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My intended “Royal Oak” needs a bit of polishing


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I’m not only impassioned about servicing and repairing watches but about wearing them, and I was considering a Royal Oak but it was sort of out of my price range by a bit 😉, so I started to look around for something a bit more affordable but still Royal Oakish in its radiance. There are certainly options out there, but my favourite so far is the Marurice Lacroix Aikon 42mm blue dial.

Now, one of those new is about £1500 and sort of out of my price range by a bit (again!!!). So, I was thinking perhaps I could get one used for a bit less, and as it turns out I did.
ML.thumb.jpg.5d75df55e73158407f4c7b52814365e7.jpg
I have negotiated the price to a total (incl. shipping) of £590. It’s has been on the current owner’s wrist since September 2018 and as you can see it is not in perfect condition. Now, to me, this sort of defeats the idea of wearing a Royal Oakish watch. It would be like wearing a classy suit with stains. Stains and classy suits just don’t go together. I don’t mind some scuffs on my beater watches like my Vostoks and Hamilton Khakis which is more like wearing jeans and T-shirt, or fatigues, but not on a blingy thing like this that is intended for that important meeting or going to that fine dinner.

I’ve never seriously polished a watch case before, but I was thinking, and here’s my question. If I were to get myself a decent rotary tool, some wool felt polishing wheels, and some green Dialux or perhaps Polinum, could I get the sections circled in red to look reasonably “new” from say about 1 metre?

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image.thumb.png.a9d6f6ffcdc7becbfd6b8879569574c5.png

Yep, it would seem it's all stainless steel.

8 minutes ago, RichardHarris123 said:

If so depending on the depth of the scratches you may have to start off with cutting compound (grey) and finish with blue.

I don't mind getting different compounds and if grey and blue is the way to go that would be great. However, I don't expect a perfect result, but I don't want to make things worse, and if I could make it look "as good as new" from a distance of about a metre I'd be more than happy.

Oh BTW, the images are hi-resolution so if you want to see the details, just click on the image a few times. I guess you already know but just to make sure.

Edited by VWatchie
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10 hours ago, VWatchie said:

I’m not only impassioned about servicing and repairing watches but about wearing them, and I was considering a Royal Oak but it was sort of out of my price range by a bit 😉, so I started to look around for something a bit more affordable but still Royal Oakish in its radiance. There are certainly options out there, but my favourite so far is the Marurice Lacroix Aikon 42mm blue dial.

Now, one of those new is about £1500 and sort of out of my price range by a bit (again!!!). So, I was thinking perhaps I could get one used for a bit less, and as it turns out I did.
ML.thumb.jpg.5d75df55e73158407f4c7b52814365e7.jpg
I have negotiated the price to a total (incl. shipping) of £590. It’s has been on the current owner’s wrist since September 2018 and as you can see it is not in perfect condition. Now, to me, this sort of defeats the idea of wearing a Royal Oakish watch. It would be like wearing a classy suit with stains. Stains and classy suits just don’t go together. I don’t mind some scuffs on my beater watches like my Vostoks and Hamilton Khakis which is more like wearing jeans and T-shirt, or fatigues, but not on a blingy thing like this that is intended for that important meeting or going to that fine dinner.

I’ve never seriously polished a watch case before, but I was thinking, and here’s my question. If I were to get myself a decent rotary tool, some wool felt polishing wheels, and some green Dialux or perhaps Polinum, could I get the sections circled in red to look reasonably “new” from say about 1 metre?

I've found one of the most difficult thing to do when polishing a case is  maintaining it's original edges. Very easy to take a sharp edge away. You see a lot of overpolished cases on ebay that look too smoothed out.

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Yes. It's too easy to round off the edges. Especially when using a small diameter rotary tool, like a Dremel.

I think one of the better case finishing videos is by the Nekkid Watchmaker. To keep the sharp edges, he uses a lapping machine.

Another interesting polishing machine is the Jool Tool. There are some videos on YouTube showing its use.

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13 minutes ago, HectorLooi said:

Yes. It's too easy to round off the edges. Especially when using a small diameter rotary tool, like a Dremel.

I think one of the better case finishing videos is by the Nekkid Watchmaker. To keep the sharp edges, he uses a lapping machine.

