Let me start by saying that I’m not someone who cleans his watches very often. This is in contrast to our photographer Morgan, who regularly rinses his watches with water every other day. With my Seiko Kinetic that I wore day in and day out for over 15 years, though, I used to have sort of a cleaning routine. Every three months or so, I would boil some water, put it in a glass bowl, add some soap, and then just soak the entire watch in there for about half an hour. It somehow survived, but that’s probably not the safest way to go about cleaning your watches. So let’s take a look at some of these cleaning kits, shall we?

When I searched “watch cleaning” on some of the watch forums, I think the most common method I found is the one with a soft toothbrush, some water, and a drop of dish soap. Apart from the rinsing method that Morgan uses, this is also the cheapest way to keep your watches clean. But you have probably also seen the specialized watch cleaning kits that are available out there. Recently, I found one of those lying around the Fratello office, and I was curious what it would be like to use it. Unfortunately, the company that made it doesn’t exist anymore, so I won’t write about that one.

But I did look for some other options and asked the companies that made them if they were willing to send over some samples for me to write an article about. They did, and I’ll share my experiences with you today. I’ll describe each kit first, and at the end, I’ll tell you about which one I’d choose.

Cartier watch and jewelry cleaning kit

Cartier’s jewelry and watch care kit (free/complimentary)

The first one I tried out is one that I got for my wife last year. I saw that this kit was being offered for around €25 on one of the forums and decided to go to the Cartier boutique to see what it was like. I asked for it, and the salesperson simply gave one to me for free without any further questions asked. It’s a complementary care kit that they give you when you buy a piece of jewelry or a watch. But, as it seems, you can also just ask for it afterward.

Cartier watch and jewelry cleaning kit

Apart from being the only free option among today’s examples, it’s also the most basic one. In a small red Cartier box comes a microfiber cloth, a soft brush, a 30ml bottle of “Lotion for Jewelry and Watches” with a sprayer on top, and a small instruction booklet. It’s fairly straightforward to use, though, and similar to the other kits. You spray some of the “lotion” on your watch and clean it with the included brush. You then rinse the watch off with some water and dry it with the included cloth.

Cartier watch and jewelry cleaning kit

Using it is just as simple as using your toothbrush. It feels a bit fancier, though, and ensures that you use the right substance that won’t hurt your watch. However, to dry your watch, I’d use a regular towel instead of the included cloth.

ChronoPen watch cleaning

ChronoPen (€49.90)

The next product is the ChronoPen from Germany. As the name already suggests, it’s a large pen with a small brush at the end of it that you can use to clean your (water-resistant) watches and jewelry. The pen contains 15ml of cleaning fluid that’s exclusively developed for ChronoPen in Germany. You can use it on stainless steel, gold, silver, bronze, platinum, ceramics, sapphire glass, plastics, and rubber. One pen is good for about 70 cleaning jobs. It comes in a black cardboard box with an explanation on the inside of the lid and a microfiber cloth. But it’s not the same microfiber as your usual watch cloth. It actually feels more like a soft towel.

At the end of the ChronoPen, there’s a small button that you can turn to open and close it. This is a nice touch as it won’t open/spray when it’s inside your bag or suitcase. When you take off the cap, you’ll see the small brush for cleaning your watch, making this an all-in-one solution, unlike the Cartier kit. You push the button on top a few times, and the cleaning fluid will come into the brush. You then apply it to your watch and start cleaning. It’s nice and easy, and the soap does smell nice. It’s nothing mindblowing, but it smells similar to a gentle hand soap, I’d say. The fluid is transparent, but there’s a blue hue to it.

ChronoPen watch cleaning

The ChronoPen works well, and it’s nice that it’s an all-in-one solution. I like that the soft brush can get to hard-to-reach surfaces, and it’s easy to bring the ChronoPen with you wherever you go.

AIS Collective also offers a ChronoLeatherPen to take care of your leather straps.

