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Dial feet repair - All techniques

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We had a very interesting discussion at work today about Dial Feet.


Here's the back story...


A 'Fashion' brand watch came in, with a tiny quartz movement attached to a HUGE dial: you know that ones I'm talking about.  The client must have dropped the watch, as both the dial feet had broken off. 

Upon inspecting the dial, it appears that the manufacturing process they have now adopted, in order to save a few pennies, it to arrange the batons on the dial, then affix them by using a thin clear lacquer coating!  The client was informed that soldiering new Dial Feet may not be possible; but before the expense of purchasing a new dial, we would give it a try with their permission.  As expected, it ended with the lacquer liquefying for a few seconds, due to the heat, and batons swimming out of place ... hence the discussion.


Surely in the 21st century, we have epoxy resins that can be used to attach Dial Feet and avoid this issue of damaging dials from soldering.  I've even heard that car panels are now glued in place; instead of spot welding .... so surely there is someone we can use.  Some parties in the conversion disagreed; whilst others (including myself) agreed that there must be something, but none of us knew of anything off hand.


So the floor is open my fellow watch nutteroonies ... I would greatly value your thoughts, advise, and information on any epoxy type product that might do the job.


As the good Book says:

Proverbs 11:14  Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

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Hi  I have found these diagrams, they are what I based mine on  although mine uses an external power source, the use of a transformer makes it portable, I am at the moment redesigning one with a trans

Brasswire doesnt work well at all. Most if not all dial feet are copper which is the best. I have done several dials using a machine I build similar to the Fassbender machine and never had a problem w

Years ago I would use what were called dial spots. Little spots you pealed off and stuck them on the movement. You could remove the dial with no trouble at all.

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I have used JB Weld, a metal-filled two component epoxy. There are other similar brands and with dial feet that have foot pads the bond is fairly good, better than the varnish method.




But from a time when I worked with metal alloys that are liquid at room temperature (Indium-Gallium), for dial feet, without the foot pads, I prefer low-melting point solders. I have them that melt at 58 C (Bismuth Indium Lead and Tin), and 72 C (indium and Bismuth).Both are available on eBay or from the Indium Corporation. Here is a complete list:




These solders have very good wetting properties, and are stronger than epoxy.

This is an example, not my best!



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  • 3 weeks later...

I have also used the JBWeld type of metal filled epoxy.   I tried several standard epoxies but all seemed to set somewhat soft and flexible whereas the JBWeld sets really hard and it can be carefully filed or sanded to remove any excess.

I have a cheapo Seiko which I use for experimenting and trying skills on, and which I had to re-affix the dial feet.  The dial has been removed several times and the feet are still intact.

I found that careful preparation and cleaning of dial back and feet are a must. 

The biggest problem was getting them in the correct place.  To do this I very lightly scribed lines through the feet centre on the dial back, long enough to still be visible outside the expoxy 'pad'. 

The JB sets fairly quickly so just keeping an eye on things remaining upright and square in the early stages is best. I then leave at least 24hrs before fitting.

I also tried making a plastic template matching the dial feet and hands centre positions, then using a piece of pegwod for the centre and fixing the dial feet in small holes in the template, then pop a tiny bit of epoxy on the dial at the feet position and lower the template in place. It worked but was very fiddly and found my other method easier.

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A while ago by sheer chance I came across some 5 mm flat strips of solder with integral flux. The idea is you normally wrap them around the wires and put a lighted match under and they melt immediately. It did work but I found that using a soldering iron you barely touch them and they melt which gave more control. I have neve tried them on a dial foot but it has always been in the back of my mind. It may be an option.



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  • 2 months later...

Usually I replace dial feet using glue either epoxy or JB Weld. This works apart from if you need to re-position as the glue cannot be softened with heat. So after reading many posts it appears the correct way to attach dial feet is by soldering. However this is very problematic as any heat that transfers through to the dial front shows as a burn mark. 

There is a tool that can be purchased that uses resistance welding and it can be found via the Bay & there some vids on youtube showing how to use but it is £185. I personally think it is a lot of money to spend if it does not give a perfect result & I am not sure it does.


So after a lot of experimenting and destroying a few dials (old scrapers) I found  for the best result was to use solder paste. The reason for solder paste the one I used melted at 135 C.


