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How to Clean Your Luxury Watch

How to Clean Your Luxury Watch

The charm of a well-maintained timepiece goes beyond its function of telling time; it serves as a fashion statement and a declaration of achievement. From cutting-edge models to vintage classics, each luxury watch is a testament to craftsmanship, precision, and grandeur.

Although luxury watches are built with the highest standards to last for long, proper care and maintenance are required to preserve their appearance and functionality over time. This comprehensive guide discusses everything you need to know to keep your timepiece in its finest condition.

How to Clean a Luxury Watch

Periodic professional servicing by a trusted jewelry store is always advisable for intricate cleaning tasks. In the meantime, owners can practice a routine cleaning at home to retain the watch's pristine look.

Prerequisites for Cleaning

Inspect the Watch

Start by getting a nice and close look at your watch to gauge its condition. A simple magnifying glass is perfect for this job. Inspect the timepiece for any potential damage that might allow moisture ingress. Pay special attention to areas such as the crown and other movable parts. Likewise, look at the edge of the crystal where it meets the case. If there's evidence of detachment or chipping, in that case, you would have to take your watch for professional service before the clean-up process.

Check the Water Resistance

Although many modern watches are water-resistant, it's always beneficial to recheck your watch's limits to determine the best cleaning method.

Water-resistant watches are easier to handle and can be cleaned by submerging them in water. However, it's worth noting that repeated exposure to water, chemicals, and hot temperatures can reduce water resistance over time.

On the other hand, non-waterproof watches should never be submerged in water and instead be cleaned using a soft brush or lightly damp cloth.

You can find the water-resistance measure of your timepiece by referring to its user manual or consulting a professional.

How to Clean a Luxury Watch

Once you are aware of the aforementioned essential details about your watch, it’s time to start preparing the elements needed for its cleaning process.

What You Will Need:

  • Warm water
  • Mellow soap
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Clean microfiber cloth
  • Paper towels
  • Sanitary wipes

If you are local to Orange County, CA you can stop by and get an expert steam cleaning. 

Step 1: Dissembling the Watch

Regardless of what model or material your watch is made of, the first step is to remove its bracelet from the crown.

Doing so gives you access to hard-to-reach areas such as the inner case, inside lugs, and the bracelet's end links for thorough cleaning. So, use an apt spring bar instrument to detach the bracelet and set it aside for some time.

Step 2: Wipe the Crown

Once you have disassembled the watch, ensure that the crown is properly screwed down to prevent any water damage to the timepiece. Next, use sanitary wipes to gently clean every nook, edge, and engraving of the crown. Make sure to pay extra attention to areas with excess dust, grime, and stubborn stains.

Step 3: Clean the Strap

Moving on, it's time to bring the warm water container to the table. Submerse one end of the steel bracelet in the container and then apply a few drops of the mild soap onto your soft-bristled brush.

Lather the soap and scrub until the surface is clean before rinsing the watch under warm running water.

Next, lay down the bracelet on a fold of paper towels to get rid of the moisture and dirt particles. Alternatively, you can also polish the watch strap to give it a shiny finish.

Step 4: Finishing Off With Microfiber

By this stage, your watch is practically free from dirt, stains, and other contaminants and only needs to be dried before it is ready to be used.

So, use a soft, clean microfiber to dry the timepiece without worrying about accidentally scratching the surface. Make sure to reach the more inaccessible areas of the watch, such as the bezel and crystal edges, by wrapping the cloth around your fingernail.

How to Maintain a Leather Watch Band

While the above steps highlight the things you need to do when cleaning a luxury watch, they don’t apply to all luxury watches. Certain collections from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and other notable names feature leather straps that require a different maintenance strategy than metal ones.

They can absorb sweat and develop an odor gradually, and if not properly maintained, they may dry out and crack. To clean your leather watch strap, begin by using a dry cloth to gently wipe away any dirt. For tougher stains or marks, use a damp cloth with a leather-approved cleaning solution.

Conditioning is the secret to preventing the leather strap from drying, cracking, and building odor. So, apply a small amount of high-quality leather conditioner to nourish the leather and help preserve its supple, like-new feel.

Another thing to keep in mind is that water and leather aren’t the best of friends. Therefore, remember to keep your leather strap away from water as much as possible and store your watch in a suitable case or box when not in use.

With attention and regular care, your leather watch band will continue looking and feeling elegant for years to come.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While the process of cleaning luxury watches seems easy and doable at first, there are certain things that you should avoid doing since they can damage the quality of your precious timepiece. These include:

  1. Cleaning the watch while it's on your wrist: The one-handed approach is too fumbly to be safe and makes it difficult to do a decent cleaning job since you can't reach the backside with the strap clasped on.
  2. Using Dirty Cloth: Using a dirty cloth increases the risk of adding scratches. Additionally, be gentle when cleaning your watch when it's dry; excessive rubbing can cause dirt to accumulate on the cloth, leading to potential scratches.
  3. Using Abrasive Materials: Abrasives may seem tempting when your watch is extra dirty. But they should be avoided at all costs since their use can cause unsightly marks on both brushed and polished surfaces. 
  4. Using Toothpaste: You might come across recommendations to use toothpaste for your timepiece. But toothpaste has a hardness of around 5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. In comparison, 14k gold has a hardness of 3.5 to 4. So, toothpaste can damage a gold watch.

How Often Should You Clean Your Luxury Watch?

Proper maintenance of the watch is the key to keeping it running smoothly in the long run.

For people who wear their watches only on special occasions, it is best to wipe them clean with a microfibre cloth after use to get rid of any present scum on the watch strap.

Whereas, for frequent watch wearers, the best practice is to clean it regularly yourself along with getting it professionally serviced every three to five years.


Caring for your beloved timepieces is a meticulous journey that aims to preserve their beauty and functionality.

While these guidelines lend a helping hand for routine at-home cleaning, keep in mind that the delicate complexity of luxury watches requires occasional professional attention to extend their longevity, ensuring that they continue to be cherished heirlooms for generations to enjoy.

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