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Mark

Relume Watch Hands.

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This video shows how to repair the luminous compound on a watch where the old is dis-coloured or broken away. It's a relatively simple job to do if it is done right.Repairing the luminous compound on watch hands is not a very difficult job, but it does require patience and a steady hand.

It is important not to apply the new compound too thickly otherwise the hands will catch on each other once the watch is re-assembled.

There are two kinds of luminous compound available (and several different colours).

  • Pre-Mixed
    Provided pre-mixed in a bottle ready for application.
  • Powdered
    Provided in powdered form. Mix with a binding agent.


Which should you use?

Well, the pre-mixed compound is quite convenient and allows you to get on with the job faster with less preparation. This can be advantageous should you be in a hurry to get the job complete for a client. However, there is very little flexibility with pre-mixed compound and it can dry in the bottle with time thus going to waste.

The powdered compound (which is what I use and recommend) takes a bit more to prepare but it does allow you to create a compound mixture in the consistency (or thickness) you desire.

For example - I like to apply the compound very thin and so I usually mix it down accordingly. This makes the compound much easier to apply.

Applying the mixture

Once you have prepared the hands, as shown in the video, then you can apply the compound with a fine watch oiler or needle. Simply dip the oiler into the mixture. This draws a quantity of compound onto the oiler tip. Now you can apply the compound to the watch hands in a spreading motion and the compound should end up suspended within the gap in the hands.

It can take a bit of practice to get this right so when you first start the process you should mix slightly more than you need in case you have to attempt the job more than once.


Drying Time

Once the compound is applied, you will want to let the hands sit under a dust cover. Depending on the mix, the drying time will vary. I would recommend you should leave them drying overnight to be fully sure. They should not be touched or disturbed whilst they are drying.


Re-Assembly

When re-assembling the hands onto the watch - make sure there is the normal amount of clearance between the hour, minute and hour hands and that they will not touch each other as they turn.

Potential Pitfalls

If the hands are seated correctly and the compound is too thick, then this can either rub on the dial (hour hand) or a sub dial's hand may catch the hour hand (on a chronograph for example).

Likewise, if the compound on the minute hand is too thick then it will catch on the hour hand.

What if I did apply too thick?

So it is very important to make sure you do not apply the compound too heavy, but if it is too heavy then I do not recommend trying to scrape it thinner as you could end up with dark and light spots.

The best practice would be to start over. Yes - that would be annoying, but you will be much more satisfied knowing you have spent the extra time to make sure the job was done correctly.

http://youtu.be/aQUN2A4iHok
In summary

Three words: Patience, Patience and Patience!
You cannot really rush a job like this, but the more you get used to doing it, the more confident you will be. It is not a particularly difficult job, but it can make such a difference to the look of a watch.

Enjoy the videos.
 

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Hi mark, I have a tip for you. Instead of scraping the old lume, you might wanna soak the hands in a acetone or any lighter fluid to soften the lume. I used to do your method until I try this. Its quite good though. The risks of scratching the hands is slim. If after soaking it still remain some, no worries just use a toothpick and scrape, use a rodico or the blower that you used to blow the old lume. Thats just my two cents :)

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Hi mark, I have a tip for you. Instead of scraping the old lume, you might wanna soak the hands in a acetone or any lighter fluid to soften the lume. I used to do your method until I try this. Its quite good though. The risks of scratching the hands is slim. If after soaking it still remain some, no worries just use a toothpick and scrape, use a rodico or the blower that you used to blow the old lume. Thats just my two cents :)

 

Nice tip - I will try that next time. Thanks.

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I tend to get my lume from www.watchlume.net - it's good stuff and they do starter kits.

 

For the thinners, I use the Bergeon thinner from Cousins https://www.cousinsuk.com/catalog/consumables/luminous-compound/luminous-compound-refills (You probably have to be registered to see this link?)

 

and in the past I bough some SuperLuminova from www.watch-tool.de

 

http://www.watch-tool.de/html/hand_remover.php?id=7055an

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Hi mark, I have a tip for you. Instead of scraping the old lume, you might wanna soak the hands in a acetone or any lighter fluid to soften the lume. I used to do your method until I try this. Its quite good though. The risks of scratching the hands is slim. If after soaking it still remain some, no worries just use a toothpick and scrape, use a rodico or the blower that you used to blow the old lume. Thats just my two cents :)

 

Just to add to this that hands usually have normal laquer lume mix BUT the lume buckets & Bezel Pearls can have weird stuff in them!

