10 Tips on How to Maintain a Watch

Written by – Updated on June 15, 2024

Discover how to prolong the life of your watch with these essential tips. From understanding the type of watch you own, to regular servicing and cleaning, this article provides insight on topics such as preserving leather and fabric straps, preventing magnetization and chemical exposure, maintaining battery life and more.

With proper upkeep, you can enjoy the precision, accuracy and beauty of watch ownership for many years to come.

Short Summary

  • Identify the type of watch you own and its maintenance requirements.
  • Take necessary steps to protect the watch from moisture, magnetization, sunlight and chemicals.
  • Regularly service the watch and trust repairs and opening to professionals.

What Kind of Watch Do You Have?

10 Tips on How to Maintain a Watch

Ascertaining the type of watch one possesses is essential, as each type requires specific maintenance requirements. The three primary varieties of watches are mechanical, quartz, and automatic.

Mechanical watches are convenient and require minimal attention once set. Quartz watches are powered by a battery and regulated by a quartz crystal. Automatic watches are powered by the motion of the wearer's wrist.

The fundamental principle for preserving a mechanical watch is to exercise caution and not exceed its capabilities. The watch must be serviced regularly, kept away from moisture, and shielded from magnetization in order to ensure optimal performance. When handling a mechanical watch with a leather band, it is important to avoid exposing it to moisture. The fundamental design of a mechanical watch has remained largely unchanged for the past three centuries, consisting of a tightly coiled flat spring that is unwound to provide the necessary power.

Mechanical Watches

Mechanical watches must be wound manually on a daily basis, with optimal winding occurring when the mainspring is at or above half tension. Care should be taken to ensure that the winding process is performed correctly, and it is advised to refrain from winding the watch while it is being worn on the wrist.

It is also recommended to avoid setting the date on a mechanical watch between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., and pocket watches should be wound on a monthly basis. The mainspring is wound by rotating the watch's crown a few dozen times, and the minimum rating for a watch's water resistance is 3 atmospheres, which is approximately equal to 30 meters.

The watch is equipped with synthetic gaskets, screw-down crowns, and tight tolerances to ensure water does not penetrate the watch.

Quartz Watches

A quartz watch is a timekeeping device that utilizes a battery-powered electronic oscillator regulated by a quartz crystal to maintain accuracy. It is more precise, more resistant to shock, and more cost-effective than mechanical watches.

It is recommended to regularly replace the battery and clean the quartz watch in order to ensure its optimal functioning, and it should be serviced every three to four years.

Automatic Watches

An automatic watch is a type of self-winding timepiece that utilizes the motion of the wearer's wrist to power its internal mechanisms. An automatic watch operates through the utilization of a weighted rotor in the movement that is set in motion by the wearer's arm movements. It is recommended to give the crown 20 to 30 rotations until the seconds hand begins to move, followed by setting the time and securing the watch.

Manual winding should be kept to a minimum as automatic watches are designed with self-winding capability and are not intended to be manually wound frequently. The seals and gaskets in a watch are utilized to prevent water from entering the watch at any potential ingress points.

It is recommended to avoid dropping the watch or exposing it to any external shock in order to prevent any potential damage, and it is advisable to keep the watch away from electronic devices to prevent magnetization.

Moisture is one of the most detrimental factors to the longevity of mechanical devices.

Keep Away from Moisture

The primary concern when it comes to moisture and watches is the potential for rusting and damage to the timepiece. It is essential to keep a watch away from any sources of moisture, as well as any humid or wet environments. Should the watch come into contact with water, it is advisable to wipe the watch with a dry cloth immediately. This can help prevent rusting in the small spaces and crevices of the steel bracelet.

When not in use, the most suitable approach for preserving a watch is to keep it in its original packaging. It is also important for leather or fabric straps to be dehydrated before storing them. This can be done by wiping them with a cloth and leaving them in a dry place for an extended period of time.

When it comes to water resistant watches, it is essential to check the water resistance rating of the watch before exposing it to any water. Depending on the rating, the watch may be able to withstand contact with shallow water, such as rain, but it should never be submerged in water. As a general rule, it is best to keep a watch away from any water, regardless of the water resistance rating.

Avoid Magnetization

Magnetization is a process in which the internal components of a watch become magnetized, leading to the watch running either too quickly or too slowly. This can lead to the watch losing accuracy and being subjected to lateral stress caused by strong magnets.

