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Remove Scratches From Watch: Step-by-Step Guide

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Remove Scratches From Watch Step-by-Step Guide

Watches are cherished accessories with sentimental value. Keeping them pristine is essential for aesthetics, value, and functionality. 

Scratches from daily wear can be frustrating, but they can be addressed. This guide covers the best methods to remove scratches from the crystal, case, and bracelet, helping you restore your watch’s original shine and beauty. 

Discover step-by-step instructions and tips for using the right materials and techniques to bring back the flawless look of your investment.

Materials Needed

Removing scratches from your watch and restore its original gleam, use the right materials and understand their specific functions. Here’s a breakdown of essential materials and how to use them:

Microfiber Cloth

Cleans dust and oil without scratching. Clean the watch before and after polishing. Each session lasts 1-2 minutes.

Cape Cod Polishing Cloths

Removes light surface scratches. Rub in circular motions for 2-5 minutes. Use every few months as needed.

Masking Tape

Protects areas not being polished. Cover the sapphire crystal, bezel, and other parts before polishing. Remove after finishing.

Polishing Compound

Reduces visibility of deeper scratches. Apply with a microfiber cloth in circular motions for 3-5 minutes. Use every 6-12 months.


Tackles very fine scratches. Apply to a cloth and rub in circular motions for 1-2 minutes. Use occasionally to avoid dulling the finish.

Diamond Paste

Polishes stubborn scratches on hard surfaces like sapphire. Apply a tiny amount to a soft brush or cloth and work over the scratch for 1-3 minutes. Monitor closely to avoid over-polishing.

Preparing for the Polishing Process

When you’re gearing up to remove scratches from your watch, proper preparation is essential. Here’s how to set up effectively to protect your watch and ensure a smooth polishing process.

Safety Tips

Ensuring the safety of your watch during polishing involves a couple of key steps:

  • Protect with Masking Tape: Use painter’s tape to cover non-scratched areas, especially the watch bezel. This prevents any accidental scratches from your polishing tools. There’s no need to cover the band or strap, but removing it could simplify your task.
  • Wear Gloves: To avoid leaving fingerprints and smudges on your watch, and to protect your hands from polishing compounds, wearing gloves is advisable. This helps keep both your watch and your hands clean.

Setting Up Your Workspace

A good workspace is crucial for a successful polishing job. Here’s what to consider:

  • Choose a Clean, Well-Lit Area: Visibility is key, so ensure your workspace is well-lit. This helps you see fine scratches and work more precisely.
  • Organize Your Materials: Have all your tools and materials like microfiber cloths, polishing cloths, and compounds within reach. Arrange them neatly to avoid any chaotic spills or losses.

Step-by-Step Guide for Different Watch Parts

Watch Case and Bezel

Polishing the stainless steel case and bezel of your watch requires careful handling and a few specialized tools to ensure you don’t add more scratches while trying to remove the existing ones. Before you start, it’s crucial to identify the finish on your watch’s stainless steel surfaces. 

Stainless steel is a popular choice in watchmaking due to its durability and resistance to corrosion. It comes in various finishes such as polished, brushed, or matte. Polished surfaces are glossy and reflective, while brushed finishes display a pattern of fine lines, and matte finishes offer a non-reflective, subdued appearance.

Tools You Need:

  • Abrasive materials such as muslin and satin buffs.
  • Tape to protect areas that don’t need treatment.
  • Polishing cream and cloths for application.
  • Cleaning agents or silver cleaners to finish the job.

Polishing Brushed Stainless Steel:

  1. Gently polish the brushed surface with a specialized stainless steel watches scratch remover, such as a Silver Polishing Jewelry Cleaner.
  2. For deeper scratches, a tool like the Eurotool Fiberglass Scratch Brush can be very effective.
  3. For very deep scratches, a Styrofoam Block, commonly used in nail polishing, can be employed. Gently stroke the scratched area with the abrasive side of the block.

Polishing Polished Stainless Steel:

  1. Start with a soft cloth and a gentle polishing agent like the Silver Polishing Jewelry Cleaner for finer scratches.
  2. For deeper scratches, use a product like Eagle One Never-Dull Wadding Polish to restore the surface.
  3. Although controversial, some suggest using paste-based toothpaste (not gel) for scratch removal. Apply a small amount, rub it gently into the scratch, and leave it for a few minutes before wiping it off with a microfiber cloth.

Alternative Methods for Stainless Steel Cases and Bezels:

  • Products like Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish can be effective for stainless steel watch case. Apply a small amount to a cloth and polish in circular motions.
  • These pre-moistened polishing cloths are excellent for removing fine scratches and adding a high shine to polished stainless steel watch surfaces.
  • For precision work on deeper scratches, using a Dremel tool with a polishing attachment can provide detailed results.

Techniques for Circular Motion Application:

  • Apply a Small Amount: Too much can create more issues.
  • Gentle Circles: Use small, gentle circular motions to work the product into the scratch. This technique helps to evenly distribute the polish and gradually reduce the appearance of the scratch.
  • Regular Checks: Frequently check your progress to ensure that you’re not over-polishing, which can lead to more damage.

