Adjusting the time on that expensive watch while it’s still on your wrist? You’ve just broken a cardinal rule of horology.
Whether it’s the first or the fifth in your horological arsenal, a Swiss timepiece is a style accessory like no other, and it therefore deserves to be treated that way. As the old saying goes for classic timepieces, telling the time is just a part of the job. The remaining role of a watch is dedicated to showcasing the unique craftsmanship of a beautifully engineered mechanism, a statement which is an extension of a man’s own personality and style.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that there definitive guidelines from experts on how one should and should not care for their prized ticker. Think you’ll pass the test? Check out the bad habits below to see if you’re on the watch offender’s list.
#1 Changing The Time While It’s On Your Wrist
Pay attention to how the specialists do it and you’ll notice that they’ll only ever adjust the time when it’s off the wrist with the watch face pointed directly at themselves. The reason behind this is due to the potential damage caused when twisting a crown while it’s your wrist. Lateral stresses acting on the delicate winding stem when it’s on the wrist can cause it to yield or snap.
So the next time you need to make an adjustment, take your hand off whatever it is you’re holding, remove the watch and wind with care. It’ll save you a lot of heartache later on down the track.
#2 Over Tightening The Crown
You’re not capping off a Coke bottle here so don’t treat your mechanical watch like one. Giving the crown an extra bit of elbow grease when it’s already stopped is a big no-no as this can also damage the winding stem. The general rule is to stop exerting force as soon as the crown won’t turn anymore.
#3 Not Cleaning The Timepiece
Cleaning a timepiece from dust, oils, stains and foreign objects is mandatory if your intention is to wear it well into the future. This is one of the easiest habits a man can teach himself and only requires a few minutes of your time a week. Wiping down the timepiece regularly will ensure the original appearance of the watch and strap is retained.
There are two proven ways to cleaning a watch – dry and wet. For a non-water resistant timepiece, avoid moisture at all costs and use a soft dry cloth instead. Water resistant watches have a bit more tolerance to water so use a damp cloth to clean the watch case and strap. Watches with metal cases or straps can be cleaned with a mildly soaped cloth and fine toothbrush.
#4 Neglecting Leather Straps
So much attention is given to the watch itself that wearers often forget to show some TLC to the fine leather straps. Early deterioration of the leather grain can occur when it is constantly exposed to direct sun light, water, humidity, cosmetics or oil-based products. In the most common scenario the leather will stain and leave behind unsightly discolourations on the strap. To prevent this, simply keep it dry whenever possible with a cloth. The strap’s integrity and ageing aesthetics will thank you for it later.
#5 Showering & Swimming With Your Watch On
Guys, the keyword here is ‘water resistance’ which is not the same as ‘waterproof’. Water resistance varies depending on the style of watch but over a long duration of time even higher rated water resistant watches can have their seals deteriorate. You’ll know when this is happening (and it’s too late) when condensation forms on the crystal.
If you can avoid this bad habit of submerging your watch in water then definitely do so. Professionals recommend checking a watch’s seal every 12 to 18 months to spot any early signs of deterioration.
Swimming with your watch is another bad habit that should be reduced. Designated diving watches are okay in this case but ensure that the crown is tightened all the way before entering the water. Once under, avoid pressing buttons or adjusting the crown as this could allow water to seep inside.
If the watch comes into contact with salt or chlorinated water from the beach or pools, wash it down with fresh water immediately as this can damage the sensitive coatings and seals on the watch. Make sure to clean thoroughly with a soft brush to dislodge any fine sand or salt particles.
#6 Don’t Adjust The Date When The Hour Hand Is Between 9 & 3 O’Clock
This is a little know fact but avoid adjusting the date on your prized timepiece when the hour hand is sitting between 9 and 3 o’clock. Avoiding this bad watch habit will ensure you don’t damage the internal gears and pinion.
#7 Not Following Mechanical Winding Rules
Automatic watches need to be worn daily in order to retain its peak timing performance. The right amount of turns to power the automatic watch should always be between 20 and 40. Additionally if the watch is worn on the wrist daily, it should be wound twice a week. For less frequent use, wind it once every two weeks.
#8 Subjecting It To Extreme Temperatures, Magnetic Fields & Shock
Even the obvious will sometimes get broken so it’s always worth mentioning again. Avoid subjecting your timepiece to extreme heat or cols as this can affect its performance and accuracy. Anything over 60°C or under 0°C is no place for a mechanical or automatic watch as this can permanently damage the mechanism from parts expanding whilst moving or becoming brittle and snapping.
Magnetic fields can also interfere with a watch’s timing integrity and in severe cases can even cause it to stop. As such, avoid leaving your mechanical watch around speakers, fridges, computers and anything else with magnets.
Unexpected shocks can damage the sensitive components of your watch so keep it in a safe place when it’s not worn and avoid rapid movements with your hands and arms when it is on you.
#9 Exposure To Foreign Chemicals
Fine luxury watches often have cases treated for protection but subjecting it to harsh chemicals can still cause it damage. Ensure that your timepiece doesn’t come into regular contact with things such as cosmetics, fragrances, detergents, alcohol based products or anything else with an acidic base. In the worst case scenario, you could be seeing a hefty repair bill for damage to the case, bezel markings, leather strap or bracelet.