I have attached some pics of the method I used BUT it is not perfect. It does show however how real handy solder paste is as it does not require tinning and is very,very easy to apply.

I will still use the glue method until perfected.


  1. Put a touch of solder paste on the dial foot (brass rod) and on the area of attachment.
  2. Secure the foot with a third hand style tool & have the dial resting on a very wet sponge (important)
  3. Apply the heat using a pencil touch to the dial foot only. (Do not apply to the dial directly)
  4. Using a loupe as an aid remove the heat immediately the solder melts
  5. Leave to cool naturally (don,t wet as it fractures the weld) & that,s it












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I wonder if the cold solder system would be any better?

It instantly heats the part you want to solder, ie the dial foot, to 800° thus allowing the solder to instantly melt.

Less time heating it?? Still using your wet sponge too.

Very interesting I never knew about cold soldering.  However I did try with a temperature controlled soldering iron & the problem was I could not solder without disturbing the feet while all come to the correct temp. 

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I have a friend who has the dial foot machine you mention from eBay, and he's raved about it, and having used it many times, not once has it damaged the dial face.  I'm actually going to invest in one soon.

Thanks SSTELL much appreciated I will add one to my wish list. My doubt was because on the vid the guy uses a scrap dial I I could not make out if it had damaged the dial face.

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I've been reading a lot of post in severa forums about an electric soldering machine to solder dial feet. Today I found this article, with some fairly decent instructions on how to make a "resistance" soildering machine. I've also seen some machines on the bay in the $250-300 range.


Here's the link to the document:




I've been considering building one of these.


My question really is if I can use a laptop power adapter instead of a transformer. I have a box full of computer parts I've collected over the years and I found an AC-DC converter 120 in - 12 out at 5Amps. Will 5 amps be enough for this application? ​


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I did do a lot of experimenting & research with this & the issue is you have to generate heat without staining the dial side. I found the best result was to have the dial side on a damp sponge & to use solder paste. However it still was not perfect the resistance machine is the way forward but a lot of money.

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I did do a lot of experimenting & research with this & the issue is you have to generate heat without staining the dial side. I found the best result was to have the dial side on a damp sponge & to use solder paste. However it still was not perfect the resistance machine is the way forward but a lot of money.


There is a design for a resistance welder in a quartz repair book. I don't have the book, but might as well buy it to see how they are built. 

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im embarking on this over the weekend, will let you know how i get on,.


Let us know how it works for you, I just ordered the book from Esslinger. Should have it by the end of the week. I was able to source several carbon rods from spent batteries (AA, C & D) and I have most of the electrical components in my garage.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I lent a 1930's omega ladies watch to a friend of mine, he had an accident with the dial and scratched it very badly, he felt a bit guilty about it and offered to buy the watch.


Luckily I had a box of original 1930's omega dials.


The dial I used belonged to quite a rare omega movement and reference, so not only would it be extremely unlikely for to come across the right watch, there were more than one of the same dial.


I decided to buy this machine http://watchlume.com/DIAL-SOLDERING-MACHINE/Watch-Dial-Feet-Soldering-Machine


I cut the dial feet off, matched it to the movement, and used it to solder them, I then cut the dial feet to size and sanded the ends down with a stone.


The dial was not burned and the feet are very very strong. 


However I must say I found this to be extremely difficult and won't be attempting to do it again.


The dial was only 16 mms wide and I had to do it a few times to get it exactly on the right position, the crocodile clips while helpful, weren't too great at holding the wire exactly in place. any slight movement would move the solder joint half a millimeter away from where they needed to be, which completely ruins it. 


Picture included is the end result.


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I did a lot of experimentation with this task & solder paste & a damp sponge (dial side) was the best result I achieved,

However I have been thinking about this which is dangerous. Wondering if it,s possible to cut a thin piece of brass / metal ( I have some 0.08mm thickness ) the same shape as the dial & solder the feet to this then attach this the actual dial with say an epoxy glue. Just thinking it would be easier to get position & no danger of marking the dial & a lot lot cheaper.

When time I think I will have a go.

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Why bother with the solder at all if you're going to glue it to the dial? Just turn a dial foot with a flange using your lathe, you won't have to worry about alignment, or having to trim back excess solder.

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