Watches are so much more than a fashion accessory. For some, they are a serious collector’s item. Depending on the watch in question, it can be worth no more than a few dollars or it can be worth millions.
Whatever the value of the watch, it is important to keep them in as good shape as possible. That doesn’t necessarily mean heavy damage such as missing links or broken glass. It can mean keeping the piece free and clear of small blemishes and scratches.
For that reason, it is important to know whether the watch you have is susceptible to scratching. Besides, nothing can quite ruin the appeal of a nice watch quite the same as a huge scratch on the surface. Here is what you need to know about scratched watches.
Do Watches Get Scratched Easily?
There is no simple answer other than “yes.” Simply put, watches can and will scratch given enough time and use. That said, there are also factors within each watch that can vary the number of scratches that you may be facing.
Some watchmakers build their watches with a scratch-resistant material. This is not to say that it is impossible to scratch them; after all, with enough force, you can do damage to just about any material. But the good news with these materials is that a slight bump or ding won’t leave them with those nasty scratches.
The other reality of the situation is how much use the watch sees. If it is a special timepiece, one that gets worn on special occasions, it likely gets a greater deal of care. When that is the case, it likely won’t scratch all that easily. But if it is a watch that sees heavy usage, there are more opportunities for it to procure that scratch.
Finally, it depends on the level of care from the wearer. If you care for your timepieces, you are not going to be rough with them. You understand the costs and the negative aesthetic of scratches and treat them with care and respect. Those who may not quite care about the condition of their watches will be more prone to bumping into things and causing scratches that way.
Can You Get Scratches Out of Watches?
The good news is that it is possible to get rid of scratches in the surface of your watch. How difficult that endeavor is comes down to the type of material and watch face that you have. There are acrylic watches, which were quite common until the 1980s. Rolex popularized the sapphire crystal design, which is one of the hardest glasses out there.
The harder the surface is to scratch, the deeper that the scratch may potentially be. Acrylic, though not as hard as other materials, tends to be a bit more forgiving to scratches. Surface scratches to a harder material may be salvageable. Deeper scratches might require a professional repair or even a replacement altogether.
The good news is that buffing out a scratch is probably the same no matter if your watch is sapphire crystal or acrylic crystal. Keep in mind that these are smaller scratches; they can be taken out with polishing compound and a polishing cloth.
Start by cleaning off all the dust; you can remove the strap but that is not required. Just make sure that you get all of the dust, dirt, and debris that could potentially scratch your watch even further off of the area.
Next, protect the bezel. The polish can actually damage the sheen or finish from the bezel. Put low-tack painter’s tape over top of it and you can prevent any further damage when polishing. Just make sure that you take care when taping it. The bezel is close to the crystal and can be most easily damaged.
With the polishing compound, less is more. Just use firm, circular motions to get the scratches out. Use a microfiber cloth for the smoothest possible application. Depending on the grit of the compound, you may notice it getting worse before it gets better. It just takes time before you see those scratches start to fade away.
Finally, assess the situation. You may have to try again if the scratch persists. If the scratches are far deeper than you realized, you may have to take it to a watchmaker to get it repaired or replaced. At the very least, the rest of the glass will have a better finish until you replace the crystal.
How Do I Keep My Watch From Scratching?
As is the case with just about anything else in life, it is always easier to prevent the problem from happening rather than trying to fix it. There are two simple principles to follow when protecting your watches: keep them wrapped up safely and don’t use them for heavy-use situations.
When you aren’t using them or are carrying them from destination to destination, it is important to not leave them out to bang into things. Even banging up against other clothing can be enough to scratch up a watch surface.
Try wrapping them in microfiber cloth when transporting them. Some clothing materials can be just harsh enough to scratch the surface of your watch; microfiber should be able to provide ample protection without scratching the surface.
There are also watch cases that are specifically meant to protect them. They come with harder exteriors to prevent damage to the watches and have soft interiors that protect against scratching. They are an ideal solution for transporting watches.
Further, make sure that you do not wear your watch whenever undertaking a rigorous activity. During times such as that, you are prone to banging into things and can scratch your watch accordingly. Take it off and store it away safely if you know that you are going to be doing something rigorous that could damage your watch.
Do Scratches on a Watch Matter?
There are two schools of thought on this. For one, it matters what you think. If you have a watch and want to take the very best care of it, then no, you don’t want any scratches on it. And to some, even the tiniest of scratches can make all the difference in the world.
But what you might not know is that on vintage or antique watches, scratches can be a good thing. Light and minor scratches to the surface of a vintage or antique watch show wear and that the pieces have not been replaced over time.
With vintage and antique watches, it is about proving that all of the components are the originals. When, over time, some watches get replacement parts, they lack the wear and tear that the authentic versions have.
So, if you care about the vintage and antique watch hobby, then scratches are what you hope to see. Granted, you don’t want huge gauges that can take away from the appeal of the watch, but a few here and there indicate healthy use over time.
Keep in mind: we tend to want new watches in pristine condition. After all, they are new and we don’t want them to show wear and tear just yet. But for older watches, it can be a sign of authenticity above all else.