The holidays come. The holidays go. The decorations get taken down, the food gets eaten and life will eventually return to normal.
But one thing that never returns to the way it was is you and what you have. You’ll have created some top-notch memories from your celebrations with the family, whether they be new traditions or something your ancestors did 100 years ago. You’ll have opened thoughtful presents from those closest to you and (hopefully) enjoyed some downtime making new connections with loved ones.
But when you do receive these gracious gifts, how do you take care of them? How do you prevent them from falling apart a year later?
If you received a watch from those you love, it’s always sad when it gets ruined within a week, especially when it has a beautiful shine and classy strap. Or when you try to repair it but end up making it worse.
So, if you want to prevent the ruin of a beautiful gift and keep that classy watch looking classy all year long, follow these tips for watch repair and maintenance. And while these tips are mostly for mechanical watches, some will apply to electric watches, too.
1. Keep it wound
If your new watch is a winding one, it should be wound regularly. Some recommend winding them once a day to maintain accuracy and get the lubricants moving through; others say once a week to once a month is good enough. A lot of that depends on the watch itself. One thing you must know, however, is once you feel resistance, stop.
Just make sure you’re winding it at regular intervals. One of the best times to wind is in the mornings when you’re getting ready for the day. But, if you’re watch can handle a once-a-week winding, do it on the same day at the same time, like Sunday mornings.
It’s also wise to not wind your watch on your wrist. This is because you have to tilt the watch upward to make it easier to access, but that can bend or break the winding stem.
Also, make sure that you pay attention to your surroundings. No matter how careful you are, you can still slip and drop what you’re holding. So, if you take your watch off to wind it, be careful not to wind it over a hard surface like a tile floor or a counter. If you drop it, it could shatter or crack.
2. Keep it clean
Cleanliness is another big must if you want to extend the life of your watch. You don’t want to show up to an interview with your boss with a greasy, dusty watch wrapped around your wrist.
You also don’t want dirt, dust and sweat leaking into the inner mechanisms and ruining your precious gift. So, keep it clean.
If yours is water-resistant, it’s okay to use a little, just a little, bit of water to help as long as the crown is secure. For example, using a soft, damp cloth to get those smudges out is okay. Just make sure you dry it afterward with another soft, but dry, cloth. A good one to use is the one used to clean things like glasses.
If it’s not water-resistant, just use a soft, dry cloth.
Make sure you do not use chemicals. These can work their way into the gears and mechanisms within and gum up the works, making it inoperable.
3. Keep up with water
Watches and water are generally a bad combination, so take it off when showering, swimming or diving. If it is exposed to things like salt water or chlorine or soap, try to clean it gently with fresh water, then dry it.
Just because a watch is water-resistant doesn’t mean it will always be. Many watchmakers can test the effectiveness of the water-resistant materials with machines they have, so get that looked at about once a year.
4. Keep it repaired
Do not repair your watch yourself—especially if it’s a nice one. Let the professionals do their job. They know how to properly open a watch without scratching it, they know how to take it apart without losing anything and how to put everything back in the right order.
If you do open it yourself, dust could get in, you could lose something, you could break something, etc. Your warranty may not cover that—or it may be expired. Trust the intricacies of your watch to a trained watch repair specialist.
5. Keep it away
There are certain things that a watch needs to stay away from altogether—like magnets. Magnets can really mess with the inners of your timepiece, even if it’s magnetic-resistant. Other things you should protect it from are extreme temperatures and temperature changes like going from ski slopes to a sauna. The swings in temperature can compromise your watch, and saunas are a no-no for watches altogether. (So are hot tubs.) Chemicals, in general, like cosmetics, deodorant, fragrances, or cleaning products are also no-nos. Sudden shocks or impacts can also take a toll on your watch, as can weathering from the sun.
If you want to keep your watch in good condition after the holidays and beyond, follow these tips in tandem with manufacturer recommendations. With enough care, you could be staring at the same watch dial years from now, waiting for the holiday fun to begin.