Most vintage watches, particularly those from high-end brands, are built to last. In fact, with proper care, there’s little reason why they can’t go on ticking indefinitely.
But given as they tend to be already twenty, fifty, or even a hundred years old, and that many vintage watches have often not received the best care — being thrown in a drawer or exposed to tough and demanding conditions — many of them are lucky to still be around.
Ensure your vintage watch stays young and keeps ticking well into its later years with our six top tips for looking after a vintage watch.
1. Get it Serviced
The number one piece of advice for looking after a vintage watch is to get it serviced — every two or three years if it’s a mechanical watch, and three to four years if it’s automatic. In general, most Swiss and German manufacturers recommend once every five years, but it rely depends on how often the watch is worn and in what conditions it’s kept.
2. Know The Specs
Bought a but not sure on it’s exact level of water resistance? Have a vintage field watch from the World War II but not sure how impact resistant it really is? Although sometimes difficult when buying from unauthorised dealers, is paramount in order to not push it past its limits and make sure it lives a long and healthy life.
3. Keep it Clean
Preowned and vintage watches can be magnets for dust and dirt. Keep your watch clean and in good nik by, every so often, taking a soft, non-abrasive cloth, and wiping down its case and band. If you’re clever about it, you can also wash the case in warm water mixed with mild dish soap.
4. Care For the Crystal
Although known for its strength, it’s not uncommon for a watch’s crystal — often made from mineral glass or sapphire in vintage watches — to pick up the odd scratch or scrape. Other than taking extra care not to bump it and not wearing it when engaging in practical activities, you can also learn should a problem arise.
5. Keep It In Its Box
The best place to keep your vintage watch so that it stays in its optimum condition, rather than leaving it on the bedside table or stuffing it in a drawer, is in its box. The box is made to keep the watch safe during transport and features materials and surfaces that treat them well — unlike kitchen tops, pet paws, and grimy child hands.
6. Leave It To An Expert
With often hundreds of moving parts, vintage watches are certainly not something a person with should be tinkering with in the garage. A general rule, then, for looking after a vintage watch, is to leave anything that involves opening up the back to a watchmaker. As you can imagine, when exposed to dust, dirt, and the hands of a novice, it’s easy to make things worse and damage your watch even further.