A blemish or smudge can really take the shine out of a luxury timepiece’s aesthetic. Your watch is with you day in day out, across many different environments and occasions, meaning that whatever you do, your watch follows suit. And while hands and clothes benefit from regular cleaning, watches can often get overlooked.
Fortunately, keeping your watch clean is a relatively simple endeavour and doesn’t require any specialist equipment. In this guide, we’ll explain the steps needed to maintain an immaculate timepiece, as well as the frequency you should clean, and how to look after particular materials.
What do you need?
- Warm, soapy water
- A small, soft-bristled brush (a clean toothbrush would work)
- A couple of microfibre cloths
Refrain from using any chemicals or cleaning solutions, even if they’re marketed as safe for watches. These can cause damage to stainless steel and, even once rinsed away, some trace chemicals can remain and may cause skin irritation when you put your watch back on.
How to clean a case
To clean a watch case, firstly check the water resistance of your timepiece before you begin. While you may not be submerging it for a lengthy period of time, your watch will be in contact with water so it’s best to remain vigilant. While doing this, also be sure to check each element is tightened as much as possible.
It can be beneficial to inspect the overall condition of your watch before you begin. A magnifying glass will help you get up close and identify any damaged areas that could house dust and dirt or cause moisture to leak in. In addition to this, pay particular attention to the edge of the crystal and all moving elements such as the crown. Should anything feel loose or have apparent chips and dents then your watch should be professionally inspected and serviced ahead of cleaning.
If you’re confident your watch is ready, begin by taking a clean, dry microfibre cloth and gently dust the case paying particular attention to the edges and each tiny facet.
Following this, dip a second cloth into a small bowl of lukewarm, soapy water. It’s important that this isn’t hot water as a rise and subsequent fall in temperature can cause expansion and contraction of the gaskets, which are there to protect your timepiece from liquid, dust, and other particles.
Rinse any excess liquid and gently wipe around the case again. If there is some stubborn dirt or grime, take the soft-bristled brush and delicately work it around the case in small circles. Be mindful of the pressure you apply to avoid any small scuffs or scratches.
Once you’re happy the watch is clean, use fresh tap water to remove any remaining soap residue.
Allow your timepiece to dry thoroughly.
Once dry you can begin the final, perhaps most crucial, step. A thorough dust will absorb any excess moisture, buff out fingerprint marks, and add a gleaming shine to your newly cleansed timepiece. Wrap the microfibre cloth around your finger and again, work in small circles all over the case.
How to clean a watch strap
There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to cleaning a watch strap, as the material plays a pivotal role in the guidance.
Metal, such as stainless steel, silver, and gold
Perspiration and sea water can cause degradation of metal wear so taking good care of this material, particularly when it comes to cleaning, is crucial. Interestingly, the ‘stainless’ in stainless steel is due to a layer of oxide which can lead to rust if there is a lack of oxygen. When you’re not wearing your watch, particularly for some length of time, ensure that it is still exposed to air. This means, if it’s housed in a case take it out for a dust every so often.
To clean, submerge your metal strap in a small bowl of warm, soapy water. Dip a soft-bristled brush in the water and gently scrub any dirt that has accumulated. Then remove from the water, pat with a microfibre clean cloth and leave it to dry.
Any moisture, including perspiration, grease, or perfume, should be avoided as it can cause staining as well as drying out the leather, leading to deterioration. Understandably then this makes it a little trickier to clean than other material. In this instance we’d say that prevention is better than cleaning often, so where possible avoid wearing a leather strap in warm environments and during energetic activities.
For the times when you absolutely must clean your leather strap, use a specific leather cleaner or conditioner. Then, simply dust off any visible debris. Next, using a microfibre cloth massage a little conditioner into the leather to pick up any dirt and soften the material. Leave it to air dry – overnight is best.
Rubber is one of the easiest materials to clean because it doesn’t absorb anything, like a nasty smell, and instead naturally repels liquid and dirt. Should you enjoy an active lifestyle, this type of strap is absolutely worth considering.
Despite being more hygienic than other materials, good hygiene practices still recommend a robust clean. Submerge the straps in warm, soapy water, then gently go over with a soft-bristled brush and rinse in cold water, removing any soap residue. Again, leave it to air dry – overnight if possible.
How often should you be cleaning your watch?
How often you should clean your watch varies on a person-to-person basis. Essentially it comes down to how often you wear it and where.
Should you rotate watches regularly or tend not to wear a single one every day, then cleaning your timepiece once every three to four months will suffice. And, if you’re partial to it, a light daily dust with a soft microfibre cloth won’t do any harm.
However, if you wear your watch in a warmer environment or if it comes with you on active adventures where you may be perspiring, cleaning it once every two to three weeks is recommended. Similarly if you use your watch in sea water, rinsing it frequently in clean, fresh water is an important step to help maintain it.
Our advice is intended to help you keep your timepiece clean, neat, and tidy on a day-to-day basis. However, it’s important to keep your watch maintained with a regular service as well; not only will a deep clean take place but your timepiece will be checked for accuracy, water resistance, and relubricated as well.
To do this, we recommend getting in touch with our Service Centres; here our expert team of in-house watchmakers will ensure your beloved timepiece stays gleaming.
Not only will a deep clean take place but services also include:
1. Valet & polish
2. Every component examined & replaced if necessary
3. Movement cleaned & oiled
4. Time tested to manufacturers specification
5. Case re-proofed with most up to-date equipment
6. 3 day timing test with final quality control
7. Your watch restored with our attention to detail & highest level of customer service.