As a watch owner, one of your responsibilities is caring for your watch. Repairing a broken watch can be quite costly. Luckily, maintaining your watch is relatively easy and affordable.

Watches are such complex instruments that knowing exactly how to care for your watch can seem overwhelming at first. However, there are just a few basic maintenance steps you should know to keep your watch running smoothly. Here, we’ve compiled some essential tips to help you keep your watch clean and efficient for years to come.

Cleaning Your Watch

A luxury watch requires intermittent cleaning and upkeep. Watches have many intricate crevasses where dirt, body oils, and other greasy particles can accumulate. Between the links on the bracelet, the place where the case and bezel join, and the area around the lens are particular areas to note when cleaning. If you’re wearing your watch regularly, you’ll need to thoroughly clean it on occasion. There are some simple steps you can do every day, like wiping down your strap with a lint-free cloth. You can also take precautions, such as keeping your watch away from perfumes, colognes, and lotions. These liquids can get caught in your watch and cause dirt build up. Still, every so often, you’ll need to perform a deep clean on your watch, and here’s how:

  1. Remove the band or bracelet from the watch case.
  2. If you have a bracelet strap, place it in a bowl of warm water and mild dish soap. Instead, if you have a leather strap, you can place it in a bowl of warm water and white vinegar. Leather cleaner also works well.
  3. Let the strap soak in the water. If the dirt build up is light, the strap may only need to soak for a few minutes. For heavier dirt build-up, let the strap soak for a couple of hours.
  4. Once the dirt has separated from the strap, take a soft-bristled toothbrush and lightly scrub the strap. This will help to loosen any leftover dirt.
  5. Rinse the strap in clean water until you’ve removed all dirt.
  6. Take a lint-free cloth, and dry the strap. Be sure to absorb all the moisture to prevent mildew.
  7. Once the strap is completely dry, reattach the strap onto the watch case. Then, put it back on your wrist.


Winding Your Watch

Wear Your Watch Regularly

You should always use and enjoy your watch as much as possible. Wearing your watch regularly actually helps it to keep running smoothly. When you wear your watch regularly, you help maintain the viscosity of the lubricants in the movement. On the flipside, if your watch is stored away and left unused for long stints, these lubricants may harden. Eventually, this can cause friction between your watch’s intricate parts, which may damage the function of the movement.

If you don’t plan to wear your watch regularly, you should still give it care. Winding your watch is one of the most important parts of watch maintenance. An unwound watch left unused can start to malfunction, which can be an expensive fix. Below, we’ve shared some basic steps on how to wind both manual and automatic watches. However, if you need more guidance, you can check out our handy how to videos.


Manual watch

If you have a manual watch, you should plan to wind your watch at the same time every day. Start winding your manual watch by removing you watch from its box or your wrist. Attempting to wind a watch while wearing it can place strain on the internal mechanisms. Next, locate the watch crown. This is a small dial typically situated on the right hand side of your watch’s case. While holding the watch in one hand, use your thumb and forefinger to pull the crown out. Then, begin winding it clockwise 20 to 40 times until you start to feel resistance. Be careful not to force the crown as you’re winding. If you wind your watch too much, it can damage the setting mechanism. Finally, press the crown back in to return the watch to its original position.

Automatic watch

If you have an automatic watch, you should plan to wear it daily for optimal performance. This is because the motion of the wearer drives automatic watches. Still, you’ll need to wind your automatic occasionally. To wind your automatic watch, start by following the first few steps to wind a manual watch. Remove the watch from its box or your wrist, then locate the crown and unscrew it until it’s in the first position. Turn the crown clockwise for about 20 to 40 turns or until you feel resistance. However, keep in mind that unlike a manual timepiece, you can’t overwind an automatic timepiece. Once you’ve finished winding, press the crown back in. Then, put the watch on your wrist to keep the movement running by your own natural motion.

Watch Winders

Wolf Watch Winders

A watch winder is another great option to keep your watch lubricated and running in tiptop shape. It’s an excellent place to store a watch you don’t plan to wear every day. A watch winder will help keep your watch functioning properly when it’s not on your wrist. For more information on how to use a watch winder, you can check out this helpful article.

When in Doubt, Read the Manual

The steps we’ve detailed in this article are all important to maintaining your luxury watch. However, it’s essential to know that every watch is different. You should always consult your watch manual before doing anything to your watch. If you don’t have the original manual, there are plenty of online resources at your disposal. You can also visit a certified watch specialist who can give you specific advice.

Don’t Try This At Home

Last but not least, we strongly recommend that you never open your watch yourself. Doing so might expose the movement to moisture or dust and cause more harm to your watch than good. If your watch needs repair or more extensive service, never try to do it yourself. Leave that kind of work to the experts.




Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 15, 2014. We have updated it in June of 2019 for clarity.

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