will certainly have a negative effect. Keep your watches out of your bathroom while you ready yourself for the day. As a rule, have the watch be the last thing you put on when dressing
Store your watch well – Store your watch in a soft cloth away from other jewellery, watches, and metal objects. Even if you are just removing your watch for the night, this will keep dust away from your watch and will lessen the accumulation of scratches and wear from banging into or rubbing up against other pieces of jewellery. For people that have multiple watches it is important that any unused watch is stored away properly – ideally in a proper watch box/case as these have separate compartments for each watch in a soft environment, and will keep dust and other contaminants from the air away. If you leave your watch out on a nightstand or dresser there is a risk that something will spill on it or it get knocked off causing dents, scratches and other damage. Keeping your watch in a watch box will protect from moisture, dust and other objects as well. Good practice could be to pop a Silica Gel Pouch into your storage box or safe to absorb unwanted moisture.
Avoid extreme temperatures (high or low) – Do not leave your watch in the car in a hot country or next to a sun lounger under the hot sun around the pool. You’re your watch off when visiting Sauna’s, Jacuzzi’s and Sunbeds. Exposure to hot temperatures can dry up lubricants and cause premature aging of dials and cause dial lacquers to lift or bubble. Conversely, long exposure to super cold temperatures like Skiing (or any snow holiday) will not do your watch too many favours over time. Wear the right watch for the right occasion.
Wind regularly and often, at around the same time – We all take for granted the fact that most automatic watches are still running when we pick them up to wear, but realise that when you’re not wearing an automatic watch it loses power and precision over time. As the coil in the mainspring slowly unwinds releasing energy through the power train of the watch movement, it generates power throughout the movement that eventually fades with the uncoiling of the mainspring. As horology improves the power reserve and energy efficiency of movements, it is best to appreciate the fine Swiss movement and wind your watch to ensure full power energy levels.
Do not over wind your watch – Always be ready to hit the end point. Like a green traffic light will always turn to amber at some point soon, your watch will come to reach its fully wound position quite suddenly. As you get to know your watch, you will learn when this point is (15 winds, 30 winds), but don’t wind your watch frantically like a rocket blasting off. Take care. Slowly. Enjoy the process. It is good practice to unwind a few turns once you hit the resistance point to release a bit of the tension.
If your watch has a date, do not adjust the date or time between 11pm and 3am – You can damage your watches gears and pinion if you adjust the date or set a watch with a date display or calendar function between the hours of 11pm and 3am. Why? Because the movement can be damaged as date starts to switch a shortly before midnight and finishes a few hours after. This also applies if your watch has a quickset feature. Check with your watch manual or search online on how this could affect your particular timepiece. Check with your watch manual for more info on this as it depends on your particular watch.
Set your watch clockwise -To be safe, you should always wind your watch clockwise. Set it counter-clockwise may damage the movements. Some modern watches can be set counter-clockwise, but do check with your watch manual see if setting counter-clockwise is a problem for your watch. I always set clockwise – no matter what the manual says. Also, never try to set back the date as the date and calendar functions of most watches are constructed so that they can only be moved forward.
Use a watch winder if you dont wear your watches often – An automatic watch should be worn daily to remain at peak accuracy. Its good practice to use a watch winder when not wearing it. Its also a good idea to rotate watches to keep them active and alive
Make use of manufacturers warranties – Don’t sleep on the manufacture recommended maintenance periods (they don’t come around that often, and can add many years to the life of your watch)
Service as and when recommended by the watchmaker – If watch runs slow, it might be ready for a service. Servicing of the movement of your watch should always be done through an authorized retailer or service centre of the manufacturer. When changing the battery on your timepiece, make sure the gasket is checked for integrity. If your watch is running smoothly, you should still have it serviced periodically. If you are an office worker with a WR50 timepiece, you probably need less servicing than someone with diver’s watch who professionally dives for a living. If your watch undergoes a lot of stress during wearing, it’s recommended to check water resistance yearly and have it fully serviced every two or three years. In the case of a lightly worn watch, you can check water resistance every two years with a full service every five years.
Take care of leather straps – Leather is a natural material that becomes worn out and used over time. Avoid exposure to water, soap, and don’t wear your leather strap while sleeping, showering, or swimming. How much a watch strap ages will depend on how much it’s used, but when used daily, they usually last about a year.
Clean your watch often – At the end of the day when removing your watch, take a moment to clean smudges and fingerprints from the case, crystal (the watch glass), and metallic watchbands.
Leather bands can be cleaned periodically with a leather cleaner and conditioner. Metal bands can be removed and cleaned with a little bit of soap and water with a soft brush. For water resistant levels less than 50, use a bit of mild jewelry cleaner on a barely damp small brush. Work gently but purposefully to remove dust and skin particles, particularly from those areas hard to get at (the back of the watch, between the bracelet links, under the clasp. Once the watch is clean, dry it all off with a soft cloth.
Take your watch off at bed time – my view is “why would you want to have it on?” Unnecessary tugging, and pulling when you twist and turn during in the night. No one can see it on your wrist. So why have it on.
Professional clean / polish – After time, scratches and wear on your watch glass, band and case may be significant and can be refinished to appear as new. This can be done at most jewellery serving centres.
Here are some basic guidelines to what you can do with watches of various water resistance:
Water resistant to 30 meters or simply labeled “water resistant”- Can withstand splashing.
Water resistant to 50 meters- Okay for light swimming but not prolonged immersion
Water resistant to 100 meters- Good for all types of swimming
Water resistant to 200 meters- Safe for free diving
Water resistant greater than 200 meters- Suitable for deep diving