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Common Ways Luxury Watches Can Be Damaged

Last updated on July 19, 2024

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Attention luxury watch owners! You may not know it, but you could be damaging your timepiece.

Many people are surprised to discover that regular everyday activities are harming their favourite watches. 

Every collector wants to keep their watches in pristine condition and ensure they remain flawless for years to come. 

Wondering how to protect your luxury watch from damage? Here’s a list of the most common ways watches can be damaged, some simple luxury watch repair techniques, and how to avoid these mistakes by acting today!


1. Exposing Watches To Shocks and Impacts

You’ve finished your morning workout and rushing to leave the gym in time for work. As you hurriedly grab your bag, you send your Rolex Datejust crashing to the floor. 

Sound familiar? Even with the most care and attention, our luxury watches constantly encounter the shocks and impacts of everyday life. 

Accidental bumps can cause physical damage to the watch's case, crystal, or internal movements and complications that can seriously affect its functionality.

To avoid scratches, dents and damage, consider investing in a quality case to carefully store your watch when not being worn.

If you’re concerned about damage from a recent accident or wondering how to fix a broken watch, consider a professional assessment from a wristwatch repair specialist.

Don’t forget to check out our Guide to Rolex Maintenance: Keeping Your Luxury Watch Ticking.


2. Setting Your Watch in “The Danger Zone”

winding watchThis may sound dramatic, but avoiding this common mistake is relatively simple.

The so-called “danger zone” occurs between 9 PM and 3 AM. During this time, the gears of your watch are actively engaged in changing the display, so adjusting the settings can cause gears to clash, misalign, or break.

So remember to never set the date or time during this period. The direction also matters. Always turn the hands forward, not backward, as doing so can strain or damage the mainspring and other delicate components.

Remember these watch care tips, particularly when changing time zones while travelling overseas with your watch. If you've made this common mistake, don’t stress. A luxury watch repair specialist can likely fix the problem.


3. Exposure To Chemicals

Doing a bit of spring cleaning or maybe some car maintenance? Remember to take off your watch before you do so!

Exploding your watch to the harmful chemicals contained in cleaners and other harsh substances can damage its finishes and compromise the integrity of its seals. 

Chemicals can often corrode metal casings, deteriorate rubber gaskets, and obscure the crystal. 

Always ensure your hands are clean before putting on your watch, and if chemical exposure does occur, we recommend cleaning your watch immediately with a soft, damp cloth. 

Regular maintenance checks can also ensure that any weakened seals are promptly replaced to maintain the watch's resistance to water and dust.


4. Subjecting Watches to Extreme Temperatures

light shining on watch If you live in cooler climates or travel to a sunny destination, you’ll often be moving between extreme temperatures. 

For example, taking your watch from an air-conditioned hotel room to the poolside can significantly increase its temperature. 

High heat can cause watch batteries to leak and lubricants within the movement to degrade, affecting functionality. 

Conversely, extreme cold can make metal components contract and reduce the elasticity of lubricants, leading to decreased accuracy or movement failure. 

So avoid this kind of exposure by letting your watch return to room temperature naturally before use to avoid internal condensation, which can also cause damage.


5. Storing Watches Near Magnets

This one might sound a little strange. “Why would I store my watch near magnets?” we hear you ask. 

Well a surprising number of household items contain magnets, including speakers, refrigerators, or smartphones.

So it’s easier than you may think and one of the most common ways luxury watches can be damaged. The magnetism of these devices can disrupt your watch's internal mechanisms, disrupting the movements and balance spring. 

Even after removing the watch from the magnetic field, the residual magnetism can continue to affect its accuracy. The watch may run too fast or too slow, which can definitely be frustrating! 

Avoid these common household appliances, invest in proper storage and consider regular professional adjustments or servicing.


6. Exceeding Water Resistance Limits


You’re on the vacation of a lifetime and excited to test out your Omega Seamaster when scuba diving the coral reefs. 

