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Dial (face) cleaning?


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Hello,

I have this Omega watch with a stained dial. It's not the kind of "patina" I find particularly appealing so I wanted to see if I could clean it up with the usual soapy water but nothing happened... Then, by chance, I bought the exact same Omega dial for a couple of dollars at a flea market, with the same kind of discoloration (I also scored another omega (354 bumper) in the process, I'll clean it up and give it to my dad). So it was time to experiment !!!!

 

 

Before picture :

 

post-106-0-22975900-1453564860_thumb.jpg

 
 
 

All 3 methods were applied with a Q-tip (cotton swab), gently rubbing the cleaning solution on the dial, and rinsed VERY WELL using distilled water.

 

First up : more soapy water, with different soap concentrations... no change.

Second : lemon juice diluted in water, increasing the lemon juice concentration slowly... no change

Last : Windex (ammonia based window cleaner) MIRACLE !!!! It took about 30 minutes of work to get this result, doing one little portions of the dial at a time. I chickened out around the writing on the dial, so it doesn't look as good as other places. I didn't want to push my luck.

 

After picture :

 

post-106-0-77154700-1453565578_thumb.jpg

 

 

Share any method you've used and before/after pictures.

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Nice work frenchie. Like you I feel there is a fine dividing line between patina & scrap, so its worth having a go at cleaning. Examles of previous work (originally posted last year):


wrt1.jpg


 


Although the pic doesn't show it too well the dial was in a right state with varnish lifting, discolouration, water damage to edge etc. Took the plunge & dipped it in HG silver fast shine (Goddards silver dip is the same I believe). Most of the minute markers had lifted with the flaking varnish so the rest were removed. When dry sprayed with acrylic varnish.


 


The result:


wrt3.jpg


Here's another I did a little later:


sd1.jpg


Basically sound, no lifting varnish, but the usual age spots, blooms etc. Immersed into IPA & gently brushed with a sable brush for a couple of minutes, rinsed in distilled water for another couple of mins, then dipped in HG silver dip for a minute. Finally rinsed & dried:


sd2.jpg


If the print is under the varnish and sound this method should work but great care needs to be taken. I have found many watches to have the print on top of the varnish and tends to come off far to easily. I would not suggest that this method is completely safe or will work every time, but the results have been good so far.

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how true. just today, i had a beloved seiko 7006 - 8030 sports diver movement out of the case. it was o.k. on the desk for hours. until i picked it up. i picked it up and it slipped a little. as i "regrabbed" it, the second hand was in the way and i ended up bending the second hand straight up 90 degrees. it also popped off of the pinion. 

fortunately, i straightened it and all is well.

close call.

Edited by ramrod
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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

I only ever do anything with a watch dial if its completely shot and unreadable and looks a mess and I want to wear it  then I strip it back and repaint but if its anything like at all readable LEAVE IT ALONE. I think you need that bit of usage on a vintage watch dial its part of its life and character. I've cleaned a few and wished I hadn't because they looks worse after cleaning than before.

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  • 8 months later...

I'm going to post some photos of the latest watch that I purchased. It is a Tissot T-race. Brand new with water damage. I'll describe what I used on the dial and what I did to clean it. You can judge for yourself as to the results.IMG_20161230_230054_873.thumb.jpg.049e45

Here it is. Lovely and a nonrunner.

IMG_20161231_152847394.thumb.jpg.ea369d6

Here are the tools and chemicals. It turns out that the "cleaning vinegar" has a bunch of stuff in it that I didn't want to put on this dial. So, I didn't use it.

IMG_20161231_154722337.thumb.jpg.64ebc1c

Stripped down and ready to go.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk

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IMG_20161231_174912_204.thumb.jpg.d42eac

Another pic before the bath.

IMG_20161231_174954_907.thumb.jpg.f519fb
The back of the dial and the date wheel on the movement. The quartz movement is obviously trashed, so I used it to basically hold the date wheel. The wheel was actually used as a guinea pig to see how aggressive I could get with the lemon juice and baking soda. You'll see the results of that cleaning.....Well, basically this is a rust staining removal thread.IMG_20161231_175146_958.thumb.jpg.5ec7fd
Here is the date wheel. I think it came out remarkably well considering how bad it was to begin with. I did rub off the number 3, unfortunately. But it took a lot of scrubbing to do it. I wanted to see the limit because I didn't know how aggressive I could get with the dial.IMG_20161231_175359_609.thumb.jpg.fffa1aIMG_20161231_175359_609.thumb.jpg.fc42c2
The dial in lemon juice and baking soda. This was done several times with very light scrubbing in between. When I say "light scrubbing", what I basically did was to let the baking soda contact the dial and NOT the cotton bud. There as a buildup of baking soda under the bud, so I did a swirl pattern without touching the dial.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk

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IMG_20161231_174912_204.jpg

Another pic before the bath.

