Watch Repairs 101: Dial Restoration

By Aleksandra Kurek April 2, 2018

‘Depending on the age and wear of your timepiece, it may appear to have lost its original lustre. Most often, this is caused by high sun exposure and long term salt water damage. In severe cases, this can cause the watch dial to become faint in colour and even  chip. As an ultimate solution to this problem, we offer a meticulously executed dial restoration.’

At Jon Vincent Watchmakers, we provide a complete selection of watch repair services to suit your individual needs. Ranging from minor repairs to more extensive maintenance checks, we can restore your watch, making it feel almost as good as new.

Depending on the age and wear of your timepiece, it may appear to have lost its original lustre. Most often, this is caused by high sun exposure and long term salt water damage. In severe cases, this can cause the watch dial to become faint in colour and even  chip. As an ultimate solution to this problem, we offer a meticulously executed dial restoration. Moreover, we often carry out this practice, as occasional refinishing of the dial lengthens its lifespan and gives a highly polished finish.

In the past, we have carried out many restorations, particularly on watches with sentimental value. These range from high-street to high-end brands such as Rolex, Omega, Cartier and IWC, just to name a few. As a fully accredited workshop, we collaborate with the official watch manufacturers of Omega, Cartier, and IWC. Thanks to this, we are able to offer you a fully qualified service executed to the highest Swiss standard.

At our workshop, dial restoration is among the most complex and time-consuming repairs we provide. However, our watchmaking professionals are experts in dial restoration, able to improve the condition of timepieces of most styles and periods after 1900. The lengthy process is carried out according to the traditional methods that were developed by the Swiss in the 20th century. This allows us to achieve a high quality finish that comes as close as possible to the original condition of the watch.

One of the most common services we carry out on the surface of the dial is the re-lumination of the dial and hands. Dials of older timepieces, especially vintage diving watches, often have used luminescent paints that were highly corrosive to both the dial and chrome finished hands. As a result, the surface of those watches has visibly deteriorated over time. In this case, it is highly recommended to re-illuminate the dial for a better overall presentation of the watch.

More commonly, dial issues are due to extensive exposure to sunlight. In that case, the dial has a tendency to fade and crack. In order to alleviate the problem, we provide a repainting of the luminous surface. Small parts of the dial, such as the hour markers and numbers, can be easily polished or completely re-plated depending on the requirements of the customer. If necessary, we can also easily re-plate the hands.

In the process of restoring the dial, the artisan matches the shade of the original dial with one from a library of dial plates. Usually, we are able to find a perfect replacement. However, occasionally, this proves more difficult. Depending on the age of the watch, it may not be possible to match a new dial plate to the exact specifications. If so, the replacement will be as near a match as is possible.

In the next step, surface work is meticulously carried out down to the slightest detail. In order to achieve a truly flawless finish, shades of paint are chosen from a wide selection of colours that most closely resemble the original. After dial paint has dried and hardened, the restorer reapplies writing and numbering to the watch face. Once completely dry, the dial is then returned to our Master Watchmaker to be reinstated in its case.

Overall, dial restoration is a specialist job carried out by well-equipped and trained horological ‘dial artists’. This painstaking and delicate work may be time-consuming, but once complete, the efforts are truly rewarding.

 

Images ©: Header. Peter’s Watch Repair