If you have paid good money for a luxury watch, you want to ensure that it will last for as long as you care to own it. Most designer watches are well made and should last for years, if not decades, with proper care, maintenance and storage. That's important, as you want to make sure that each time you wear your timepiece, it looks good and continues to work properly. If it isn't doing one of those things, or worse, it's failing to do both, you've lost a useful tool, a great fashion accessory and a simple and convenient way of telling time.
Luxury watch care isn't complicated, and for most models, doesn't require a huge investment of either time or effort. Common sense will take care of most of the potential problems you may face, but here are a few things that you should consider when you buy a designer watch:
Many buyers confuse the terms "water resistant" and "waterproof." Many, if not most, watches sold today have some degree of water resistance; that is, they can withstand a moderate amount of exposure to water before it seeps in and potentially damages the watch. The sales page for most models will indicate to what extent the watch is water resistant; this is usually specified in meters of water depth. Immersion at a depth beyond the recommended number may result in damage to the watch. A waterproof watch, on the other hand, is theoretically impervious to water. Few models, if any, are sold as "waterproof", but many consumers confuse the two terms and assume that their watch may be worn in and around water with impunity. Unless your watch is a diving model, specifically made for underwater use, it is probably a good idea to remove your watch prior to going to the beach or the swimming pool. Keep in mind, too, that exposure to salt water, which is corrosive, can be more damaging to a watch than exposure to fresh water. If your watch has been immersed in salt water, you should rinse it in fresh water and then gently dry it. If your watch is not water resistant and it has been immersed in either fresh or salt water, it may be necessary to have it examined by a jeweler. As a rule, designer watches and water don't mix.
Most watches are designed to work in a relatively narrow temperature band. While it's unlikely that you'll be wearing a luxury watch either in the Sahara Desert or the Antarctic, you should pay basic attention to keeping your timepiece from being exposed to extremes in temperatures. For electric watches, heat tends to shorten battery life, and prolonged exposure to heat could damage the battery as well as the internal mechanisms of the watch. Electronics tend not to work as well in extremely cold temperatures, and you may find that your timepiece keeps poor time or refuses to work at all in sufficiently cold weather.
Your best storage option for most watches is either the original case in which it was packed at the factory, or a proper storage box manufactured exclusively for long term watch storage. Ideally, your watch will be stored at room temperature, in a dry, dark environment without a lot of exposure to dust. Avoid storing your watch where it may come in contact with strong electrical or magnetic fields or where it may come in contact with other hard metal objects. A little common sense applies here; you don't want to throw your $1000 watch in a drawer full of tools or even one full of metal bracelets, as the watch may become scratched or damaged as a result.
Exposure to harsh or caustic chemicals can harm a quality timepiece; you should take care when working with bleach, chlorine, gasoline, oils, or acids. If you must work with such chemicals, take the time to remove your watch ahead of time. These harsh chemicals can damage both the internal and external parts of your luxury watch, and leave you with a very expensive paperweight.
Watches should not be exposed to environments where they may encounter physical shocks. If you are going to jog, for instance, be sure to wear a timepiece that is designed for that particular activity, rather than a stylish fashion model. Some models are sensitive to abrupt shocks, though most models are less likely to have this problem.
Care of Your Watch Band
Most watch bands are metal, and require little maintenance or care. If they become dirty or soiled with fingerprints, wiping with a soft cloth can help keep the band clean. If your watch is silver, be careful when using silver polish, as this chemical is somewhat abrasive, and repeated use can damage the watch. Leather bands should be protected from exposure to water, as it can damage both the appearance and the texture of the leather. Again,a soft cloth can be used to keep it clean, and you may wish to treat the band with leather conditioners. Unlike metal bands, leather bands will eventually wear out and break with repeated use. You will eventually have to replace it. There are many generic leather bands that can be purchased as replacements, though you will see better results if you purchase a new band from your watch's manufacturer. Check with your local dealer or jeweler if you aren't sure.
Electric watches have batteries, and while they can last several years, they do eventually require replacement. Contact your dealer or jeweler regarding replacement, as doing it improperly may damage the mechanism as well as the watertight seal. Keeping dead batteries inside a watch for a prolonged period of time can also damage the watch, as old batteries can leak.
Spring-wound watches should be wound once a day, and the stem turned until you feel resistance. Don't overwind the watch, or you may damage the mechanism. Self-winding watches should be worn regularly to keep them running, though you can buy watch winding devices that will keep them would and running while being stored.
Most of the care and maintenance required for luxury or designer watches is fairly straightforward and obvious. Try to keep your watch clean, keep it away from chemicals and exposure to water, and try to store it properly. It might be to your benefit to have your timepiece examined by a jeweler every few years, just to make sure it's running properly. A good jeweler will also give it a good professional cleaning, leaving you with a timepiece that looks as good as the day you bought it. A good watch is an expensive investment. Be sure to invest the time to care for it properly.