How to clean a mechanical watch

Like any watch lover, you must know how to clean a mechanical watch. Those precious mechanical marvels must be taken care of! In this article, we have compiled a few tips to help you carefully clean up your watches. As you probably already know, cleaning your timepiece is important to maintain its esthetics but also performance.

How to clean a watch

Cleaning water-resistant watches:

First of all, you will need to separate the watch case from its strap. For a steel bracelet, you may keep it in place but cleaning will be less effective as you won’t have full access to the side of the case. Secondly, before starting we recommend you to gather an old toothbrush, a little recipient (like a bowl), soap, and clean soft cottons (from an old t-shirt for example). Now let’s follow the five steps below to give another life to your watch:

  1. Once again, separate the watch from the strap for full effective cleaning. If you do not know how to, or do not have the right tools to remove your strap, we recommend you to avoid removing it as you could damage the lugs of your watch. Please note that you can use scotch tape while removing the strap if you are using a tool that might scratch the lugs to prevent any unwanted scratches.
  1. Lock the crown by totaling screwing it. You should always check your crown, even for daily use. It must be well screwed to guarantee a total water (and dust) resistance.
    NB: crown gasket deteriorates over time, don’t forget to check the water resistance once in a while at a watchmaker’s workshop (more info here).
  1. Fill-up the recipient with tepid water and soap and plunge your watch in it. Use a plastic recipient like a Tupperware to avoid scratching your watch
    NB: do not use detergent products -> only natural soap
  1. Scrub both the case and the bracelet with your toothbrush. Either inside or out of the water, or both! You don’t need a machine to get your watch ultrasonically cleaned, old fashion way still works!
  1. Dry the watch with a clean soft cotton. You can also use a dryer to reach all the various parts of the bracelet.

Finally, your watch is clean again and ready for a new accuracy check! Keeping your watch clean not only looks great, it is also better for both the watch’s operation and its resale value. It is therefore a good idea to regularly clean your timepiece.

Cleaning NON water-resistant watches:

As for water resistant mechanical timepieces, removing the strap will allow you to remove a maximum of scratches and dust. Same precaution, do not try to remove it yourself if you don’t know how to do it, you do not want to scratch your watch or damage the lugs! You should rather head to a trusted watchmaker from your local watch repair center.

If you are doing this yourself, no need of preparing a bowl of water this time, just use an old toothbrush and a dry clean soft cotton. Basically, skip step 3 from above and delicately scrub the watch with the dried toothbrush. You are now ready to wear a perfectly clean watch!

Cleaning the strap of a watch:

With a clean watch, you we now look at cleaning both leather and rubber straps.

Let’s start with leather straps (such as alligator and calf skin):
Those straps are natural as they are made from animals. This is a reason why they are more subject to deterioration and you will usually need to change them every two years depending on how regularly you are wearing them.

In order to extend their lifetime, you can follow those basic tips:

  • Do not leave the strap under the sunbeam: colors will be rapidly damaged. This is not the kind of patina you hoped!
  • Do not wear any leather strap when doing your sports: perspiration will deteriorate the strap on both stitching parts and leather. You should rather pick a rubber or metal bracelet when you want to keep a watch with you. (We know how being watchless can be difficult, even only for the duration of a sports session!)
  • For the same reason, do not wear a leather strap every single day. Like with leather shoes, you want to let your strap breath between two wearing sessions.
  • Avoid water contact. If this should happen, quickly dry your strap with a soft cotton.
  • To clean it: gently scrub it with a soft cotton.

Unfortunately, no magic tips will offer you a 10-year lifetime to your leather strap. But if you take care of them, they will certainly last a little longer. For better resale value, we also recommend you to present your watch with a brand new strap.

The rubber strap:
Do you remember the quartz powered Swatch you used to wear during your childhood? Do you now remember when this strap ended up turning yellow?

Unfortunately, a basic rubber strap will usually loose its colors after a long time under the sunbeam as well. Of course today you can get a rubber strap from luxury watch company, however you should always keep in mind not to leave them under the sun, this could also damage their texture.

To clean those straps, simply use tepid water with soap and gently scrub them with a soft cotton.

One last thing: Do you know a quick way of maintaining the accuracy of a mechanical watch movement to its best?

-> Simply wind it to the maximum of its power reserve. A watch delivers its best accuracy and operates better when fully wound. If you wind your watch once a day, you should be covered . Of course, with a manual-winding watch, you should stop winding as soon as you feel resistance.

See you soon for a next article to share our love for mechanical watches !