Scratches are the archenemy of many a watch enthusiast. The most frustrating thing about this battle is that regardless of how careful you are, your watch will inevitably get the odd scratch here or there. Signs of wear are just par for the course. But don’t despair, there are things you can do to keep scratches to a minimum. Here are my top five tips for avoiding major scratches and signs of wear. Heed this advice and your luxury watch will stay looking like new for longer.
1. Be Mindful of Your Movements
Most accidents happen when we are distracted or not paying attention. If you can be a bit more mindful during certain activities, you are much less likely to damage your watch. Pay particularly close attention when doing everyday things like opening doors, fastening your seatbelt, grabbing your keys, and reaching for things in the supermarket. If you want to avoid scratching a beloved timepiece, it’s advisable to use your non-watch-wearing arm for all of the above. Take note of how you do simple everyday activities for a few days and make subtle changes where necessary. Soon these new habits will be second nature, and you won’t have to think about it. Taking your timepiece off before doing any sort of physical work will also help prevent major scratches. Leave your expensive luxury watch behind before helping a friend move, working in the garden, or vacuuming your car. Doing any of the above with your watch on your wrist is almost guaranteed to add a scratch or two.
2. Steer Clear of Buttons and Zippers
If a metal button or zipper from an item of clothing comes into contact with your watch, a scratch or knick is almost sure to follow. You shouldn’t avoid wearing your favorite attire for this reason alone, but again, exercise a little extra caution when wearing your watch. If you ever wear a denim or canvas jacket, for instance, beware of the metal buttons that can often be found at the end of the arms. In this case, roll up the cuff to avoid any metal-on-metal contact. The same goes for leather jackets with zippers on the lower arms. Make sure you close the zippers, but also ensure the zipper tabs stay far from your watch to avoid any frustrating encounters. Lastly, T-shirts and sweaters with metal tags can also be unexpected culprits when it comes to scratches. With that in mind, be sure to take care when dressing to avoid any unnecessary nicks or bumps.
3. Don’t Readily Hand Your Watch Over
Don’t put your watch into the wrong hands, especially not in hands that don’t belong to a watch enthusiast. Not everyone cares about watches like you do, and there’s no guarantee they will treat your luxury watch with the same level of attention. Similarly, you sometimes need to exercise caution with dealers and watchmakers. Thinking of bringing your watch to the jeweler’s to get the band changed? While most jewelers would know what they are doing in this scenario, even the most experienced watchmaker makes mistakes. It’s human nature, and isn’t actually an issue as long as the mistake isn’t too dire. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way and have often regretted parting with my beloved timepieces. Not everyone treats a watch the way you would want or expect it to be treated. And not everyone understands that a luxury watch is much more than just a “thing.” In short, always think carefully before handing your timepiece over. Do you really need to have the band changed by someone else? Could you learn to do it yourself? Minor scratches sting a bit less if you’ve caused them yourself.
4. Take It Easy With the Cleaning
Make sure whatever cloth you’re using to polish your watch is completely clean. If it’s not, you run the risk of adding scratches. Also, take it easy when cleaning your watch when it’s dry; the more you rub your watch, the greater potential for dirt to collect on the cloth and eventually scratch it. As a side note, rubbing satin-brushed surfaces with a polishing cloth is completely pointless anyway. If your luxury watch is water-resistant to at least 100 m (328 ft), you can simply wash it with soap and water, but beware of using a toothbrush. Even the softest bristles can cause unsightly micro-scratches on both polished and brushed surfaces. Unfortunately, I also learned this lesson the hard way. I ended up with lots of cleaning marks on my watch that were visible in broad daylight, even though they weren’t particularly deep. They aren’t nice to look at and somehow seem more noticeable than the usual micro-scratches that occur during everyday wear. So remember to not use excess pressure when cleaning your luxury watch, and always make sure that you’re starting off with clean materials.
5. Don’t Test Your Watch’s Limits
I’ve come across some pretty crazy stuff involving luxury watches on social media, e.g., dropping a Rolex Submariner into a hotel pool from a fourth floor window or dipping a Patek Philippe Nautilus in a cappuccino. While some people may find these stunts funny, and they are generally well-received by the public, it’s not always in good taste. No matter how much you want to wow your followers, pushing your watch too far could lead to its complete ruin. Refraining from using your beloved timepiece as entertainment for others is definitely a safer bet.
Bonus Tip: Chill Out a Little
If you follow these five tips, you will minimize the risk of seriously damaging your watch or adding extensive signs of wear. But possibly more important than that is to just relax a little. Micro-scratches are to be expected and cannot be completely avoided no matter how careful you are. It doesn’t make sense to treat your watch like a delicate egg – it’s designed to be worn! You will drive yourself crazy if you stress out about every little scratch. If you are really careful and your watch gets a major nick or ding anyway, take a deep breath and try to see things from another perspective. Every sign of wear tells a story, and that’s what makes your watch a unique specimen. Try to chill out a little about scratches and accept that they are part of the overall experience. If you are able to really do this, it is so liberating and will allow you to enjoy your watches even more. And don’t forget, most scratches can be taken care of during a service if they really are bothering you.