IMG_20161231_174954_907.jpg
The back of the dial and the date wheel on the movement. The quartz movement is obviously trashed, so I used it to basically hold the date wheel. The wheel was actually used as a guinea pig to see how aggressive I could get with the lemon juice and baking soda. You'll see the results of that cleaning.....Well, basically this is a rust staining removal thread.IMG_20161231_175146_958.jpg
Here is the date wheel. I think it came out remarkably well considering how bad it was to begin with. I did rub off the number 3, unfortunately. But it took a lot of scrubbing to do it. I wanted to see the limit because I didn't know how aggressive I could get with the dial.IMG_20161231_175359_609.jpgIMG_20161231_175359_609.jpg
The dial in lemon juice and baking soda. This was done several times with very light scrubbing in between. When I say "light scrubbing", what I basically did was to let the baking soda contact the dial and NOT the cotton bud. There as a buildup of baking soda under the bud, so I did a swirl pattern without touching the dial.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk




IMG_20161231_175506_939.thumb.jpg.2bcdd2
Here they are together. I am pleased with the results overall. But, I will still look for a dial.IMG_20161231_175724.thumb.jpg.ff9f3bd150
Here it is recased.

IMG_20161231_180559_130.thumb.jpg.e2e162
And, of course, the before and after.


Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk

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now, a few things....

when i started to do this, i considered what others have said about using liquids on a dial. i did use water as a rinsing agent and a neutralizer for the lemon juice. but, i did this because i figured that this dial was ALREADY under water at some point and the only damage to it was rust stains. going along with that, i also made sure to NOT touch the dial with the cotton buds while cleaning. i figured that the baking soda alone would be aggressive enough. the date wheel was another story: i did scrub that aggressively to see how much it would take to do it some damage. it took a LOT of abrasion, i can tell you. but, i did wear off some of the number "3".

now, the tachymeter ring did suffer some damage. the numbers "200" and "240" are partially removed. and also the paint near the number "70" has flaked off.

i went into this rust removal knowing that all of it would not come off - and it didn't. i had resigned myself to look for a replacement dial in any event.

one of the chrono hands did suffer from bending while removal because it had rusted to the pinion. all of the pinions did remain intact.

also, i did break the stem while removing the crown. when i pushed the release for the crown, it was frozen and would not release the crown. i pried it off with a screwdriver. the remaining part of the stem remained in the crown, but came out readily with pliers.

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one of the disappointments with a watch of this price, is that it has a snap on caseback. i cannot believe that tissot would not provide a screw on back cover. you can get $12 chinese quartz watches with screw on rear covers! why not this tissot?!

the gasket is missing and i CANNOT get it to snap back on. i put a replacement gasket on the cover to create some friction to hold the cover in place, but i cannot get that cover to stay on. perhaps it needs a full diameter gasket to hold it.

overall, i am glad to have won this beast. i love it. i plan on getting a new movement and (hopefully) a replacement dial. it's a keeper for me......well, until someone offers me the right price for it.

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the gasket is missing and i CANNOT get it to snap back on. i put a replacement gasket on the cover to create some friction to hold the cover in place, but i cannot get that cover to stay on. perhaps it needs a full diameter gasket to hold it.

Try punching the wall of the back cover in two or three points or even sawing one mm vertically and bending it outward.
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i'll let you know. i actually checked to see if it was the correct caseback. it is. i wonder if THAT'S how it got wet. hmmmm.

i did regard this as an expirement to help anyone else who might wonder just how far they can go to clean up a dial. i hope most guys can use it in the future.

 

JDM....i will probably resort to something like that. but first i want to get the correct gasket. that might have something to do with it not fitting up properly.

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I've replaced the red gasket in a T-Race, as well as other watches, with cousins' generic red gaskets before, no problems (out of the set, but they can be ordered in packs of 3 in individual sizes) as far as I'm concerned trying to alter the case back is unnecessary and a bad idea, even if it works you'll have poor water resistance. (also keep in mind these don't really 'snap' on as such as press on smoothly)

Good work on the dial, I'm always interested to see what can be done.

Also to note the comment on the type of caseback, Tissot really like this design of caseback with hard gasket, most of their watches have it, and you find it in omegas and other watches too, it might seem like a cheap out but they're perfectly good for securing the case back and water resistance, they also have the added bonus from the manufacturers point of view of being a little awkward in a way that results in more of them coming back for expensive after sales services. 
 

Edited by Ishima
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