BEST PRACTICES FOR KEEPING WATCHES IN TIP-TOP SHAPE
By Rhonda Reinhart
Whether you have one treasured watch or a collection of dozens, storing your timepieces properly is imperative for keeping them in the best possible condition. Besides ensuring that your watch will look better, function better and last longer, proper storage can also save you money.
“Proper storage of a timepiece when not being worn is critical,” says Michael Wajszczuk, Consignment Director of Timepieces for Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills. “Certain watches can command exorbitant premiums over retail price. This being the case, condition can heavily influence an item’s current and/or resale value. Further, should you damage your watch, repair costs can be devastating. For example, replacing a ceramic bezel on a Rolex can cost upwards of $2,000.”
To help keep watch damage at bay, follow these top storage tips.
Store watches in a dry place
“Keeping your watch in a dry environment is key to the longevity and good condition of your watch,” says Brett O’Connor, Heritage Auctions’ Senior Director of Private Sales Jewelry & Timepieces. “The biggest enemy of wristwatches is moisture. Over time, moisture can corrode your movement or your dial. I see it all the time – metal-plated dials that have started to rust. Once that happens, you’re in trouble.”
If you live in a humid environment or need to store your watch for several months, both O’Connor and Wajszczuk recommend using desiccant packs to absorb moisture.
“In the summertime, there’s a bit more moisture in the air than there is in the winter,” O’Connor says. “So if the storage goes from spring into summer, it can’t hurt to throw a couple of those in the drawer or safe or other space in which the watches are being stored, just as a safety precaution.”
Keep your watches clean
After wearing your watch, O’Connor recommends wiping it down with a soft cloth to remove oils from the metal and leather. Throughout the day, your watch might come into contact with sweat, cologne or other substances, but a quick wipe-down after each wearing can keep those substances from building up.
“After you do it a few times, it will just become habit,” O’Connor says. He also notes that women should follow the same advice when it comes to storing jewelry. “Particularly pearls,” he says, “because pearls absorb a lot of the oils and perfumes with which they come into contact.”
Consider a watch winder for automatic watches
Because an automatic wristwatch is wound by the movement of your hand as you wear it, if you have one watch you wear every day, a watch winder is probably not for you. But if you have a vast collection, or a watch that you wear only on special occasions, this is a handy device to consider.
“A watch winder slowly rotates the watch like a metronome,” O’Connor says. “It keeps the watch just mildly wound, never overwound, so when you take it off the winder to wear it, you don’t have to worry about setting the time. It’s already ready to go. It’s like having your car valet – they keep it waxed and topped off, and when you’re ready to go driving, you don’t have to worry about it.”
No matter where you store your watches, be sure they are protected
To avoid scratches or other damage, it’s essential that you keep your watches from coming into contact with other watches, jewelry or anything sharp.
“A fine wristwatch typically has a synthetic sapphire crystal, and though it is very durable, it’s not infallible,” O’Connor explains. “Put it up against another piece of metal or something pointy like the back of a pair of earrings and it can be scratched.”
“Regardless of the length of storage, I always recommend watches to be stored in the same fashion,” Wajszczuk adds, “either in a soft pouch, which includes a card or sleeve to protect the case back, or in a box with a soft cuff surrounding the entire timepiece.”
If you want to keep your watches on display, Wajszczuk recommends luxury watch cases from Wolf, Globe-Trotter, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany, but he notes that there are plentiful budget-friendly watch boxes available: “You can also find individual artists making beautiful storage options on Etsy,” he says. “Ultimately, it depends on your budget. There is a wide range of options to fit all watch lovers.”
In an ideal world, O’Connor adds, you would have a custom-fitted drawer with a dedicated space for each individual watch in your collection. But if that isn’t a possibility, and you don’t have a special watch pouch or box, wrapping your watch in a soft cloth is a simple alternative.
“It’s an easy thing to do,” O’Connor says. “Wrap your watch in a cloth, and you’re pretty well assured that your wristwatch is going to be fine when you open it again.”
RHONDA REINHART is editor of Intelligent Collector.