In order to prevent this, it is important to keep the watch away from electronic devices and magnets, such as cell phones, speakers, refrigerators, and magnetic clasps. It is also recommended to store the watch in a watch box or case designed to protect against magnetization.

If magnetization is suspected, a professional watchmaker can be consulted to demagnetize the watch. Taking these steps can help ensure that the watch remains precise and in good condition.

Service The Watch Regularly

Watch servicing involves opening, cleaning, lubricating, and adjusting the watch to guarantee its optimal performance. It is advised to service a watch every 3 to 5 years in order to ensure its cleanliness, oiling, and accuracy. It is suggested to have your watch serviced at intervals of 3-5 years if it is worn regularly, and 5-7 years if it is worn occasionally. Watch servicing entails a comprehensive examination, cleaning, lubrication, buffing, and testing of the watch to guarantee its optimal performance.

When it comes to servicing a watch, the process varies depending on its type. If you own a mechanical watch, you should have it serviced every 3-5 years to maintain its accuracy and reliability. For quartz watches, servicing is recommended every 5-7 years, while for automatic watches, servicing is recommended every 5-10 years. If you own a timepiece with a water resistant case, you should have it serviced every 3-5 years to maintain its water resistance.

Hand wound mechanical watches should also be wound regularly to keep them running properly. To wind a watch, simply rotate the crown until you feel resistance. This should be done every 3-5 days, depending on the type of watch you own. If you own a modern watch, you can purchase a watch winder to keep it wound and running.

For those who own a new watch, it is essential to have it serviced by a professional watchmaker before wearing it. This will ensure the accuracy of the watch and its optimal performance. Professional watchmakers are also able to identify any issues that may arise with the watch and can repair or replace any parts that may be needed.

For watch enthusiasts, regular maintenance and care of your watch is essential for its longevity. Whether you own an automatic, quartz, or mechanical watch, regular servicing is key to keeping your watch running properly and accurately. By having your watch serviced, you can ensure that it will be in top condition and will last for many years to come.

Don't Leave It Unused For A Long Time

The watch's lubricants can solidify if an automatic watch is left unused for an extended period of time. This can decrease the watch's accuracy and even lead to malfunction. To prevent this issue, it is recommended to manually wind or shake a watch that has been left idle for an extended period in order to ensure optimal functioning.

Manually winding or shaking a watch on a regular basis is essential to ensure that the lubricants do not become clogged and the watch remains in top shape. To manually wind a watch, the crown needs to be turned clockwise until resistance is felt, at which point the crown should be stopped.

To manually shake a watch, it should be held in the hand and gently shaken back and forth for a few minutes. Establishing this as a good habit is key to making sure that your watch is kept in good condition.

Cleaning Your Watch

Regularly cleaning one's watch is essential in order to avoid the accumulation of dirt and grime, which can lead to damage and impair the watch's precision. The watch band and case may be cleaned by gently wiping it down with a soft cloth. It is important to use a soft cloth to prevent any scratches on the watch.

The recommended procedure for soaking the watch band and case in soap and water is to fill a bowl with warm water and add a small amount of mild soap. Subsequently, the watch should be placed in the bowl and allowed to soak for a few minutes. Afterward, a soft-bristled brush should be used to carefully scrub the watch, taking care to avoid any scratching.

It is advisable to clean the watch band and case on a regular basis using a soft cloth, and to immerse it in a soapy solution every few months. This is especially important for mechanical and quartz watches, as the accumulation of dirt and grime over time can negatively affect the watch's accuracy. Additionally, if the watch is water resistant, it is important to ensure that the watch is properly sealed after cleaning to maintain its water resistance.

For hand wound watches, it is also important to wind the watch regularly to ensure that it is running accurately and to maintain the watch's power reserve.

Battery Replacement

It is recommended to replace the battery in a quartz watch when it begins to lose power and the second hand begins to move in two-second intervals. This is generally observed to occur every 1-2 years. Replacing the battery in a quartz watch requires the removal of the watch back using a suitable tool such as a screwdriver. Once the back is removed, the battery can be carefully extracted using tweezers. The new battery should then be inserted and the watch back replaced. To avoid any damage to the watch, it is recommended to use a plastic or wooden tool. Generally, the cost of replacing the battery is low and should not be more than $10.

It is important to note that the crown should not be used to open or close the watch back to avoid any damage to the watch movement. Additionally, the spring bar should not be removed and if necessary, the strap should be changed instead. Moreover, when replacing the battery, it is important to pay attention to the power reserve and the balance spring as they can be affected by the battery replacement.

