Tips to Keep Your Antique Watches Clean

Antique watches for watch collectors are their most prized possession. It’s important, as a watch-collector, that you know how to clean a watch thoroughly. Dust, grime, and rust accumulated over the years can seriously damage your antique watches. Well, in the case you don’t know how to clean an antique watch; we are here to the rescue. Here’s how you can clean your watch thoroughly without damaging it.

Antique Watches

Separating the Dial From the Straps or Bracelet

First things first about these antique watches, you need to separate the dial of the watch from its bracelet. The grime and grit accumulated over the years on the watch can act as sandpaper and leave stubborn scratches. Loosening this grime is important before cleaning the watch.

Pro Tip: Wiping off your watch every day with a damp cloth will keep the grime build-up at bay. This minute daily effort will keep you from the grueling cleaning every other month.

Longines watch


In a bowl, add water and soap and let your bracelet and strap soak. The soaking time depends on how much grime the watch has accumulated in the past years. The soapy water will help the grime loosen up and make it easier to clean without much rubbing and scrubbing. For an extremely dirty watch, it can take an hour, and for a mildly dirty one, 30 minutes of soaking will suffice.

Scrubbing Antique Watches

For leather straps, the cleaning and drying procedures are a bit different. For a leather belt to soak up moisture and dry in quick succession means cracks. You will need a proper conditioning solution to keep your leather strap from cracking. Leather strap cleaning should always be left to the professionals as many watches come with unfinished leather that can change color after soaking or even give you rashes.

Make sure you don’t use any harsh chemicals; avoid dipping your watch bracelet, leather or stainless-steel both, into any chemical. Rubbing alcohol is the only solution you should use to clean your watch and its bracelet.

Now, for a bracelet, you can use a soft toothbrush and scrub between the links to clean off the grime. Don’t be too hard or you will scratch the strap. Be gentle and patient; you will get there sooner than later.

Antique watch

Cleaning the Dial or the Head of the Watch

You may think that cleaning the bracelet was the hard part, but you are mistaken. It’s the watch dial that is the hardest. This part of the watch contains the brains, so you will have to be extra careful with it.

Start with a moist or damp cloth and scrub the back and front of the watch gently. Clean any sticky residue and dirt off the watch with your gentle rubbing. Make sure you use a soft cloth, avoid using any abrasive material, or you will end up giving your watch face serious scratches. The cover of the watch is set in its place to keep the watch face from getting any dirt, let it sit in its place and clean it from the outside only.

Scrubbing the Watch Head

Use the same soft toothbrush that you have used earlier to scrub the watch head. Be patient and gentle; you wouldn’t want to scratch a priceless antique. Use a circular motion to clean the watch, dip the brush in soapy water and repeat scrubbing till you get all the grime of the watch and have it sparkling clean.


Once you have cleaned the whole watch, it’s time to dry it. Using a lint-free cloth, start drying the watch. When you are done, let it rest on the cloth so that all moisture drains from the watch. Repeating this procedure every other month will help you keep your watch in pristine condition.

Omega Seamaster

Professional care

Some watches are beyond DIY cleaning. You will need to consult a professional if you start noticing scratches on the strap or bracelet. Stubborn scratches need proper polishing; you might do more harm than good if you try removing these starches on your own. You can also seek out the service of a professional if you don’t have proper tools to separate the watch from its straps.

Preventive Care

A watch lover should always know how to take care of his most loved accessory. Keep your watch dry and away from perspiration and salt. After every wear, give it a wipe down at night. The coating that keeps the watch stainless and keeps it from rusting can wear down gradually. The watch may rust if it doesn’t get proper oxygen; avoid keeping your watch in a box that is airtight.

Vintage Watches Conclusion

Although cleaning watches is fairly easy, all you need is patience and gentleness. However, there are some watches that are hard to clean or may need professional handling. DIY watch cleaning is great but never shy away from professional cleaning as they know how best to handle a watch.

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