How to Care for a Pocket Watch

Pocket Watch Do's & Dont's:


A pocket watch (especially an expensive one) should be handled and treated with care and protected from damage like any piece of fine jewelry.


Never force the cover (hunter cover models) beyond the limit of where it opens. This will damage the hinge or spring the alignment so that the cover will not close properly.


Do not drop a pocket watch, which will likely cause irreparable damage and is not covered under the manufacturer's warranty.


A pocket watch should never be carried unprotected in a pocket with keys, coins, knife, etc. as this will surely scratch the case, scratch or crack the crystal and possibly damage the stem, crown or bow. These types of damages are not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.


A casual splash of water can be dried off, but do not submerge a pocket watch. There are several locations where water can enter a pocket watch case.....the hinge, the latch area and the crown/stem tube. Water damage is not covered under manufacturer's warranty.


Mechanical pocket watches should be wound daily, but do not "over wind" beyond the point where it stops since this can damage the stem or movement.


Open face watches are normally carried with the dial facing in toward the body which will be the right direction when reading the time and which places the back of the watch to the outside where bumps or hits cannot damage the crystal.


Pocket watches come in a variety of case materials. Most cases are solid brass with a plating protected by a lacquer coating. Under normal usage the finish will last a very long time. A soft cloth will help clean dust, dirt and fingerprints from the case. Never use any harsh chemicals to clean a watch case. This will remove any protectant finish and compromise the plating.


Stainless steel watches have no finish to wear off, but should be cleaned occasionally with a soft cloth, as well.


Precious metal watches, like .925 Sterling Silver, will tarnish and should be cleaned with a jeweler's cloth to remove oxidation. However, some Sterling Silver pocket watches have a Rhodium finish with a lacquer coating to inhibit tarnishing. Do not use silver dips or harsh chemicals on these cases!


14kt or 18kt solid gold watches do not tarnish but will loose their luster over time, like any gold jewelery. Periodic cleaning with a jeweler's cloth is recommended.


Mechanical pocket watches should be serviced (cleaned and oiled) about every 3-5 years by a qualified watchmaker, or if none are in your area, by the original manufacturer by following the instructions on where to send the watch for service on the warranty card.


Quartz pocket watches will require a battery change every 1-2 years. Access to the battery is from the pop-off back cover. Usually there is a "curf" on the inside edge of the back cover that will allow a thin blade access to the seam between the back cover and the body of the watch. This is most often down near the hinge area. Sometimes the back cover is very tight and difficult to remove so care must be taken to avoid scratching the watch. If unable to open the case, consult with a qualified local jeweler for battery replacement.


NOTE: The original battery that comes in a quartz pocket watch was installed when manufactured so it will need to be replaced sooner.