Caring for Your Watch
You’ve done your research, spent your money, and now you’re sitting pretty with your new timepiece. It’s an exciting time, but this intricate timepiece has its own set of necessary measures that need to be met, to ensure it keeps firing on all cylinders. We’re going to cover a lot of different issues that can all be curbed with the same solution or preventative measure.
Now it’s time to learn everything you never knew about caring for your quality watch. Some of these points will be stressed, some obscure, but all are important to maintaining your watch for years to come. If you went with a reputable brand, it should last you for the rest of your days: let’s ensure that happens, with the top ten watch care tips.
1. Avoid Overwinding
If you have an automatic watch, then you’re aware that you need to wind it every single morning. Problem with that is, you’re dealing with this very small mechanism made of delicate metal, and you’re putting the full force of your strength on it. That doesn’t sound all too good, does it? Overwinding just a few times can damage your watch, and require the skilled hands of a repair technician.
You can avoid this by practicing shorter winding (which will require that you do it more times per day), or invest in a quality watch winder. Watch winders do as the title suggests: keep your watch wound up. If you’re becoming a collector (and after your first automatic watch, it’s hard to stop), having a dual watch winder is a necessity to maintain the mechanisms of your alternate watches when not in use.
Overwinding can either cause full breakage or cause small problems, such as losing an increased amount of time each day that the damage goes on without being fixed. Automatic watches are excellent, but use due diligence to ensure that this doesn’t become a problem.
2. Clean it Every Night, No Matter What
You have common sense, and you know that you need to keep your personal belongings tidy. With your watch, you can just run a simple rag or cloth over it for a few seconds, but know that it needs to be done every single night – no exceptions. Depending on what strap type you have, your watch case is directly resting on your skin. You sweat, you encounter dirt throughout the day, and bacteria begin to grow underneath your watch case.
This can even happen from getting caught in a little bit of rain. Most watches will have a base level of waterproof protection, but nobody ever addresses the odor that grows under the strap if you don’t dry it (and yourself) off after exiting the rain. If you have a leather watch strap, it will eat away at the finish and make it look tarnished before long.
Keep in mind, there’s a right and wrong way to approach this. Don’t use a dollar store cotton face cloth to clean your watch off. Get a microfiber rag to avoid fibers getting stuck in the case plate on the back of your watch. Get a teaspoon of distilled white vinegar, and gently wet one corner. Wipe it down with this natural sterilizer (which costs less than a buck for a huge container), and you’ll sop bacteria dead in its tracks. Clean the crown, wipe down the dial window, and make this a habit every single night. Twenty seconds a day to maintain your investment isn’t that outrageous.
3. Don’t Exceed the Limits
Did you get a watch with 660 ft of water resistance, an anti-scratch dial window, and a corrosion resistant stainless steel bracelet? That’s excellent – now don’t test it. Your watch is built to withstand a maximum of the preset specifications, not on a daily basis. If you put it in the most stressful conditions time and time again, chances are that it’s going to be okay, but there will be some damage and weathering to your watch. I’ll give you an example.
You work with your hands, you want a quality watch, so you get one that has a scratch-resistant dial window. You wear it every day on the job, and reasonably expect your dial window to remain completely perfect. That’s not realistic. These specifications are for worst-case scenarios and isolated incidents, but all of those specs have been determined under controlled laboratory testing. Real world application is completely different.
Try to only put your watch into situations that would stress about 75% of its maximum potential. If you have 330 ft of water resistance, try not to go past 250 ft of water depth if you can avoid it, and so on. This ensures that your watch will still be up to the task after consistent use.
4. Understand Your Warranty (It’s Better Than You Think)
Not to discredit inexpensive brands, but there’s a big difference between the warranty on a $50.00 watch, and a timepiece ten times its cost. The company that puts out a $50.00 watch is focusing on getting you a passable amount of quality for the money spent, but the latter option is trying to turn you into a lifelong customer. They want brand loyalty, and if they offer you warranties with information like this, then you’d be foolish not to stick with them for the long haul.
Take a gander at that warranty. Most will be for between three and five years, but the conditions of that warranty could be better than a single stretch of time. High-end brands (IWC comes to mind) will actually renew your warranty or a certain percentage of it if you run into a problem with it. They’re dead set on proving themselves, and truly expect that no problems will arise in that time, so this is their gesture of good faith to maintain your business. It’s a capitalist tactic that keeps them in the green and keeps you under a sense of armor for your watch. Everybody wins.
Sending it back to the manufacturer to have an issue taken care of can extend your warranty, and if you use it properly, you can practically double it. Let’s say you have a five-year, and you hit a problem at four years and nine months. If they renew that, then you’ll have a little under a decade of protection. Are you kidding me? That’s insane. Find a brand that encourages you to use your warranty to its fullest extent, and then follow through.
5. Avoid Magnets At All Costs
Your watch has a battery, and that battery is subject to immense and irreparable damages when it comes into close contact with a magnet. The thing is, it doesn’t even have to be a powerful one; some standard fridge magnets could be powerful enough to do the job. While a magnet isn’t going to cause the same level of damage to your watch as it would to a computer, you have to understand that your watch is much smaller, and smaller magnetic fields can really mess with it.
The most notable damage ends up occurring in automatic watches, strangely enough. The movement is wound instead of having a traditional watch battery, but the components used to make it self-winding are individually subject to damage as well. That means contact with a magnet could send more than one tiny internal component out of whack, at which point you’ll have to send it in for repairs. The faster you can get it fixed, the better off you’ll be.