Another interesting polishing machine is the Jool Tool. There are some videos on YouTube showing its use.

Some of those Jool Tool discs look scarily aggressive.  But the open design of them lets the user see everything thats happening with the polishing process. 

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I think I'll go for a JoolTool. It's just £800 or so on CousinsUK and it should take care of my £590 watch. I never stop being surprised by how inexpensive and affordable watch tools are 🤨

11 hours ago, HectorLooi said:

I think one of the better case finishing videos is by the Nekkid Watchmaker. To keep the sharp edges, he uses a lapping machine.

You wouldn't happen to have a link, would you?

So, would a rotary tool be a bad idea? Or would a gentle hand give an acceptable result? I wouldn't mind slightly rounded edges as it is intended for my personal use, but I'd never damage a watch if I was a professional repairer for a paying customer.

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18 minutes ago, VWatchie said:

It's just £800 or so on CousinsUK and it should take care of my £590 watch

What ! £800 is this now or sometime next century ?  A 4 an half inch grinder with a good diamond concrete scrubbing wheel will do the job just fine.......... i jest please dont try that at home boys and girls 🙂

35 minutes ago, VWatchie said:

would a gentle hand give an acceptable result? 

I would say generally yes .

41 minutes ago, VWatchie said:

You wouldn't happen to have a link, would you?

Have you not watched any of Joe's YouTube videos ?

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31 minutes ago, Neverenoughwatches said:

I would say generally yes .

Great, thanks, I think I'll give it a go then! 👍

32 minutes ago, Neverenoughwatches said:

Have you not watched any of Joe's YouTube videos ?

Several, of course, but I thought @HectorLooi was referring to some particularly instructional video, no?

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12 minutes ago, VWatchie said:

Great, thanks, I think I'll give it a go then! 👍

Several, of course, but I thought @HectorLooi was referring to some particularly instructional video, no?

You could experiment with some old cases to give you an idea of how much pressure to apply to different types of wheels charged with different cuts of polish.

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11 hours ago, Neverenoughwatches said:

You could experiment with some old cases to give you an idea of how much pressure to apply to different types of wheels charged with different cuts of polish.

Excellent idea, and I look forward to it! 👍 It's going to be a new experience 🙂

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On 8/6/2023 at 11:14 PM, RichardHarris123 said:

If so depending on the depth of the scratches you may have to start off with cutting compound (grey) and finish with blue.

Any other suggestions on which compounds to get, and what brands (Dialux, Cannings, Learok, Luxor, etc.) would you recommend?

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The bigger the better for polishing ( I'm waiting for @Neverenoughwatches to lower the tone, hehe. ) I  bought a cheap bench grinder, circa £35 and a  conversion kit, circa £25. The conversion kit has the required spindles, various mops and compounds.  

I have various compound brands, seem the same to me. 

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5 minutes ago, RichardHarris123 said:

The bigger the better for polishing ( I'm waiting for @Neverenoughwatches to lower the tone, hehe.

Lol, you noticed my earlier double entendre then Rich ?  I did the same with a variable speed bench grinder with 75mm mop wheels. It feels a bit big after using a small rotary tool. I've tried a few compounds the last ones being from cousins, big blocks that had some super heavy cuts. I really like the Polinum for a final polish, superior to anything I've tried up to now.

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Look out, here comes the other perspective, taken from practices used in the restoration of art and decorative objects. Since it is just the look that concerns you, here are some thoughts:

1) Do nothing, if possible, especially as you are inexperienced; (I can tell this is not an option for you);

2) The eye always goes to the greatest line of contrast, and your greatest contrast so far is the dark dial against the silver bezel and case. If you can minimize the defects' contrast, they will be not noticed in context.

3) Consider the final context: If you are wearing it with a suit, other lines compete, like shirt sleeve under jacket, both maybe over watch edge; then the room in which you encounter others, it also escalates the contrast line war (Dark moldings, light chairs, etc. If you left it alone, I doubt it would be noticed, nothing like stains on a suit.

4) In plain English, you might be slightly tripping if it is about being seen, because in context it is next to impossible for the eye to register those defects.

