Give It a Good Cleaning
When a watch is worn regularly, it should be cleaned every couple of months or as needed. Clean a leather band by swabbing the back with vinegar and letting it dry. If you have a leather conditioner, give both the front and back of the strap a rub down and after that dries, the strap is as good as new. If your watch has a metal bracelet, wash it with a toothbrush dipped in warm, soapy water and rinse before wiping it down with a clean, dry cloth. Wipe down the rest of the watch thoroughly with a soft, dry microfiber cloth. If your watch has an acrylic crystal (which more easily shows wear), a trusted product like Polywatch can buff out any scratches.
Note: Keep colognes and lotions away from your watch area. These liquids get caught in your watch and cause dirt build up.
Swap the Band
If you ask us, this is the easiest way to breathe new life into a timepiece—whether it's an old school heirloom piece or something you've had for just a few months. All you need is a simple tool to release the spring bar and you're able to swap between a range of leather bands, metal bracelets or rugged NATO style straps. One you've got the process down, it takes all of 20 minutes to completely change up your watch for a season or special occasion. And if you're in the market for straps, Hodinkee has a handy Strap Finder that allows you to virtually try on various styles.
Get It Serviced
Mechanical and automatic watches (basically anything not labeled "Quartz" and running on a battery) are little machines with lots of tiny moving parts. In order to run smoothly and keep proper time, someone's going to have to eventually go under the hood for a tune-up. This service is recommended every three years or so to ensure everything is clean, oiled and ready to keep on ticking for years to come. You want to take your watch to a trusted professional—either a respectable repair shop or the watch brand's official service center. There, everything is removed and checked, polished and replaced when necessary. It takes anywhere from several weeks to several months (and costs anywhere from $250 to $1,500), but don't worry, you'll get an estimate before any work is done.
Keep It Safe
When not wearing your watch, store it in a drawer or closet to protect the face from sunlight, dust and other environmental dangers. An automatic watch's movement shouldn't be interrupted, so it's best kept in a watch winder, which regularly rotate the watches to keep the time and date current.