12 Best Ways to Store Your Unused Watches

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Proper watch storage is something that may not seem that significant if you’ve never thought about it, but it’s actually crucial for getting the most out of your watch over a long period of time. Still, most watches don’t come with an instruction booklet that tells you all the rules about storing them. So, what are the best ways to store unused watches? 

If you’d like to know how you can store your watches when they’re not in use, you’re in the right place. Below we will guide you through our picks for the 12 best ways to store unused watches. We’ll review methods based on how well they protect the watch, and whether they are good for long or short term storage. So let’s get started and see if we can’t extend your watch’s lifespan!

Should I Stop My Watch When Not in Use?

Before we jump into all the great ways you can store your unused watches, let’s first address a really common question people have about the ones they’re not currently using. Should you stop your watch before you store it, or is it better to leave it ticking so it’s ready to go next time you need it? 

It’s generally agreed–though to be fair there are some detractors–that you should in fact stop your watch if you are putting it away for long term storage. If you just need short term storage on the other hand, it probably won’t make that much of a difference. 

Below we’ve provided you with the two biggest reasons why you should stop your watch when it’s in long term storage: 

  • To prevent wear: In all watches there has to be some lubrication added to the gears to make sure they don’t wear each other down. If that lubrication goes, then the gears could be grinding each other down. 
  • You can’t be sure of the status of your watch’s gears: Unless you know how to get into the gears and recognize whether or not they have lost their lubrication–a process where causing damage could happen really easily–you can’t be sure of their status when you’re getting ready to store your watch. It’s best just to play it safe.  

We should note, if you’ve been storing watches without stopping them in the past, it’s not like they’re no good. All of this will just ensure that your watch lasts a little bit longer than it otherwise would. It’s up to you to decide if that potential extra time is really worth it. 

What About Storage Options that Keep Your Watch Wound?

If you didn’t already know, you’ll notice that a few of the storage options on our list are touted to keep your watch wound by rotating. When it comes to these, do you really need to stop the watch?

In this case stopping the watch would kind of defeat the whole purpose. These watch winding storage technologies are specifically designed to keep your watch going through its time in storage. The reason it does this is because the tech actually works to reduce the risk of your watch being off when you come to take it out again. 

So to put it simply, no, you do not have to stop your watch before putting it into a storage device that is equipped with a winder technology. 

Find a Watch Case for Daily Use  

Watch cases are great because they protect your watch from damage that might come from moisture, humidity, dust, debris and all that good stuff. They won’t protect your watches from these issues to the same extent as some options, but they’re perfect for nightly storage. 

A nice watch case will completely enclose your watches and hold them securely during the nighttime when you’re not using them. Additionally, many of them even make for a great way to display your watches in a modest way, as they often have a glass top so you can look down at your collection.

Of course, there are also security features like locks on some cases. While a lock probably isn’t going to stop a burglar from taking the whole case, they’re a must have for many parents who worry their kids might get into them. 

Get a Humidity Controlled Box for Long Term Storage

Finding a humidity controlled box is a great way to take your watch storage skills to the next level. These boxes are built to protect above all else. While other boxes and cases do block out some moisture and humidity, these are designed specifically to combat those types of issues. 

Humidity controlled boxes are available for both collections and individual watches. They also can have many of the features available on standard watch boxes and cases. This includes things like transparent lids so you can see your watches, or locks to deter criminals/just keep your kids out of your collection. 

Take Advantage of a Stand for Both Storage and Display

Watch stands won’t give you the protection you could get from a humidity controlled box, or even just a typical case. Still, they are an excellent way to store watches during the daytime if you would like to keep them on display. 

There are many different styles of watch stands, but what they all have in common is that they attempt to display the watches in the most appealing way possible. The watches will usually go around some type of peg and sit on their side so you can get an idea of what they look like in real use. 

Please note, that if you go with this option, you should also get another storage device that is more focused on optimizing durability for when you don’t want to have your watches on display. For the longest lasting results, you should always put your watches in the appropriate environment if you plan on storing them long term. 

