Do you remember when you last cleaned your antique watch? You probably don’t remember, and that’s if you have ever cleaned any of your watches before too. For watch collectors, however, cleaning their antique timepieces is a must.
If you are a novice horology enthusiast just beginning to fall in love with old watches or if you own an antique timepiece (or more than a handful of them from dealers like Kalmar Antiques) and wish to give your possessions a longer and healthier life span, then you must learn how to keep an antique watch clean. Over the years, the dust and dirt that accumulate may cause irreparable damage.
So, before you lose your prized possession to rust and grime, here are 4 tips to clean your watch thoroughly without damaging it:
1. Disassemble the watch parts carefully.
Very carefully separate the watch dial from the bracelet/straps. Before you can start cleaning the watch, it is important to loosen the dirt that has built up over time as this can be abrasive. Doing so will eliminate the possibility of scratching the watch parts with any debris.
2. Clean the watch strap.
There are two steps to cleaning the watch straps, specifically 1) soaking in soapy water, and then 2) scrubbing. A bit of a warning though if you have leather straps, the following steps will not be applicable. Cleaning leather straps call for a more professional approach. Proper conditioning solutions should be used instead of water and soap in order to prevent cracks and colour changes, especially with unfinished leather.
Never use harsh chemicals to clean an antique watch or any watch for that matter. Soapy water is enough to help loosen the grime from the bracelet and strap of your watch. If your watch is just a bit dirty, thirty minutes in soapy water will do. But, if your watch is extremely dirty, you would want to have a longer soaking time and leave it for an hour so that it will be much easier to scrub off later.
Use a soft brush (or an old toothbrush) to gently scrub off the remaining grime from the strap. You can also use rubbing alcohol to clean between the links.
3. Clean the watch dial.
For those who have recently purchased or are planning to buy an antique watch for sale, you might be told to be extra careful in cleaning the watch dial. This is because the watch dial contains the “brains” of the timepiece and you don’t want to damage what makes your watch work, right?
Dampen a soft cloth that you will be using to clean the watch head. Never use abrasive materials in cleaning your watch to avoid scratching the surfaces.
Using the damp soft cloth, gently rub off any dirt and residue that have accumulated on your watch, on both front and back portions. Do not remove the cover of the watch; just clean it from the outside. It is meant to keep the watch face free from dirt so leave it on to serve its purpose.
Using a soft brush dipped in soapy water, gently scrub the rest of the watch head in a circular motion. Continue scrubbing until your watch is sparkling clean.
4. Dry it up.
To finish cleaning your watch, make sure you wipe it dry with the use of a lint-free cloth. Let it rest on the cloth after wiping to allow any excess moisture to drain from the watch.
These are simple steps that you can repeat as often as every other month, which will definitely help keep your antique watch in good condition.