Protecting your watch is essential to the effective operation and long life of any watch. Making your favorite timepiece last is simply a matter of regular awareness and regular maintenance.
First, Avoiding Harm
1. Wear any bracelets or chains on your other wrist
Wrist jewelry has the potential to scratch either the sides or the face of your watch. Only fabric or thin leather bracelets would be acceptable along with a watch. Avoid metal on the same wrist, no matter what. Friendship bracelets, knitted and crocheted bracelets are not harmful either.
2. Keep it out of extreme temperatures
Specifically no warmer than 140 °F (60 °C) and no colder than 32 degrees. High heat or cold may affect how lubricants inside the mechanics of the watch allow it to operate.
The temperature doesn't have to be extreme to be harmful. For example, the considerable heat generated by a warm shower along with the humidity involved make a dangerous environment for a watch.
3. Take it off for high activity
If you know you're going to play sports or go rock climbing, leave your watch off to avoid damage. While most watches can take some hits, too many will add up to serious damage. This too is why you must always avoid dropping the watch. The mechanics inside it can also get banged-up too much.
Alternatively, purchase an inexpensive watch that you wouldn't mind getting dirty or scratched. There are also more pricey options designed for wear and tear if you're unable to avoid high activity entirely.
4. Leave it off when applying fragrance or cosmetic
While acceptable to the human body, some chemicals in cosmetics may interfere with water resistance or the operation of the watch. Keep your watches out of your bathroom while you ready yourself for the day. As a rule, have the watch be the last thing you put on when dressing.
5. Keep your watch away from magnet
Usually found in televisions or laptops, keep your watch away from common electromagnetic devices. Never allow your watch to rest on your laptop. Magnets may adversely affect how the metal components inside the watch work which in turn will affect its operation. This will not apply to digital watches, or any watch which does not rely on gear mechanics.
If unavoidable, look for "anti-magnetic" watches which include technology to prevent damage from magnets.
Second, Maintaining and Storing Your Watch
1. Get regular maintenance
Take your watch to a professional to be serviced every three to four years. Make sure to have your water resistance tested after every battery change; the act of changing the battery compromises the water resistant seal. If your watch is a Quartz time piece, you may want to consider having it serviced entirely after every battery change.
2. Keep your mechanical watch wound
If you have a mechanical watch (it should not say "quartz," "kinetic," or "eco-drive" on the face) it will need to be rewound every once and a while to maintain the time. Unscrew the crown of the watch (if necessary) and begin to turn it clockwise (away from you). This may take anywhere from 20 to 40 turns. Stop winding once you encounter resistance, then turn back the crown five or six turns to reset the lubricant and reduce some of the strain on the watch's mechanics.
3. Clean your watch often
Dip your watch in warm, slightly soapy water. Rinse it with clean water and dry it with a soft cloth. Do this every couple of weeks, or whenever your watch gets dirty. Regular brushing with a soft toothbrush is also helpful to get rid of tiny debris or anything stuck in the wrist band.
4. Store in a dry place
Humidity and dust are the two main dangers in storing your watches. Have designated dry place (away from your bathroom is a general tip) and try to keep the original packaging of all your watches for an easy storage space. Never store your watches face down to prevent scratching the face. Be sure to wear any one of your watches from time to time to monitor their operation; don't let a broken watch gather dust.
If you're storing watches near one another, make sure to have something to keep them from contact, to avoid scratches. For something on the cheap use acid-free tissue paper wadded up as an effective barrier.
Don't use bubble wrap as protective storing. The packaging can retain moisture, causing rust or other damage.