Consider a Watch Winder for Automatic Watches

If you really want to keep your watch ticking properly, with the correct date (assuming yours displays the date), then look no further than a watch winder. While these can be expensive, they really pull out all the stops when it comes to making sure your watch keeps on ticking the way it should.

The concept behind watch winders is simple. Keep the automatic watch moving so it won’t stop. It may not seem like a big deal to stop your watch and start it again, but for some watches there are extra repercussions for being stopped. 

A lot of people don’t want their watch to stop because it also keeps the date. The date on a lot of nice watches is harder to reset yourself than the clock. Therefore, it’s worth it to take extra measures to ensure the watch doesn’t have to be stopped. 

Beyond the winding ability, watch winders often come with other features like humidity control, or even the ability to change the direction and speed and at which they move. Further, they’re often transparent in the front so you can see your watches rotate. Of course, they are available for both individual watches and collections alike. 

Use a Watch Safe for the Best Security Possible 

Most of the concerns we’ve discussed in our guide so far have been about natural elements that can cause wear to your watch over time. That’s good and all, but another important concern to address is the possibility that your watch could be stolen. This is especially true if you have a luxury watch like a Rolex or a Patek Philippe. Really any watch that may be valuable. 

Nothing else on this list protects your watch from being stolen more than a watch safe. Watch safes usually have spaces for you to securely place your watches inside them. Further some watch safe’s even have the winding ability we discussed in the previous section. Some of these require a key while others just require a passcode to open. 

Of course, you could use any kind of home safe for your watches if you already have one. Just take care to put them in a smaller box or stand before you place them inside so they can sit safely. 

Try a Soft Watch Pouch for On the Go

Watch pouches are generally made for individual watches, as opposed to a whole set of them the way a case or a rack would be. While they won’t protect your watch quite as thoroughly as most watch cases will–namely because they’re usually made of a soft material–they are great for bringing your watch on the go. 

Whether you want to keep a certain watch in your travel bag while you use a different one, or you just want to set it aside for a day or two, pouches are best for short term storage. These small pouches are mainly recommended for short term storage and temporary travel because they do sacrifice some protection for a greater degree of convenience. 

They will keep out most dust and debris, and they will protect the watch from getting scratched if you’re keeping it in a bag or drawer with other items. 

That said, they aren’t the best at shielding watches from humidity, moisture and all the other subtle elements that wear down our watches over time. That’s why if you’re solely looking for long term storage, you should probably go with a different option. 

Think About a Valet Tray or a Large Jewelry Box

The jewelry you have is made of very similar, if not the same, materials your watch is probably made out of. Valet trays and jewelry boxes can be great places for short term storage, or for storage while you try to decide if one of the more watch specific devices on this list suits you better.

Valet trays in particular are great to use for overnight storage with a watch you wear day to day. The watch will be safe on the soft padding of the tray and it will be very accessible to you when you wake up in the morning. You won’t have to go searching around for a key or type in any code to access it. You can just grab it and go. 

If you go with a jewelry box on the other hand, make sure that you don’t put your watch in a box that is too stuffed with jewelry to fit it or you may end up damaging both. 

Get a Hard Watch Pouch for Extra Protection On the Go

Watch pouches aren’t just made of soft leather/leather-like material. They can also be hard cases, usually made of plastic with some kind of soft covering. 

While these aren’t quite as comfortable or sleek as their soft counterparts, they are better if you’re going to put them in a purse or a bag. They won’t do much better for impact with the ground, but stuff rolling around in your bag will be less likely to cause problems for your watch this way. 

Consider a Watch Roll for Multiple Watches On the Go

Related to both the soft and hard watch pouches are what are known as watch rolls. Watch rolls are a lot like watch pouches, except they are intended to carry multiple watches at once. They come with a hard exterior, usually with a soft covering over that, and contain a long tube like “roll” in their middle interior, that your watches can slide onto. 

As you would expect these share many of the same benefits and downsides that individual watch pouches have. They don’t offer a whole lot of protection from humidity, moisture and heat. Still, they offer convenience and are really meant to be used in short term storage situations. 

If you need to carry multiple watches on you for, say, a business trip, a watch roll will fit nicely right inside your briefcase or your baggage. 

