10 Tips to Keep Your Automatic Mechanical Watches in Tip-top Shape

March 3rd, 2010 | 3 Comments

Watch trouble got you down? Use these tips to get your automatic mechanical watch back on track, and keep it there.

1. Say ‘no’ to watch winders.

These convenient items are about as useful as those plastic boxes that rewound your VHS tapes as though a VCR didn’t do the job well enough. Watch winders can (and probably will) wear out your watch a lot faster than wearing or manually winding your watch as needed. Of course, a more complicated watch is an exception.

2. Don’t touch!

The internal parts of automatic or mechanical watches are very susceptible to rust, and rust is the number 1 watch killer. To decrease the chances of rust, don’t touch internal watch parts with bare fingers. Wear gloves or have your watch serviced by a professional watch maker.

rusty watch

Blowing on watch parts will also introduce moisture and probably result in rust, so instead, use micro tools or find a professional watch maker to remove dust or particles.

3. Beware of water resistance.

Even if a watch has 100m water resistance, you should still be cautious about lengthy immersions in water.

Here’s a little water resistance advice to follow:

  • 30m= accidental splashes/spills
  • 50m= shallow swimming in small doses (but it should really be avoided)
  • 100m or 10 BAR= swimming, snorkeling
  • 200m or 20 BAR= swimming, snorkeling, diving
  • 300m or 30 BAR (or higher)= swimming, snorkeling, diving, saturation diving

But no matter your water resistance, watches and showers don’t usually mix. Soap, shampoo or other shower accessories can cause build ups and damage in and around your watch.

4. If you really love your watch, you’d take it off sometimes.

Everyday activities can cause watch damage. For example, cooking, kneading or cutting up food can cause particle build ups in tiny, hard to reach watch crevices (specifically the watch band).


These activities can also introduce moisture or oil in or around your watch. Working with dangerous chemicals while wearing your watch is also a bad idea. So to help keep your watch clean, intact and rust-free, take it off sometimes.

5. Practice good watch care, get 3-7 years of watch luck.

Even though you’re feeling fine, yearly check-ups are common medical practice. Same goes for your watch (sort of). It’s a good idea to get your watch serviced every 3-7 years because the oils that keep the movement fresh and working do dry up even if you don’t wear your watch often.

However, watch service is really on an as needed basis because it can be costly, so unless it’s life threatening, consider holding off or doing it yourself. After all, there is no insurance company that will cover the bill, especially if your watch is old and unwarranted.

6. Remember: garages are for storage, not watches.

Keeping your watch rust-free also means keeping it in a clean, dry place. This means that watches should never be stored in a garage or basement as these places are more susceptible to dirt, dampness and playful animals like cats or mice who like to break fragile things (e.g. watches or glassware).


7. Don’t test your watch.

Some people like to live dangerously. Part of living dangerously is seeing how far you or your possessions can go. For example, let’s see how many doughnuts my car can do on this icy parking lot.

Automatic watches (especially new ones) are built strong and durable, but that doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to see what your watch can and cannot do. All watches are built and tested by the makers before they’re sold to you; all you have to do is wear it and take care of it.

8. Make friends with a watch maker.

Find a good, trustworthy watchmaker before your watch needs service or repair. For a listing of certified watch makers in the U.S., visit the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute directory.

9. Steer clear of magnetic fields.

This mainly applies to older mechanical watches, but it’s something to take note of. If you expose your watch to a strong magnetic field, it may become magnetized. In that instance, your watch will stop or become erratic. To remedy this, you must demagnetize your watch with, of course, a demagnetizer.


10. Wear it!

Remember Bop It? Keep this in mind when it comes to your watch, and Wear It.

Wearing your automatic watch recharges it, and keeps it in good time-telling shape. But remember to give your watch a break every now and then (e.g. at night or when working with something that could ruin it, see #4).

Do you have a tip for automatic mechanical watch care? Share it below.

  1. 3 Comments | Tell us what you think!

  2. By rodney prewitt on Mar 7, 2010

    I store mine in a humidity controlled case when not wearing on a regular basis. Hopefully, this will keep rust, dirt, and contamination at bay.

  3. By Ross on Mar 8, 2010

    I disagree with rule #1. Watch winders are a very valuable asset for the watch collector who may cycle through a few different watches at one time. yes, i agree that one shouldn’t keep a watch in a winder for very long periods of time but it very convenient if you find yourself always having to reset a watch before you wear it.

  4. By lee on Jun 5, 2011

    I agree with all the above posts. I keep my watch in a place of minimum humidity, my closet. I also agree that watch winders can expedite the wear on your watch as opposed to only wearing it as needed.

3 comments | Tell us what you think!