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How did I never notice how gross my watch band is?
October 9, 2007 2:26 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to clean my metal watch?

Today when I took my watch off, I noticed it has accumulated a lot of black grime. I got a good bit of it off cleaning it by hand, however, there are lots of places for gunk to hide. I found this with Google but I have no idea if I can trust the recommendations.

I've had my watch for 5-7 years. It has a metal band which I believe to be stainless steel. I'm not sure if it relevant but the watch says "100 meters / 300 Feet water resistant" on the back. It isn't an expensive watch but I'd like some assurance I won't ruin it before subjecting it to something I read about on some forum.
posted by The Radish to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I often have this problem. My watch makes my wrist stinky after trips to the gym (gross). I got a nail cleaner brush; if you are unfamiliar, here is a plethora thereof, and I take my watch off and scrub the band with dishwashing detergent once a week.

Dishwashing soap is important: It eats grease and organic matter (ewwwwwwwww) and the brush gets in between the metal links.

Just make sure to also wash your wrist if it, too, is stinky.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:33 PM on October 9, 2007


Scrubbing Bubbles? And if it's mainly the strap that's gunked up, a cheap ultrasonic cleaner might be worth the investment: the watch itself may be better handled with a toothbrush.
posted by holgate at 2:52 PM on October 9, 2007


1. take it to a jeweler... they have a high-pressure steam spray they use to clean jewelry.

2. for the links I use stiff paper like a business card or paper folded in half to get in there and under the bezel where it meets the band.

3. for detailing I use a dental pick along with a little rubbing alcohol
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 2:56 PM on October 9, 2007


A jeweller or an optician will probably have an ultrasound machine that should get rid of the gunk.

FWIW, I used to run my metal Swatch in the dishwasher once a year or so, on the coolest cycle. Always came out clean, never seems to have damaged it.

Take my advice about dishwashers with a grain of salt. I'm a gung-ho dishwasher fan. I'll put pretty much anything non-organic in the dishwasher. I clean my toothbrushes, my sponges, my glasses in the dishwasher. I'd clean my Swiss army knife if Victorinox didn't think it was a bad idea. I'm one of those people who think that cooking salmon in a dishwasher must be interesting. YMMV.
posted by stereo at 3:10 PM on October 9, 2007


Jeweler here.

If you do it yourself, the watch bracelet will be much easier to clean if you remove it. I'm not sure how your bracelet removes, but chances are it comes off with a pin. A kit like this contains the same tools that we jewelers use. If you do indeed take the bracelet off, then just soak it in a solution of warm water mixed with a grease-cutting dish washing detergent. Then scrub thoroughly with a toothbrush and rinse well. Make sure that you dry the bracelet thoroughly before reattaching.

Don't use a caustic chemical like lye (as in that link), and ammonia isn't good for the stainless steel. Some jewelers use industrial-strength grease cutters in their ultrasonic machines, but any grease-cutting dish washing detergent will be fine.

I wouldn't advise submerging the watch case in any soapy water. Those water resistant ratings do not include warm water, water under pressure (like a shower), steam, or soap. If you don't remove the bracelet, just gently clean the bracelet with soapy water and the toothbrush, and rinse gently in cool water.

If you take the watch to a jeweler, make sure that they take the bracelet off if they want to use an ultrasonic to clean it.

By the way, some of the funniest stories that jewelers tell each other are watch-cleaning stories ("this guy came in and said can you clean my watch? I just slaughtered the pigs today and it got all grimy").

Good luck!
posted by Flakypastry at 5:20 PM on October 9, 2007


Also keep in mind that water resistance, etc. is dependent on the seal in the watch case. The seals are usually rubber, and they do degrade over time, especially if you have had a battery change. Your watch may not be as resistant as it once was. I know my own Nixon watch needs a new seal; it's a stainless steel watch, I just clean it with Q-tips and a little water if it gets really gross, but I won't submerge it in anything until the seals are repaired.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:16 AM on October 10, 2007


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