If you use a watch often, it'll get dirty. Your skin's oils, sweat, and other stuff, along with dust and even hair, will gather in nooks, crannies, and on the watch's surface. You don't need to clean it too frequently; maybe every few years should do. (Remember, if you've been in salt water, rinse it immediately.) If you buy a used watch, it might need a good clean before wearing it.

Before cleaning your timepiece, consider whether you're okay with putting it in water. Dive watches can handle it, but delicate ones like dress watches shouldn't get too wet. If you're not confident about soaking your watch, don't do it. Those watches should be professionally cleaned during servicing. But if you're fine with giving it a bath, here's what you can do.

What You Need Before Cleaning Your Watch

Clean Your Watch

Make sure you gather all the necessary items in advance. This prevents missing crucial steps or accidentally harming your timepiece. Also, remember to maintain the watch strap, not just the case itself. Dust and dirt can accumulate in the joints of metal bracelets, potentially causing future damage and costly replacements. One must ensure you have the right tools if you intend to completely remove the strap for a more thorough cleaning.

Exercise caution when using water if you're cleaning with the watch case still attached to the strap. It should have a water resistance rating of at least 50 meters, guaranteeing you won't harm the case during cleaning.

The Supplies

  • Get a brush made for watches or a soft toothbrush that's been used and cleaned to make it extra soft before using it on your watch.
  • Toothpicks
  • Grab a clean microfiber cloth
  • You'll need a pack of basic, eco-friendly, anti-bacterial sanitary wipes.

Let's Get Started With The Cleaning

Step 1: Inspect Your Watch

When you're ready to clean your watch, take a closer look at it, preferably with a basic magnifying glass. Examine its overall condition. 

  • Check for any cracks that might let moisture in. 
  • Pay special attention to the crown and other moving parts. 
  • Also, inspect the edge of the crystal where it connects to the case. 

If you spot a chip or any part where the crystal isn't securely attached to the case, it's time to have your watch professionally examined, serviced, and cleaned.

Step 2: Remove the Bracelet or Strap

If you're comfortable doing so, use the right spring bar tool to detach the bracelet or strap from your watch. It gives you access to one of the dirtiest areas of your watch—the inner side of the lugs and the end link of the bracelet. Besides, taking off your bracelet makes it easier to clean both the watch and the bracelet. 

Whichever attachment style you have, remove it and set it aside for a moment.

Step 3: Clean the Watch

Now, take one of the wipes and gently clean every part, corner, engraving, and edge of your watch. Also, a quick once-over should only take a minute or two. After this initial wipe-down, you'll be able to spot the more stubborn dirt and grime more easily.

Step 4: Toothpick (or Brush) Action

Is there any stubborn grime left after using the wipe? Grab a toothpick and snap off the brittle tip. Wrap the toothpick with the edge of the wipe and gently work the firmer end into the problem spots, guaranteeing that it will not tear through the wipe. 

If your cleaning effort stirs up some watch-related gunk, softly brush it away with a detailing brush or a soft-bristle toothbrush. Remember, a toothpick might scratch softer metals depending on your watch material. That's why it's best to be thorough with the wipe, especially on precious metal cases. Well, don't risk a scratch. You better call your authorized dealer to have your special watch professionally cleaned.

Step 5: A Microfiber Finish

Complete the cleaning with a soft, clean microfiber cloth. Moreover, it swiftly absorbs any extra moisture and helps with skin oils from your touch. Further, wrap the cloth around your finger and use your fingernail to make sure it reaches all those hard-to-reach spots, like:

  • The bezel edge
  • Crystal edge
  • Inner lugs
  • Case back seam

Step 6: Clean The Stainless-Steel Bracelet

Submerge the watch in lukewarm (not hot) soapy water. Temperature changes can make the seals expand or contract, risking water damage. Even dive watches can fail if exposed to high temperatures, and most manufacturers advise against wearing your watch in water over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Use a sink or bowl filled with lukewarm water to clean your timepiece. Also, a brief soak and gentle wiping with a cloth should clear away most dirt. If necessary, you can add a drop of antibacterial dish soap to the water. Dish soap dissolves grease, which is useful for removing oils and debris from stainless steel. If your watch isn't water-resistant, be cautious and only dip the strap in the water to avoid any trouble.

