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KarlvonKoln

Dial repair opinions and advice:

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This was a "porcelain"/enamel dial repair that I did for my friend's Jacques pocket watch. I won't pretend I do dial repairs often. I used the Bergeon 1591 enamel from Esslinger. I learned that the drafting ink I used to repaint the numeral was VERY black.  I also learned that unless I seal the surface with something like a size (I used a thin cyanoacrylate) the ink will "spiderweb" in little radiations. I used a #00 brush.  I tried so hard, and put my soul into this, and still I am not quite happy. Yet, with what I have on hand, I cannot do better. I wanted perfection.

A dial swap was not desired by the owner. Could you esteemed and experienced veterans tell if I am getting the hang of this?  Can you tell me how I could do better?  I want to become good at each aspect of watch repair.

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Jacq20200722_234714.jpg

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6 minutes ago, HectorLooi said:

Hi Karl. Shouldn't the Roman numeral for 4 be " IV " and not " IIII " ?

On this watch, and many others I have from that general time period, they typically read "IIII".  I  do not know why so many didn't follow the Roman convention of depicting "IV", but so many did not.

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2 hours ago, HectorLooi said:

What is Bergeon 1591? Is it like 1590? A wax based powder that is heated till it melts?

"Bergeon 1591" is a typo that I missed before. Thank you for catching it.  As you might imagine, I intended to type 1590.  

I am not as impressed with it as I thought I would be.  I may buy some old chipped dials and try white UV-hardening resin.  I want something a tiny bit more robust and adhesive than this enamel.

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3 hours ago, ThrobinsonCrusoe said:

You're a brave man, I wouldn't have attempted to go that far. I would have just tried to prevent the damage from getting worse.

Well, I had heard there were people who specialize in repairing and restoring these watch dials.  And I would like to become good at this also, as an extra service to offer.  So, how am I doing so far?

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Here are my own clumsy attempts at porcelain dial repair. This is using UV cured nail varnish with titanium dioxide powder added to increase opacity and brightness mask the metal and match surrounding porcelain. 

The problem with UV nail varnish is it's brittleness. If you look at the 2nd photo, the edges of the repair tends to flake off when I was polishing it. I suspect the whole chunk would come off if I poked it a bit more.

Another problem with UV varnish is the surface is not flat. And when polishing the varnish down, the margin of the porcelain loses it's gloss. And it's difficult to match the gloss of the repair with the porcelain.

I get much less problems repairing porcelain in the mouths of my patients using dental materials. Maybe I should use the techniques and materials in dentistry for dial repair.20200728_200854.thumb.jpg.58a3100b41b003f587c4b5d24bd8b796.jpg20200728_195427.thumb.jpg.0676d8a635e37f5f338081afb7d6cd19.jpg

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1 hour ago, HectorLooi said:

 

The problem with UV nail varnish is it's brittleness...

I get much less problems repairing porcelain in the mouths of my patients using dental materials. Maybe I should use the techniques and materials in dentistry for dial repair.

That's what I was thinking too: dental grade UV resin. It won't be cheap, but it might be stronger.  I may have to research this. 

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12 hours ago, KarlvonKoln said:

That's what I was thinking too: dental grade UV resin. It won't be cheap, but it might be stronger.  I may have to research this. 

I wrote about this on another thread.

The problem with dental resin is that they are made to mimic human teeth colour. Even our whitest opaque resin doesn't come anywhere close to the brightness of watch dial porcelain.

I'll get a photo of dental opaquer against a watch dial tomorrow to show what I mean.

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You know, Hector, as soon as you pointed that out I began to recall the truth.  Most people's "pearly whites" really aren't nearly that white, are they?  Maybe that's why they make Crest whitening strips.  Maybe that's why you tried to use the UV resin made for nails.

Well, this is why I'm here - to learn things. And I thank you for teaching.  I will experiment a bit with what all is on the market and see what I stumble upon.

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Your braver than me. I would love to learn how to repair porcelain dials, but I think that is one skill I will have to admit defeat before I even start.

If you repair any more make sure you post photos and let us know of your techniques.

I have a book 'The Watchmakers' Hand-Book' by Claudius Saunier published in 1882 which goes into some detail on how to make a porcelain dial from scratch. At some point I will have to try and copy out that chapter and post it on the forum. It talks about hand painting all the numbers and markings in black enamel and then firing them to set them into the white enamel, you would have to have great skill to do that.

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I guess you guys were right.  My friend was pleased with my work after all.  He was hoping I would try to paint in the numeral.  I learned apparently many people who do a bit of dial restoration often just repair chips and cracks, but they often do not repaint numbers or markers.  He liked it.  He liked the face, and the polished case, and the fact that it runs now and he can carry it on formal occasions like his father and grandfather did.  I made him happy.  That's the best thing about this little side job of mine.  

And just for being here, I thank all of you in this forum.  I am really enjoying this hobby/second job.

 

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Just to show another dial restoration that I have been working on.

I first clean the dial in soapy water, brushing gently with an artist brush. Then use pegwood on the more stubborn stains.

The paint that I used is black UV nail varnish. I do a small bit at a time then cure it under a UV light when it looks ok. Then proceed further. If the next bit doesn't look good, I simply wipe it off and redo it. 

The "brush" that I used is a homemade brush with a single bristle from an old toothbrush.

This is still a work in progress. I will post another photo when I'm done.

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I've been watching some nail art videos on YouTube. There is a technique called nail stamping where a silicone pad is used to transfer nail varnish from a pattern etched in a metal plate. Looks very similar to pad printing which is used to print watch dials.

I wonder if it can be used to reprint the design on a watch dial. Might be worth investigating. 

Could anyone of you nick a nail stamp from your boss or GF and give it a try?

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I suspect if the white filler (nail polish or whatever) is inclined to sit proud of the surface, and need to be polished flat, then you need to thin the material first. In the case of nail polish, the most likely thinner is acetone.

One other trick, when cleaning a porcelain dial initially, use a little bleach to clean the cracks. Some people use denture tablets (which I believe contain bleach). The dirt in the cracks should become far less obvious this way. Clean off any excess with water as it may react with the copper in the dial plate over time, and form blue copper salts.

Do not attempt to use bleach on any metal surface, as it will almost certainly react badly. For these, you could try a little white vinegar.

I have cleaned a few dials, but so far I've not had much success filling the larger damaged areas on porcelain. The whiteness it the major problem. If I find something that works well, I'll let you know. I have a bunch of test pieces to experiment on.

Edited by AndyHull

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