As we all struggle to adjust with how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our daily lives, we still face a growing number of uncertainties in this so-called new normal. There are already a myriad of things that we won't be able to do anymore given our shared circumstances, some of which as mundane as getting a haircut or going out to get a cup of coffee at our favorite café. A lot of us are on indefinite government mandated lockdown; we stay at home to hopefully flatten the pandemic curve and reduce the stress on our health system. We all wonder, when will this all end, or will it ever end?
Unfortunately for us, this pandemic is not exactly the best time to be a watch enthusiast. Not only are watch stores closed, but because our hobby is largely dependent on wearing our watches, staying at home is not the most compelling reason to wear them. Of course, some of you do, but I'd wager that that is more the exception than the rule.
Fortunately, there is something we all could do during this lockdown period that will allow us to experience and enjoy our watches that may prove useful as we go on about our lives post-lockdown. And as you might already know from the title of this post, I'm talking about the proper cleaning and caring for our watches.
But before we continue, KLO & CO would like to give a proper mention and appreciation to all frontliners who battle this pandemic on the ground while we all stay at home. We cannot thank you enough for your service. We extend to you our thoughts and prayers and hope that our own simple acts of service through our respective channels may be able to ease the stress and challenges you face everyday.
Here are some tips and tricks to follow for proper watch care, cleaning, and maintenance during this uncertain time:
CLEANING YOUR WATCH — Cleaning, disinfecting, and washing
- Before washing or cleaning your watch, make sure that the crowns and pushers on your watch are screwed down or closed tightly. Remember, do not activate the crowns and pushers while washing your watch, only do so after drying it thoroughly with a microfiber towel and letting it sit overnight to ensure all the nooks and crannies are dry.
- Using tap water is usually the safest way to clean your watch, but a specialized watch cleaning solution which you can buy online can also be used and might be more effective in removing stubborn dirt and grime. If you're using a cleaning solution, make sure that it is safe for your watch, especially if your watch has colored or plated surfaces as some solutions may cause discoloration. To get grit off, a microfiber towel or soft bristled toothbrush can be used while washing with running water to remove stubborn dirt. Just be careful of polished surfaces.
- Removing the leather strap is optional, but make sure to wipe it dry right after cleaning your leather strap, as water and other fomulas might cause discoloration of leather. Using a special leather cleaner and moisturizer may help restore and prolong your leather strap.
- Cleaning bracelets is the most difficult part, and we recommend using a soft bristle toothbrush to get between the links for those stubborn black dirt and grime. If you have polished links, you may want to ease up on this and use a microfiber towel or cotton swabs to clean it instead.
- It's always best to ask your Service Center to clean your watch, but since most of them are closed, for your own DIY maintenance, make sure to wash your watch with just tap water. We have a hard time recommending the use of soap as some soaps have oils and moisturizers that cause grease build-up, while other soaps are too strong and might dry damage the rubber rings over time. In case you need to use some sort of soap to get rid of hard to dissolve grime or more importantly to disinfect your watch, we recommend rinsing your watch thoroughly with running tap water to remove all traces of soap before drying. Again, a soft bristle toothbrush greatly helps the process of cleaning hard to reach spots such as in between links and behind the pushers.
- If your watch is less than 5ATM or 50m water resistance, do not wash your watch directly on running tap water as water will intrude and enter your watch and ruin the movement. Instead, use a damp microfiber towel to wipe clean your watch.
- Do not drench your watch in water unless it's at least 10ATM such as the KLO & CO Alpesailer.
- When buying old or used watches, especially vintage watches, make sure to let your Service Center wash them instead, or treat them as how you would treat a non-waterproof watch. Since it is hard to determine the waterproof worthiness of a used watch, it is best to be at the safe side when cleaning them.
- On using disinfectant or alcohol, to be on the safe side, avoid using harsh formulations and just stick with soap and water if you absolutely must disinfect your watch. Do this every after using the watch (after coming home from outside) as the virus can stick to watches as well. Again, be wary of any discoloration that may happen if you have colored surfaces in your watch such as colored aluminum bezels.
- Lastly, do not share watches with anybody else if you have worn it within the day. To avoid possible virus spread, it is better to keep your watch to yourself for now.
MAINTAINING YOUR WATCH — Reduce wear and tear to prolong service intervals
- There is much debate surrounding this topic, but we will try our best to lay down all sides and just let you decide which is best given your current circumstances and usage behavior. First off, we would like to say that following manufacture recommended service intervals is still the best way to care for our watches, but it might not be the most cost-effective way depending if you are looking at the short-term or long-term. Still as a rule of thumb, we at KLO & CO believe that following manufacturer instructions is a fool-proof way of keeping your watch in factory condition for more years to come. That said, we understand that in this time of pandemic, going to our service centers may not be possible or even safe. Therefore, here are some steps to ensure your watch is running at tip-top shape for longer.
- For complicated watches, make sure to follow manufacturer instructions in operating your watches and their complications. A common mistake beginner watch enthusiasts make is to adjust the date of their watches with date complication in between 9PM and 3AM as this might interfere with the mechanical date change mechanisms and cause unnecessary wear and tear. It may be different from watches to watches and movements to movements but to be safe, KLO & CO recommends setting the date of the watch only when the time shows anywhere between 6AM and 6PM. Should you absolutely have to change the date and it is outside those times, adjust the time first and set it between those times and then set the desired date.
- Having said all of this, again it is best to just follow the operating instructions of your specific watch. Make sure you are well informed about the quirks and intricacies of your mechanical movement before wearing them.
- In prolonging service intervals of any given watch there are two main schools of thought: First is to always keep your watch running, and the other to not keep your watch running when you are not using it. The first one involves either wearing your watch everyday, and the use of a watch winder for other watches not being used. While the latter involves just leaving them be. The first argument would say that keeping your watch running allows the movement to run well under normal lubrication. Think of it as an idling car. Purveyors of the first argument say that the watch will run healthily and not let the lubrication stagnate or dry up. On the other hand, those who believe the second school of thought will say that not using the watch totally prevents any wear and tear on the watch versus using them or keeping them running. We will let you decide which is better for you. Either way we go back to our first point of just sticking with manufacturer recommendations for service intervals.
- It is a generally accepted rule of thumb that in order to prolong the life of your watch, you must store your watches in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Extremely low or hot temperatures, or easily fluctuating temperatures, and moisture might cause unnecessary wear and tear on the materials of your watch especially the movement so it's best to keep them in a stable location. Keeping them away from direct sunlight on the other hand preserves the luminosity especially on vintage watches and will reduce the risk of discoloration.
- It goes without saying that wearing your watch with care is still the best way to prevent your watch from experiencing any technical issues, but if you're like us and would always take your watches in your adventures or use them everyday, this might not always be done. Minding your watch is not only emotionally and mentally stressful, it's also very futile. Scratches and bumps will happen eventually.
- It is still best to have the authorized service center care and maintain your watch, and we do not recommend tinkering with your watch especially the movement, but if you must, note that any adjustments done to such a precise mechanical movement might cause more harm than good. So tinker with extreme caution. Even just removing the caseback may affect waterproof worthiness, so keep that in mind as well.
That's about it from us. If you have other tips and tricks you would like to share, feel free to shoot as an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to stay safe always and hope to see you all soon!