One of the most requested jobs in our workshop is the refinishing of watch cases and bracelets. Watch polishing is a skill set in its own right, separate from those needed to effectively service and repair the watch mechanism.
While we as watchmakers are of course concerned with neat oiling and the movement being set up to optimal efficiency, this isn’t as obvious to most clients, besides being aware of if the watch is keeping time or not. The aesthetic condition of the case and bracelet however is most certainly noticeable, with marks and scratches very apparent. It’s inevitable scratches occur if a watch is worn regularly, and while some like to keep the “used” look, others like their watches to be polished.
We have the skills needed to refinish a range of different metals and style of watch case and bracelet. We also have the experience to advise when it’s best not to polish, or when to do so but only lightly. It can be a fine line, but unnecessary, ill-advised or poor-quality polishing can negatively impact on the value of a watch.
In this instance we have a ladies Omega Constellation for polishing. For this particular watch we needed to restore a high polish finish, and it’s absolutely an appropriate candidate for polishing.
The first step was to remove the movement from the case. Once the movement is removed we can disassemble the case as necessary. Once the movement is removed and we’ve stripped the watch down to an appropriate level, we can give the case and bracelet an ultrasonic clean.
It’s important to note any major marks can be dealt with prior to polishing – we want to polish for as little time as possible but with maximum effect. In this instance the case and bracelet were scuffed up all over, but there wasn’t anything particularly major which needed dealing with beforehand.
The refinishing process involves stages of polishing using our Durston double polishing motor. Between each stage we ultrasonically clean the case and bracelet to avoid contaminating polishing mops with different compounds. For the final high polish finish we use Menzerna M5 compound – this has always given us excellent results.
Once the refinishing is complete, a final ultrasonic clean is given. Each part is then steam cleaned to ensure everything is spotless before drying.
David Clark FGA DGA MJVA PJDip. PJGemDip.
Managing Director, JVA Registered Valuer®
W.E. Clark & Son Limited