 

I also find that on some 'Far Eastern Watches' the lume is a hard plastic type material and for this I soak in Acetone for Several Days!! - only then will it soften and come away from the lume buckets.

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Hi Mark,

 

I was reviewing this thread and the link for the article is not working (in my computer). I figure I could go through it once more. Thanks.

 

Cheers,

 

Bob

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It was just a link to another page with exactly the same info. I pulled it as I have found that having duplicated pages on a site is bad for SEO. 

I have taken the link off and thank you for letting me know.

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Thanks Mark, I thought it was something else! Been on this side of the forum most of the morning! Good to re-read and review! Can never get enough I guess! :)

 

Cheers,

 

Bob

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Guys, you should know this by now but its worth repeating.

Old watch hands and dials may contain radioactive material. While harmless on the wrist, it is bad for you if inhaled.

When removing the old lume, take necessary precautions.

I remember reading somewhere that the swiss are now cleaning up old watchmakers premises to remove traces of radioactivity. This may be typical EU overkill but something to think about nonetheless!

Anilv

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I began my scientific career with the Radiological Protection Service of the MRC and have been involved in the protection from Ionizing radiation until retirement. Anilv's advice is good.

There is increasing evidence (contested by some) that low levels of radiation are beneficial and so, for me, the wearing of an old Radium luminised watch presents no problem. However when removing the luminous paint it is important to avoid flakes and dust. Just keep everything damped down with water or paraffin and rinse well the tools and everything that came into contact with the luminous paint. If you are getting into this frequently buy a cheap radiation monitor from Japan (they have many on sale since Fukushima) and use this to check the tools and workbench afterwards.

Disposing of the spoils for the odd watch dial and hands usually means putting it all into the rubbish bin, but it may depend on local regulations. You can do no better than to read David Boettcher's article on this at: http://www.vintagewatchstraps.com/luminous.htm

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I got to say a really interesting article for me. I have re-lumed a couple of watches including an old diver style watch that probably was lumed with the dreaded radium paint !!!!!!

I will have to be more carful in future. 

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According to Hollywood/Comic Book science, a good dose of radioactive material turns you into a super hero. Is there a horological equivalent of this man?

Strike a line of old lume and snort, it could be YOU! :)

Edited by Geo

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I have a few cheap modern watches which I tamper with but my two old Breitling's I leave well alone, one being an 806 the other an 805.

(Both from new)

Both watches were starting to look scruffy due to some lum had deteriorated on the 806 the

hour hand would glow nicely in the dark, but the minute hand showed just a little the 805 only showed a little on both hands.

So I took them both to my local watchmaker to have them re-lumed but now neither watch glows

if I hold a torch to the face for a couple of minutes then for about 5 minutes there is a very slight glow and then nothing.

I can see that he has repainted the hands, so I called him and his reply was:

"You can't get the old Luminous Paint due to the radiation problem that's the best I can do

until I find something stronger, at least your watch faces look a lot better now"

I had to aggree he did a fine job and for only €15.75, I don't feel I should grumble.

I'm sure if I took them back and gave him some paint that works then he would be pleased

as he doesn't have a computer or any modern facility's he's a French Country Guy who's

out of touch with the modern world,

Somehow I seem to envy him.

Kind Regards & thanks for reading

Tony {Arny}

The Modern Motor Car.

Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it's because it's not got enough features.

Edited by Arny

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Hi guys.  I have some white lume and some binder and ready to begin thinking about colour matching the hands to these plots. Any tips on trying to match this old tritium dial colour. It looks a pinkish-orange.  I suspect it will be a lot of trial and error, but any tips would be appreciated. I have some yellow oxide colouring and some tempera powdered paint - black and yellow, I can get more easy enough. 

 

IMG_0553_zpszth73uqx.jpg

Edited by John Hondros

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It really is a trial and error until it is trial and correct. There is no easy solution to getting the correct colour, you may even find a slight colour shift as the lume dries.

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It really is a trial and error until it is trial and correct. There is no easy solution to getting the correct colour, you may even find a slight colour shift as the lume dries.

In an example like this, do you think the hands should aim to match the hour numbers or the 15 minute plots and triangle at 12? 

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