How to clean vintage pocket watch in 3 simple steps

Antique pocket watchesare widely collected around the world. But, as with anything, these movements can become tarnished or build up certain elements that can dull the appearance of the timepieces.

This is where cleaning comes into play. While we advise people to visit a professional antique watch dealer to carry out these processes to ensure that you don’t damage the items you have, we understand that it may not always be possible to do this. However, we have a handy guide for you so that you can clean a vintage pocket watch and have it back to its original state before you know it.

A close up shot of an antique pocket watch for sale near Pieces of Time

Dismantling your pocket watch

For you to be able to clean yourpocket watch completely, you must be able to take it apart. Characteristically, pocket watches come apart via a prying method, unscrewing, or by a simple small button mechanism to release it. Due to the fact that it is an antique, handlers must ensure they take particular care in order to avoid causing any damage to the watch.

When attempting to pry the watch apart, handlers should carefully work their way around the lip, gently pulling it apart one piece at a time. Never force the movement as this can result in irreparable harm to the timepiece. As the casing releases owners can then take the time to clean the inside. It’s worth noting that you might want to have a dish or tray to place parts in, and be certain to keep the parts in an orderly fashion so that you can piece the watch back together again with ease.


Surface cleaning of your pocket watch

Watchmakers will undoubtedly have used a host of different materials to make the case of your pocket watch. the most common will be solidbrass with a lacquer coating. Alternative metals used for antique and vintagemodels feature .925 Sterling silverand 14-karat, or 18-karatgold.

When it comes to cleaning the surface of one’s pocket watch case, owners should be certain to steer clear of chemical cleaners. By using harsh chemicals, you run the risk of removing the protective coating and will do damage to the finish. Instead take ajeweller’s clothor soft cloth to alleviate the movement from oil, dust, and fingerprints that have found their way on to the surface. It’s ok to applying a certain degree of pressure in order to help remove some of the more persistent spots.


Polishing you antique pocket watch

So as to restore that much-appreciated shine back to your antique pocket watch, owners must polish the surface (extra pride welcomed). Prior to polishing, owners need to make a decision on how aged they wish for their watch to look once the polishing process is complete. You can opt to shine it to the point of looking brand new, or alternatively, you can let some tarnish remain in the cracks and crevices to create an aged look.

By taking advantage of a dry brass orsilver polish, owners can work around the entire surface of the pocket watch casing and remove dark tarnish to re-establish its shine. This process can be repeated a number of times in one sitting in order to realise your desired outcome. When you reach the stage of completion that you are satisfied with, owners should be sure to turn their attentions to the watch chain so as to match the quality of shine.