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The bare basics of cleaning your watch

Another post written on the fly! Excuse incoherent rambling and the occasional spelling error!

Many a fine vintage have their majesty veiled by a layer of grime and dirt left over from decades of neglect.

While a proper servicing makes sure the engine runs well on the inside, a good practice of basic cleaning will ensure you never have something disgusting lodged in one of the nooks of your timepiece.

Here's what I do.

1. A Gentleman’s Hankie

In this case, it’s one of thise jewellery cleaning cloths that used to make me wonder who the heck would pay so much for a piece of cloth.

I use one from thia brand - here - and t works wonders! Be it stainless steel or gold, a few wipes with the cloth gives thesurface a pretty good shine! Just be careful not to go too crazy with plated gold or you might see less and less of it on your watch case.

2. General Upkeep

This step is useful so that the cloth doesn’t have too much to clean all the time. Collectors of vintage daily beaters will know what I mean when I say - “the black rubbery goop inbetween everything”.

Well all tht black toxin originated from perspiration. So do yourself (and more importantly, your watch) a favor and give the corners a nice wipe down every time you take it off.

That’ll prevent too much dirt from gathering in the hot spots on the casebacks, and under and inbetween the lugs.

For a little twisted pleasure, put a really old bracelet into an ultrasonic cleaner and see how black you can get the water.

3. Start rubbing yourself

This is specificaly for solid gold and gold plated watches. You’ll of course notice that the surface of gold tarnishes over time to either an icky oily black or to a warm tangerine.

While I’m a fan of the lather, the blackish layer really calls for a good cleaning. For that I like to use a soft eraser,carefully and softly working my way around the entire case.

After you’re done take that hankie and give the surface a once over. It’ll be like that Mr Muscle advert. But with gold.

4. Dentist’s Orders

I have a friend who swears by toothpaste as a cleaning agent for watches. He will put a little on a brush and have a go at a new watch.

While I’m not a fan of the toothpaste (your watch smells like it afterwards), I do employ a nice soft toothbrush for those hard to reach corners. Later on I’ll illustrate how that toothbrush can go a step further in making your watch shine.

5. Here’s the solution

Stainless steel polishing liquid. Equally deadly as it is effective (it’s very effective).

While I really don’t advise prolonged exposure to the liquid, a nice soak-n-wipe with an off-the-shelf SS polishing liquid will give a bery nice shine and a new life to your bracelets and caaes.

Cautionary note - vintage watches are not water resistant, so try not to get the case too wet when using the agent.

6. Brush at least two times a day

Here’s the mini home project for those who really want a good shine without thinning the watch with a buffing machine.

Rouge, a soap-bar shaped agent, allows you to carefully (and patiently) hand polish your watch to a radient shine.

All you need is a toothbrush, a moist cloth, that SS polishing liquid we talked about earlier, a facemask (so you don’t breathe in steel dust), and a fuckload of time on your hands.

The steps are easy - apply rouge to brush, brush bracelet or case in one direction over a moist cloth (remember my caution about vintage cases) (the moist cloth helps catch the steel dust), reapply when needed, brush and brush and brush, use polishing liquid for last brush, wipe with clean water, dry with tissue, wipe with watch hankie.

I find hand polishing extremely gratifying. While it won’t give a mirror shine finish like you get through the machine, it does give me very much involvement in making a watch look good.

Well I hope that on-the-move blurt has been useful. Keep on collecting and do give the catalogue a look-see if any my watches strike your fancy.

And if any of you cats have more cleaning tips to share, drop me an email and I’ll add it into the list.

Happy collecting!

©.2023. Reproduce with permission. Further enquiries at

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