Watch Bracelet

close up image of watch bracelet

When it comes to keeping your watch in pristine condition, the bracelet requires as much attention as the watch face itself. Here’s how to choose between using a polishing pad and a cloth, and the best ways to use them.

Choosing Your Polishing Tool:

Polishing Pad: For metal bracelets, a polishing pad is often recommended due to its durability and effective surface area that can handle the often tougher scratches found on metal bracelets. Polishing pads are typically denser than cloths, which allows them to remove scratches more efficiently. They are especially useful for working out deeper scratches that a softer cloth might not tackle effectively.

Polishing Cloth: A polishing cloth, while softer than a pad, is perfect for lighter scratches and routine maintenance. It’s also ideal for adding a final shine after using a polishing pad. Cloths are less abrasive than pads, making them a safer choice for delicate metals or when you’re concerned about preserving the metal’s finish.

Polishing Metal Bracelets:

  • Prepare Your Workspace: Ensure it’s clean and well-lit. Lay the bracelet on a soft surface to avoid additional scratches.
  • Using a Polishing Pad: Gently rub the pad over deeper scratches in a uniform direction, following the grain of the metal. Apply moderate pressure and check frequently.
  • Switch to a Polishing Cloth: After addressing deeper scratches, use the cloth to rub the bracelet gently, again following the metal’s grain. This restores the natural luster and removes residual marks from the pad.
  • Final Touches: Inspect for missed spots or uneven polish. Use the cloth for a final pass if necessary.

Alternative Methods for Metal Bracelets:

  • Pencil Eraser: For fine scratches on brushed finish metal bracelets, a pencil eraser can be surprisingly effective. Rub gently along the grain of the surrounding finish metal.
  • Metal Polishing Paste: Products like Brasso or Maas Metal Polish can be used to remove scratches from metal bracelets. Apply a small amount to a cloth and polish in circular motions.
  • Ultrasonic Cleaner: For a thorough cleaning that can also help in removing minor scratches, an ultrasonic cleaner can be used. These devices use high-frequency sound waves to clean and polish the bracelet.

Aftercare Tips:

  • Store your watch in a soft cloth or pouch when not in use.
  • Regularly clean the bracelet with a mild soap solution to remove oils and residue, which can contribute to surface scratches over time.
  • Avoid wearing your watch in situations where it might be exposed to harsh chemicals or abrasive surfaces.

Watch Glass

close up image image of watch glass

Scratches on your watch glass can be frustrating, but with the right approach, they can often be polished out. Whether you’re using toothpaste or diamond paste, here’s how to tackle those pesky marks effectively.

Using Toothpaste:

Toothpaste is a handy, mild abrasive that works well on acrylic crystals, commonly found in less expensive watches or vintage pieces made before the 1980s.

Step-by-Step Process:

  1. First, ensure the toothpaste you use is not grainy, as abrasive particles can cause further scratches.
  2. Apply a small, pea-sized amount of toothpaste to a soft cloth.
  3. Gently rub the toothpaste onto the scratched area in circular motions.
  4. Continue buffing for 2-3 minutes, applying light pressure.
  5. Wipe away any excess toothpaste with a clean cloth and inspect the surface. Repeat if necessary.

Using Diamond Paste:

Diamond paste is perfect for harder watch crystals like sapphire, found in high-end and luxury watches. This paste contains finely ground diamonds that can smooth out even the toughest scratches.

Step-by-Step Process:

  1. Apply a small amount of diamond paste (0.5 Micron Lapping Paste or 3 Micron DP3 Dia-Paste) to a soft cloth.
  2. Freeman advises to gently rub the paste onto the scratched area in a circular motion, ensuring you cover the entire scratch.
  3. Gently buff the area for 2-3 minutes, using light pressure to avoid damaging the crystal.
  4. Wipe off any residue with a clean cloth and check the progress. Repeat if needed for deeper scratches.

Alternative Methods for Watch Glass:

  • PolyWatch Scratch Remover: Specifically designed for acrylic crystal watch, PolyWatch can remove minor scratches and restore clarity.
  • Cerium Oxide: A polishing compound used for glass, cerium oxide can be effective on both mineral crystal glass and sapphire crystals. Mix with water to form a slurry and apply with a soft cloth in circular motions.
  • Watch Crystal Polish: Specialized polishes like Peek Metal Polish or Simichrome can also be effective for minor scratches on watch crystals. Apply a small amount and polish in circular motions.

Precautions to Avoid Damaging the Glass:

  • Use painter’s tape to cover the bezel and other non-scratched parts. Remove the band or strap to avoid getting polish on them.
  • Apply a pea-sized amount of polish to avoid mess and control spread.
  • Use gentle, circular motions with a polishing cloth. Apply light pressure to prevent creating new scratches.
  • If scratches are too deep, consider replacing the watch crystal. Visit a local repair shop or contact the manufacturer for replacement.