If the power reserve is too low, the watch should be serviced by a professional. Such professional service can be expensive, so caution should be taken when replacing the battery.

Protect From Sunlight

Exposure to sunlight can cause discoloration of the bezel and dial, as well as damage to the painted components of the watch. Additionally, it may lead to the watch running faster or slower than intended. To prevent color fading and battery life reduction due to sunlight exposure, it is advisable to avoid such exposure. This is especially important for watches with leather straps, as the leather can become brittle over time when exposed to sunlight.

Furthermore, even if a watch is water resistant, it is still not protected from external shock and should be kept away from direct sunlight. It is essential to take the necessary steps to protect a watch from the sun, as exposure can lead to color fading and a decrease in battery life.

Taking the time to properly care for a watch is important to ensure that it can remain in good condition for years to come. By taking the necessary precautions, such as avoiding exposure to direct sunlight, a watch can continue to perform at its best and look great for years to come.

Avoid Chemicals

Chemicals including soaps, detergents, cosmetics, and perfumes can have a detrimental effect on a watch case or strap. Chemicals can detrimentally impact the watch by diminishing the strength of the band, potentially leading to its rupture.

Therefore, it is advised to abstain from using chemicals and perfume on leather bands in order to prevent weakening and tearing.

Moreover, it is imperative to abstain from exposing the watch to chemicals in order to prevent damage to the watch case or strap, as well as weakening the band, which could lead to its eventual tearing.

If you feel any resistance when cleaning the watch, use a mild soap and re oil it, but this is a relatively simple process.

Trust the Professionals

Due to the risk of dust, dirt, and other particles entering the movement and causing damage, it is advisable to leave the opening and repairs of watches to professionals who possess the appropriate tools and knowledge to do so. Attempting to open the watch without professional assistance can expose it to dust, dirt, and other particles that can enter the movement and cause damage. Furthermore, the lack of the right tools and expertise may result in further damage to the watch.

Submitting the watch for warranty repair provides the opportunity to have all issues addressed in one go and extend the warranty for an additional year. IWC offers a warranty of eight years from the date of purchase for its watches. Therefore, it is advisable to make the most of the warranty period and entrust the experts to take care of any problem with the watch. Additionally, if you are dealing with more complicated watches like those with screw down crowns, it is even more important to entrust the professionals to handle the repair as it requires a certain level of expertise.


It is imperative that watch owners properly maintain their timepieces in order to ensure accuracy, reliability, and optimal performance. Mechanical, quartz, and automatic watches require different levels of dedication and careful management. For instance, quartz watches are accurate and cost-effective, but must be serviced regularly and the battery replaced periodically. Whereas, mechanical watches need daily or monthly winding and attention to their water resistance status. Automatic watches require minimal winding and are particularly vulnerable when exposed to moisture, shock, magnets and electronic devices.

It is also important to keep them away from any sources of moisture and not to leave them unused and idle for long periods of time. Watch owners should also clean and wind watches regularly, replace the battery as necessary, and protect them from direct sunlight as well as chemical exposure. Repairs and other service procedures should always be done by a professional to ensure that repairs and opening processes are done correctly and without causing further damage.

Follow these tips and your beloved timepiece will reflect your care for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I keep my watch in good condition?

To keep your watch in the best condition and working order, it is important to service it every 3-5 years, store it in a temperature-controlled safe deposit, regularly wind it and don't overwind it, wear it regularly, clean its leather straps with a toothbrush, and set the date.

Taking these steps will help ensure your watch lasts for many years to come.

How do you maintain an expensive watch?

To maintain an expensive watch, it is important to regularly clean and service it, protect it from water damage, avoid contact with magnets or chemicals, and store it in a secure watch box. Additionally, make sure to wind it regularly, keep it out of direct sunlight, and adjust the time accordingly.

Lastly, take care not to damage any non-bracelet straps.

How often do you need to lubricate a watch?

For optimal performance, it is recommended to lubricate a mechanical watch every three to five years if worn consistently and at least once a month if the watch is worn infrequently.

This is especially important for watches that are exposed to extreme temperatures, humidity, or shock, as these conditions can cause the lubricants to break down more quickly. Regular lubrication will help ensure that the watch runs smoothly and accurately.

Do watches need maintenance?

The simple answer is yes, watches need regular maintenance to remain reliable and working properly. You should take your watch in for servicing every few years, or as soon as you notice anything irregular with the function or design.

Servicing could easier prevent any costly repairs in the future.