Additionally, delicately scrub the stainless-steel bracelet using a damp, clean toothbrush. Be mindful of the pressure you apply. After all, excessive force can lead to unwanted scratches. Now, dip the bracelet in warm water or hold it under a running tap to remove the soap. Leaving soap residue on the steel can cause tarnishing and a dull appearance. A proper rinse maintains the fresh brushed or polished surfaces, keeping them looking new.

Cleaning a Leather Watch Strap

  • Start by cleaning your leather strap with a dry cloth to get rid of any surface dirt. 
  • Use a microfiber cloth to avoid scratching the strap. 
  • Afterward, use an antibacterial wipe to eliminate any harmful bacteria.
  • For extra care, apply a few drops of leather conditioner to a dry cloth, rub it in, and let it dry. This will keep the leather supple and prevent it from developing cracks. Moreover, make sure to use a watch-specific leather conditioner, as it's designed for close contact with your skin.

Regularly cleaning and maintaining a leather watch strap is essential since it readily absorbs dirt and can trap odours. Also, leather is sensitive to liquids and high temperatures over time.

If you wear a timepiece with a leather strap daily, consider cleaning it as often as once a week to prevent sweat and dirt from getting absorbed. However, use leather conditioner sparingly. Excessive use can wear out the strap. One must aim to apply conditioner no more than two or three times a year at most.

Cleaning a Rubber or Silicone Watch Strap

  • To maintain rubber or silicone watch straps, wipe them down regularly with an antibacterial wipe to see to it that they stay clean. 
  • Lightly sprinkle baking soda on the affected area for tough stains or dirt that won't come off easily. Now, use a toothbrush to gently scrub until the mark disappears.

Rubber and silicone watch straps are an excellent choice for those with active lifestyles. They're comfortable, sturdy, and straightforward to keep clean. Nonetheless, you shouldn't go without cleaning them regularly to keep them in top shape.

Why Does Stainless Steel Need Special Attention?

With time, the shiny appearance of a stainless-steel watch can fade. The small gaps between the metal bracelet links can collect dust and dirt, potentially causing damage or corrosion. Even if your watch is water-resistant, stainless-steel watches can be at risk of rust if you often swim and expose them to salt water or sweat regularly. 

Do you own a dive watch that sees frequent use in saltwater or freshwater lakes? It will demand some extra care to ensure it remains clean, in good condition, and functional.

How To Clean A Watch Movement

It goes without saying that the watch movement is a crucial component of your timepiece. In simple terms, it comprises the numerous parts inside the watch that collaborate to give you accurate timekeeping. Keeping it clean is essential because it plays such a vital role in the watch. Moreover, not only does this enhance its appearance, but dirt can also cause wear and tear on the inner mechanisms of the watch. This leads to reduced reliability and potential failure.

Cleaning a watch's movement involves disassembling every part of it. Given the complexity of the many components, reassembly is practically impossible without specialized knowledge. Therefore, attempting to preen it on your own is strongly discouraged. Instead, it's advisable to entrust this task to a reputable and skilled watch specialist who can carry it out on your behalf.

Fortunately, you don't need to clean the movement as frequently as the rest of the watch. Unless the movement becomes excessively grungy, a cleaning every three to five years should suffice.

How To Care For Your Watch?

Knowing how to clean a watch is an unavoidable part of timepiece care, but ensuring your watch stays in its prime condition goes beyond just cleaning. Further, it involves knowing when and where to wear it, how to store it, and even being mindful of what you apply to your skin and how it can impact your watch. 

Moreover, here are some additional tips for keeping your watch in excellent shape so it serves you for many years to come:

Wearing Your Watch

As much as you adore your timepiece, it's important to give it some time off your wrist. Also, be sure to take it off during certain activities:

  • Washing Up: It might seem obvious, but many people assume it's okay to wear a water-resistant watch while doing the washing up. However, this is a bad idea because hot water can damage the watch movement, potentially leading to condensation beneath the dial.
  • Sunbathing: Extended exposure to direct sunlight can cause the watch dial and strap colour to fade over time. 
  • Sleeping: Besides, wearing it round the clock can lead to quicker accumulation of dirt. Make it a habit to take it off before bedtime.

