How To Care For a Fine Watch

Tips for Caring for Fine Timepieces

Many people become very attached to their watches. People often spend many thousands of dollars on them, and we often wear them as a bit of a symbol of the type of person we are. Importantly, we often keep them for many years, with some watches passed from generation to generation. Therefore, it is important to take care and attention to ensure the longevity of your watch’s lifespan.

Just like a car, a watch is an instrument with fine mechanical parts and does require regular servicing. While full servicing should be carried-out by a professional, there are many things that you can do yourself to make sure your watch provides enjoyment for many years to come.

  1. Water. Watches often list their water resistance in terms of the pressure measurement, “BAR”. This is only a test pressure however and does not corresponding to an actual diving depth. Swimming movements also increase the pressure imposed on a watch at any a given depth. Check the back of your watch case for the water resistant inscription:
    • An inscription of simply "Water Resistant" means that your watch is designed to withstand up to 3 BAR, such as splashes of water or rain. It should not be worn while swimming or diving.
    • "Water Resistant 5 BAR" means your watch is suitable for swimming, yachting and taking a shower.
    • If "Water Resistant 10, 15 or 20 BAR" is inscribed on the case, the watch is suitable for taking a bath or shallow diving (but not for scuba diving).

    When using any watch in water, make sure the crown is pushed in completely and do not operate it when the watch is wet or in water. If used in sea water, rinse the watch in fresh water and dry completely. If the watch is used in warm water, a slight time loss or gain may be caused, however this will generally be corrected when the watch returns to normal temperature.

  2. Temperature extremes. Temperature extremes generally affect mechanical watches more than quartz watches. “Extreme” temperatures are generally defined as between 14°F (-10°C) and 95°F (+35°C). If a watch is subjected to temperatures outside this range, the electronic components may not function normally. High temperatures can also reduce battery life, and battery fluid can leak.

    Digital watches are also affected by temperatures. The response time of the liquid crystals becomes slow at temperatures below freezing, and look very dark at high temperatures. Normal operation generally returns at average temperatures.

  3. Magnetism. Magnetism can affect analogue watches, as it impacts the performance of the electric motor used to turn the watch’s hands and can cause your watch to gain time, lose time, or even stop. It will usually return to normal once it leaves the field, but you may need to reset your watch.

    Therefore it is best to not put your watch near things like medical equipment, headphones, loudspeakers, or refrigerator door magnets. Electric mixers, blenders and other electrical equipment can also affect accuracy.

    Magnetism doesn't normally affect digital quartz watches.

  4. Chemical substances. Common solvents (e.g., alcohol and gasoline), cosmetic sprays, detergents, adhesives or paints can cause the case and bracelet to become discoloured or deteriorate.
  5. Cleaning Tips. If your watch becomes dirty, use a toothbrush with soap and water to brush away the dirt, and then rinse and dry carefully with a soft cloth. Cases should be wiped gently with a slightly moistened soft cloth and then dried carefully.

    If your watch comes into contact with heavy perspiration,dry your watch as soon as conveniently possible. Leather straps may absorb perspiration in summer, and should be slightly loosened at this time. A tight strap also prevents the passage of air between the strap and the wrist, and can cause a perspiration rash.

    After wearing or cleaning your watch, it is best to leave it in a well-ventilated place and not in a sealed container.


About the Author: Nick has built his expertise in fine timepieces by collecting watches for over 20 years, and he also runs a small store specialising in Seiko Watches.


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