How To Clean A Rolex — A Complete Guide

how to clean a rolex
Pre-owned Rolex Explorer II 216570 Steel Watch

If you wear your Rolex every day, naturally, it’s going to get exposed to the weather more frequently and will begin to gather dust and grime. Thankfully, the way Rolex watches are built, they can withstand moisture, dirt, and grime. However, after a while, you’d have to clean it if you want it to retain its brilliance which is why you should learn how to clean a Rolex.

Besides retaining your watch’s brilliance, cleaning your Rolex is important to prevent the buildup of dirt as that could lead to significant damage to your watch. So, although Rolex watches are some of the highest quality watches money can buy, you must keep them clean to fully enjoy all that they have to offer.

In this guide, we offer you a step-by-step guide on how to clean a Rolex. It does not take too much time and in 15 minutes, you can get your watch looking good as new.

Why It Is Important To Wear Your Rolex Often

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

You invested so much in your Rolex watch because you wanted to use it, right? So, use it. And it’s not just about you enjoying your watch, it is also important for the sake of your watch — to keep it running.

For example, if you have a Rolex Perpetual. The movement motions of this watch are maintained by subtle movements similar to what your wrist makes when it’s wearing the watch. 

So, if you don’t want to keep winding the watch, you’d have to wear the watch, at least, once every 48 hours. Or rock the watch gently once every 48 hours.

If, on the other hand, you leave your watch to sit and just “die,” a lot of things can go wrong. Lubricants can harden which will lead to friction which will eventually cause damage when the watch eventually enters into motion again.

For this reason, therefore, even if you got the watch for special occasions, it’s important that you move it gently once every 48 hours or wind the watch once a week, at least.

Now, wearing your Rolex regularly is important. Nonetheless, it could quickly cause your Rolex to start looking dull or dirty. This will, in turn, affect the looks and functioning of the watch. This is why learning how to clean a Rolex is important.

How To Clean A Rolex — Some Pre-Instructions

1. Check your winding crown and ensure that it is tightly wound and screwed down before you start cleaning. If you fail to do this, you could damage your watch and that would cost you some good money by way of repairs.

2. Get a medium-sized bowl. Mix some lukewarm water with ammonia-free soap into the bowl.

3. Apply the soapy mixture to your watch using your hands.

4. When you’re cleaning your watch, please scrub gently. For best results, you might want to work with a soft bristle tool brush.

5. To dry, just pat your watch gently with the aid of a soft cotton cloth.

How To Clean A Rolex — Washing Your Watch

how to clean a Rolex
Pre-owned Rolex Submariner 16610 Steel Watch

You can wash your Rolex as long as it is a waterproof model. With the Rolex Oyster, for instance, the watch is water-resistant down to depths of 300 meters underwater. However, if the watch isn’t water-resistant, then it’s not a good idea for the watch to get wet.

If your Rolex is waterproof, then it’s possible to wash your watch and you wouldn’t need to worry about damage. 

You can even wear your watch in the pool or while having a shower. But then again, doing that also has a few disadvantages as it could, ultimately, affect the polished look of your watch and cause scratching too.

In our best advice, we’d say you should desist from allowing your watch get in contact with water except you’re cleaning it which should only happen every once in a while.

Steps To Washing Your Rolex Watch

That said, here are the steps to take when cleaning/washing your watch.

1. First things first, wash your hands so that you don’t transfer the excess oil and dirt on your hands on to your watch while cleaning.

2. Make sure that your crown is screwed tightly to the case so that water does not penetrate through the crown into the internal parts of the watch.

3. Rinse the watch with lukewarm water in order to remove excess loose particles.

4. Use some ammonia-free soap (should be mild soap) to wash the external parts of your watch gently.

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Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap

5. You should apply the soapy solution to your Rolex with the use of your hands.

6. For the nooks and crevices where they can be congealed dirt, you can use a tool to clean those corners. A good idea is an old toothbrush, preferably with soft bristles.

7. Also use the brush to clean in between the bracelet links. These spots can be tough to clean, by the way. So, take your time.

8. After scrubbing the watch, you can them begin to dip the watch into lukewarm water at short intervals. Continue doing this while washing away any remaining dirt or soap.

9. Wrapping it up, once you’re done washing your watch, use a soft, clean cotton cloth to pat your watch dry. Do it gently, please. You can also use a blow dryer for hard-to-reach places as well.

You can watch the video below if you need a visual demonstration.

Some Tips And Warnings While Washing Your Watch

1. Do not polish your watch yourself. If you want to polish your watch, take it to a certified Rolex Service Center. Don’t forget that if you intend to sell your Rolex later, polishing your watch might not be the best idea.

2. If, while washing you watch, you begin to see signs of condensation or water under your crystal, that’s not right. Take your watch in for repair as soon as possible.

How To Deal With Scratches On A Rolex Watch

Another consequence of regular wear of your watch would be scratching. Inadvertently, your watch is going to hit or something or get hit. This will cause your watch to suffer some scratching.

If you want to avoid scratching or, at least, limit how often your watch gets scratched, then ensure that, at night, your watch lays on a bed of soft cloth, or in its own box. Also, avoid making direct contact with wood, metal, or the watch’s bracelet.

If you’re wearing your Rolex regularly, on the other hand, you might be better off learning how to deal with scratches. The bracelets especially are areas that need special attention as they are the more vulnerable parts. You should consider polishing your bracelets every few months in order to keep your watch looking its best for a while.

Dealing With Scratches On Bracelets

To remove scratches from your bracelet, you’d need a high-quality polishing cloth specially made for polishing gold and stainless steel. It’s absolutely important to get a high-quality polishing cloth as the wrong cloth can cause additional scratches.

how to clean a rolex
Connoisseurs Ultrasoft Jewelry Polishing Cloth

Along with a high-quality cloth, you’ll also need a high-quality polishing liquid

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Everyday Elegance Jewelry Gentle Cleaner Liquid Solution

Please, avoid using cleaners and chemicals not specially prepared for jewelry.

