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A DIY Guide to Watch Cleaning and Repair

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Written by:

O. Christopher

A DIY Guide to Watch Cleaning and Repair

Using your wristwatches daily exposes them to the elements and foreign objects. Like any other system that has a mechanism inside it, the watch can also stop working sometimes. You don't always have to look for someone to handle the situation when you can follow a watch cleaning and repair guide from home.

Of course, there are times when things are beyond your level of expertise. We also recommend that you take luxury and high-end watches to the professionals to handle them for you. That way, you do not break anything.

For most watches, though, this guide works.

How Do I Clean My Watch?

Cleaning your watch can prevent a lot of other problems. Without cleaning, the dirt can get to the insides of the watch.

Thus, we will be discussing how you can clean your watch on the outside and insides too.

How to Clean Your Watch on The Outside?

Know if your wristwatch is water-resistant or not before you go ahead with this section.

Cleaning a water-resistant watch

Get a soft, damp cloth to wipe the entire outside of the watch. Gently clean off the larger sections first, then get to the intricate parts of the watch. One such delicate part is the watch crown.

Gently pull out the watch crown and clean around it with a soft cloth. Be so careful that you do not apply too much pressure on the crown while cleaning lest it slacks or breaks off.

When you are done cleaning with this damp cloth, wipe the watch down with another soft but dry cloth this time around. This prevents moisture from setting onto the watch's surface, which can lead to the early onset of rust or loss of shine/luster.

Cleaning a non-water-resistant watch

Get a soft cloth and wipe down on the outside of the watch. Clean the watch face and the base that rests against your wrists. You can use a damp cloth to clean the watch strap/ bracelet, but don’t get it close to the watch face.

Cleaning a Watch Dial

We recommend that you take your watch to a licensed watch repair place if you get dirt on the dial.

You might want to polish things up to get the dials back to their previous shine and luster. Again, find a decent watch repair shop in your area and go to them to get this done.

Not all dials are the same, and they are usually made to be very delicate. Touching the dial wrong could ruin it irreparably.

Getting into the watch to access the dial can also be tricky. Given the precise manufacturing that it takes to get a wristwatch working, you might break something if you attempt to do this yourself.

Likewise, there are different kinds of watch dials made from other materials. A watch repair shop attendant will know what best to clean the dial with.

Should You Clean Your Watch with Alcohol?

The short answer is no.

Never clean your watch with anything that has any chemical component to it. Even though plenty of watch users will claim to do this, that does not mean you should.

The finish on your wristwatch could be sensitive to the compounds present in the alcohol base you are using for the cleaning. That could cause the paint to wear off and/ lead to discoloration. 

Alcohol could also penetrate sealants on the watch face to compromise the innards of your watch.

It is generally advised that you stick to water as the only moisture in cleaning your watch, especially when you are doing it yourself.

How to Polish Your Watch at Home

You can polish your wristwatches at home when you are done cleaning.

Many watch polishing kits are available cheaply on Amazon, and they are fantastic for the most part. If you don't want to wait for the product to ship, you can also polish your watch with simple products that you already have in your home. 

We have embedded a video guide to that below.

Polishing your Watch with Simple Items at Home

Repairing Your Watch at Home

In case you missed it the first time, you should not attempt all kinds of watch repairs at home. If you have old watches at home, you can grab a watch repair kit on Amazon and try your hands at it. Then you know how to proceed with your other timepieces.

When dealing with luxury watches, though, we prefer that you leave things to the professionals. You don’t want to end up destroying the watch itself.

That said, we have put together some of the common repairs you can do on your watches at home.

Fixing Quartz Watches

Quartz watches are some of the most spartan watches ever made, so their fixes usually come easy too.

For the most part, the only reasons why a quartz watch will stop working are:

When you have a dead battery, pop the back case of the watch safely. You will see what kind of battery is in there, and you can order one for the fix. If you are close to a watch repair shop, they should not charge you more than $20 for this service.

Things are a little bit tricky with bad buttons. You might only have to clean the dirt around the buttons/ pushers so that they get working again. Dirt can also keep the watch crown from going down all the way, preventing the watch from working right too.

If any of the pushers/ crown has fallen off, though, you should either toss the watch or take it to the nearest watch repair shop. On a dead watch count, a watch repair shop is always your best bet. Unless you have some watch fixing experience, that is.

Fixing Mechanical Watches

Take a peep under the hood of mechanical watches, and you will find a lot of moving parts there.

These watches are so complicated, and we cannot begin to list the number of things that could have gone wrong. It’s an even more sensitive case because touching the wrong thing can lead to a new problem for you.

Mechanical watches will generally last longer than most other kinds of watches. That does not mean that they should be neglected, though. Thus, we have found out that the best repair you can give a mechanical watch is to take good care of it.

Every other thing should fall into place – save for the one or two times you would need a trip to the watch repairer.

How Often Should You Service Your Watch?

The recommended servicing period for most wristwatches is every four to five years.  Some manufacturers offer complimentary annual servicing on their sold units too.

For brands that are not in your locale, find an authorized watch servicing shop for this service. Always ensure the vendor you are trusting with your watch has been approved and certified to handle the exact brand of timepiece you are wearing. That a watchmaker is great with Rolexes does not mean they would excel with Omegas too.

Final Words

Like a car, every good watch will need proper care, maintenance, and servicing. Some of these watch cleaning and repair tips can be done right from your home. Others are more advanced, requiring specific skillsets and tools. For those, it is best to take the watch to those who know what they are doing.

Keeping to the above, you get to enjoy your wristwatches better and for longer.

O. Christopher