When removing your piece, handle it with care. A sudden drop can cause serious damage, even if the exterior appears unscathed. The impact can harm the movement. So, be careful when taking off your watch, and never leave it on the edge of a high surface.

Storing Your Watch

Your watch can incur damage even when it's not on your wrist. Chips and scratches can mar the watch's appearance. And dust and moisture can infiltrate the movement, slowing it down or even breaking it.

  • To properly care for your timepiece, consider storing it in its original box. If you no longer have the original box, you can easily purchase a suitable storage box. 
  • For those with a collection of timepieces, a multi-watch storage box is a convenient option. However, keep your watches separated by at least an inch to prevent scratching.
  • Maintain a stable room temperature for your storage space, as extreme heat and cold can harm the watch's movement. 
  • To keep the storage area dry, include a silica gel pouch inside the box to absorb moisture. 

Remember that dust can accumulate over time regardless of how well you store your watch. Moreover, watches stored in storage should be cleaned at least a couple of times a year, even if they haven't been worn recently.

Lotions and Fragrances on Your Timepiece

To preserve it in the best possible condition, be mindful of what you apply to your wrist before wearing it. Perfumes, colognes, and lotions can harm the straps and the watch. Moreover, the oils and chemicals present in these products can tarnish metal straps and stain or discolour leather straps. Moisture can be particularly damaging to the watch movement.

For a watch that maintains its impeccable appearance and proper functioning, allow any lotions and fragrances to dry on your skin before wearing the watch. If you need to reapply your fragrance throughout the day, it's advisable to spritz your neck or the inside of your elbow instead of your wrist.

Servicing Your Watch

Personal care for your watch is very important, but there's only so much you can do on your own. To ensure your watch remains in top-notch condition, have it professionally serviced at least once every five years.

Additionally, professional servicing involves a comprehensive cleaning of the timepiece, applying oil if necessary, and the removal of dents and scratches from watch crystal. It also includes testing every component to see if it's in good working order. Yes, professional servicing can be an investment. But it will save you significant money in the long run. Regular servicing helps prolong the longevity of your timepiece and keeps it in an excellent state.

Furthermore, it applies the care (or cleaning) rule to pre-owned and vintage watches and new ones. Even new watches should be serviced regularly to maintain their quality and longevity.

Caring for a Quartz Watch

In addition to the general maintenance tips mentioned above, keep in mind to replace the battery in a quartz watch regularly. Failing to do so can lead to battery leakage. Ultimately, this can damage the internal components beyond repair. Typically, watch batteries last for about two years, so you'll likely need to change them fairly regularly.

Do you notice your quartz watch slowing down less than a year after a battery replacement? It's a sign of potential damage caused by battery leakage. In such cases, having the watch serviced is a good idea.

Quartz watches (such as tissot prx quartzare sensitive to moisture, as condensation can harm the internal circuit. When storing a quartz watch for an extended period, remove the battery, as it may leak if left inactive.

Caring for a Manual Watch

Manual watches are intricate and detailed, comprising as many as 300 tiny parts. Because of their intricacy, they must be handled with care to ensure the watch's proper functioning.

Manual watches require manual winding to operate. It's paramount not to wind the watch between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., as this is when the date changes. Moreover, winding it during this time can potentially damage the mechanism. Typically, a manual watch can run for up to 40 hours after winding it. To maintain its accuracy, it's a good practice to wind it daily.

Also, always remove your watch before winding it. Winding the watch while it's on your wrist can put undue pressure on the stem, potentially causing it to break over time. When winding the crown, stop when you feel significant resistance. It usually occurs after about 30 to 40 turns.

Bottom Line

For anything you own, proper care is the bare minimum you can do. Bijoux Eclore wants to make sure you know every detail, and we'll keep on sharing more information so you are fully educated.

And while you are here, don't forget to explore our collection of endless luxury watches.