Also, do not use polishing liquid on the parts of the bracelet with a brushed finish as you could damage the finish.

The entire polishing should take about one minute max. Use only moderate pressure as polishing cloths are already designed to remove scratches.

Now, when you clean, go with the flow (grain) of the metal, that should determine the direction in which you polish your watch. So, don’t use circular strokes, instead, go with straight strokes using the grain as a pointer for direction in which you should go.

Here’s a visual demonstration for polishing scratches on your Rolex bracelet.

A Warning

Finally, if a part of your watch isn’t scratched, then don’t polish it.

A scratch essentially occurs when one layer gets removed to expose another layer underneath. You notice the scratch because there are now two different layers on your watch’s bracelet. 

So, when you polish, you take out the old layer in order to bring it to the level of the layer of the scratch which causes the scratch to disappear. Therefore, you don’t want to unnecessarily take out the layers of your watch’s bracelet.

So, only polish areas that are scratched and never the entire bracelet at a time.

Dealing With Scratches On The Crystal With Polywatch Crystal Scratch Remover

how to clean a rolex
Polywatch Plastic Watch Crystal Scratch Remover Polish with Scotch-Brite High Performance Wipe

Some people say that an advantage of acrylic crystals or plexiglass crystals is that they are easier to clean up if they ever get scratched. Sapphire crystals, in comparison, are nigh impossible to get back in shape once scratched. They are not lying. Sapphire crystals can be a little difficult to maintain.

In this subsection, we are going to be showing you how to bring your plexiglass crystal back to mint condition if you just got yourself some vintage watches.

Steps To Cleaning Your Crystal With Polywatch

If you’ve just got some vintage watches with plexiglass crystals and you want them looking good as new, then get you some Polywatch and let’s get to work. Thankfully, Polywatch is quite inexpensive and the cleaning process itself is pretty straightforward too.

Here’s how to get that done.

First, use a lens cleaner to wipe the surface of your crystal. This is to remove debris and oils that must have accumulated on the surface of the crystal from handling. Oils and debris can get in the way of the cleaning process, so you always want to start out with a clean crystal when carrying out this process.

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Flents Wipe ‘N Clear Eyeglass Lens Cleaner

Next, put a small amount of the Polywatch cleaner directly on to the surface of the crystal.

Here’s a tip. Do not apply too much of the cleaner at once. It’s better to apply a little at a time, buff it until it vanishes and then repeat the process.

After applying the little quantity of Polywatch on the crystal, it’s time to begin buffing. 

For this, it’s best to use a soft, cotton cleaning cloth, even a small piece of an old t-shirt will do. They are great for applying the necessary pressure. If you can’t lay hold of any of the materials mentioned, a cotton ball can also suffice but do not use a Q-tip. You won’t be able to apply the necessary pressure, and you need to be firm with the pressure you’re applying to see results.

After buffing, wipe off the excess cleaner with a microfiber cloth to clean them.

Other Care And Maintenance Processes To Carry Out

There are two other processes involved in caring for and maintaining your Rolex besides cleaning. These are winding the watch, and servicing it.

How To Wind Your Rolex Watch

When you decide to wind your Rolex watch, you must take care to do that the proper way, else you could tamper with the watch. 

So, first things first, place your watch on a soft, flat surface. You don’t want to scratch your watch, so you must handle it delicately. Also, do not ever wind your watch while it’s still on your wrist. Always take it off first.

To begin winding, unscrew the crown and pull it to position two (the first click). Now, wind the crown about 30 to 40 times.

After winding the crown, you want to screw the crown back down. This is a crucial step. If you forget to screw the crown securely into the case after winding your watch, you risk damaging the internal components of your watch and it will take no small fee to get your watch fixed.

Now, when it comes to winding your Rolex watch, there’s hardly anything like overwinding it. So, don’t be afraid and don’t skimp on your winding. Wind the watch fully to ensure that your watch continues performing at optimum standards.

Trust Rolex to think about everything. Every Rolex watch has a built-in mechanism that ensures that you can never over-wind the watch. So, as we said, you are safe.

how to clean a rolex
Yescom Single Motor Automatic Double/Single Watch Winder

Something To Note About Winding Your Rolex

That said, after winding your Rolex watch, don’t always expect it to start working immediately. Sometimes, it might take some time before your watch swings into action.

Now, if it happens that your watch does not begin working after winding, do not shake the watch. Rather, rock it gently, more like you’re trying to simulate a wrist-wearing experience. This should help begin movement.

If this still doesn’t work, then just give the watch some time to itself. It should begin moving on its own.

If you’ve tried everything and the watch still refuses to work, then it might be time to take the watch to a certified Rolex repair center or your authorized dealer. They will asses the watch to find out if your Rolex has been damaged and either refer it to Rolex for repair or suggest repair, if you took it to a Rolex Service Center.

For perpetual movements, these watches wind themselves just from you wearing them. So, wear them often. Regular wear does not just help to wind the watch, it also keeps the lubricant viscous so that your watch continues moving.

Servicing Your Rolex

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Pre-owned Rolex Day-Date 118238 Watch

Another thing you need to do to maintain your Rolex and care for it is to send it in for servicing regularly. In the past, Rolex used to recommend a 5-year cycle. However, now Rolex recommends a 10-year service cycle. Plus each service comes backed with a 2-year guarantee. Ain’t that awesome?

To learn more about Rolex servicing, pricing, and where you can have your Rolex serviced, click here to read our article: How Much Does A Rolex Service Cost?

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