5) If you want to diminish the problem, and I would because I am obsessive, I recommend a manual approach. If you take a Dremel to the case, and you never have done so before, you might be opening a large can of whup a**, as we say in the South.

6) I wish I knew the name of a powder I use; I think it purports to have diamond dust. Or the green stick you have could work, if reduced to powder or shavings first with a razor. Stiff polishing cloth or felt pad, use a bit of normal polish like Flitz dipped slightly into the abrasive and work to feather the edges of the defects. Buff. Repeat as needed. You can do this manually.  A Dremel cannot repair the edge divot anyway. Rember that you are looking to reduce contrast, not repair the defect.

7) Try it out, in semi-context such as suit shirt and jacket. Get close to a mirror and see what you see. Voila!

I know it's a bummer to get a watch with dings, but it is yours now and it is handsome as heck. In time I doubt the defects will matter.

 

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52 minutes ago, Galilea said:

Look out, here comes the other perspective, taken from practices used in the restoration of art and decorative objects. Since it is just the look that concerns you, here are some thoughts:

1) Do nothing, if possible, especially as you are inexperienced; (I can tell this is not an option for you);

2) The eye always goes to the greatest line of contrast, and your greatest contrast so far is the dark dial against the silver bezel and case. If you can minimize the defects' contrast, they will be not noticed in context.

3) Consider the final context: If you are wearing it with a suit, other lines compete, like shirt sleeve under jacket, both maybe over watch edge; then the room in which you encounter others, it also escalates the contrast line war (Dark moldings, light chairs, etc. If you left it alone, I doubt it would be noticed, nothing like stains on a suit.

4) In plain English, you might be slightly tripping if it is about being seen, because in context it is next to impossible for the eye to register those defects.

5) If you want to diminish the problem, and I would because I am obsessive, I recommend a manual approach. If you take a Dremel to the case, and you never have done so before, you might be opening a large can of whup a**, as we say in the South.

6) I wish I knew the name of a powder I use; I think it purports to have diamond dust. Or the green stick you have could work, if reduced to powder or shavings first with a razor. Stiff polishing cloth or felt pad, use a bit of normal polish like Flitz dipped slightly into the abrasive and work to feather the edges of the defects. Buff. Repeat as needed. You can do this manually.  A Dremel cannot repair the edge divot anyway. Rember that you are looking to reduce contrast, not repair the defect.

7) Try it out, in semi-context such as suit shirt and jacket. Get close to a mirror and see what you see. Voila!

I know it's a bummer to get a watch with dings, but it is yours now and it is handsome as heck. In time I doubt the defects will matter.

 

For some reason i can deal with heavy age defects, history scars and dial patination ( tropical dials are gorgeous). But one or two lone scratches or marks completely twist my mellon. Its like that first scratch that happens makes you want to launch it as far away as possible 😄

11 hours ago, VWatchie said:

Excellent idea, and I look forward to it! 👍 It's going to be a new experience 🙂

If i know you watchie you will  throughly enjoy everything that it involves.

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24 minutes ago, Neverenoughwatches said:

Its like that first scratch that happens makes you want to launch it as far away as possible 😄

Have you seen a professional about the urge to launch items? Could be Tourettes or just intimacy issues. 💙 Also, I'd be interested in seeing how you use your power tools on a very broken case. 

 Oh gosh, I wrote it in the wrong place, celi newbie, 

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11 minutes ago, Galilea said:
35 minutes ago, Neverenoughwatches said:

Its like that first scratch that happens makes you want to launch it as far away as possible 😄

Have you seen a professional about the urge to launch items? Could be Tourettes or just intimacy issues. 💙 Also, I'd be interested in seeing how you use your power tools on a very broken case. 

 Oh gosh, I wrote it in the wrong place,

Haha an embellishment of frustration. I gave an example earlier of using my power tools, highly unrecommended 😄

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I have a small buffing machine (will take a 4"/100mm wheel) but as several people have mentioned its easy (too easy) to round off sharp corners, our old friend Kalle Slaap of chronoglide just did a video series, see link below, on buffing and polishing which is good and Michael of My retro watches also does a good video on the subject- but to be honest for such a small area that you are looking at with sharp angles, I think there is a great danger of rounding something off and spoiling the look of the watch. When I'm in this situation (and i'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination) I prefer to use disposable buffing sticks (see Amazon screenshot below), the lollypop type, as these give you much more control and are a flat surface so you reduce the risk of rounding. It does take longer, but you keep the control, I just start with the lower grits and work my way up, by the time I get to 12000 grit its a mirror finish. These also have the advantage that they are waaaay cheaper than the mechanical tools.

