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Understanding Watch Care and When It’s Time to Clean your Clock

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Hands wiping a watch with a cloth

A watch is a timeless accessory, but one that is often overlooked when it comes to taking care of it. And by taking care of it, we mostly mean cleaning it. Most people will take good care of their watch—protect it from bumps and scratches, take it off at the end of the night (unless you sleep with yours on to track your sleep progress) and put it back on your wrist after showering the next morning. But that’s not all you need to do to take “good” care of a watch. In fact, there are several tasks you should do regularly to keep it in good working order, as well as several activities you should avoid while it’s on your wrist.

 

Watch Care Best Practices

Watch experts say there are eight things you should do to ensure your watch care extends the life of your watch as long as possible.

  1. Clean the watch—and the strap—regularly. It should go without saying that...stuff...can get in and on your watch with regular wear. Consider the number of products in your bathroom that are near your watch while getting ready for the day. Hairspray and perfumes are two of the biggest culprits and can leave a nasty film on top of your watch case if you are wearing your watch while getting ready. For both men and women, simply wearing the watch daily can result in skin oils, sweat and other surface bacteria (like E. Coli and staphylococci) getting lodged in the watch case and strap as well. How often you clean it depends on how often you wear it, and if you wear it for heavy-duty use (like gardening, cleaning or working out at the gym, which are all listed in the activities below as no-no's for when to wear a watch). Check out our tips on when and how to clean a watch here
  2. Make sure it fits properly. If your watch is too loose, it is more likely to get a variety of germs, bacteria and yucky stuff under the band. Be sure to have your watch sized to fit just right. See our tips on what makes for a good fitting watch. As a rule of thumb, you should only be able to fit one finger between your wrist and your watch. Any more than that is a recipe for it to get dirtier than necessary.
  3. Wind it. That’s a LONG “i” in there; not a short one as in a “windy” day! If you’re unfamiliar with this, you probably don’t even know that traditional watches had to be “wound” to work. These manual watches still exist today and are also known as hand-wound or mechanical watches. These types require the watch owner to turn the crown clockwise when it is closest to the case (considered a fully “closed” position) about 10 times to wind it fully. However, even automatic watches sometimes need to be wound if they aren’t worn frequently enough to keep the mechanisms working. 
  4. Rotate your watches. Back to the point above, if you don’t wear your watch frequently, the mechanisms can stop working. If you’re lucky enough to have multiple watches, be sure to give them a ride on your wrist a few times a week or month so the mechanisms get their required workouts (plus it gives you some nice variety in your accessory life!).
  5. Store it (them) properly. Laying a watch down for any period of time should be done face-up for sure. You don’t want to scratch the glass case. But aside from that, if your watch is stored say, in your bathroom, face-up for a while, it’s likely going to get covered in dust and things you spray in your bathroom (perfume, hairspray, air freshener, etc.). The best way to protect your watch when it’s in storage is to find a drawer (preferably with dividers so it doesn’t scratch up against other jewelry or watches) and keep it there. If you have multiple watches, you can purchase a watch tray that comes with dividers built into it. If you only have one or two watches, use a cloth pouch to protect your watch and again, put it in a drawer where you can protect it from dust and bumps and scratches while not in use.
  6. Change the battery regularly. If you have a Quartz watch, it’s best to remove the battery before putting a watch into storage for a longer period of time. You can do this by removing the back of the watch and popping out the small battery. Why do you want to do this? For the same reason you want to change your battery regularly: because a battery will ultimately die. If it’s left inside your watch when that happens, it can leak corrosion inside your watch. Automatic watches or manual watches do not have batteries, so you only have to worry about winding those.
  7. Get it serviced by an expert or reputable jeweler. Watches have a lot of intricate parts and mechanisms, just like your car does. Instead of a DIY approach to upkeep, you may prefer the expertise offered by either a watchmaker or a reputable jeweler. 
  8. Read your manual! Somebody at your watch brand’s engineering department spent a lot of time writing out the ins and outs of how your watch works and how best to take care of it. Each watch has a little different care needed for it to operate optimally. Read it over a cup of coffee some morning and keep it in the same box where you store it so you can refer to it if there are problems down the road.

 

Five times not to wear your watch

Once you’ve purchased a new watch, of course you’ll want to wear it and show it off to the world! But there are certain times you should not wear your new watch to maintain that “new watch smell” for as long as possible. 

  1. Don’t wear it while cleaning. Not while you’re cleaning the car, the house or anything else that requires getting it near chemicals and water.
  2. Don’t wear it while getting ready for your day. It was mentioned before, but there are a lot of things that get sprayed in bathrooms and none of them are good for landing on your watch case. 
  3. Don’t wear it while showering (and be careful when washing your hands). It’s wise to keep your watch as far away from water as possible. If it does get wet, be sure to dry it off immediately.
  4. Don’t wear it while exercising. Whether you’re going for a long walk or run or heading to the gym, you should opt for something other than a “nice” watch when exercising. Some watches are made to record your workout and have bands that are appropriate for this exercise. But luxury watches are best left at home while you’re out amping up those endorphins. 
  5. Don’t wear it in extremely hot or humid environments. Extreme weather, whether it’s hot or cold, can damage a watch. But extremely hot weather is more concerning, especially when it’s coupled with humidity. Humidity can get inside the watch glass and wreak havoc on a watch’s inner workings, dials and gears—especially on mechanical watches. To protect your watch from potential damage, be sure to keep your watch in a temperature-controlled space as much as possible.

Your watch is an expression of your style and a part of some people’s everyday wardrobe. To further protect your watch, be sure to get an appraisal and insure it so you have all the tools you need to get it ticking again! With Jewelers Mutual, you can check your rate in the click of a button. In many cases, personal jewelry insurance can be more reasonable and hassle-free than covering your jewelry with homeowners insurance. See the benefits here or click the link below to check your rate.

 

 

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About Jewelers Mutual Group

Jewelers Mutual was founded in 1913 by a group of Wisconsin jewelers to meet their unique insurance needs. Later, consumers began putting their trust in Jewelers Mutual to protect their jewelry and the special memories each piece holds. Today, Jewelers Mutual continues to support and move the industry forward by listening to jewelers and consumers and offering products and services to meet their evolving needs. Beyond insurance, Jewelers Mutual’s powerful suite of innovative solutions and digital technology offerings help jewelers strengthen and grow their businesses, mitigate risk, and bring them closer to their customers. The Group insurers’ strong financial position is reflected in their 37 consecutive “A+ Superior” ratings from AM Best Company, as of November 2023. Policyholders of the Group insurers are members of Jewelers Mutual Holding Company. Jewelers Mutual is headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, with other Group offices in Dallas, Texas and Miami, Florida. To learn more, visit JewelersMutual.com.