Whether you dropped a lot of cash for a brand new, heirloom-quality watch or scored a deal on a vintage one, you need to take care of a timepiece to keep it ticking on time. Here are a few simple guidelines to keep your watch looking good and running smoothly.
When a watch is worn regularly, it should be cleaned every two to three months. For a leather band, swab the back with vinegar to remove any sweat or smell and wipe down the rest of the watch with a soft, dry cloth. If the 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.
Mechanical and automatic watches (basically anything not labeled "Quartz" and running on a battery) require maintenance from a respectable repair shop. A tune-up is recommended every three years or so—even if the watch is keeping time—to ensure everything is clean, oiled and ready to keep on ticking for years to come. Just ask the aficionados at Hodinkee.
When not wearing your watch, store it in a drawer or closet to protect the face from sunlight, dust and other environmental dangers. Automatic watches should be kept in a watch winder, so the movement isn't interrupted.