Ultimate Guide on How to Clean Your Luxury Swiss Watch

If you’re like most people, your watch is an essential accessory you wear daily. Cleaning luxurious watches is an important part of maintaining their value and ensuring they continue functioning properly. Whether you own a Rolex, Omega, Patek Philipe, AP or another high-end brand, taking the time to clean your watch properly can help it look its best and extend its lifespan. We at Cleaner Cleaner have a few tips for cleaning your luxurious watch at home:

5 Factors to Consider Before Cleaning Your Watch

In general, cleaning a watch is not complicated. However, there are a few important things to take in mind before you get started to help you do an excellent job and protect your precious watch from damage. Here are the factors you need to consider when cleaning your watch at home:

Water Resistance

Water resistance is the most crucial factor when it comes to cleaning your watch. If your timepiece is not water-resistant (most vintage watches fall in this category), it requires different cleaning and care than most contemporary watches. Even if the tiniest amount of water or soap of water gets into the case of a timepiece with no water resistance, it can damage it.

Crown and Pushers

Even water-resistant watches can be damaged by water and cleaning products if the crown is not screwed or pushed completely; otherwise, the case might not be sealed. Always check if the crown is in a closed position and avoid working the pusher buttons when cleaning your timepiece to ensure no water will get into the case.

Age and Last Servicing Date

Knowing your watch’s age and last servicing date are as important as knowing its water resistance. Timepieces that are older models or have been used a long time without, and those that haven’t been serviced for several years usually have diminished water resistance. Gaskets age, dry and become brittle over time, and the risk of water ingress gets higher. If you have any concerns over the effective water resistance of your luxurious watch, we recommend you bring it to a reputable watchmaker for inspection and servicing.

Materials of the Watch

Different materials require different cleaning approaches, tools and products to do the job without scratching or damaging your timepiece. For example, you can clean stainless steel and titanium safely with a soft brush. However, if your timepiece has a gold or satin finish, brushing it can damage the metal, so it’s better to use a microfibre cloth. You should also check the material of your watch crystal. Sapphire is quite firm and durable, while acrylic and hesalite crystals can easily scratch when cleaning the watch. So before cleaning your watch, it is wise to know its materials. If you don’t keep the original user manual of your timepiece, check the manufacturer’s website or contact the seller to get detailed info about your watch. 

Set a Safe Cleaning Space 

Whenever you’re cleaning your luxury watch, you should make sure to do it over a protected surface. Watches can become quite slippery during the cleaning and fall out of your hands. To avoid damage, place a layered towel over a flat surface – it will catch any potential slips and also help soak any water splashes. 

Water-resistant watches like this Omega Seamaster are very easy to clean as long as you service them regularly.

How to Clean a Water Resistant Watch?  

If your watch has a water resistance of 50 meters and above, it can withstand being wet-cleaned. Also, if your watch’s strap or bracelet is made from a water-resistant material – like metal or rubber, you can keep it and clean the watch along with it. However, if the bracelet is made of leather or any other non-water-resistant material, you should detach it and clean it separately.

You will need:

  • Dry towel to lay over your workspace
  • Gentle liquid soap 
  • Warm water
  • Bowl
  • A soft brush (a soft toothbrush will do) for stainless steel watches or microfibre cloth for gold watches
  • Microfiber cloth for drying

Cleaning instructions:

  1. Fill your bowl with warm water, add a few drops of soap and mix until you have a soapy solution.
  2. Dip the brush into the solution, and gently brush the watch to remove the dirt. If your watch has a satin finish or a precious metal finish (such as gold), you will want to use a microfiber cloth or even just with your hands to avoid scratching its surface.
  3. Gently rinse the watch with clean water. If your watch has a moderate water resistance (50 meters to 100 meters), you can quickly dip it in a bowl filled with clean water. Watches with excellent water resistance (100 meters and above) can be placed directly under a running water faucet. 
  4. Dry your watch completely with a soft microfiber cloth.

Vintage watches, dress watches, and timepieces like this pocket watch usually are non-water-resistant.

How to Clean a Watch with Little or No Water Resistance?