Find a Watch Rack for Multiple Watches During the Day

Watch racks aren’t going to be all that good for long term storage, as they leave your watches more exposed than almost all the other methods. Still, they can be great for daytime storage if you want to display your watch collection for guests when they come to visit. We wouldn’t recommend you put them out every day this way however, because it can cause wear. 

Additionally, it’s best to look for watch racks which hold your watches more firmly in place, rather than the ones that just let them dangle. This is because of the strain that dangling can put on them.

Just know that these racks are purely for decoration. They won’t protect your watch from moisture, heat,  humidity or the general wear they can get just from sitting out in the open air. Instead, this is when your storage priorities are shorter term, and purely out of fashion. 

Repurpose a Nice Cigar Box for Convenience

A decent cigar box is specifically created to keep moisture and humidity away from the cigars it’s supposed to hold inside. While it’s probably not going to be as effective as, say, a humidity controlled box, it will be better than probably any other box you have just laying around at home. 

Cigar boxes can also make for a decent hiding place if someone happens to break into your house and go through your things. If they are focused on finding jewelry boxes or other places where you might store valuables, they may miss an old cigar box tucked away inconspicuously.

Of course, a cigar box is probably not what you should keep it in forever, as it’s not as durable as some of the more permanent options. Still, if you just need something to hold you over till you can get that fancey watch winder case, this is a good option.   

Use the Box Your Watch Came in if Nothing Else

A lot of people end up storing their unused wathes in the boxes they came in. While this is certainly better than nothing, they have quite a few limitations. Because so many of them are made of cardboard, with lids that just slip on, they don’t protect your watch as well from humidity, moisture and other natural elements. 

Still, they can protect your watch well enough while you look for another solution or over night. Plus you can add a few silica gel packets–those little packets you get with some products that say “do not eat,” on them–and add them to the box to reduce the possibility of damage from moisture. In fact, you can use this trick on any box you put your watch inside of. 

In the end, if you’ve ordered a good storage device but you need a place to keep your watch until it arrives, the box will work just fine. Just be careful and make sure you keep it in a cool dry place. 

What to Look for in Long Term Watch Storage  

If none of our options sounded appealing to your taste, but you still want to find something to store your watch/watches in long term, you’ll need to know what features to look for. As long as you know what a watch requires to maintain itself in storage, you can really make anything that fits that description work. 

Any storage device with the following features, could theoretically be used for long term storage of watches:

  • In a storage device that lacks moisture: We say a place that lacks moisture instead of just a place that’s dry because sometimes even if something seems dry, some moisture from the air is still getting in. It’s very important that you limit an unused watch’s exposure to moisture because it can cause rust and even damage or totally ruin dials.
  • In a place that is cool: You really need to avoid humidity when you’re looking for a place to store your watch. Humidity is another way in which moisture can make it onto and into your watch to wreak havoc. Always make sure you’re storing your watch in a place that is cool, but not cold, and most of all dry.
  • In a place free from clutter: This is why watch cases of all different kinds are so good. They usually have a place for you to either wedge your watch between soft material or put it on some kind of stand. This prevents watches from tumbling around and scratching each other up if you pick up the box. 
  • In a place that is secure: If you have a luxury watch or a collection of luxury watches, you want to find a place that has some degree of security. If you put your watches on display during the day, be sure to move them back into their secure location if you have someone you don’t know working at your house. 

Please remember, the longer you decide to store your watch, the more important it is that your storage space has all of these features in some way. That’s not to say that the other ways that are more focused on display or convenience aren’t great, just that they aren’t equipped to handle many of these issues because they aren’t meant to. 

So Really, What is the Best Way to Store Your Unused Watches?

The answer to this question really depends on how long you plan on storing your watches, and whether or not you want to display them while they aren’t being used. There is no one perfect storage space for your watches. It all really depends on what features are most important to you. 

If you want convenience, go with one of the smaller options like pouches or regular watch boxes. If you want an interesting display, go with a stand or a rack. Security your thing? Go with a watch safe. The point is, there are good reasons to use all of these storage devices at one time or another. Ensure you consider what you want to get out of your storage before you buy.