Are You Wondering, Should I Polish My Watch?

You are probably wondering, should I polish my watch?

This is a great question and in this blog post we’ll try and give you both sides to the fierce watch polishing debate. 

There are many reasons why polishing your watch can be bad for your timepiece. However, there are also reasons why you might choose to polish your favorite watch.

Should I polish my watch?

Should I polish my watch?

Should you polish your watch or not is a hotly debated topic in the watch community. Both sides have valid arguments for and against polishing.

What we need to understand is that the idea of not polishing your watch is a very new concept. 

Also viewing watches as an investment is a new concept too. Investment watches weren’t really a thing until recently.

You need to remember that if a watch is older than about 20 years old, then that watch is almost guaranteed to have been polished before. 

It has more than likely been retouched in some form or another. Whether you notice it or not.

What is watch polishing?

Polishing a watch refers to removing a layer of the watch’s surface to get rid of the appearance of scratches, scuffs, or dents from the watch’s case or bracelet.

Whereas, over polishing a watch refers to removing too much of that watch’s surface material. Causing the watch to lose its defining shape and overall architecture.

There are two main popular watch finishes to watch cases:

  1. Mirrored finish, this is achieved with polishing your watch.
  2. Matte finish, this is achieved through brush polishing your watch.

Both are discussed under the general term of watch polishing.

Photo of a man polishing a watch with the help of a watch polishing machine

Why is polishing a watch bad?

There are many valid reasons for why polishing your watch is bad.

  1. Polishing devalues your watch
  2. Polishing will eventually change the shape of your watch
  3. Over polishing will round sharp edges
  4. Bad polishing can cause scratches

1. Polishing devalues your watch

Unpolished watches are very rare. Yet, many modern watch collectors are on the lookout for vintage watches that appear unpolished.

When an unpolished, collectable vintage watch is on auction today it will go for a much higher price, than a polished version of the same watch.

Take these two rare Rolex Ref. 6062 watches, which have been auctioned at the luxury watch auction house; Christie’s.

Yes the polished Rolex 6062 watch looks shinier and more beautiful. However, the unpolished Rolex 6062 sold for half a million dollars. While the polished watch sold for only a fraction of that.

That’s how valuable an unpolished watch is today. It’s case shape has never been altered by polishing. Which makes the timepiece so much more valuable.

2. Polishing will eventually change the shape of your watch

Polishing can damage your watch, as it will eventually change the shape of your watch. The overall architecture of your watch’s case can be altered with polishing.

Especially if a watch is over polished. Then this can really drastically alter the look of your watch.

A stark example can be found on the Watch Guy. He shared a photo of the lugs of an over polished watch, and to be honest it’s shocking!

The lugs are disappearing, the polishing has ruined the watch. As he says, this is an example of why polishing a watch is a bad idea.

Over Polished Watch Lugs (Source: Watch Guy)

Check out his article on Why we don’t polish watch cases. To get the full story on this watch polishing disaster.

3. Over polishing will round sharp edges

If you over polish your watch you risk rounding out the sharp edges that will make up the design of your timepiece.

This is especially heartbreaking when it’s a luxury watch, or rare vintage timepiece.

There are some horror stories online. You can often find terrible examples of over polished watches on online watch forums. Like the Rolex Forum for example.

If you are going to have your watch polished, you need to choose someone who has the right skills. Watch polishing is no easy task, and if in doubt just leave your watch unpolished.

4. Bad polishing can cause scratches

A bad polishing job can even cause scratches on your watch. 

In the video below from the YouTuber Timekeeper, he was unlucky enough to have his luxury watch polished by someone who didn’t have the skills needed.

It ended up that his Rolex watch had been scratched and damaged. 

Why is polishing a watch good?

Not everyone in the watch community is against polishing a watch. Here are a couple of reasons why polishing a watch can be a good idea.

1. Polishing makes your watch look like new

The idea of not polishing your watch is a new concept. In the past polishing was the done thing, and you’ll struggle to find a vintage watch that has never been polished to some degree.

Polishing (when done with skill) will make your watch look fresh and new.

So if your watch isn’t an expensive collector’s item, then having it polished once in a while isn’t so bad.

2. Polishing your watch removes scratches

Polishing will remove the scratches from your watch’s case and bracelet. It does this by removing a layer of material.

If done well, by a polishing professional, then your watch can come out looking scratch free.

If you want your watch to be scratch free again, and you don’t mind reducing it’s collectable value. Then a skilled polishing service can be a good option.

How often should I polish my watch?

If you would like to have your watch polished, and are wondering how often you should have your watch polished.

This all depends on a number of factors. Such as how often you wear your watch, how you store your watch, and also how rough you are with this timepiece.

Many recommend that you should polish your watch every 4 to 5 years.

Be careful of polishing included in a watch service

You need to be careful when picking a watch service. If you don’t want polishing then you need to make sure you state that.

Because many “full service” watch services for your watch include polishing.  

Make sure that you state to them very clearly, not to polish your watch.

Always check reviews first, and even meet the service professional in person. Always try and source someone who has expertise in your style of watch.

Always over communicate what you want.


Choosing whether you should polish your watch or not is a hotly debated subject in recent years. 

Watches were always polished in the past, it’s only recently that watch collectors are seeking unpolished watches.

This is because polishing a watch can change the look of your watch, scratch your watch, and reduce its value.

However, a polished watch does look good. So it’s up to you whether you chose to polish your watch or not.

But be careful when having your watch serviced. Make sure to communicate clearly whether you want your watch polished or not. And always got to a skilled professional.

Now, why not check out more of our watch care and watch guides in our learn about watches section.