Living with Bronze, Part 3: Cleaning and Maintenance

This is the final article in a three-part series on bronze watches by contributing writer Justin Mastine-Frost. This column addresses the various aspects of owning and caring for a bronze watch that extend beyond the obvious passion for patina. Today’s topic focuses on how to best clean your bronze timepiece.

For those looking to maintain a factory-fresh look on their bronze watches, and also for those who’ve accidentally overshot their target with forced patina (read more here), a good number of household tricks exist for cleaning bronze that are relatively painless. While off-the-shelf products exist to clean brass, bronze and other metals (Bar Keepers Friend, among others), we’ve found success using household concoctions as well. The most simple often entails a fair bit of elbow grease, but it is also the one that shouldn’t require any additional shopping: toothpaste. That’s right, applying a healthy coating of toothpaste to a bronze case, allowing it to sit for a handful of minutes (maybe five to ten), followed by some vigorous scrubbing with a toothbrush, will often bring a bronze watch back to a healthy shine.

Unlike many other new bronze offerings on the market, this Zenith Pilot Cronometro Tipo CP-2 Flyback arrives slightly aged directly from the Zenith manufacture. Credit: David Rosin

As an alternative, creating a paste out of baking soda and lemon juice has also proven to be quite effective in bringing a proper shine back to bronze. Simply adding a few squeezes of lemon juice to a small pile of baking soda (enough to form a soft paste), applying an even coat of the paste to the bronze watch, and then rubbing it away with a cloth after allowing it to sit for 20-30 minutes, will often do the trick. Much as with the toothpaste, if the desired level of “clean” is not achieved on the first pass, a second or third attempt should take care of it.

From this angle, the case finish of this well-aged Zodiac appears almost rusted, though with enough cleaning is able to return to its original shining glory. Credit: Justin Mastine-Frost

All text by Justin Mastine-Frost. 

You can read Part 1 on what to look for when buying a bronze watch here.

You can read Part 2 on how to chemically age your bronze watch here.

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  1. Sylvio F. Bertoli

    The beauty of bronze is in its patina so, any artificial way of accelarating it, should be terminantly avoided. The more the bronze watch ages, the more beautiful its ( natural) patina will be. If, however, one decides to take away a natural patina to bring back the original shine, he/she must have his head thoroughly examined.

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