Whether you’re an avid collector or have just invested in your first Rolex watch, it’s important to know how to care for these finely tuned instruments. While they’re known for their durability, Rolex watches need attention and care just like a fine automobile if they are to run properly for the long haul (and retain their value). We consulted our expert on the subject, Senior Director of Fine Jewelry & Watches Michael Groffenberger, to get Rolex care tips that will keep your timepiece ticking for years. Read on to find out where not to wear your Rolex and why he says watches are a bit like Gremlins.
1. Get your Rolex serviced regularly.
Rolex GMT Master Date Watch
“There are two important things when it comes to servicing your Rolex, “ says Groffenberger. “One, do it regularly — I recommend every two to four years. Two, have it done by a skilled watchmaker. Even if you don’t notice that it’s not running properly, you should still have it regularly serviced because the friction within watches wears them down over time. If you wait five years, it could mean the difference between needing parts touched up and needing parts completely replaced.”
2. Keep it moving.
“In general, it’s better for you to wear a watch than to let it sit,” explains Groffenberger. “Like with a car that’s better off if you drive it, watches are made to run. If left to sit too long, the oils inside your Rolex can dry up and the movements can stiffen. If you do need to store your watch, keep it away from hot, dry places and out of direct sunlight. I recommend using a winding box for eight hours a day. As with most things, everything in moderation — you want your Rolex to run regularly, but if the winding box runs all day long, it’s too much movement.”
3. Consider restoration carefully.
Rolex Datejust Lady President Watch
“The decision to restore a watch is very dependent upon the owner,” says Groffenberger. “When doing an overhaul on a watch, you can have the bracelet and case refinished. For a gold Rolex, I recommend only refinishing five times within its lifetime, since each refinishing can wear away some of the precious metal. For steel Rolex watches, it’s less important to stick with the five times rule. However, some purists want even steel watches to retain their original, say 1960s, factory finish.”
4. Be careful when it’s on your wrist.
“Rolex watches are made of high grade stainless steel and most have sapphire crystals which are very durable, but they’re not impervious,” warns Groffenberger. “If you catch it at the right angle at right time, you could damage it. Sapphire crystals don’t react well to ceramic tile floors, and that is a good way to shatter the face of the watch. I also recommend not wearing your Rolex while you’re golfing — the impact of the golf ball on the club causes vibration that is damaging to the movement. If you do wear it while golfing, you should get it serviced more often.
“Also, don’t take water resistance for granted. Water is very bad for the inside of watches — they’re kind of like Gremlins” he says. “If you get the inside of a watch wet, it needs to be dealt with like you’re having a heart attack. Take it to a watchmaker immediately.”
“You want to be careful even when it comes to a Rolex’s normal water resistance. It’s measured in meters, but that doesn’t just refer to depth, it refers to pressure. You may be able to go to 100m in depth, but when you jump into the water or move around swimming, it can create more than 100m of pressure on a watch,” explains Groffenberger. “It’s also not a good idea to wear your Rolex in the shower or hot tub. They can experience drastic temperature changes that can damage the gaskets. I recommend having the water resistance checked by a watchmaker every six months. And if a Rolex is over 20 years old, treat it as if it’s not water resistant at all.”