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Restore Lettering in Movement Bridges

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I am restoring pocket watches and often see dark lettering missing on some letters cut into the bridges.   What is normally used to fill in the lettering to make it black or red again?  Guessing it might be a wax or shellac of some sort but have not seen a product available at material supply shops.  I was thinking of just trying a black wax crayon but do not want to use something that will eventually work free and gum up the movement.

Attached is an example from an Illinois 601 wrist watch watch I was restoring.  The Springfield word has nice blackening, but Illinois is only partially blackened.  The first and last letter of the serial number look fine, and I would like to restore all the lettering if it is easy to do without damaging the movement.



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I would approach it the same way I do with bezels, I use model enamel paint (se below) and overfill the engraving with enamel paint then quickly wipe over with my thumb. You are unlikely to get an exact colour match and painting new paint on top of old paint may not be a great idea. So when I do bezels I sit the part in acetone for 20-30 mins to remove the old paint and then paint fresh. Acrylic paint tends to be water based and would most likely wash off the next time the watch was serviced, but the enamel is oil based and 'weather proof' so would be much more resilient.

I also saw a youtube video where (I think it was the Nekkid Watchmaker, but I can't remember the episode, link) used coloured epoxy putty on a bezel in much the same way as myself and @RichardHarris123 mentioned about the paint, ie rubbed into the engraving and then rubbed off. I did get some of the milliput (see below) but I haven't used it as the enamel paint method has always worked for me, maybe I should give it a go with the putty next time.

Epoxy Putty:



Enamel Paint

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With clocks it depends on the dial. Long case brass dials a black wax is used. White dial clocks paint is used. Colouring sticks can be used. The sticks are also used in furniture restoration for touching up. 

Marc has hit the nail on the head with Black shellac or engravers shellac.

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Thank you all for the great responses!  If I want to restore to the original technique used I believe the engravers wax is probably the way to go.  I have an electric pallet warming plate that I might try to  use as my heat source rather than an alcohol lamp.  I am sure the enamel paint/putty option is faster, but not sure how it will stand up in watch cleaning solution.  I see some experiments in my near future.  🙂   Thank you all once again!

Waggy/Scott, wanted to thank you for the advice you provided as well.  I have some painted  bezels to restore and  was wondering how to approach them.  Now I have a plan of attack for that project thanks to your suggestions.  Cheers!

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