Watches are not only a great way of checking the time, but they can also make a statement and can be used to add something extra to any outfit.
Silver watches are typically expensive and are a great heirloom to be passed down through generations.
If you’ve come across a watch and you’re not sure whether it’s real silver, then we’ve got you covered.
Keep reading to find out how you can tell whether a watch is made of real silver, and to learn why not all watches are made of silver.
Why Aren’t All Watches Made Of Silver?
One of the main reasons that many watches aren’t made of silver anymore is because silver is a relatively soft metal - and can discolour and tarnish pretty quickly.
Because silver is so soft, it will often get alloyed with other metals, such as copper or zinc. However, copper can leave dark colourations and leave a green mark on your wrist, which is never ideal.
Pure silver can be easily scratched or even dented, so extra care should always be taken with silver watches.
In the era of pocket watches, watches were typically made of silver - it was the main metal of choice because iron was corrosive and gold was too expensive, so silver was the best choice around.
However, stainless steel is now used for many modern watches as it’s stronger, easier to maintain, and much cheaper than silver.
How Can You Tell if a Watch Is Made Of Silver?
If you have an antique watch or you’ve recently purchased a watch that was described as being made of silver, then it’s always best to find out whether it’s real silver or not.
Here are our tips on how to find out whether your watch is made of 925 silver or if it’s made of a different metal.
Check For Hallmarks
The first thing that you should do when checking your watch for authenticity is to look for markings or stamps on the silver.
This is especially helpful if you’re buying secondhand or antique watches - if you’re looking at flea markets or charity shops, a quick look at the hallmarks on the watch will help you decide whether it’s worth buying or not.
Silver watches are typically stamped with one or several silver hallmarks that give you an insight as to the purity of the silver.
You’ll also get information on the manufacturer or silversmith that made the watch, as well as the date the watch was made.
If the watch is imported, then you’ll be able to see whether the silver is 925, 900, or 800.
The numbers let you know how pure the silver is - you’ll find that sterling silver has a purity of 92.5 (925 markings) silver or higher.
Another way of checking whether the watch is made of silver is by conducting the ice test. This involves placing an ice cube onto the watch and seeing how quickly it melts.
You can do this at room temperature - and you’ll still see pretty accurate results. Authentic silver watches will cause the ice cube to melt quicker than non-authentic silver.
This is because silver has the highest thermal conductivity of any other common metal and alloy. So basically, if it melts quickly, then your watch is made of real silver.
Use a Magnet
You’ll find that most precious metals aren’t magnetic - gold, copper, and of course, silver.
If you’re curious about whether your watch is made of silver, try placing a magnet near it and see if you feel any pull.
If you feel a magnetic pull, then it’s most likely not metal. Silver only contains very weak magnetic effects unlike other metals such as iron and nickel.
This makes it easy to tell whether your watch is silver or not - if the magnet sticks to the watch, then it has a magnetic core and isn’t real silver.
Fake silver watches will be made of other metals, so the magnet text can give you a good insight as to the authenticity. However, watches can be slightly affected by magnetism.
The watch could gain or lose time, so be sure to not place the magnet near the watch for long periods of time - and make sure the time is accurate after you’ve conducted the watch-magnet test!
Polish The Watch
If you’ve ever owned anything silver, then you’ll know that it needs to be polished regularly. This can be used to your advantage - as it can give you an insight as to how real the silver is.
Once you’ve checked for hallmarks and conceded the ice test and magnet test, try polishing the watch with a white cloth.
Silver oxidises and tarnishes so black residue should appear on the white cloth after rubbing the watch.
If the cloth remains perfectly clean, then it’s most likely not silver. Lack of rust or oxidation shows that the watch is made from other metals, not silver.
Testing for authenticity aside, you should polish your watch every month or so, as silver will tarnish every two months or so if you wear your watch on a regular basis.
However, if you only wear your silver watch on special occasions, then you won’t need to worry about tarnishing much.
As silver tarnished quite quickly, many watch manufacturers will coat the silver in gold, platinum, or rhodium. Although this defeats the purpose of a pure silver watch, it will prevent tarnishing.
Depending on how often you wear the watch, the coating will degrade and the silver will begin to tarnish again.
This is why so many watches are now made of stainless steel - it looks and performs just like silver, but it’s stronger and easier to maintain. Stainless steel is also cheaper than real silver, which is always a bonus!
Smell The Watch
Sterling silver doesn’t have a particular smell unlike many other metals, which makes it easy to tell whether your watch is silver or not.
All you have to do is go ahead and smell the watch - does it have a particular smell? If you can smell a metallic scent or sulphur, then it’s not made of real silver.