Cleaning and Protecting Your Rolex

Rolex Cellini Prince White Gold

You’ve spent a considerable sum on your Rolex watch and have likely taken great care to preserve it.

While regular servicing is important, it’s also in your best interest to clean your Rolex regularly in between those appointments. Don’t forget about the simple things that can keep it looking great for years to come!

Knowing how to clean and protect your Rolex can go a long way in preserving its value and appearance.


Why you’ll need to clean your Rolex in between servicing

As a Rolex watch owner, you probably already know that your timepiece is an engineering marvel. It’s made of the finest materials available, and is built to withstand intense environmental pressures like temperature, humidity, and salt water.

That said, it has very small parts that need routine care in order to perform properly. To keep your Rolex in good condition, it needs to be regularly serviced — and that includes regular cleaning and protection.

Rolex Daytona Everose Ceramic

Daily exposure to elements can cause build up on your watch.
In photo: Rolex Daytona Everose Ceramic Bezel

As with all things, when you wear it, it’s exposed to all sorts of dirt, grime, oils, environmental debris, not to mention dust and moisture in the air. This definitely isn’t pretty on a stunning luxury watch, but it can also be detrimental to its functioning. Dirt under bezels can make them stick, bracelets will stretch out, and your pushers can become inoperable when the tiniest specks of dirt build up.

While servicing does a thorough cleaning for you, both inside and out, it’s only recommended to get your Rolex properly serviced every 5-10 years. Imagine how much dirt, grime, and sweat would accumulate in that amount of time?

On top of that, dirt and grime mean smudging and scratching. Extra needs and repairs at servicing means a larger bill. Save yourself some time and money by taking a few moments each day to clean your Rolex watch and you’ll be much happier in the long run.



Things to know before cleaning your Rolex

Before you get started, there are a couple of things to know about cleaning your Rolex watch.

First, don’t use anything abrasive like toothpaste or baking soda.

Second, avoid acidic substances like lemon juice as well — they can damage the metal on your piece. A microfiber cloth will work best for cleaning your Rolex since its fibers are soft enough not to scratch the metal but strong enough to hold up against dirt and grime.

When using water. Do not submerge your Rolex in water unless it’s equipped with the water-resistant Oyster cases. This includes a locking crown. Next, make sure the crown is fully locked down before using any water. You’re also not going to want to submerge your vintage watches unless you’re positive that gaskets are in excellent condition, or use water on a Rolex Cellini watch as they don’t have Oyster cases.

Rolex Submariner Ceramic Bezel

Rolex’s Twinlock System keeps their watches water-resistant. In photo: Rolex Submariner

Remove the Bracelet. It’s perfectly fine to remove the bracelet to make cleaning your watch easier. Rolex designs their bracelets to be fully removable, and it’s an easy process, but you would need to be careful. Removing the bracelet gives you access to clean the tiny area between the lugs and the inner surfaces of the end-links. For cleaning the bracelet itself, access to an ultrasonic cleaner is an excellent solution to removing dirt and grime from all those tiny spaces.

You can remove scratches at home. If you find some scratches on the acrylic crystal, you don’t necessarily need to get it serviced to fix them. Minor scratches can be easily dealt with at home in a handful of steps.



How to Clean Your Rolex in 5 Easy Steps

No matter how well you clean your watch at home, some locations simply can’t be addressed without taking the watch apart. Under the bezel being one of those locations. These pesky spots will be thoroughly cleaned during your routine servicing. Preventing your bezel from freezing up is easily accomplished with a little daily care.

Make sure to wash your hands before you begin to keep dirt transfer to a minimum.

You’ll need:

Warm water

Mild soap (ammonia-free)

Soft-bristled brush

Microfiber cloth

Step 1

Before attempting any cleaning, it’s imperative to make sure that your crown is screwed down or locked. Except for the Cellini collection, any modern Rolex has a locking crown as part of the integrated waterproofing of their cases.

Locking this crown down is a necessary part of making sure your case is perfectly sealed and not only from water, but also from dirt.

So, even if you’re not planning on using water, it’s still important to keep out the dirt and the crown should be locked.

