How to clean a luxury watch: 3 easy steps to keep your timepiece gleaming

From stainless steel watches to leather straps, here's everything you need to know about cleaning your watch

luxury watch
(Image credit: Bruno van der Kraan / Unsplash)

For many of us, our watch is our prize possession. Whether it's a luxury model or a simple timepiece under £300, it doesn't matter. The truth is that we rely on watches to keep our timing in check whilst looking effortlessly stylish, and that's why it's so important to take great care of them. 

With Watches and Wonders taking place last week, and T3's Luxury Watches Month transpiring throughout April, it seemed only right that we turned our attention to some timepiece maintenance. 

Below, you'll find our simple guide to cleaning your timepiece, all condensed into three simple steps. However, please note there's different advice for different materials, so make sure to follow the right one. 

How to clean a stainless steel watch

1. Wipe down the watch with a soft cloth 

Start by wiping down your timepiece with a soft cloth. A paper towel is fine, but you're better off using a microfibre cloth as they're a lot more delicate. 

2. Soak your watch in a mixture of lukewarm water and soap

Find a clean bowl and fill it with a mixture of lukewarm water and soap. Place your timepiece in the water delicately and soak it for a few seconds. It's important to avoid hot water at all costs as it could damage your watch, causing water to reach the internal compartments. 

3. Remove and use a dry, soft cloth to remove any grime 

Remove your watch and use another (dry) microfibre cloth to wipe away any dirt or grime. Be careful of how much pressure you apply, and pay special attention to wiping any leftover soap residue. Make sure the watch is fully dry before you stop. 

How to clean a gold watch

1. Make a lukewarm mixture of lukewarm water and soap

Start by filling a clean bowl with some lukewarm water and soap, and give it a good mix. As gold watches can scratch easily, it's safer to apply the mixture to the watch instead of submerge it, even if it has a high water resistance. 

2. Use a cotton bud to apply the mixture to the watch

Dip a cotton bud in the water and soap mixture and gently rub it over any marks or dirt build-up, starting with the wristband and moving onto the watch itself. Use a new cotton bud every time you pick something up to avoid spreading more dirt across the watch. 

3. Use a dry, soft cloth to dry your watch

Once clean, use a microfibre cloth to dry your cloth. However, be really gentle to avoid scratches. 

How to clean a leather watch

1. Wipe the leather strap down with a dry, soft cloth

Use a microfibre cloth to remove any loose dirt or dust particles. Make sure the cloth is completely dry to avoid any unnecessary staining. 

2. Wet the microfibre cloth and apply unscented, mild hand soap

Lightly wet the microfibre cloth and put a tiny drop of unscented, mild hand soap on it. A gentle soap is needed as stripping formulas found in harsher soaps can dry out the leather. Work the soap into the cloth and start using light, circular movements inside and outside the strap. Remember not to go too heavy handed.  

3. Rinse the cloth and lightly wipe the strap

After cleaning the strap, rinse the cloth under running water to remove all the soap before squeezing out any excess water. You should then lightly wipe the leather strap with the clean damp cloth to remove all soap residue. Once the soap is removed, let the strap air-dry away from direct sunlight. 

How often should you clean your luxury watch?

It's recommended to give your watch a deep clean about once every month or so, especially if you wear it everyday. However, it's always a good idea to give your timepiece a quick daily wipe down, something that can prevent a build-up of grime and make cleaning your watch an easier task whenever you get round to it. 

Interested in more? Check out our care, maintenance and explainer articles for T3 Luxury Watches Month.

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Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.