How to Clean a Watch Dial or a Watch Face?

What Is A Watch Dial? A watch dial or a “watch face” is an interior part of a watch that displays the time by using fixed numbers (printed, embedded or adhered) and moving hands.

The basic most watch dial is composed of numbers (1 through 12) and moving hands that help in indicating the time.

Typically, black is the prominent most watch dial color that offers the watch its practicality. These watches with black dials often come with hands that are white or luminous which makes it easier to read the time even in low light and poor visibility conditions.

However, with changing trend these have been clumsily designed, crowded and beautified with much more information such as day, date, month and more.

watch dial
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This information is often added on the main watch dial by adding secondary small dials such as in chronograph watches.

Then there is also a sunray dial watch which is a great alternative for those who want to have a sportier look and casual appeal that’s most of the time available in digital watches and modern smartwatches.

The fact that the sunray dial on a watch carries a timeless beauty, that is not possible to get in any other piece, makes it one of the most popular choices among youths for their wrist wear.

What material it is made of?

Watch dials were traditionally made from metal just to look simple and serve its basic purpose.

But today dials of most of the exclusive watches are designed attractively and are made with vitreous enamel, a type of glass which is composed of glass powder and is extracted from silica.

Watch dials made up of enamel looks beautiful, smooth and can last forever.

Enamel paint and various types of other chemicals are also being used on modern watch dials to make them look colorful and attractive.

How to Clean a Watch Dial?

Before we proceed with ways on how to clean a watch dial let me tell you that cleaning an exterior watch face is different than cleaning an interior watch dial.

Unlike exterior watch face, interior watch dials are delicate and can be a hassle to remove out of your watch.

Unless you are an expert in watch repair, you should not try to remove and clean them at home.

You should instead go to a professional watch repair shop and get it removed and cleaned to avoid any damage.

However, if you are really passionate about DIY projects and are knowledgeable about watch repair you can remove and clean a watch dial at home by following simple steps.

Cleaning an Interior Watch Dial

First of all, remove the hands from the watch dial. After you have removed the hands and your watch dial for cleaning follow these steps:

  • Use a watch dust blower to blow off any dust or debris on the surface
  • Then use a sharpened piece of peg wood or a toothpick to remove any left out dust particles on the surface or broken pieces of glass (if any)
  • You may use Rodico cleaning putty or something similar that can help remove the other residue (fingerprints, stains, and debris) that has been adhered to the dial

If your old watch dial is very dirty use a soft dial brush with a mild detergent to lightly clean the surface. This will help in removing the dirt and grime along with any yellow spots deposited on the dial with time.

If you prefer to use any kind of liquid solution or detergent for cleaning/restoring your vintage watch dial, use it with extreme caution.

Make sure that you dry the dial immediately after the cleaning as the left out liquid or moisture can damage the dial surface or its paint lacquer.

Remember that, if your watch dial lacquer has been damaged there is nothing much you can do for restoring it.

Re-lacquering the dials can be tough in most of the cases, you may need to go to a watch dealer or a repair shop to check whether this can be done or not.

How to remove watch dial?

Cleaning an Exterior Watch Face

Cleaning an exterior watch face and bands should be done once in a week to clean and remove the fingerprints and smudges from the crystal or glass.

Believe me, it’s a pretty much easier task than compared to cleaning an interior watch dial. You may follow these steps for cleaning:

  • Make a soap water mixture for cleaning – do not use any other kind of chemical substance or bleach as it may destroy your watch
  • Polish the face of your watch using a soft-bristled toothbrush, a chamois cloth or a polishing or lint-free cloth – do not rub too hard as it may scratch the surface
  • Now use a Q-tip or a toothpick to clean the dust, grime, and debris that may be deposited at areas between the watch face and the watch band

After you have cleaned up your watch face, use a clean lint-free cloth to wipe down the watch and watch-band. Make sure that you clean off any excess water or soap while wiping down the whole watch.

How Do You Polish A Glass Watch Crystal?

To shine your watch glass, you need to inspect the scratches on it carefully under bright light. While the glass may have fewer scratches if its plastic watch face you may need to work a bit harder.

For both plastic or glass crystal, you may rub a bit of toothpaste on it. After a few minutes clean it gently using a soft cloth.

Why Do You Need to Clean a Watch Dial?

Simply because you watch dials can show the signs of wear and tear with time.

Many times watch dials are made up of a metal alloy which may contain iron and can rust if there are high oxygen and moisture content in the air.

The material of watch dials may also get yellowish with time due to extreme weather conditions like temperature and humidity. It, therefore, needs a deep cleaning to restore their luster and beauty.

Especially if it’s a vintage pocket watch or a valuable antique watch you cannot afford to leave it as it is.

Cleaning an interior watch dial and other parts is also important in case you have dropped down your watch and it carries broken glass pieces or dust particles inside.

There may also be numbers fallen off and you may need to get them repaired and cleaned as soon as possible.

Can You Change the Dial on A Watch?

Yes, you can get your watch dial replaced anytime you want, provided it carries the replaceable parts, dissembled, and can be repaired.

With that said, it’s important that you do not try to replace your watch dial yourself if you do not have knowledge about its internal parts.

If you find the watch dial damaged or faded in color you should take it to a nearby watch service center to get the dial replaced and fixed.

Can I Clean A Dial with Watch Cleaning Machine?

An automatic watch cleaning machine like an ultrasonic watch cleaner can be a good way to clean watch parts.

However, do remember that it uses an ultrasonic cleaning liquid and high-frequency ultrasonic sound waves to develop the cavitation and cleaning action.

Since these high-frequency waves may damage the paint/polish on the delicate watch dial, it is good to avoid cleaning your watch dial in a watch cleaning machine.

Also, if your watch dial comes with any chips, loose pieces or numbers that can come off easily, do not clean them in an ultrasonic cleaning device.

Watch dials that do not have any paint or polish (like genuine baked-on enameled dials or old pocket watch dials) can however be washed in an ultrasonic cleaner.

Since these do not have any polished coating that can be damaged it gets cleaned up in an ultrasonic cleaner without getting damaged.

When using an ultrasonic watch cleaner device for cleaning the watch dials, make sure that you do not leave them in a bath for too long, especially if you have a large powerful tank for commercial purposes.

To conclude

It’s pretty much obvious that your watch dial may rarely need a deep cleaning. But when required it should be done with utmost care so that you love wearing your valuable watch forever.

So make sure that you get your watch dial and the face of watch get cleaned once in a while.

If possible take them to a professional watch dial cleaning shop that can deal with all the cleaning jobs with ease and without any risk.