For several centuries, watchmakers have been working on the durability of timepiece components. Perfected techniques and better materials have made it possible to make wristwatches more and more resistant over time. However, some external influences can still damage the treasures. Especially the summer, which is already knocking at the door, holds some dangers for highly valued luxury watches. In the following we will explain how to skilfully protect your timepieces during the summer months and which ones are particularly robust.
Sun, salt, sand and sun cream
The conditions on the beach or on balconies can simply be a nightmare for the beloved luxury watch. So that this is not the case and you can enjoy your fine pieces for a long time to come, we have some valuable information and tips. The watch should always be protected as well as possible from sand, dust, sweat, water, cream and direct sunlight, so that accuracy and durability are not negatively affected. However, it is almost impossible to shield it completely from external influences, unless you simply leave it in the cupboard – which would of course be far too bad. Watch enthusiasts who want to take their treasures out for a summer walk can do a lot to protect them. Above all, timepieces should not be delivered to large fluctuations in temperature. Too much heat and too long exposure to sunlight could damage the watch. You should therefore avoid long periods of sunbathing. For the sauna, the watch should generally be taken off, as otherwise lubricating oils may liquefy and damage the movement.
Caution with water
It is important to know that the water resistance of a watch can be affected by temperature fluctuations and the influence of sweat and creams. A timepiece that is worn when swimming or diving should be treated with special care and should always be cleaned of all residues after being taken off. When swimming and immersing in water, the sealing elements may be subjected to greater pressure for a short time. For this reason you should not jump into the water immediately after a longer sunbath, because the impact pressure and the negative pressure together can cause damage more easily. After contact with chlorinated water or salty seawater, every watch should also be cleaned with clear tap water, otherwise the seals and case may suffer. However, the watch should have a water resistance of at least 5 ATM. Water-resistance is not a constant property, as the function of the sealing elements may deteriorate. At best, the water-resistance of the watch should therefore be checked once a year in a specialist shop, especially before a holiday and the resulting strain on the watch. “Waterproof” watches only withstand hand hygiene and splashing water. They are not designed for water pressure and fluctuating temperatures. Should condensation collect in the watch, it must be taken to a specialist shop immediately so that the moisture does not seriously damage the watch.
The right summer watch
The easiest way is to use a particularly robust watch during the summer months. Its case, glass and seals should meet the highest standards. Water, sand and dust can be kept away easily with a single-shell, monobloc or monocoque case. In such timepieces, the movement is inserted from above and the watch is sealed by the glass. However, watches with such a case are rare, as glass bottoms with a clear view of the interior are popular. Acrylic glasses should, however, be avoided at all costs. Scratches from these can be polished away well, but it hardly withstands anything. The same applies to crystal and mineral glass. Therefore, it should definitely be extra hard sapphire crystal, which is almost as hard as diamond. The case should withstand scratches and blows. Brass should be avoided if possible, because chrome, silver or gold plating will sooner or later flake off. Gold and platinum are easily scratched, while stainless steel is particularly hard and less scratch-sensitive. Timepieces with a ceramic case are also a wise choice in hot weather, because ceramic is extremely hard and scratch-resistant, so that the holiday can be enjoyed without a completely scratched watch. A screwed back is also indispensable, pressed-on pressure bottoms should be avoided. This is the only way to keep sand and co. really “outside”. The sealing ring between the case back and the case should be an O-ring, because it lies in a specially milled channel, the so-called “groove”, which is manufactured in such a way that the ring deforms slightly oval-shaped when closed. This ensures that the ring lies evenly and cannot slip. Resistant luxury sports watches now all have such O-ring seals that reliably protect the movement. In addition, the pushers and crowns should be well sealed. Rolex offers, for example, a so-called Twinlock, in which an additional seal is located on the front of the tube inside the crown. Some watches even have a third seal, which is located between the crown and the outer wall of the case. The whole thing is called a Triplock. Rolex has already applied for a patent on this technology. Reliable timepieces made of resistant materials and with helpful technologies repel sun, water, sand, sweat and cream well. With these watches you can withstand the elements.
The right bracelet
Leather straps are classic and popular. But they are particularly delicate. Unfortunately, they cannot tolerate water or moisture, cosmetics or direct sunlight. The natural material tends to discolour, stain and porosity. Leather straps should therefore not even be worn for washing hands, sports or showering. It is even worse with patent leather or suede leather such as velour or nubuck. Leather is therefore not recommended for the hot season, especially as one tends to sweat underneath. A better choice are metal straps, which are more resistant. Dirt from sunscreen and the like can be easily removed with a fine microfibre cloth. Afterwards, the individual band elements and the spaces between them can be cleaned with a cotton swab or a soft brush that has been dipped in mild soapy water. Then rinse off any soap residue with clear water and place the watch on an absorbent surface to dry. The dry watch can still be polished with a clean microfiber cloth. For watch fans who do not want to use a watch with a metal strap, rubber is recommended. This natural material is much less sensitive than leather. However, direct sunlight for too long should also be avoided, as this can cause the strap to fade. Rubber straps should also be cleaned regularly with mild soapy water and then rinsed with clear water.
The summertime cleaning schedule
Each watch should be cleaned with clean water and a soft cloth or dry toothbrush after wearing it in summer, so that traces of sea salt, sand, creams, sweat, etc. are removed. No dirt should accumulate between the lugs. Timepieces with a water resistance of more than three bars can also be rinsed under running water. However, leather straps should be removed beforehand, as they should not come into contact with water. Moreover, cleaning agents can change the colour of the leather or leave unsightly marks. Metal cases and straps can be polished with a cotton cloth. Small scratches can be treated with polishing paste. However, if the glass has been damaged from the inside, you should go to the watchmaker. Only the watchmaker should open a watch. Ideally, wristwatches should also be cleaned professionally once a year by ultrasonic cleaning.
This post is also available in: German