But exceeding water resistance limits by taking watches deeper than recommended, or not ensuring the crown and seals are secure before exposure to water, can lead to a broken watch. 

Water ingress can corrode internal components and disrupt movement. Keep an eye out for telltale signs, including condensation, rust, corrosion, dial discolouration or movement malfunction.

It’s a common way luxury watches can be damaged, so be sure to check seal integrity and always follow depth specifications.

If water damage occurs, seek professional luxury watch repair promptly. Fixing watches quickly prevents further damage and maintains their precision and quality.


7. Cross-Threading the Crown

Sometimes you’ll need to adjust the crown of your watch, for example, when setting the time or date or manually winding. 

While these actions are important and a good way to maintain your watch, do take care when screwing the crown back into place. 

If the crown is misaligned, it can strip the threads on the crown or the watch case, leading to a poor seal and potential water damage. It can also make future adjustments challenging or even impossible.

So, to avoid this, always ensure the crown is perpendicular to the case and turns smoothly without force. If you feel resistance, just realign and try again. Simple!


8. Incorrect Winding

man holding watchWinding a manual watch is necessary for regular daily maintenance and ensuring it doesn't stop running. 

However, incorrect winding can cause stress on its movement. The most common mistake we see is over-winding, or in other words, turning the crown after it feels tight.

To wind correctly, turn the crown clockwise until slight resistance is felt, then stop. The golden rule? Never force it.


9. Forgetting To Clean Regularly

Just like any luxury item, watches require frequent cleaning and care to ensure they remain in pristine condition. 

It can be easy to forget to regularly clean your watch, but doing so allows dust, dirt, and grime to build up, which can then work its way inside the casing and impair the mechanism's function. 

This common mistake can cause friction, wear down components, and obstruct the movement. 

So time maintain the style and precision of your timepiece, gently wipe it with a soft, dry cloth after each use. 

For deeper cleaning, use a damp cloth on the case and a soft brush for the band, and make sure to avoid moisture near the crown. 

Learn more in our article, How to Care for Your Luxury Watch: Maintenance Tips and Tricks.


10. Lack of Luxury Watch Insurance

Despite our best intentions and regular care, we all know that luxury watches can easily be damaged during everyday wear. 

This anxiety can affect how much you enjoy wearing your favourite timepieces and even mean you leave them at home on occasion when you should be showing them off. 

That’s why most watch collectors choose to invest in luxury watch insurance. Doing so can cover the most common ways luxury watches can be damaged. It's surprisingly affordable too. Use this online quote calculator and get a luxury watch insurance quote in seconds.


Luxury Watch Damage FAQs

What are some common everyday activities that can damage luxury watches?

Everyday activities like working out, cleaning, or even adjusting the time during the ‘danger zone’ (between 9 PM and 3 AM) can cause physical damage or misalignment of gears in luxury watches.

How can I protect my watch from chemical exposure?

To protect your watch from chemical damage, always remove it before using cleaning products or engaging in car maintenance. Clean your watch immediately with a soft, damp cloth if it comes into contact with any chemicals.

What should I do if my watch gets exposed to extreme temperatures?

Avoid sudden temperature changes by letting your watch return to room temperature naturally. High heat can cause battery leaks and lubricant degradation, while extreme cold can affect metal components and lubricant elasticity.


The Takeaway: Simple Habits Can Help Your Watch To Last a Lifetime

Caring for your luxury watch is as simple or complex as you want to make it. We recommend opting for simple daily cleaning and routine check-ups with a luxury watch repair specialist to maintain your luxury watches. 

Regular servicing combined with basic daily maintenance like winding and careful handling strikes the best balance between upkeep and expert oversight, ensuring your watch remains in top condition.

The finishing touch to these watch care tips? Luxury watch insurance from JewelCover. Our watch experts understand the needs of owners and collectors, providing watch insurance in Australia that covers damage, loss and theft

Get your free luxury watch insurance quote online now and contact our team for a conversation about your collection.

Top 10 Luxury Watches Every Collector Must Own


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