Keep It Clean, Fellas

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There’s a lot of weird watchmaking stuff on the Internet—present blog excepted, naturally. It’s great to find so much instructional information, but some people aren’t being good role models for today’s impressionable youth.

In particular, we need to keep it clean, people.

For example, here’s an odd video of someone taking apart a Rolex 3035 movement with his bare hands. The dial is grievously mishandled. Watch the first 45 seconds or so. Oil from his fingers is all over the dial, especially the edges. Over time, it will etch away at the fine finish. (The hands are removed without a dial protector, too.)

To add insult to injury, at around the 40 second point, he flops the dial face down on the mat and leaves it there. This will scuff the hour markers and is so unnecessary.

Fingerprints on the movement are a whole other story. In one of our recent watches, we saw some etched fingerprints on the bridges from a messy watchmaker.

40 years from now, whoever sent their Elgin to be cleaned by this guy will see his fingerprints on the bridges. After cleaning the watch, he handles all the parts with his bare hands.

The biggest part of keeping it clean is avoiding touching the watch parts with our bare hands. The simplest way to do that is to wear finger cots.

There are a lot of options out there. Anything thin and powder-free will work nicely.

After covering up the fingers, we can avoid touching the movement with metal tools. For example, here’s a humble nylon stick I keep handy at the bench.

Nylon sticks and pegwood are useful when lifting dials, nudging parts, or holding bridges steady while inserting screws.

Unlike tweezers or screwdrivers, they won’t scratch the part.

And we probably don’t need to mention to virtues of using a hand air puffer instead of blowing spit all over a watch part.

Cleaner methods take just a few more moments and quickly become habitual. Finger cots won’t make your watches more accurate, this blog’s main concern, but perhaps there’s a watchmaking karma that rewards the fastidious with a few extra degrees of amplitude.