AIS Collective — ChronoPen (CHF 55.00)

Indeed, this next one’s also called ChronoPen, but it’s made by a company called AIS Collective from Switzerland. Just so you know, AIS stands for Anna, Ivan, and Said, which are the names of the founders of the company. The AIS ChronoPen comes in a white cardboard box, and it includes a 100% cotton towel. The pen itself is a bit wider than the previous one, and it also contains double the amount of cleaning fluid (30ml). The instructions are printed on the inside and the back of the white cardboard box. There are also small Swiss flags all over the packaging and on the pen itself. And yes, it says “Swiss made” too, just like on the watches you’ll probably be cleaning with it.

When you take the cap off, you see a soft brush at the end of it. It’s similar to the one on the other ChronoPen, but it’s a bit longer. And the button for releasing the cleaning fluid is also underneath the cap. To clean your watch, you simply aim the pen at it, press the button to get some fluid on it, and start brushing. The fluid in here is also mostly transparent, but this one has a slight pink hue to it. Its smell is again soapy, but it’s a bit more astringent than that of the other ChronoPen.

The cleaning experience doesn’t differ much from the previous one. The brush is a bit longer, so it’ll get to even harder-to-reach places, and in the hand, it’s a bit wider and heavier than the other ChronoPen. But that’s no issue while cleaning, and on the plus side, it also contains double the cleaning fluid.

Alpagota × Ressence (free/complementary)

This last cleaning kit is something of a promotional gift from Ressence. But I still thought it was interesting to include it here because it’s a bit different than the other ones, and it might eventually be for sale separately as well. Alpagota is a company led by Gaëtan Gaye. He is also the former business development director for Ressence. When you look at the Alpagota website, the cleaning kits there are all for cleaning computer screens. It looks like Gaye is now logically branching out to watches as well. The kits there are quite expensive, though. The fluid costs €50 and the (very nice) cloth retails for €90.

Once again, this cleaning kit comes in a white cardboard box. Inside it, there’s a glass bottle with an integrated pipette in the cap. It contains 30ml of a so-called “Eau d’horloge.” Although that sounds almost like “Eau de parfum,” the fluid has a very faint soapy smell. The kit also comes with a cloth called “Carré de poche” (pocket square). It’s made out of 50% polyester and 50% nylon, but it feels like silk. Both its print and sage color are based on the Type 8S, one of Ressence’s latest releases. To clean your watch, you apply a few drops of the fluid to the cloth and then wipe your watch with it.

The experience with this kit is different because, instead of a brush, you use the included cloth to clean your watch. This means it’s more of a superficial way of cleaning. It’s more like applying perfume to your watch. But I do like to use this on watches with less water resistance as the fluid won’t be applied to the watch directly, in contrast to those in the other kits.

The verdict

Of course, you should do whatever you think is best for your watches. But for someone like me who’s not really into cleaning, these kits are great simply because they make you want to clean your watches. I’m also very much into gadgets of all sorts, and both ChronoPens in particular are very satisfying and fun to use in that sense. Their all-in-one character ensures that you don’t have to think about anything else, and you can, of course, use any regular towel to dry your watch afterward. I will say that the soft towel that the German ChronoPen comes with feels very nice, though.

On the other hand, at around €50, both the ChronoPens are quite expensive when you can also just clean your watches with a toothbrush and some regular soap. In the end, I feel both methods will get you the same result. But I can imagine that some people would like to “upgrade” the experience a bit since the things we’re cleaning are very valuable. But in that case, the fancier Cartier care kit might already be enough of an upgrade, and the nice thing about it is that you can pick it up for free.

The Alpagota solution is indeed a bit more superficial, but as I already mentioned, it’s a nice solution for the more fragile or less water-resistant watches you might own. I’m not sure yet when this one will become available for sale, and when it does, it will also be quite expensive, especially with the fancy pocket square.

ChronoPen watch cleaning kits

Worth the cost (?)

So, if you’re like me and you need a little motivation to clean your watches, just get yourself one of those ChronoPens. Yes, they cost around €50, but if that makes the difference between cleaning your watches and not cleaning them at all, I think it’s worth it. However, if you’re like Morgan and regularly clean your watches and you’re happy with your current method, then I don’t think it’s worth investing in any of the kits above.

Do you regularly clean your watches, and if so, what method do you use? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.

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