6. Understand Your Dial Window Strength and Material
We’ve told you to wipe it down every night, and while that’s all well and good, sometimes you dial window requires a little bit of extra love. If you’re unaware as to what material it is off the top of your head, revisit the informational packets you received with the order, and know what material, coating, and properties it has.
With an anti-scratch coating or an anti-reflective property, the last thing you want to do is use harsh or abrasive chemicals to clean your watch. There’s a ton of tutorials online that show you how to use jewelry cleaner with your watch case, and we couldn’t be more appalled at those. Jewelry cleaner is intended to remove dirt and grime from silver, gold and titanium jewelry, but that same solution can cause a ton of harm to your coating.
If you expect your watch to operate a certain way, such as being resistant to scratches, and you work in a hands-on type of job, then the last thing you want is to find that it got damaged anyway. If your anti-glare coating disappears, sunlight exposure can cause the inside of your dial window to fog. The piece to take away from this is to be choosy with what your clean your watch with.
7. Store it in a Watch Winder When Not in Use
We talked about watch winders helping to maintain your automatic watches earlier, but they serve another, much more simple function as well: protection from physical harm. Most of us don’t have a walk-in closet with designated space to keep our watches. Personally, I’ve put my watch on the counter before cooking a meal, forgotten it was there, and knocked it onto the floor. No major damages, but I count myself lucky.
So it protects it from physical harm, but the point we can’t stress enough is that it maintains your automatic movement. We’re not just talking about the fact that it ticks and doesn’t lose time: if left unwound and unattended, your automatic movement will begin to degrade. It very obviously won’t decompose or anything extreme like that, but a machine in motion stays in motion. Without being wound up, the movement can encounter problems.
We’d also like to point out that watch winders give you a stylish way to present your collection. If you’re looking up these tips for your first watch, trust us when we say that this won’t be your last. Getting a dual or triple unit to accompany your budding collection gives it more of a sense of, “I’m collecting these,” not just “I own this many watches.”
8. Watch That Strap
Your watch strap is like the underdog of your timepiece setup. You can always purchase a replacement strap, but that shouldn’t be your go-to solution. Your strap won’t impede upon primary functions, it’s not going to affect how the watch itself operates, but it’s going to affect aesthetics and first impressions. We’re not going to go into every single strap type and how to maintain it, but instead, we’ll toss out some general guidelines for maintaining just about any strap you purchase.
Wipe your band clean. Don’t just hit the case with your cleaning rag, because bacterial buildup and odors are also going to settle into whatever material your strap is made of. That includes steel, leather, nylon, whatever the case may be: sweat builds and bacteria grows independently. Treat it like the dial window, and make it spotless.
Identify if your buckle closure is causing severe damage to the watch strap. This is most notable on leather but even happens to nylon and canvas straps as well. One of the best ways to prevent this wear and tear on your strap is to take your watch off every single night before bed, so you’re not tossing and turning, and adding unnecessary pressure to the closure or strap itself.
So when is it time to replace the band? Before it looks like you laid it on the train tracks, and waited for Amtrak to decimate it. The beautiful thing about watch straps is that so long as you don’t have a steel bracelet, you can try new materials and styles. Your strap shows others how seriously you take yourself, so keep it tidy, boys.
9. Don’t Try to Fix Things on Your Own
We’re not discrediting how handy you are in other areas, but there’s a reason why high-quality watches are still primarily produced by men instead of machines. This is a blend of art and extreme precision and requires the hands of a skilled gent to restore your watch to its former glory. Biting the bullet on costs at the kiosk or sending it through the mail beats opening it, turning to that YouTube tutorial you had up, and saying “I’ve made a terrible mistake.”
On those notes, let’s talk about your two options. First of all, you can find a watch kiosk at the mall or a small shop in a city area, one that offers to watch repair as a secondary service. The only downside to this is that some of them will only attempt to fix your watch after you sign a waiver, stating that they’re not responsible for major damages. That doesn’t mean they’re going to screw it up; they’re spending the time to earn money, so you can bet that they’re using their maximum capabilities.
If you’re mailing it out, you can either do that to a watch repair service or possibly through the warranty that’s attached to your initial watch purchase. Most quality timepieces will have somewhere from a three to a five-year warranty for immediate needs. The benefit of this is that you’re going straight to the manufacturer, the ones who created your watch in the first place, so they have the necessary facilities to bring your watch’s luster back in full form.
10. Test the Bar Every Single Year
If you found your watch online, you’ve likely seen ratings stating how many bars a watch has. You might even have that information tucked away in small writing on your watch face right now. Bars measure water resistance depth: the more bars, the deeper your watch can go underwater before you encounter problems. The thing is, these ratings are determined in a laboratory setting and aren’t guaranteed for life.
From daily wear, vibrations rattlings the case, and anything else you might encounter in a year’s worth of rocking your new watch, the bar rating can drop. The last thing you want is to find this out after you’ve already dived straight into the water. Once your case floods with water, you just went from having a minor problem to a massive issue. You might even need to get the watch replaced (if you are not wearing a dive watch).
If you’re not certain where to get this tested, you can find just about any mall with a watch repair kiosk, and they’ll handle it for you. It’s not the same as a laboratory setting, but it’ll get the job done.
Maintenance is Half the Battle
Your watch is more than a killer addition to your personal style; it’s a modern mechanical marvel, the companion to your first impression handshakes, and a signal of responsibility. Maintain your watch with these ten tips, and it’ll never fail to impress. Use these tips moving forward to take care of every possible aspect of your watches, present or ones you haven’t even purchased yet, and they’ll keep on ticking in beautiful fashion.