Collecting anything at any age means we are going to acquire certain accessories to support the collection. If you collect stamps, you would acquire books to organize your stamps in and tools to delicately affix them on the pages. If you collect cars, you would want to have a nice garage and tool chests to organize your tools. If you collect cameras, you would want to have a nice case for it as well as cleaning tools to keep it functioning and looking beautiful.
Watch collecting is the same. Whether you never wear most of your watches or you wear them all the time, I put together a list of five accessories you should consider having. These five accessories have become necessary to me to store and maintain my watches.
Something to Store Them In
Whether you have two watches or 100, you should get something to store them in to keep them away from dust, protect them against eventual shocks—and going a step further—from theft. There are many ways to go about it but for the sake of simplicity, let’s say you need to store your watches in an appropriate place at home. Whether in a drawer or a closet, you don’t want your watches moving around and getting scratched.
Personally, I always have one or two pouches and watch rolls to store my watches in. I like pouches because they lay flat in a drawer and are easy to throw in my backpack or carry-on when traveling. They are generally lined with a soft material that protects the watch crystal and bracelet from getting scratched. Watch pouches are also thin and take little space, which is a big plus for me. A great alternative is a watch portfolio which allows you to carry a few watches, tools, and extra straps.
Watch rolls are also great to store or carry watches that have integrated bracelets. There is no way to put such a watch in a watch pouch without damaging it. By the way, by watch roll I mean a hard-case that comes with a pillow and not a roll as in chef-knife-roll which functions more like a pouch. A proper watch roll will keep your watches organized and safe while looking good. (Watch rolls make for great photography props.)
Essential Strap Tools
I remember my early watch collecting days when I found out I could buy extra straps for my favorite watch and realized, once I’ve gotten them, that I never thought I needed a special tool to install them. Figuring out what I needed didn’t require much time but I had to get it in order to put new shoes on my watch. So there are a couple of tools you should get in order to swap your straps and adjust your bracelets. Unless you feel uncomfortable doing this kind of work yourself, you can save yourself a trip to your local watchmaker.
The tool I use the most is this strap changing tool. It has two ends: a thin and circular one to remove spring bars from the lugs (when the watch has drilled lug holes) and to adjust the claps (where you also have to push a spring bar.) The other side looks like a tiny fork and that’s what you use to remove a strap or bracelet by pushing the spring bars away from the lugs. (Sorry for the poor technical explanation!) I like this tool because it’s multi-function.
The other tool I recommend you get are tweezers. Their sole purpose is to safely and more easily remove the spring bars to swap a bracelet for a strap and vice versa. And although it is not one tool, I recommend you get yourself a strap changing kit that will come with all of the essential tools to change straps, bracelets, and add or remove links from the bracelets. Some versions of these kits can be had for cheap on Amazon or you can buy the real deal, the Swiss-made Burgeon tools or Everest Bands tools, which are not cheap but much, much better made.
Something to Keep Them Clean
Needless to say, we should keep our watches clean. A staple of any watch collection should come in the form of a microfiber cloth, to mostly clean fingerprints and dust off the crystal. The cloth can also be used to wipe off fingerprints from the watch case and bracelet, and to remove small dirt particles from basically anywhere on the watch. An alternative, and sometimes necessary, to the microfiber cloth are wipes for glasses. They contain gentle chemicals that do a great job removing dirt, dust, and fingerprints from any watch surface.
If you don’t feel like investing a few bucks on a good microfiber cloth, use a soft toothbrush and dishwasher liquid to clean your watches. (Do not do this on leather straps.) I do this on a regular basis and my watches always come out clean. I use lukewarm water from the sink, put a little bit of dish soap on the toothbrush, and clean every part of the watch and finish by patting them dry with a paper towel.
The Ubiquitous Demagnetizer
Nowadays, most watches can get magnetized as long as you use a cellphone, a microwave, a computer, or even drive a car. And unless you own a watch that has silicone hairsprings in their movements, your watch will one day or another get magnetized. Magnetization causes your watch to run fast in dramatic ways (like +30 seconds/day out of the blue) which may make you think you need to get the movement serviced. You can save yourself a trip to the authorized dealer or watchmaker by getting yourself a demagnetizer .
You can get one for $20 on Amazon and they are fairly simple to use. I recommend this video (LINK) to learn how to use one. At first I was worried that I would damage the watch but that’s almost impossible to do. So once in a while a watch gets magnetized and I can fix it easily at home in less than 5 minutes. Pretty neat. Even my COSC movements get magnetized, again if they are not protected against magnetic fields by way of an iron case synthetic hairsprings. Most watches are not efficiently protected against magnetism so having a demagnetizer is a must.
Spare Spring Bars
This might sound silly especially if you are not the type to swap bracelets or straps often, but I do find it easy to have spare spring bars. I’m not the most delicate person and I can get frustrated when swapping out a strap. More than once I bent a spring bar and I’m glad I have spares. Again, Everest Bands is your friend and for about $10-15, you can buy high quality replacement spring bars for Rolex, Tudor, and Panerai Watches.
Source: Everest Spring Bars
There might be other accessories and tools you may want to purchase. The five above (or five categories) are those I personally have and use on a regular basis. Having the right accessories is not only a must but it also brings me great pleasure taking care of my watches this way. Knowing that there are certain basic things I can do myself is reassuring, and as I said I actually derive pleasure from it.