10 Rules for Luxury Watch Maintenance
Luxury watches are worthy investments that hugely enhance your style, but they’re also much more than that. A timepiece collection can gain value and lead to a hefty sale or provide your family members with a sentimental and precious heirloom.
However, failing to carefully maintain your watch can cause avoidable damage and diminish up to 40% of its value, so it’s incredibly important to preserve its quality. The maintenance process can seem daunting, so we’ve compiled it into 10 key rules to follow that will help to preserve the quality of your timepiece.
1) Service your watch
The first maintenance rule is getting your luxury watch serviced. If you don’t get your watch regularly serviced, parts can become worn down and need replacing. Seals can break and lead to water damage, the watch can stop running accurately or at all and affect its value when coming to sell — prevention rather than repair is key.
During a service, watches are disassembled according to the manufacturer’s requirements to allow for each part to be checked and replaced if necessary.
The service tasks differ across watch types, as watches with a chronograph are more complicated and require a more thorough service. Whereas Quartz (battery-operated) watches typically only require battery replacement.
Manufacturers typically recommend getting services every two to five years. However, if a watch is running too slowly or fast before this timeframe, it indicates the movement is in need of an earlier service.
2) Work with professionals
When you get your watch serviced, working with authorised professionals is crucial. A common mistake from luxury watch owners is getting unqualified watchmakers to service their timepieces or even trying to do it themselves. Watch owners may look into DIY methods to avoid the service fee, but this will likely cause bigger costs down the line to repair any mistakes made.
To identify a top-quality watch servicing company, the key factors to consider are whether they have the appropriate accreditations, use state-of-the-art equipment and operate in a sterile workplace environment. Other important aspects are if they have invested in their facility to allow for high-quality repairs and restorations. Also, look for reviews and speak to any people you know with luxury watches to find companies with high praise.
3) Clean and polish
As well as getting your watch professionally serviced, you should also clean your watch as recommended by the brand. If you’re frequently wearing your timepiece, it’s likely coming into contact with sweat, dust, and grime.
To preserve its quality, we recommend using a:
- Microfibre cleaning cloth to dry the watch after washing, remove debris from the bracelet, and clean non-waterproof watches and precious metals.
- Specialised watch cleaning solution to clean water-resistant watches, and remove debris from steel bracelets.
- Cleaning brush to remove excess dirt or debris.
- Watch polishing cloth for a final buff after cleaning.
- Leather ‘restore and revive’ cleaner to enhance the look and preserve the feel of leather straps.
Before you start cleaning your watch, ensure any little screws and crowns are fully tightened.
If the strap is leather, it’ll need special attention and should be removed and cleaned separately from the watch case. Metal straps can get the same treatment as the case, however. Regular cleaning will also prevent metals such as stainless steel and gold from dulling and scuffing over time.
Some manufacturers recommend no more than five polishes in a watch’s lifespan, as overpolishing can cause the metal to wear away and, in some cases, change the shape.
4) Check the water resistance
Although many modern timepieces are water-resistant, double-check your watch’s limits at the purchase. Some watches can withstand shallower depths of water than others. The water pressure can also exceed the water resistance.
Even water-resistant watches have their limits. Before going into the water wearing a watch, you can screw down the crown to stop water entering the watch. However, it’s worth noting that chlorine, salt water and hot temperatures can still cause damage.
You can clean water-resistant watches using warm water and a soft cloth. However, if you haven’t serviced or cleaned your watch for a while, the water resistance will no longer be intact due to drying gaskets.
Avoid submerging non-waterproof watches in liquid and instead use a soft, lightly damp cloth and a soft cleaning brush to remove any debris.
5) Find suitable storage
When you aren’t wearing your watch, it’s vital to consider the storage environment. To ensure it doesn’t damage over time, keep your watch facing up in its original case or similar to protect it from dust, moisture and scratches. A lined and cushioned watch case or drawer insert is ideal for watch collectors with multiple timepieces, as it stops them from moving around. Also, if you plan to take your watch on holiday, invest in a travel case.
When choosing the appropriate place for your storage, avoid exposure to direct sunlight, heat and humidity to prevent damage such as colour fading, shortening the battery life and rusting.
We recommend keeping high-value watches in a secure storage unit, such as a locked safe. Don’t forget to safely store the certificate, too, in case you wish to sell the timepiece in the future.
Additionally, if you don’t wear your watch often, check it periodically to make sure no damage has occurred.
6) When to wind your watch
Winding keeps a watch working more effectively and for longer. It’s recommended to wind watches with a manual wound movement once a day at the same time, and when the power reserve is running low.
First, remove the watch from your wrist to avoid placing pressure on and damaging the stern. Hold the watch face up and, using your thumb and index finger, carefully pull out the “crown”. Then, wind the watch clockwise until you feel resistance, but be careful not to overwind it.
Automatic watches don’t require winding as long as they’re worn regularly, as they self-wind when the wearer moves. However, if you don’t wear the watch or move frequently, you may need to wind it occasionally.
7) Avoid the ‘danger zone’
Avoid changing the date on your watch between 9pm and 3am, as the gears are usually in motion between these hours to switch the date overnight. Setting the date during the ‘danger zone’ — within three hours of midnight — can interfere with the mechanisms and cause damage.
8) Wear your watch
It may sound obvious, but watches are made to be worn. However, some owners will be put off, assuming wearing a timepiece will decrease the value. Although luxury watches require careful maintenance, they’re designed to last a long time. So, feel free to wear your timepiece as much as you please. Leaving watches non-operational for long periods can require more regular servicing than if worn often.
However, to preserve the quality and prolong its lifespan, take care when wearing your watch by ensuring it’s fastened securely and perhaps avoid wearing it during high-impact activities.
9) Insure your watch
In case anything does go wrong with your prized watch, insure it before wearing it to avoid losing out on the value if it gets broken, lost or stolen. Insurance also provides peace of mind, of the knowledge your investment is protected.
If you wear your watch regularly, including when travelling, it increases the chance of your timepiece getting damaged or out of your possession, making it even more crucial to insure.
A valuable articles coverage policy is ideal, rather than putting a timepiece under your home insurance policy, as it may not allow for the full value.
10) Be realistic
Before investing in your luxury watch, consider how much you can realistically commit to the maintenance process. If you’re dubious that you’ll stick to a routine, look for timepieces with a Quartz moment, which are low-maintenance, rather than watches with mechanical complications, such as the automatic chronograph movement.
Whether you want to pass down your timepiece to a loved one or sell it for a profit, you’ll need to preserve its quality to uphold its value.