Pocket watches were first popularised in the 16th century, and still worn today as an imminent symbol of class and taste. However, these time-honoured time-keepers will only endure when given the right amount of “round the clock” maintenance. This guide on how to clean a pocket will show you how to keep these men’s gifts shining, and all their components working correctly.
How to dismantle the pocket watch
In order to give it a proper clean, it is necessary to expose the watch’s inside mechanism - but this need not be as frightening as it sounds. Pocket watches tend to have two types of back: one that can be pried open by hand, and another that requires unscrewing. Whilst this guide concerns brand new men’s pocket watches, you should take extreme care when taking apart an antique model.
Next, you have to dismantle the individual parts. These include the following:
Cleaning the individual parts
Now that your watch is fully taken apart, it’s time to clean and oil the various pieces. You should avoid going straight for the chemical cleaners found under your kitchen sink, as these may tarnish the finish on the silver, pewter etc. There are special parts cleaning solutions available, but you should always enquire with the manufacturer to ensure its appropriate for your watch, and of course you MUST follow the safety instructions if using a solvent.
For the cleaning itself, place each individual part (bar the mainspring, as this will rust) in the cleaning solution, let is soak for a few minutes, and then thoroughly brush. If the part is still dirty, soak it again and repeat. Go through each section of your parts tray, taking care to clean between gears and jewel holes, and lubricating the latter with a tiny amount of oil.
Additional pocket watch cleaning tools
If you’re a collector of these timekeepers, and will find yourself cleaning them several times throughout the year, it may be worth investing in the following specialist equipment: