How do you best maintain your watch? Tips and Tricks

by ZHANGJUNJIE on Dec 06, 2023

How do you best maintain your watch? Tips and Tricks

It is essential for watch wearers to understand how to properly maintain their timepiece. Below are some important tips to keep your watch in good working condition. 
I've seen firsthand how proper care can dramatically extend the lifespan of a timepiece. Watches are intricate machines with many small moving parts that require regular maintenance to keep running optimally. Whether you have an affordable quartz watch or a high-end automatic, following some key practices is essential. Here are my top tips for taking good care of your watch:


1.Maintenance cycle

The maintenance cycle for a watch varies based on factors such as the brand, function, frequency of wear, and environment. As a rule, it is recommended to have your watch maintained every 3-5 years to keep it running smoothly.


2.Maintenance process

The maintenance process begins by testing the accuracy of the watch and then disassembling the movement for inspection and cleaning. The watch case also needs to be cleaned and dried with a professional dryer before assembling it with oil.


3.Precautions when wearing

To avoid scratches, it is best not to wear a watch with other metal jewelry. Avoid wearing your watch during intense exercise, as this may lead to deformation and damage of its small and precise parts. It is also important to keep your watch away from high temperatures or strong temperature changes, as this can negatively affect its lifespan.


4.Daily care

If you have been in contact with seawater or swimming pool water, it is important to wash your watch immediately to prevent corrosion of the waterproof seal ring. Even if your watch is waterproof, it is not recommended to wear it while bathing as the water vapor can enter the watch and shorten its lifespan.


Additionally, there are certain situations when it is necessary to send your watch for repair and maintenance:


1.Excessive time error: While mechanical watches will naturally have some degree of error, if it exceeds the reasonable range, it is a sign that maintenance is required. It is recommended to have the movement cleaned and refueled if the error exceeds the daily range of ±45 seconds or -4/+6 seconds for certified movements.


2.Water or fog: Over time, the waterproof ring of a watch may degrade, leading to a loss of its waterproof function. It is recommended to have the waterproof performance of your watch checked regularly, at least every 3-5 years, and more frequently if you regularly engage in water sports. If your watch experiences water or fog inside, it is important to send it for professional maintenance to prevent further damage. 

3.Damage to exterior parts: If your watch experiences bumps or knocks, you may need to polish the metal pieces, but if the lens is broken, it requires more comprehensive testing to ensure no debris falls into the movement and causes damage to its parts. If the lens is broken, stop the watch, remove the crown, and avoid dialing the needle or removing the broken glass by yourself.

4.Movement parts abnormal sound: If you notice abnormal sounds or changes in hand feel while wearing your watch, it is best to stop using it and seek professional maintenance. Hard shaking to drive the automatic chain can increase the risk of watch parts becoming stuck or experiencing abnormal sound. 

The Importance of Service Intervals
Even the finest watches need periodic servicing. Generally, it's recommended to have your watch serviced every 3-5 years. During a service, the entire movement is disassembled, cleaned, re-oiled, and adjusted to factory specifications. This helps remove built-up dirt and grime that can cause increased friction and timekeeping issues over time. However, the recommended interval can vary based on factors like daily wear, environmental conditions, and movement quality/complexity.

The Service Process
When a watch comes in for service, the first step is analyzing its timekeeping performance and diagnosing any issues. The movement is then fully disassembled, with each component cleaned using specialized solutions and tools. Critical lubricants are replenished, and parts are meticulously inspected for any excessive wear and replaced if needed. The movement is then re-assembled, cased up, and gone through final timing and adjustments.

Daily Watch Maintenance
While services are crucial, there are also things you can do daily to care for your watch:

1. Wind your automatic or manual wind watch regularly if not worn daily to prevent the mainspring from becoming overly unwound and lubricants from congealing. A full wind once per week is recommended.

2. Have your watch demagnetized yearly by a watchmaker, as magnetic fields can negatively impact timekeeping over time.

3. Store watches properly when not in use by using a watch winder for automatics, keeping them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

4. For hand-wound watches, avoid letting the power reserve fully wind down frequently to reduce stress on the mainspring.

5. Always avoid exposing your watch to excessive shock, moisture, and temperature variations as this can cause condensation and other problems.

6. Use a fresh, soft toothbrush to gently clean dirt and debris from the case and bracelet regularly.

7. Handle carefully when adjusting straps and bracelets by using a cloth or case cushion to avoid scratching the watch case.

8. Avoid contact with hairspray, cologne, lotions and other chemicals which can degrade seals, dials and finishes over time.

9. Use the correct size strap/bracelet tools, as improper tools can strip threads and damage your watch's fittings.

10. Bring chronograph watches to be serviced more regularly, as the additional complications result in more wear on parts.

11. Have gaskets and seals replaced during servicing to ensure water resistance is maintained after disassembly/reassembly.

12. For leather/synthetic straps, keep them clean and condition every 6-12 months to maximize lifespan before cracking/drying occurs.

By following this holistic care approach, your watches will stay looking sharp and running like new for decades. Proper maintenance is key to ensuring these precision instruments live up to their timeless design and heritage. Don't hesitate to consult a qualified watchmaker if you have any other specific questions!