Rolex Day-Date 40, Rolex Datejust 36, and Rolex Oyster Perpetual
Before cleaning the watch, screw down the crown until you can’t turn it any further. In photo: Rolex Day-Date 40, Rolex Datejust 36, and Rolex Oyster Perpetual

Step 2

Using a mild soap, fill a bowl with warm (not hot!) water and a dab of soap. For whatever reason you may not have a bowl available, it’s ok to put the soap right on the brush you’ll be using to clean your watch and run it under the faucet to create your lather.

Note: It’s essential that you use a soap that is ammonia-free. Ammonia can be harmful to diamonds and other components of Rolex watches. Not only can this be damaging, but can discolor your case noticeably.

Step 3

With your soft-bristled brush, scrub all the outer surfaces of your watch. The bristles of the brush will reach those tiny nooks and crannies between lugs and links while the warm water will loosen up dirt and grime.

Do not submerge your watch in the bowl of water. It’s used to dip your brush or hands in and then applying to the watch. Dip the brush regularly to replenish your cleaning solution.

You’re going to want to use a little pressure on your brush for deep cleaning. Ideally, you should use enough pressure that it scrubs without pushing the bristles out to the sides.

Step 4

When the scrubbing is complete and depending on how dirty your watch is, this may take a few rounds, then rinse it under warm water to wash all residual dirt and soap away. You need to rinse thoroughly to make sure no soap remains on your watch, as residue can leave stains.

If you have a model that possesses a rotating bezel like a Submariner, GMT-Master, or Sea-Dweller, then rotate the bezel a few times while rinsing to make sure no soap is hiding under there.

Note: avoid scrubbing the watch with your hands while rinsing. You don’t want to undo your cleaning by leaving a bunch of dirty oils on the watch. It’s also best to rinse your watch by holding it at an angle. This makes sure the water runs off the watch and doesn’t sit on it unnecessarily.

Rolex President Datejust Everose

Use a microfiber cloth to prevent scratching your timepiece.
In photo: Rolex President Datejust Everose

Step 5

Once your watch is clean, use your microfiber cloth to dry it completely. Make sure that whatever cloth you’re using to dry is clean and has no cleaning products or polishing compounds on it.

Using a microfiber cloth accomplishes two tasks: it leaves no annoying fibers behind and will not disrupt the natural finish of your watch.



Tips for Daily Upkeep of Your Rolex

– Vintage Rolexes and Cellini models should be cleaned differently than recommended above. These cases aren’t going to have the necessary water protection to be submerged under water like this.

– Scratches on acrylic (not sapphire) crystals can be polished off with a soft cloth and polishing compound. Rub the crystal with a small dot of the polishing compound for around 2 to 3 minutes. Be advised this will only work for light scratches and some scuffs. Anything more substantial will require maintenance during routine service visits.

– Keep internal repairs and cleanings to the professionals.

– Regular wipe downs with a microfiber cloth go a long way.

– Rinse your watch after submersion in seawater. Salt and sand are bad for the case if left there.

Rolex Repair at SwissWatchExpo

– Let the professionals polish your watch during service visits.

– Rinse your watch in the shower. As long as you have a waterproof model, wear it in the shower to rinse your bracelet and timepiece on the regular. If you don’t shower, but bathe, then use your hand washing time to give your watch a quick rinse.

– Take it off for bed. Wearing your watch in bed won’t damage it, but removing it for the night reduces the number of scuffs and sweat that it would be exposed to on a regular basis.

– Doing something messy? Take off your watch. Making sure to remove it when you know you’re going to be doing something extra messy, like cooking, will limit the dirt and grime it’s exposed to.



Final Thoughts on Cleaning Your Rolex

Rolex watches are some of the most valuable and sought after timepieces on the market, and one of the main reasons for this is their excellent craftsmanship. That said, they can get damaged if not properly cared for.

So, it is important to know how to clean your Rolex correctly and maintain its value for years to come. If you follow the tips we’ve outlined above, then you’ll be able to keep your watch looking new for many years!

Clean your watch regularly and make time for regular maintenance services at a Rolex service center. Better yet, bring it to – our expert in-house watchmakers, technicians, and refinishing teams stand ready to provide expert care to your timepiece.

Rolex Pre Daytona 6240 Vintage Watch Review | SwissWatchExpo

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