How to Store Watches When Not in Use

Did you inherit an exquisite pocket watch or treat yourself to that Rolex you’ve always wanted? Perhaps you have an extensive collection of watches, both old and new. Whether it’s one watch or a few dozen, it’s important that you provide proper storage for your treasured timepieces. How do you store watches when not wearing them?

Storing your watches correctly will ensure that they will keep their value. It will also allow you to pass them on in turn to your children.

How to store watches when not in use

A fine watch requires proper maintenance and care in order to keep it working properly and retain its beauty and value. You’ll want to keep your watch clean and stored carefully when you’re not wearing it.

front view of Tag Heuer Monaco blue dial watch on its storage cushion (left) and Panerai Luminor Marina black dial watch on its storage cushion (right)

Invest in safe storage for your watches

Watches are subject to scratches and other “wear and tear” damage not generally covered under warranties. They’re also a tempting target for thieves. Therefore, keep your watch collection in either a safe or a safety deposit box. A temperature-controlled safe will also protect your watches from damaging humidity and dust.

Cleaning your fine watches before storing them when not in use

Humidity and dust can play havoc with the finely tuned mechanisms of a watch. So, too, can skin oil and other oil-based products like lotions. That’s why you’ll want to clean your watch each time you take it off. If you keep your cleaning supplies near your watch safe, cleaning your watches will soon become second nature.

If your watch is waterproof, use a soft cloth and lukewarm water to clean it. Gently use a soft, moistened child’s toothbrush or toothpick to reach difficult spots. Rinse carefully and use a microfiber glass wipe to polish the crystal. Avoid getting water on a leather strap.

side view of Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch watch

For vintage watches, or those that you aren’t sure are waterproof, avoid the water! Watchmaker Kalle Slaap recommends using real chamois to clean everything, including the crystal.

Keeping your watches lubricated and wound

Keeping your watch lubricated and wound is important to storing watches when not in use. Watchmakers are divided about whether or not watches need to be kept running or not. However, one thing they agree on is that it’s vital that they are kept properly lubricated. The movement of a watch is its engine, and like any good engine, it needs proper lubrication to keep it running well.

Always remove the battery from a quartz watch if you aren’t going to wear it for a while. If your watch has several complications like a perpetual calendar, moon phase, or planetarium, use a high-quality watch winder. Master-watchmaker Andrea van Steijn recommends choosing “One that doesn’t rotate too fast and doesn’t make too many rotations.”

Have your watches serviced regularly

side view of Rolex Submariner blue dial watch (left) and Rolex Yacht Master watch (right)

It’s important to keep a watch’s mechanism clean, properly lubricated, and tuned up in order to keep it working properly whether you are wearing it or storing it when not in use. Choose a reputable watchmaker endorsed by the watch brand. Watches that are worn frequently will need servicing more often, especially if they are more complex. However, every watch will need regular servicing even if it’s just to clean and lubricate it.

Keep your valuable documentation safe

The paperwork and accessories that come with a watch will take up little room in a safe. Since they add tremendously to the resale value of a watch, they’re well worth storing securely.

Organize the proofs of purchase, warranty cards, authenticity certificates, hang tags, and manuals in separate, labeled zip bags (one for each watch). Do the same with accessories like bracelets, extra links, and straps.

Add color-indicating silica desiccant packets to each zip bag and place more in the safe. They’ll absorb damaging humidity and can be recharged or replaced when they change color.

Rolex Sky-Dweller black dial watch on its side

Because of their bulk, you might want to store your watch boxes somewhere else. Just make sure they stay clean and dry. Add the desiccant packets and keep careful track of which box goes with which watch.

Ensure your valuable watches!

Whether you are constantly wearing the watch or storing it when not in use, you should ensure your valuable watches. Depending on its value, your watch collection may be covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy or you may need a separate insurance rider just for it. Document the value of each watch you own and always have a vintage or rare watches appraised. Take several clear, close-up, date/time stamped photos of each watch from different angles to show its condition.

Then take a group photo of the watch and everything that goes with it including the box, all documents, accessories, etc. You might also want to take separate photos of each of those items. Having a label that you can place in each photo will help you keep everything straight about what goes with which watch.

Tag Heuer Aquaracer black dial watch on its side

Keep the photos, receipts, and a list of serial numbers in a separate, safe location. If something should happen to your watches, you don’t want to lose all of your proof of ownership and value with them!

Adding to your watch collection

When you are ready to add another fine watch to your collection, browse‘s exceptional selection. Each of the watches we sell has passed our rigorous authenticity certification and is covered for 1-5 years (depending on the watch) by our in-house warranty. You are sure to enjoy any watch you purchase from one of the world’s most trusted online purveyors of fine watches!

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