Anybody who’s ever bought a gold tone watch has wondered for how long the gold finish will actually stay on your watch. The last thing you want is to buy a gold tone watch only to have it turn into a stainless steel one within a few weeks.
How long do gold tone watches last? Gold tone watches last about 1 year before the paint starts to wear off. However, this depends a lot on how often the watch is being worn. Also, conditions such as exposure to water play a huge role.
Now that you know how long a gold tone watch lasts it’s time to dive into a bit more detail. First off all, let’s see if gold stainless steel watches will tarnish. After that we’ll have a look at the life expectancy of gold plated watches and see if these are also prone to fading. Finally, we’ll talk about how to prevent you gold tone watch from fading.
Will Gold Stainless Steel Tarnish?
Yes, gold stainless steel will tarnish over time if given the right conditions. That’s because most high-end watches that are made out of stainless steel use so-called 316L stainless steel.
This form of stainless steel has high levels of chromium, iron, carbon, manganese and nickel. Since stainless steel is an alloy it might tarnish over time. This heavily depends on the conditions to which the watch is exposed (such as water).
The reason why watch manufacturers use this form of stainless steel is because it’s hypoallergenic and therefore safe to wear on bare skin.
However, it must be noted that 316L stainless steel is normally used in high-end watches that will cost $500 and up. If you’re buying a relatively cheap watch (say below $100) it’s likely that this watch uses a lower quality stainless steel which will tarnish easier.
Will Gold Plated Fade?
Yes, gold plated watches will fade. However, they will last a lot longer than gold tone watches will do. A gold plated watch will normally last 5 years or more before fading. Some watches will even last 20 years or more.
This is because gold plated watches, unlike gold tone watches, use actual gold. Gold tone watches are actually stainless steel watches that have been painted gold. Gold plated watches go through a process of ion plating. This means a layer of real gold or gold alloy is applied to the stainless steel/copper/brass case or bracelet of the watch.
In turn, this also means that the watch will last a lot longer than your regular gold tone watch. However, after some years these watches can still start fading.
Also, gold plated watches can, after some time, leave a green residue on your skin. This is because the copper/brass underneath the gold plating will become exposed to water and sweat. This will start a corrosion process that will leave a green mark on your skin.
How Do I Keep My Gold Watch From Fading?
Now that you know how quickly a gold tone watch will fade it’s time to see how you can extend the look of your watch for as long as possible. Underneath I’ve outlined four tips that will help you do that.
Take Off Your Watch When Swimming
I know that most watches these days are water resistant up to a few 100 meters. However, that doesn’t mean you should actually wear your watch if you want to extend its lifetime.
The reason for that is that chemicals such as chlorine (which is used in pools) are very harsh on gold tone or gold plated watches. They will cause a chemical reaction which will fade the gold tone on your watch quicker. The same can be said about salt water.
Furthermore, if you’re wearing you watch at the beach you’ll also expose it to sand which is silica and very abrasive.
Take Off Your Watch When Sweating Heavily
I’m aware that it’s impossible to take of your watch every time that you’re sweating. However, what you can do is to be mindful of the times when you’re sweating a lot (such as at the gym).
The reason for this is the fact that sweat is acidic. This normally isn’t a problem for real gold jewelry or watches. However, since we’re talking about gold tone or gold plated watches this can be a problem. That’s because the acidic elements of sweat will cause discoloration to the watch.
Avoid Spraying Fragrances On Your Watch
As you can probably imagine, perfume or cologne also contains a lot of chemicals that can be very harsh on your gold tone watch. Therefore, it’s very wise to not spray these chemicals directly on your gold tone/plated watch.
I you are going to spray perfume on your wrists it’s wise to first do that and then wait a few minutes before strapping your watch around your wrists. Most of the fragrance will have vaporized by then which will extend the life of your watch.
Store Your Watch Properly
The final tip is to store your watch properly. Especially gold tone watches are very prone to fading and storing them properly can prevent this. For example, if you put your watch in a box filled with other jewelry then it might scratch against the other jewelry. This will quickly damage the gold tone.
Furthermore, properly airing the watch will also help a great deal. This will make sure that your sweat will vaporize quickly which will minimize its effects on the gold tone of the watch.
How To Clean A Gold Tone or Plated Watch?
Now that you know how to take care of your gold tone or gold plated watch it’s time to discuss one final thing: cleaning. Whether you want to clean your watch or not will depend heavily on your emotional connection to the watch and its price tag. It makes more sense to clean a $1.000 gold plated watch then a $50 gold tone one. Nevertheless, this method will work in both cases.
First it’s important to get 3 cups of lukewarm water and mix this with 1/2 a teaspoon of mild dish soap. Then you stir the mixture. Remember that it’s important to use a mild soap that has no dyes or perfumes because this will damage the watch. Also, never use an abrasive cleaner.
The next step is to grab a soft-bristles toothbrush and dip this in the soapy water. Gently scrub the bracelet and case of your watch. Try to get in between the gaps of the bracelet to really clean it properly.
Once this is done you can grab a soft washcloth and dampen it with plain water. Wipe the watch off to remover the residue. Then, use another washcloth to make the watch as dry as possible. Finally, let it air dry overnight. It’s important to allow for this to happen. Otherwise the water won’t vaporize and it will still affect the gold tone of your watch.