Pocket watch metal dial…

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  • #48737
    tmac1956
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    • Topics Started: 171
    • Total Posts: 1259

    All:

    I have run across a size 14 Hamilton pocket watch that has a metal dial. The dial has what appears to be a few corrosive spots that the owner would like removed. Outside of a mild soap solution, I’m not brave enough to start trying to use an abrasive as I’m just about positive that would upset the satin finishh on what is an otherwise nice dial. Any advise?

    Thanks!
    Tom

    #54555
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
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    Tom,
    What kind of metal is the face made from. Is it painted, plated, enameled? Post a picture of it with some magnified views of the bad spots. There may be someone on the forum who knows what to do. It may have to be sent out to a dial restoration service or replaced with a different dial.
    david

    #54556
    tmac1956
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 171
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    @david pierce wrote:

    Tom,
    What kind of metal is the face made from. Is it painted, plated, enameled? Post a picture of it with some magnified views of the bad spots. There may be someone on the forum who knows what to do. It may have to be sent out to a dial restoration service or replaced with a different dial.
    david

    David:

    It appears to be something like brushed aluminum with no enamel (numerals appear to be painted.) I’ll try to get some pictures of it.

    Thanks,
    Tom

    #54557
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1553

    I’m not brave enough to start trying to use an abrasive as I’m just about positive that would upset the satin finish

    Hi Tom,
    I think that’s a wise move. With painted or plated metal dials I do nothing beyond a very gentle cleaning with mild dish soap and sometimes not even that. The dial refinishing companies can repaint these metal dials but that can sometimes impact the value of a watch. There are some people out there that do good dial restoration work but not being one of them I refrain from doing anything to a dial beyond occasionally attaching feet or loose numerals.

    Hope this helps!
    Bob

    #54558
    tmac1956
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 171
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    @Bob Tascione wrote:

    I’m not brave enough to start trying to use an abrasive as I’m just about positive that would upset the satin finish

    Hi Tom,
    I think that’s a wise move. With painted or plated metal dials I do nothing beyond a very gentle cleaning with mild dish soap and sometimes not even that. The dial refinishing companies can repaint these metal dials but that can sometimes impact the value of a watch. There are some people out there that do good dial restoration work but not being one of them I refrain from doing anything to a dial beyond occasionally attaching feet or loose numerals.

    Hope this helps!
    Bob

    Thanks Bob and david:

    This watch is probably not worth the cost of a restoration. However, perhaps I can find a replacement somewhere.

    Later,
    Tom

    #54559
    randy
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 39
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    I’m with Bob,
    I use warm water, some liquid dish soap and a fine camel hair artists brush..even the pressure of washing with your fingers is too much for many older dials.

    Sounds like you may have one that was literally “washed”in silver to get the effect,..and it takes nothing to destroy one if it’s already in a poor state.

    Maybe just use some Rodico to gently “lift”any small blems…I wouldn’t even wipe the dial with it until I could be sure that it’s safe to do so.

    Best

    Randy

    #54560
    tmac1956
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 171
    • Total Posts: 1259

    Here a pic of the dial. It’s actually worse than I thought at first glance. Upon closer inspection, these blemishes look like dings that have knocked off the outer finish.

    Thanks

    #54561
    arutha
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 85
    • Total Posts: 1536

    Where dials are concerned, anything with painted numbers or transfers i just dont touch unless there is nothing to lose because it is already very bad then I start at the very edge of the dial and slowly work my way in under a 10x loupe with warm or soapy water to make sure nothing is being removed other than any dirt. I will touch the very corner of a number and if I see any sign of things going wrong then I will stop but this is for a bad dial only, as Bob said your safest bet is a dial restorer, if the customer or you dont want to pay for that then leave it alone unless it is a test subject and has no worth. I have cleaned old spotted varnish or lacquer from a watch dial with ammonia before now but it was my own watch and I was willing to risk it because the dial looked terrible as it was.
    1st rule of Horology – Do no harm.
    2nd rule of Horology – Buy lots of tools :)
    Paul.

    #54562
    tmac1956
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 171
    • Total Posts: 1259

    @Arutha wrote:

    Where dials are concerned, anything with painted numbers or transfers i just dont touch unless there is nothing to lose because it is already very bad then I start at the very edge of the dial and slowly work my way in under a 10x loupe with warm or soapy water to make sure nothing is being removed other than any dirt. I will touch the very corner of a number and if I see any sign of things going wrong then I will stop but this is for a bad dial only, as Bob said your safest bet is a dial restorer, if the customer or you dont want to pay for that then leave it alone unless it is a test subject and has no worth. I have cleaned old spotted varnish or lacquer from a watch dial with ammonia before now but it was my own watch and I was willing to risk it because the dial looked terrible as it was.
    1st rule of Horology – Do no harm.
    2nd rule of Horology – Buy lots of tools :)
    Paul.

    #1 – I haven’t kept
    #2 – I’m on board.

    THanks!
    Tom

    #54563
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
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    Tom,
    From the picture it looks like painted aluminum. When it was manufactured it was probably put on with a silk screen process. A shop set up for this can photograph the dial and make a silkscreen that exactly matches the existing dial. There is an old video on youtube about the Hamilton Watch Company. One of the segments shows them making their dials using this process. In their case these were enamaled dials so the paint contained finely powdered glass (glaze). It was then baked in a kiln.
    Is that picture of you what you looked like in 1956?
    david

    #54564
    tmac1956
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 171
    • Total Posts: 1259

    David:

    No – that picture was probably around 1979 during my musician days. I did that full time for about 8 years. I had the opportunity to travel the country and overseas (USO shows). After awhile, I tired of it and went back to school. My father started me at around five years old so by the time that picture was taken, I was pretty much burned out on the whole music thing.

    I do look old enough now to have been a young feller’ back in 1956 (actually, I was born then). ;)

    Oh – thanks for the info on the dial process. I’ll go and check that video out.
    Tom

    P.s. I’ll bet your old Army band played a lot at the Officer’s Club and the NCO Club at Ft. Rucker. I’ve done that on many occasions myself.

    #54565
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    Tom,
    I was in the Army from 1969-1971. When I was In the 98th Army band we played at the officers club every week but never played at the NCO club. This was a smaller group that played old jazz standards. I was the guitarist in that group but played flute and piccolo in the regular Army band. In 1970 I auditioned for the Third U.S. Army Soldier Show and was kept permanitly. If you type in Third U.S. Army Showmobile and dig through the photographs you will find a picture of me playing the guitar. Also, if you type in Jim Wilkes Twitter and click Jim Wilkes 1 Twitter you will get to Jim’s twitter page. If you then scroll through the photographs you will see a picture of two guys holding guitars. I am the one on the left.
    david

    #54566
    tmac1956
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 171
    • Total Posts: 1259

    David:

    I’ll do it. Those old band photos are always entertaining.

    Later,
    Tom

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tmac1956Pocket watch metal dial…