Dirty Little Secrets: Tips for Cleaning Your Luxury Watch

Your luxury watch is a gleaming accessory that can add a powerful statement to any outfit … if it’s in great condition. However, over time any watch will start to accumulate skin oils, dirt, and scuffs. You can always save time by dropping it off to be professionally cleaned, but this step is rarely necessary. In most cases, watch owners can keep their luxury watch looking its best with just a few simple steps.

1. Prevention

A little prevention ahead of time can greatly reduce scuffs and other soiling of your watch. Some ideas include:

  • Store your luxury timepiece in a covered case or somewhere else where dust can’t settle into the band’s crevices, the buckle, etc.
  • Wash your hands before putting it on so you don’t get natural skin oils on it.
  • Prevent scratches to the face by buffing the glass with a lens cleansing towelette or clean microfiber cloth.
  • If you wear a watch during contact sports or other physical activities, choose a ‘sport’ version made of more rugged materials.

2. Maintenance

Day to day wear, even just around the office, will slowly and steadily build up dirt on your watch. Instead of letting things accumulate between more intensive cleanings, give your watch a little attention every few days:

  • Dust it with a soft cloth, paying attention to crevices, the buckle, etc.
  • Look it over to check for scuffs on the band or watch face.
  • Give the crown a gentle twist to make sure it’s tightly sealed, preventing anything from getting into the watch gears themselves.
  • If you see dirt and oil build up or scratches, address them immediately before the problem grows worse.

3. Deep Cleaning

It’s time to break out gentle soap, warm water, and a soft cloth. Many watches are water resistant up to a certain number of feet and can tolerate a dunking into the bowl. However, if you’re uneasy about that, simply clean it with a damp, soapy cloth. Detach the band, if possible, so that you can clean any small crevices where they connect. Don’t forget about the buckle while you’re at it. You can use a clean, soft toothbrush to really get into small spaces such as between bracelet links. Finally, pat the water off and let it finish drying on a soft towel.

A Note About Leather

Leather is a popular choice for watch bands. It is stylish and comfortable but requires a little more care than rugged metal bands. Leather can dry out if overexposed to harsh soaps and other cleansers. If this happens, the material may harden, abrade the skin, or even crack. Instead, clean a leather watch band with soap designed for leather goods, a minimal amount of water, and a soft cloth. Once you’ve worked the soap in and gently wiped it away, finish up with a small amount of leather conditioner. The oils in this product will soak into the band, keeping it supple and protecting the material from damage.

4. Polishing

Some watches, even from luxury lines, will over time get scuffs and scratches. This can happen even if you’re very careful. It’s a natural consequence of wearing a watch made of precious metal. However, minor blemishes like these can be buffed out, restoring the watch to a like-new appearance. You can use Scotch-Brite to accomplish this, leaving behind a clean and burnished surface. Work slowly and patiently, starting with an unobtrusive section of the band, until you get the hang of things.

5. The Professionals

When is it time to get your watch professionally cleaned? Some possibilities include:

  • Glue, honey, or other sticky substances got onto the watch and you cannot remove them.
  • It has deeper scratches, ones that cannot simply be buffed out.
  • You notice buildup that resists your efforts with gentle soap and water.
  • If it’s no longer keeping time correctly, you may as well have it cleaned along with the tune-up.

There are a lot of professional jewelry cleaning services out there. Do your research ahead of time to find the right fit.

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