Ultrasonic watch cleaning
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  1. #1
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    Ultrasonic watch cleaning

    I was at my local electronics store yesterday and I noticed a domestic ultrasonic cleaner. The advertising said "ideal for cleaning watches" there did not appear to be a lot of information, other than 54khz, you place the watch to be cleaned in the machine and a few minutes later you have a clean watch.
    Has anyone used one, does it work, any potential for damage, (standing waves). I understand that usually there would be a medium for the ultrasound to travel through, some sort of coupling water? gel? I am thinking that it would not penetrate the case or crystal but if it did would all the small oscillations cause damage to a mechanical mvt.
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    Re: Ultrasonic watch cleaning

    Ultrasonics most often work with regular water. There are special cleaning fluids for them as well, and some even just use regular dishwasher soaps.

    As a watchmaker I've been instructed to not put any mechanical watches into ultrasonic cleaning, as there is the risk that the vibration might mess up the lubrication in the movement. The vibration could also potentially mess up with the regulation settings, maybe?
    But I guess one reason why not to put them into ultrasonic is that the casual watch owner has really no way to be sure if the watch is truly water resistant enough for total immersion in water.

    In watchmaking work the ultrasonic would be used to clean watch case and bracelets after the watch has been disassembled for service.
    Have you demagnetised it?

  3. #3
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    Re: Ultrasonic watch cleaning

    Ultrasonics are great for getting crud out of bracelets but I was told NEVER to put the head of the watch into one so I never have.
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    Re: Ultrasonic watch cleaning

    I've been hoping to see what happens when, against all advice, a watch head is immersed in an ultrasonic cleaner. I wholly believe that it's bad, but I want to see exactly how it's bad. I had checked Youtube a few months ago and didn't find anything.

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    Member Amplituder's Avatar
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    Re: Ultrasonic watch cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    I've been hoping to see what happens when, against all advice, a watch head is immersed in an ultrasonic cleaner. I wholly believe that it's bad, but I want to see exactly how it's bad. I had checked Youtube a few months ago and didn't find anything.
    It's probably not something people think about much, as it most likely wont cause mechanical watches stop immediately, more like cause their performance drop, and if the lubrication fails, the lowered amplitude might cause unreliable timekeeping and increased mechanical wear.
    Had actually some quartz movements fail after being immersed in ultrasonic tank for a while. Not sure what the reason for that was, but the ultrasonic was a high-end type that uses rather high water temperatures (50-60'C) for better cleaning results.
    Have you demagnetised it?

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    Re: Ultrasonic watch cleaning

    Found a post in another forum where the guy put an empty, but assembled, watch case in his cleaner just to see what would happen. He says water pushed past the seals and got into the case.
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    Re: Ultrasonic watch cleaning

    Few years ago my local AD had promotion before summer, It consisted of free pressure testing of the watch and cleaning it in ultrasonic.
    As it was offered by AD I didn't even consider any harm, I suppose they where doing pressure testing before cleaning.
    Lume dot is still on place:)


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    Member Likestheshiny's Avatar
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    Re: Ultrasonic watch cleaning

    Few years ago my local AD had promotion before summer, It consisted of free pressure testing of the watch and cleaning it in ultrasonic.
    As it was offered by AD I didn't even consider any harm, I suppose they where doing pressure testing before cleaning.
    Lume dot is still on place:)
    I'd imagine that they would take the bracelet off and only clean that, and then just manually clean the head. Or did you see them actually dunk the whole watch?

  10. #9
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    Re: Ultrasonic watch cleaning

    I have an ultrasonic cleaner that I mainly bought to clean my wife's diamond rings and earrings. I've washed watch bracelets in it, but only after removing the bracelet from the watch.
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  11. #10
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    Re: Ultrasonic watch cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by Amplituder View Post
    Ultrasonics most often work with regular water. There are special cleaning fluids for them as well, and some even just use regular dishwasher soaps.

    As a watchmaker I've been instructed to not put any mechanical watches into ultrasonic cleaning, as there is the risk that the vibration might mess up the lubrication in the movement. The vibration could also potentially mess up with the regulation settings, maybe?
    But I guess one reason why not to put them into ultrasonic is that the casual watch owner has really no way to be sure if the watch is truly water resistant enough for total immersion in water.

    In watchmaking work the ultrasonic would be used to clean watch case and bracelets after the watch has been disassembled for service.
    Thank you that is sound advice. The machine I viewed had an illustration of a complete watch inside being cleaned, so potentially a two minute clean could result in a lengthy repair.

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