Polishing Techniques and Tips

Polishing watch crystals, especially vintage ones, requires a careful and delicate approach. Rolex historian Gisbert Brunner advises using high-quality plastic polish over abrasive compounds. He recommends gently massaging the polish with a soft cotton cloth, avoiding pressure on the edges, and cleaning thoroughly afterward to prevent new scratches from dust.

Achieving the Best Results with Minimal Effort:

  • Before polishing, ensure your watch is clean. Use a gentle soap and water solution to remove dirt and grime, then dry it thoroughly with a soft cloth.
  • Opt for a polish specifically designed for watches or jewelry. These products are formulated to be gentle yet effective.
  • Apply a small amount of polish to a microfiber cloth or polishing pad. Use a light, circular motion to rub the polish into the scratched area.
  • Use a clean section of the microfiber cloth to remove any excess polish.
  • Check the watch under good lighting to ensure scratches are reduced. Repeat if necessary.

Pros and Cons of DIY Polishing:


  • Polishing your watch at home can save money compared to professional services.
  • You can do it at your own pace and on your schedule.
  • There’s a sense of accomplishment in maintaining your watch yourself.


  • Without proper technique or tools, you might inadvertently damage your watch.
  • Polishing requires patience and precision.

When to Opt for Professional Services:

  • Complex Scratches: Professionals have the tools and expertise for deep or complex scratches.
  • High-Value Watches: Experts maintain the integrity of luxury or heirloom watches.
  • Regular Maintenance: Periodic professional polishing keeps your watch in top condition and can identify other issues.

Frequency and Maintenance

Polishing your watch is an essential part of keeping it looking its best, but it’s important to strike the right balance. Over-polishing can wear down the material, especially if your watch is made of softer metals like gold. For most watches, polishing every 3 to 6 months is recommended.

Regular maintenance, including polishing, plays a crucial role in the longevity of your watch. By keeping the surface free of scratches and dirt, you not only enhance its appearance but also protect it from potential damage. Dirt and debris can cause abrasions that lead to deeper scratches and wear over time.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Polishing too often or with too much force can wear down the watch material, causing permanent damage. For instance, when you polish your Rolex Submariner every month with heavy pressure, you risk ending up with a noticeably thinner bezel and worn-out lugs. To avoid this, polish only when necessary and use light, gentle pressure to maintain the watch’s finish. Using unsuitable materials or compounds can scratch the watch or damage its surface. For example, if you use household abrasives like baking soda or toothpaste on your Omega Seamaster, you might leave visible scratches on the stainless steel case. Always use products specifically designed for watches or jewelry to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Professional Polishing Services Recommendation

rolex watch polishing

Deep scratches or those near delicate areas like the crystal or bezel often require expert attention. Attempting to polish these areas yourself can risk further damage or even compromise the integrity of the watch. For example, intricate parts like the bezel or crystal need precision tools and experienced hands to ensure they are polished correctly without scratching adjacent areas.

Benefits of Professional Polishing Services:

  • Specialized Tools and Techniques
  • Expertise and Experience
  • Guaranteed Results
  • Preservation of Value

When choosing a watch polishing service, look for the following:

  • Good Reviews: Check for positive reviews and testimonials from other customers.
  • Certified Watchmakers: Ensure the service has certified watchmakers who are qualified to handle luxury watches.
  • Experience with Luxury Brands: Choose a service that has experience with your specific brand of watch.

Watch Exchange Singapore is a reputable service provider offering high-precision repair, polishing, and maintenance by qualified watchmakers. We specialize in over 60 luxury brands, including Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe. Services include ultrasonic cleaning, polishing, repairing, and strap-changing, ensuring your watch remains in pristine condition and runs flawlessly for generations.


1. Is it possible to remove scratches from a watch?

Yes, it is possible to remove scratches from a watch using polishing compounds and the right tools. Light scratches can often be polished out at home, while deeper scratches may require professional services.

2. Can toothpaste remove watch scratches?

Toothpaste can remove very fine scratches on a watch. Apply a small amount to a cloth and rub gently in a circular motion. However, it is not effective for deeper scratches and should be used sparingly.

3. Can you get scratches out of stainless steel?

Yes, scratches can be removed from stainless steel using polishing compounds or specialized polishing cloths. For deep scratches, professional polishing may be required.

Final Word

Keeping your watch free from scratches is essential for both its appearance and longevity. While DIY methods can remove scratches from watch, professional services are often the best choice for deeper or more complex issues.

Key Takeaways

  • Regular polishing every 3 to 6 months helps maintain your watch’s appearance without wearing down the material.
  • Incorrect techniques or unsuitable materials can cause more harm than good, potentially damaging your watch.
  • For deep scratches or high-value watches, professional services ensure the job is done correctly and preserve the watch’s value.

Trust your luxury watch to Watch Exchange for expert polishing. Our skilled watchmakers specialize in over 60 top brands, ensuring your timepiece remains in pristine condition and runs flawlessly for generations. Contact us today to keep your watch looking its best.

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