Having handled a large number of watches in my time and also possessing extremely oily skin, I am prone to leaving my grubby paw prints over everything! I would be a rather rubbish thief…
Right, first and foremost it boils down to what time of timepiece you are trying to clean. Is it waterproof, because if it isn’t the usual sticking it under the tap is not going to really work. One very expensive mistake that I am sure many people have made in the past, and may continue to do so. I will cover the usual types of watch and how I would and have cleaned them before.
Water/splash proof watch on rubber or stainless steel.
This is probably the easiest timepiece to clean, ensuring all crowns and pushers are secure if there are any of course, you can take a good quality brush, some soap and under the tap it goes. I prefer to use sable brushes (Winsor & Newton in my mind are the best), famous for their softness and ability to hold moisture in its bristles. That last point can seem rather odd, just bear with me. So through brushing and the moistures and also the soap means a lot of the dirt and grime and other things one might find under the watch case, should be dislodged. If you do have a finely textured caseback for example, or just really hard to remove muck, I would suggest a stronger type of bristle like a standard toothbrush.
In addition to all of this I would recommend a piece of equipment that some of you may find a touch odd, and that is an ultrasonic bath which are commonly used in dentist practices . These are small bits of kit that house a detergent solution that you can change and it emits ultrasonic pulses into the liquid to help expel any rubbish that may have gotten into hard to reach places, between links etcetera, obviously the watch needs to be placed within the liquid. Once that is all done, brushed, zapped, then it is time to dry! Now some of us just use the nearest bit of tissue paper, or possibly a micro-fibre cloth. In my experience both of these options are okay, but not great. Neither a cloth nor a piece of kitchen paper or tissue, is going to get anywhere near the tight hard to reach spots where water can pool. This is where the sable brush comes in, if you have a fine one, ensuring it is mostly dry you can use the fine brush bristles to access those hard to get areas and it will ‘suck’ up the water. Yes it can be a time consuming task but I believe it is very much worth it. There is a downfall with using a microfibre cloth, after a while it has a tendency to attract and hold onto grit and abrasive particles, which in turn can and will leave marks and micro-abrasions on almost all of the metals from stainless steel to platinum.
Next time I will cover watches on leather straps, and any other types you, the reader, would like to know about.