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Do any of sterilize newly purchased vintage watches?

If so, what are some of the Dos and Don’ts of doing this? The most obvious Don’t that comes to mind is not to immerse the watch in water if it isn’t water-resistant. Any others?

Maybe some of you don’t sterilize a newly purchased vintage watch. I’d like to hear your reasons why.
 

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I don't know if i would call it sterilizing, but i definitely want remnants of the previous owner(s) removed.
I will typically discard the fabric or leather band and install a new one, and i always remove the bracelet and run it through an ultrasonic cleaner to try and get the gunk from between the links.
As for the case, if i'm removing the movement and crystal for repair then i will ultrasonically clean the case, otherwise i give it a good cleaning with a rag and bit of alcohol.
 

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I'm a biologist, so "sterilize" has a specific meaning for me, and short of autoclaving it or soaking in bleach, you're not really sterilizing it, you're just cleaning it.

I just clean mine. Cases and dials go in Hagerty's Jewelry Cleaner. Movements go in Zenith wash and rinse solutions. And I wash my hands before and after.
 

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I'm always amazed. I like the 'replace the strap or clean the bracelet' I like the wipe down the case but sterilize? Never even crossed my mind.
 

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I often decase the movement and run the case through an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. I don't really love old fungus and someone else's dead skin cells and sweat.
:)
 

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I was thinking how this thread didn't come up before. As I have many vintage watches that are pre-owned, I always think how someone else used to wear it for long long time, and before a good clean, I would not be able to wear it.

First, I remove the strap. If it's stretch bracelet, I clean every detail with bleach dissolved in little water and use cotton buds. Alcohol is not enough.
Then I move on to the case. I always open the case back and clean the dirt under it and around the movement. Whole case too, crystal all around, between the lugs especially.

Only then I know someone else's skin and dirt is removed and it's safe for me to wear. It may sound little drastic, but I can't change it.
Light version of obsessive cleaner, I guess. :)
 

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I just clean mine. Cases and dials go in Hagerty's Jewelry Cleaner.
What?!! Vintage dials go into Jewelry Cleaner? For most of them it will be last procedure in their life.

Movements go in Zenith wash and rinse solutions.
Do you disassemble them before wash? Do you do assembly, oiling and regulation after that?

And I wash my hands before and after.
Do any of sterilize newly purchased vintage watches?
It is just vintage mechanical pieces, not bio hazard materials. LOL. Sanitizing is more than enough. No need to sterilize.
 

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What do you all have against wrist cheese?

I thought it was about servicing a watch and preserving it. Restoring a dial is a no-no so isn't it the same for disturbing wrist cheese

Vintage means somebody else bought it first and enjoyed it so the follicles should be left alone.......


No just kidding. If a watch has a strap that looks good then i will keep the strap. If it looks grotty then it gets trashed. For a bracelet, I take a old tooth brush and clean it in soapy water. For the mung on the case (usually where the band was) I clean it with a little soap on a toothbrush
 

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Ugh. Usually this is a safe place to hang out while eating lunch at my desk. Not today. Mung wasn't on the menu. But since I've lost my appetite, toothbrush for the case, and a cheap ultrasonic cleaner if there is a bracelet. I try to do the same before selling a watch, but don't always remember.
 

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Any wristwatch should go through some kind of cleaning. They are known to have more bacteria than a truck stop toilet that has not been cleaned for 6 months. Fitness watches are worse as people never take them off. But my standard process is to take the bracelet and put it through an ultrasonic with Dawn antibacterial soap. This can take 30-45 min to release all the stuff in it and sometimes 2 changes of the water.....so nasty nasty stuff out there. Then if I remove the movement from the case....same process for the case.

But one has to always keep in mind the vintage of the watch. Old enough for radium....wear a mask if you are messing with the movement. Just sold a radium kit and I was very hesitant to open the vial to see how much was left in it......there was quite a bit and I just held my breath lol
 

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What?!! Vintage dials go into Jewelry Cleaner? For most of them it will be last procedure in their life.
No, not really. My experience on >100 dials has been different. They come out clean, prints intact, and often the brown crud from cigarette smoke is gone. BTW, I'm talking consumer grade jewelry cleaning solution, not the ultrasonic gizmos sold as jewelry cleaners.


Do you disassemble them before wash? Do you do assembly, oiling and regulation after that?
Duh. Of course. I'm not a barbarian!

It is just vintage mechanical pieces, not bio hazard materials. LOL. Sanitizing is more than enough. No need to sterilize.
Mostly, the watches I buy have been sitting in somebody's father's dresser drawer for, probably, decades. All the green and brown guck in the crevices is dead, dead, dead. Disgusting without being hazardous.
 

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What do you all have against wrist cheese?

I thought it was about servicing a watch and preserving it. Restoring a dial is a no-no so isn't it the same for disturbing wrist cheese

Vintage means somebody else bought it first and enjoyed it so the follicles should be left alone.......


No just kidding. If a watch has a strap that looks good then i will keep the strap. If it looks grotty then it gets trashed. For a bracelet, I take a old tooth brush and clean it in soapy water. For the mung on the case (usually where the band was) I clean it with a little soap on a toothbrush
Nobody ever talks about the lovely brown patina in the lug joints....
 

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Cleaning - of course as good as I can manage...I wan't to see through the glas and hae a shining case. Strap -I'e only a few wristwarches but if the orginal old ones are in good condiion dubnin or of course ultra sonic for a steel one. Sterilsation/desinfection...never, ever.
Bacterials- of course they are there..there are millions in your mouth, on your skin if she is healthy and they are every were. Where is the problem ? I work in a institute for microbiology and hospital hygiene. Even if I'm only a "carbol mouse" I learned a lot about their changing by the time. In every lecture about the bacteria of the normal environment you hear only one thing:"disinfectant household cleaners should be banned". (of course a hospital or a household with immunosuppressive people infections is a special case..but not a baby and not an old wristwatch). Why the reason is simple: The most bacterials are"good" ones and little helper to keep the number of the bad ones, who usually a more resistant against desinfection which is also unhealthy for you (skin/immune system of childs). I've to work and to live with this stuff but not at home.

Excuse my outburst but stay healthy and alert and do not trust the lies of marketing

Silke
 

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Duh. Of course. I'm not a barbarian!
No offence intended. Simply I saw many times on movements went to service great amount of sticky matter under the bridges.
I recon, those went cleaning even not disassembled. Remnants of dirty cleaning solution stuck under bridges and turned to a goo.
Just want to warn our members about this bad habit.

I'd suggest not to wash vintage dials at all though. As mentioned above, it could be harmful to dial itself as well as to you.
 

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No offence intended. Simply I saw many times on movements went to service great amount of sticky matter under the bridges.
I recon, those went cleaning even not disassembled. Remnants of dirty cleaning solution stuck under bridges and turned to a goo.
Just want to warn our members about this bad habit.

I'd suggest not to wash vintage dials at all though. As mentioned above, it could be harmful to dial itself as well as to you.
None taken! The 'barbarian' comment was made in jest.

There was someone who used to post on a vintage forum I used to frequent who was in the business of selling watches at flea markets and such. They had a 'Watch Guy' who "cleaned" watches for them. I was appalled when they said that mostly it was just swishing the whole movement in Naphtha and then oiling the exposed jewels if that 'dip & swish' got it running! I was polite and didn't say anything, but - YEESH!

And then there are the oil nightmares, with pools of oil on everything.

Regarding the dials, since I have a method that doesn't damage the dial or me, I'll continue using it, because I'm not a big fan of dirty dials.
 
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