Moisture and condensation is the leading factor to consider when storing watches, especially long-term.
In an ideal world, watches, in general, would be stored in a temperature controlled setting like in a secure home safe or safety deposit box etc. Regardless of where you store your watches, moisture and condensation are public enemy #1 as far as your watch is concerned. Even more vulnerable to moisture, wooden watches need even extra care. Especially cold places where condensation can develop and damage a watch as oils coagulate and lose their ability to lubricate. Condensation is also known to damage IC circuits in quartz movement watches.
A good idea to help combat the effects of moisture would be to store watches with silica gel. Fairly easy to get, silica gels can be bought in bulk or save the packets you receive in certain electronic products. The blue gel packets are especially desirable since they change colors to pink or white, indicating when they need to be replaced or recharged.
Most if not all watches that are worth anything will come in a box with paperwork. If moisture were to damage these items it can hurt the resell value of the watch. Usually, anyone who buys, sells, trades, or collects watches would like to have these important documents such as warranty cards, authenticity certificates and proof of purchase. It is best to keep these items separately, maybe in a zip-lock bag of some sort with a packet of silica gel for good measure.
If you are a watch collector, such as my self, then you know the value of having insurance on your expensive timepieces. Having your watches appraised, especially if you have vintage watches is strongly recommended. Keep track of market pricing for current watches as insurance companies will offer a replacement according to market value. Be sure to keep all of your paperwork in a safe, dry place and takes lots of pictures to document everything.
Again, as noted above, keep your boxes clean, dry and stored properly. It may be easy to get replacement boxes for certain watches but some may be expensive and hard to find. Be sure to keep track of your boxes and what watch they belong to.
Now that you know how to store your watches, you must also know that long-term storage may be problematic. There are different types of movements and storing them long-term leads to very specific problems. Take quartz watches for instance. The batteries used to run these watches may corrode and leak, destroying inner parts of the watch. Make sure to remove the battery if storing or putting the watch away for long periods of time. Mechanical watches pose different sets of problems. Over time as the oils in the watch start to dry out, the movement may freeze up. That is why it is best that mechanical watches be worn and wound periodically. A little more high maintenance than quartz movements, it is good to have mechanical watches serviced. The oils eventually dry out, even with normal use. It is recommended that watches before 2015 are to be serviced every three years. Most watches after that can go as long as 10 years before needing to be serviced.
If you are serious about watches and like to know exactly what is going on inside your timepiece, a Multifunction Timegrapher is the tool you will need. It measures accuracy and offers you a snapshot of the health of your watch. A good rule of thumb would be to get your watch serviced if it shows anything under 250 amplitude. Low amplitudes can be a sign of mechanical failure and may lead to substantial overhauling fees. It is a good idea to keep track of everything.
In conclusion, storing your watches and following basic maintenance rules may help in extending the life of your watches. Whether you plan on passing it down to your kid or flipping them for a profit at a later date. Proper maintenance and storage should be a top priority. Along with diligent record keeping, temperature and moisture control, you should be able to store YOUR watch for 10 to 20 years with no problem.
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