 

 

My go to when I need to keep a sharp edge:

image.thumb.png.d363bd88b37b54d7b31e3181ddb800b7.png

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, RichardHarris123 said:

I  bought a cheap bench grinder, circa £35 and a  conversion kit, circa £25. The conversion kit has the required spindles, various mops and compounds.

Happy with it? Perhaps there's a link to the location of the products and the purchase?

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A good tool makes you enjoy the work you do with it, while a bad tool has the opposite effect!

CousinsUK_Rotary_Tool.jpg.776bdaa509207a4d7d4fb843afef797a.jpg
Unfortunately, this rotary toolkit from CousinsUK is of the latter type. Admittedly, it does its job decently well but is not very efficient as the polishing head vibrates strongly which means that only part of, rather than the entire felt tip comes into contact with the surface being polished. Maybe worth the money (£35 + tax) but if you want to have fun at work, you'll probably have to look for a more expensive alternative.

NutBefore.thumb.jpg.6ab6b524f6b7506d07d5abddb9bc83fe.jpg
It would be foolish to try to polish your finest watch the first thing you do when learning, so I appointed this nut to be my guinea pig.

I found this video that shows how I went about it.


NutAfter.thumb.jpg.c38f7cee236fcb7af2518255289f0e64.jpg
Here is the result of my first attempt and it turned out unexpectedly well if I do say so myself. I first sanded the surface with a sandpaper-like accessory to get a reasonably even scratched surface. Then I polished it with green Dialux and finally with Polinum (using my substandard rotary tool).

WatchCaseBefore.thumb.jpg.35cd306f765ef1ac2a04b668c4b73d50.jpg
Warm in my clothes, it was time to try polishing at least part of the case on my beloved and recently serviced Vostok "Panerai" Amphibia with a ministry case. I have had the watch for almost 10 years but have used it quite sparingly (because there are so many other watches to choose from in the watch box).

WatchCaseAfter.thumb.jpg.ba0772f55f2d4f521ca476ad97ab4128.jpg
This time I chose to start with Polinum because it has a less abrasive action (I believe). I polished for about two to three minutes as I thought the results looked good enough. I have to say that I was once again surprised by the result even though it wasn't quite perfect, but nothing is or can ever be perfect, right? Anyway, I won't be using my lousy rotary tool again, at least not for polishing watch cases. However, it was good enough to give me a bloody tooth, so now I've started looking at alternatives.

Proxxon2.jpg.53ebbd5bad2f860ee03c63cd71040c77.jpg
The first option comes from Proxxon (a German manufacturer if I'm not misinformed) and is called 230/E Micromot.

Proxxon1.jpg.9f03a46e0fefe774002e29fc42e3af45.jpg
It can be bought separately without accessories and without a toolbox, but I need a box for storage because I don't have a workshop.

Proxxon3.jpg.4978bd57397af1bc560193ddd7fc4378.jpg
In addition, I was thinking of ordering a Proxxon 110/BF flex shaft for it because I think it is more comfortable and precise, especially when sitting for long periods of time.

DremelFortiflex.jpg.edb328b6185019cb433058f67921d49a.jpg
The other option I'm considering is a Dremel Fortiflex. The presumed advantage is that it has a foot pedal, a significantly stronger motor (which is probably not a significant advantage when polishing watch cases) and that the accessories are attached with a chuck just like on a drill, which I think can be more precise, i.e. minimise vibrations in the accessories. The downside for me is the storage as it doesn't come in a tool box.

I have also looked at Fordom rotary tools but then the price tag seems to go up even more.

If you have experience with any of these tools mentioned or can recommend any other rotary tools, in addition to those already mentioned in the thread (thanks), for polishing watch cases it would be very valuable and appreciated if you could share.

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