How to clean a vintage watch to be usable once again
Since I started loving vintage watches, I have understood one thing. Vintage watches, NOS or used, should be cleaned before you wear them and should be cleaned at least once every two weeks.
But, the question is how? How to clean a vintage watch so that it is not damaged and the value does not drastically reduce?
Firstly, think about the value of the watch and if you will be selling it. If you want to clean it before selling it so that you get a better value, please do not do so. Let the buyer decide if he or she wants To have the watch cleaned. But, if you are not selling it and it is a keeper, go ahead with the directions below.
Disclaimer: The author does not take responsibility for any damage caused to the watch due to the steps followed below. Please go through and evaluate if you want to go ahead with the steps below.
Firstly, remove the strap of the watch. We will clean the strap before cleaning the watch.
The strap should be first cleaned with a microfiber cloth in a circular motion, to loosen any debris.
Here is how to clean a strap according to its type:
1- Metal bracelet
After cleaning the debris using a microfiber cloth, prepare some lukewarm water with dish soap, and an old toothbrush. Let the bracelet (watch removed) soak in the water for 2 minutes. After that, use the toothbrush to clean the dirt in between the links. Go through all the links and then take it off the water.
Use a clean rag to dry it. Now, if it has a brushed finish, you can leave it in the sun to kill any germs that the water did not get. But, if it is polished, use a cream polish (Do not do this with plated straps as the plating would come off). Do not use Brasso as it will take a long time to shine the bracelet with liquid polish. take the cream polish on a clean rag, and rub it back and forth over the polish. After that, clean it again in running water with hand soap and after it dries, you can store it separately in a cloth bag until the watch is clean
2- Leather strap
After cleaning the debris using a microfiber cloth, use shampoo to clean it under cold running water. After that, let it dry out in the open air under indirect sunlight until it dries. After this is done, use some leather cleaner/ conditioner on a cloth and buff it into the leather strap in a circular motion. Remove the buckle and polish it with a metal cream polish. Reattach the buckle and then let it dry for 30 minutes in an open environment. Store it in a dry place in the dark until the following steps are completed.
3- Nato/ Nylon Strap
Firstly clean in under running water with soap and a toothbrush.
Then put it in a sock, tie the end of the sock with elastic bands, and then put it in the washing machine. Dry it in the open air under direct sunlight.
4- Rubber Strap
Simply rinse it with soap under running water
Now we come to clean the watch. Use Brasso on a cloth and rub it in a circular motion over the crystal. Repeat this 4-5 times. Then clean the crystal using a lens cleaner and wipe it with a microfiber cloth.
For plated watches: Use a damp cloth to clean the case and clean the unreachable areas with a toothbrush. Use a microfiber cloth and rub it on the lugs, bezel, and the rest of the case. Use the lens cleaner on the rest of the watch as well to remove any possible residue.
For solid watches: First, clean the case with a damp cloth and use a toothbrush to clean the unreachable parts. Then polish all the components using a cream polish until the case shines. (Polishing removes metal from the case). Then use a lens cleaner spray over the watch and wipe using a microfiber cloth to remove residue. Try to hold the watch firmly and then rub the watch on the cloth instead of rubbing the cloth on the watch. Do not do this for the brushed sides or a watch with brushed finishing. Re-place the straps and your watch is ready to be worn.
*Note: Try not to get the watch wet even if it says waterproof. Vintage watches are not meant to be worn near the water.