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Hands of Time: Ultrasonic Cleaners and Watch Maintenance

In earlier times, a man’s pocket watch was as much a sign of his status as his clothes, house or car. Today, brands like Breitling, Omega and TAG Heuer carry as much weight among connoisseurs of luxury timepieces as Bentley, Maybach and Maserati do among those who treasure high-end automobiles. Both items represent a combination of lofty status and top-notch engineering. Fortunately for lovers of name-brand watches, they are much easier to clean and maintain than their automotive counterparts, thanks in large part to small, portable ultrasonic cleaners.

How Ultrasonic Cleaners Work

The mechanism inside an ultrasonic cleaner generates high-frequency sound waves, well beyond the range of human hearing. These sound waves create thousands of vibrations per second. As these vibrations pass through the cleaner’s tub of soapy water, millions of tiny vacuum-filled bubbles form in the water. These bubbles reach into the smallest crevices in the watch and implode, an effect known as “cavitation”. The cavitation effect removes dirt, dust and skin oils from the watch and washes the contaminants away in the soapy solution.

luxury watch ultrasonic cleaning

Ultrasonic Cleaners and Watches

While ultrasonic cleaning is highly effective for some forms of jewelry, watches are also precision instruments as well as decorative accessories. Some watches that are advertised as being “waterproof” or “shockproof” may still suffer some damage due to the vibrations and solutions in an ultrasonic cleaner. With this in mind, many luxury watch manufacturers recommend that the watch be disassembled and the parts placed in the tub, rather than inserting the intact timepiece into the tub.

watch parts

Ultrasonic Cleaners and Precision Watch Parts

Many luxury watches, especially those that rely on springs and gears rather than vibrating quartz crystals to keep the time, consist of very small, delicate components that must work together in perfect synchronization to maintain their precision. The ultrasonic cleaner is highly effective at removing dust and other particles that can interfere with the precision workings of luxury watches. Not only does the cavitation effect take away the dirt and contaminants, it also accomplishes the task much more effectively and in a fraction of the time as doing the same work by hand.

watch faces

Watch Bands and Faces

As effective as the ultrasonic cleaner is at cleaning the internal workings of luxury timepieces, the machine also cleans the external components to keep the watch looking at its best. Watchbands, cases and faces can also accumulate dust, dead skin and other particles that can diminish the visual appeal of high-end watches. Ultrasonic cleaners can reach into the hollows between the links of metal watchbands and remove contaminants with ease, as well as adding new luster to the faces and hands.

Many professional jewelers and watch merchants also offer cleaning services for luxury timepieces. They often use ultrasonic cleaners from iUltrasonic as part of the maintenance routine for specialty watches with sophisticated mechanisms. Whether you choose to use these professional services, or attempt a do-it-yourself project out of cleaning a high-end watch, the ultrasonic cleaner is often a vital part of the process.


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