If your watch has little to no water resistance (30 meters or less), you’ll need similar tools and materials to clean it; however, the cleaning steps are quite different. You should avoid getting your timepiece wet and submerge it in water at all cost; otherwise, you risk significant damage. 

You will need:

  • Dry towel to lay over your workspace
  • Gentle liquid soap 
  • Warm water
  • Bowl
  • Soft brush
  • 2 microfibre cloths
  • Dry, fluffy cloth

Cleaning instructions:

  1. Use a soft brush to gently scrub away any dirt or debris that have accumulated on the watch face or band.
  2. Use a mixture of mild soap and water to clean the watch. Dip a microfibre cloth into the mixture and wring out the excess water. The cloth should be slightly damp. Use it to gently scrub the watch, and be careful not to get water into the watch’s case and mechanisms.
  3. Dry the watch thoroughly with a clean, soft microfibre cloth.
  4. Use the dry, fluffy cloth to remove any moisture from the watch’s band, case and crystal.  

Suppose you are cleaning a vintage piece without any water resistance. In that case, we recommend brushing it only with a soft dry brush to remove any debris physically and then cleaning it with polishing cloths for fine metal. They will remove any dirt and polish the face and bracelet without scratching the surface. You can use such cloth on gold, silver and other precious materials; however, they are not suitable for cleaning watches with a satin finish.

Don’t forget to clean the strap or bracelet of the watch as this helps the timepiece maintain its overall look.

How to Clean the Watch Strap?

If either your watch or watch strap is water resistant, but not both, you should detach them and clean them separately. When cleaning the strap of your timepiece, you should consider its water resistance, age, material, construction, etc. All these factors matter if you want to clean the bracelet or strap of your watch safely and efficiently. 

Cleaning Water Resistant Straps and Bracelets

A lot of contemporary watches have steel, titanium or rubber straps or bracelets. These are very durable materials, and they are quite easy to clean. Use a mild soap solution and a soft brush to remove dirt and debris built on the strap and clasp. Put the watch strap or bracelet under running water to rinse it. After that, dry the strap with a clean microfibre cloth. 

When it comes to bracelets made from precious metals, such as platinum or gold, as well as watches with a satin finish, it’s best to avoid using brushes as they might scratch the metal surface. Instead, you can use an extra soft microfibre cloth dipped in soap and water. Scrub the bracelet gently, then rinse it clean and dry it with a soft microfibre towel.

Cleaning Leather Straps  

The first thing you need to know when dealing with leather watch straps is never to use wet wipes, alcohol or soap, as these products will dry the leather and can even ruin it. Before cleaning the strap, it’s worth checking what type of leather it is made from. If you are still determining what type of leather you’re dealing with and how to care about it, it’s best to check the manufacturer’s website.

If the watch strap is made from leather or another water-sensitive material, you must apply a gentler cleaning process. Use a very slightly damp cloth on the strap to remove dust and dirt without scrubbing hard. This method is suitable for leather like grain calf, shark or alligator. 

However, super matte leathers and also straps made from nubuck or suede are more susceptible to absorbing oils and water. The safest cleaning approach for straps made from these materials is using a soft dry brush or dry microfibre cloth to brush the surface gently.

In the long run, it’s worth getting a leather care kit to keep the leather’s excellent appearance over the years. These kits usually contain all the products and materials needed to maintain the material’s beauty and durability.

Read also: What you didn’t know about leather furniture, and how to clean it!

Cleaning Fabric Watch Bands 

Many smartwatches, including the new Apple Watch Ultra, come with fabric straps. Most of them are made from synthetic materials because they are durable and versatile. To clean your fabric watch band, detach it from the timepiece and wash it using mild detergent and lukewarm water. You can also throw it in the washing machine; however, make sure to set the lowest temperature setting as high temperatures can shrink the synthetic material.  

By following these steps, you can keep your luxurious watch looking its best and ensure that it continues to function properly for years to come. It’s also a good idea to have your watch professionally serviced on a regular basis to ensure that it is running smoothly and to catch any potential issues before they become major problems.