How to Store Watches and Clocks

Jon Fesmire |

Of all the things we’ve described how to store, mechanical clocks and watches are among the most delicate. After all, they’re bundles of delicate machinery calibrated to count the seconds, minutes, hours, and days as precisely as possible. Those internal mechanisms need to be kept in good working order whether on your wall, your wrist, or in storage.

Whether yours are sentimental heirlooms or valuable antiques, you’ll want to make sure they remain in the best condition possible while in storage. We can help with that.

Climate Controlled Units

First, unless you live somewhere with reliably moderate weather year-round, you’ll want a storage unit with climate control for your watches and clocks.

Heat, humidity, cold, and dry air can all get into units without climate control, depending on the outside weather, and all of these can damage your timepieces. Humidity can cause mechanisms to rust. Heat and cold can make them warp. Dry air can sap the moisture from wood.

Other Hazards

Direct sunlight and dust can also seriously damage a mechanical clock or watch. The former isn’t a problem within a storage unit, but the latter can be. Dust in the mechanisms can clog them up, so you’ll want to package your timepieces wisely.

Thorough Cleaning

Your watches and clocks should get a thorough cleaning before you store them. However, we recommend against doing this yourself. Instead, seek a qualified professional to handle this. They can also take care of any maintenance your timepieces may need.

Packing Clocks

Before packing a clock, remove weights, pendulums, and keys, and put them in a zipable plastic bag. Label the bag and keep it with the clock. If the clock is wooden, polish it. Pack it, and the plastic bag, in a box with acid-free packing paper

For electronic clocks, remove the batteries and store them separately from the clock itself. Pack electronic clocks as well in boxes with acid-free packing paper. Don’t use bubble wrap for clocks or watches, as it can hold onto moisture.

Grandfather clocks are large and delicate. Polish them like you would with other wooden clocks, and cover the glass with acid-free paper. You can cover them with clean blankets or sheets. Also, it’s a good idea to put them on a sturdy surface an inch or so above the floor in your storage unit.

Packing Watches

Did you know that automatic watches wind as you walk? Yes, when you’re wearing one on your wrist, your movement keeps it wound. If you want to keep it ticking while in storage, get a good watch winder to put it in. Many winders double as cases, keeping watches especially safe and preventing you from having to use packing material.

If you still have the original packaging for a watch, that’s the best place to put it. Otherwise, consider getting a good watch storage case, which may store between two and a dozen watches.

If you need to pack them in a box, wrap the wristbands in acid-free packing paper, and use more paper to fill the box.

Once your clocks and watches are properly cleaned and packed, you can put them in your storage unit.

Maintenance

Don’t leave your timepieces in storage for extended periods without any maintenance. Every three to five years, you should lubricate and polish your mechanical clocks. Every eight to ten years, have them professionally cleaned.

Now, you’re ready to protect your clocks and watches in storage so you can display or wear them in the future.