Watch collecting is (often) an expensive hobby, but once you come to the understanding that you can own one or two watches and completely change their personality through strap choice, how you travel with and take care of them, etc, you quickly realize that much of the fun in collecting is in the accessories.
It’s the straps and bracelets, travel pouches and rolls, and, believe it or not, even the cleaning and maintenance supplies that provide much of the fun (who amongst us hasn’t opened the back of his vintage Omega just to see what the hell is going on back there, even if you shouldn’t?). What follows are some of the best inexpensive stocking stuffers for watch enthusiasts, because while watch collecting can quickly add up, watch tinkering need not break the bank.
Worn & Wound Microfiber Cloth
Yeah, yeah, we get it — it’s just a cloth. But a microfiber cleaning cloth is a watch enthusiast’s best friend; use it to get those pesky smudges off your beautiful vintage Carrera, or you know, your $100 Timex — it’s all the same. This Worn & Wound microfiber cloth measures 7.5″ x 7.5″ and is chemical-free, washable and reusable.
Friction Ball Case Back Opener
If you have a watch with a screw-down case back, sometimes you can twist the back off using this simple friction ball rather than a specialized wrench. While we wouldn’t recommend doing this yourself without good reason (it lets in tiny dust particles and other grime), if you need to open a screw-back, this cheap tool is essential.
Spring Bar Set
Changing straps on your watch is a fun and easy way to change its personality, but do this enough and you begin losing spring bars. This set has 360 spring bars in 18 different sizes to help you feed your strap hobby. Keep this thing in your desk to stave off frustration when a 19mm spring bar goes flying off under a piece of furniture.
Perhaps the greatest gift to mankind after Yodels and business class seating on long-haul flights, Polywatch is a mild abrasive paste that you use to clean acrylic watch crystals. Simply squirt some on a polishing cloth, work it into the crystal for a couple minutes, and voila! Bye-bye, scratches.
Clockwork Synergy Perlon Watch Strap
A “perlon” is a type of braided nylon, pull-through strap that can completely change the look of a watch, and works great during the summer when it’s just too damn hot to wear leather. This option from Clockwork Synergy comes in tons of colors and will spruce up just about any watch.
Watch Repair Kit
While we don’t necessarily condone performing the equivalent of open-heart surgury on your vintage Rolex (rather, we say leave it to a watchmaker), sometimes you just need to open a case back or size a bracelet. If this is the case, we do recommend picking up one of these handy watch repair kits — probably the best $17 you can spend in watches.
Barton Bands Elite Silicone Watch Band
While certain professional rubber straps meant for scuba diving can be quite expensive, this Elite Silicone Watch Band from Barton Bands is affordable, comes in a variety of colors and features quick-release spring bars. What’s more, each strap ships with both a short and long lower half, meaning you should be able to find one for any-sized wrist.
Worn & Wound Strap-Changing Multi-Tool
If you’re going to be changing your watch straps frequently, you’re gonna need a good strap-changing tool, and this offering from Worn & Wound is one of our faves. It’s two screw-down ends hide four tools, including a 8mm poker, a 1.6mm fork, a 1.4mm flat head and a 1.8mm flat head, which can be used to size watch bracelets.
Crown & Buckle Supreme Nato
Winner of our Editor’s Choice for best Nato strap, the Supreme Nato from Crown & Buckle features top-grade ballistic nylon for an ultra-comfortable fit. Available in multiple colors, sizes, hardware finishes and in one or two layers, these Natos in subdued colors are some of the best straps available anywhere.
Billykirk No. 9 Valet Tray
Everyone needs a place to put his or her watch, keys and other EDC items, and this valet from Billykirk is the perfect candidate for a catch-all. Made of natural vegetable-tanned leather and available with different embossed designs, the No. 9 Valet Tray will patina over time, just like your vintage Rolex 1675 (or the imaginary one that exists in your dreams).
GemOro Eclipse Loupe
Every watch guy needs a good loupe for gazing longingly into the dial of his favorite dive watch (though we wouldn’t recommend this in the presence your wife). This loupe from GemOro features 10x magnification and a tiny LED light for checking out the finest details, such as the ones that assure you that your Rolex is in fact an actual Rolex.
Everest Premiere Bracelet & Spring Bar Install Set
A spring bar/screwdriver multi-tool can be useful for traveling, but sometimes you just want the best individual tools possible for the job. This set from Everest Horology Products is one of our favorites and features an interchangeable spring bar head and a precision screwdriver for sizing bracelet links.
5-Slot Watch Roll
Watch rolls can be expensive, but they need not be. This handmade, customizable option from Hub City Vintage features a duck fabric shell, cotton liner, 5 pockets, 1 strap pocket and 1 spring bar tool pocket. Transport your collection in style for less than the cost of a good leather strap.
If you’ve got one baller watch, then you absolutely need one baller travel pouch. This leather and suede model from strap afficionados Crown & Buckle will fit up to a 46mm watch, and unless you’re a lunatic who makes his own watch rolls (I was out of work at the time, ok!!), this is just about the coolest option available.
Don’t know what to get the people on your list? We’ve got you covered with our holiday gift guide
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.