Collecting watches is just like collecting shoes, clothes, accessories, and other items. One of the most crucial parts to clean are the straps or bands. Leather is very sensitive to liquids and can easily absorb sweat and dirt, especially when you’re wearing it for almost the entire day. It is also sensitive to many external elements such as overexposure to sunlight or heat, which causes the leather to crack or chip. From time to time, you need to clean and maintain them. However, keeping your watches clean at all times is quite tricky. For instance, if you own a leather watch strap such as Frederique Constant watches, cleaning may require special care to make sure that the leather will not be damaged. To make sure you are cleaning it right, here is a step-by-step guide in maintaining the sturdiness of your leather watch strap.
Step 1: Detach or remove the strap
If you think the leather strap is sensitive, so is the watch crown. To make sure that you will not damage this too, detach or remove the strap from the watch before cleaning it. In that way, you will help protect the entire watch case and dial. Remember, each piece of your watch has a different way of cleaning.
Step 2: Use a dry cloth to wipe the leather
After you remove the strap from the watch, get a dry cloth to wipe it thoroughly before putting any liquid cleaning. Through this process, you can gently remove any loose dirt or debris that’s been collected on the strap when you were using it. While you’re wiping it with a dry cloth, also keep in mind that this small debris might scratch the surface of your leather strap. So, be extra careful while you’re doing it. If you have any soft cloth or microfiber, which is also used for polishing jewelry or wiping eyeglasses, it’s better to use that too.
Step 3: Wash the leather strap with gentle soap
Once you have cleaned any loose dirt on the strap, you may start cleaning it gently with soap. It’s best to use the regular bathroom or sink soaps rather than powdered soap, as it has harsh chemicals that can damage the leather. Using a different soft cloth, or if you have another microfiber, dampen it with a small amount of soap and wipe it on your watch’s leather strap.
Make sure to not use the same cloth that you’ve used to remove the loose dirt because it may be transferred back to the watch with a soap. If you don’t have any spare cloth, remove all the debris first before using it for soap cleaning. And most importantly, the cloth should only be damped and not soaking wet.
Always clean the inside and out of the leather strap using circular motions. Do not just clean the outer part as it accumulates more dirt on the inside.
Step 4: Rinse it with the same cloth
Do not wash the strap with flowing water to rinse off the soap. Once you’re done cleaning the strap, thoroughly rinse the cloth until the soap is completely gone. Also, make sure that there will be no excess water by squeezing it over and over. Ideally, it’s safe to rinse and squeeze it about 3-4 times to make sure that the soap is completely washed out. After that, gently wipe the soap off the leather strap until it’s completely removed. You may repeat this step about 2-3 times until it is completely washed out. Failure to remove all the soap in the band may cause unpleasant marks on it once completely dried.
Step 5: Let it air dry
Once you have completely removed all the soap residue, expose the leather strap to natural air until it dries out. You can hang it in your bathroom but just don’t use clips on the hangers because it will surely leave a mark. The most important thing to remember about drying is to never expose it to direct sunlight, nor try to dry it using a hair or hand dryer. This action can extremely damage the leather.
Step 6: Use a leather conditioner for best results
Just like in your clothing or other furniture, using a leave-on conditioner on the leather strap can protect it against potential damage. Plus, it will make it look better. However, do not apply the conditioner when it’s still wet. Make sure that the strap is completely dry as if it’s ready to wear before you apply the conditioner. Otherwise, it will also leave unpleasant marks on the leather once it dries. It’s also important to use a dry cloth when applying the conditioner rather than just your bare hands.
Maintenance is key
Repeat these steps once every other week to make sure that your watch’s leather strap will keep its sturdiness for a longer period.