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Acrylic Crystal Revival


Waggy

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Due to my location (and I'm a cheapskate) it takes around 2-3 weeks to get a new crystal, hence I have had to develop my acrylic crystal refurbishment skills to revive the original crystals that come with vintage watches and I thought I would share how I do this as I now have pretty good results, assuming the crystal has only scratches and no cracks or chunks missing here is my process:

  1. Use 320 grit wet-dry paper over the entire surface of the crystal evenly to remove the deepest scratches - hold your nerve, this will look terrible after this step
  2. Use 600 grit wet-dry paper over the entire surface of the crystal evenly to smooth out the results of the step above
  3. Use 5000 grit wet-dry paper over the entire surface of the crystal evenly to further smooth out the results of the step above 
  4. Use Autosol metal polish (see below) in small circular motions over the entire surface of the crystal evenly with a cloth until the paste disappears, may need to repeat this step 2 or 3 times, this will get you 95% of the way there
  5. Use Autosol acrylic polish (see below) in small circular motions over the entire surface of the crystal evenly with a cloth until the paste disappears, rarely have to do more than one application, this will finish the job

image.png.049652dfa8ffa2cd0507602524246a5e.png

image.png.afb8772ad97175d242ab700130059e41.png

Side note:

I have tried the Autosol acrylic polish side by side with Polywatch and there is no difference in the performance or how it looks/feels - I even got my son to decant some of each into containers in a double blind test and the results were indistinguishable. Hence, in my experience, the only difference is that gram-for-gram the autosol acrylic costs 3.7% the price of the polywatch.

Here is a quick example of before and after using the above process:

PXL_20231104_143914470.thumb.jpg.ad8ddac37e9c593273bf5c9e80296e7d.jpg

PXL_20231112_072351409.thumb.jpg.98c3421e4efc40b19111f286126b25da.jpg

Edited by Waggy
Clarifications and typos
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5 hours ago, Waggy said:

Due to my location (and I'm a cheapskate) it takes around 2-3 weeks to get a new crystal, hence I have had to develop my acrylic crystal refurbishment skills to revive the original crystals that come with vintage watches and I thought I would share how I do this as I now have pretty good results, assuming the crystal has only scratches and no cracks or chunks missing here is my process:

  1. Use 320 grit wet-dry paper over the entire surface of the crystal evenly to remove the deepest scratches - hold your nerve, this will look terrible after this step
  2. Use 600 grit wet-dry paper over the entire surface of the crystal evenly to smooth out the results of the step above
  3. Use 5000 grit wet-dry paper over the entire surface of the crystal evenly to further smooth out the results of the step above 
  4. Use Autosol metal polish (see below) in small circular motions over the entire surface of the crystal evenly with a cloth until the paste disappears, may need to repeat this step 2 or 3 times, this will get you 95% of the way there
  5. Use Autosol acrylic polish (see below) in small circular motions over the entire surface of the crystal evenly with a cloth until the paste disappears, rarely have to do more than one application, this will finish the job

image.png.049652dfa8ffa2cd0507602524246a5e.png

image.png.afb8772ad97175d242ab700130059e41.png

Side note:

I have tried the Autosol acrylic polish side by side with Polywatch and there is no difference in the performance or how it looks/feels - I even got my son to decant some of each into containers in a double blind test and the results were indistinguishable. Hence, in my experience, the only difference is that gram-for-gram the autosol acrylic costs 3.7% the price of the polywatch.

Here is a quick example of before and after using the above process:

PXL_20231104_143914470.thumb.jpg.ad8ddac37e9c593273bf5c9e80296e7d.jpg

PXL_20231112_072351409.thumb.jpg.98c3421e4efc40b19111f286126b25da.jpg

Almost the same method waggy. I start a little higher with the emery grade first 600 and then come down if any deep scratches are very slow to remove. I have a few more inbetween grades 800, 1000,1500 then 2000, using water as a float, not sure if spit is better. Then finish with just the original autosol. Under low magnification there are still very fine scratches, the eye can possibly detect them as an overall view, but i kind of like that ' has had some life look ' . 

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  • 5 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

I used these lap wheels which feel like those green scotchbrite pads you scrub your dishes with from our friends at CousinsUK:

image.thumb.png.fc88894c9e2f9ee9219fe7f02d0cc7cc.png

I have a few of them, the fine gives a frosted effect where its less obvious the direction of brushing, the medium (I think I used in this case) shows the direction, and the course I use when the brushing is a very visible feature

You should only use these lapping discs after you have buffed and polished the rest of the case - I mask off the areas I don't want brushed with heat tape, helps to use a fresh razor blade to trim the heat tape.

image.thumb.png.12b4e28202acee5a54acafda133032e0.png

Here is an example of the finish from the  fine disk:

PXL_20240104_143703510.thumb.jpg.73937235886196b7fdff86110e87defa.jpg

Edited by Waggy
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2 hours ago, Waggy said:

You should only use these lapping discs after you have buffed and polished the rest of the case

Thanks @Waggy!

Just to make sure. If you want a brushed finish on a surface do you first polish that surface (that is to be brushed) to remove the scratch marks or do you go directly to the lap wheel?

Edited by VWatchie
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Just now, VWatchie said:

Just to make sure. If you want a brushed finish on a surface do you first polish it to remove the scratch marks or do you go directly to the lap wheel?

I use the felt or stitched cotton with cutting compound, then clean the part so as not to cross contaminate my mops, then polish with the soft cotton and rouge, so it is 100% shiny finish. Then mask off the shiny parts you dont want brushed and then brush the exposed (untaped) bits. If you try and polish after you brush the polish will flatten out the brushing you just did

 

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20 minutes ago, Waggy said:

I use the felt or stitched cotton with cutting compound, then clean the part so as not to cross contaminate my mops, then polish with the soft cotton and rouge, so it is 100% shiny finish. Then mask off the shiny parts you dont want brushed and then brush the exposed (untaped) bits. If you try and polish after you brush the polish will flatten out the brushing you just did

 

So, do I get it right that you polish the entire case to a shine (all surfaces including those that eventually are going to be brushed)  then mask the surfaces that are to remain shiny and brush the rest?

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4 hours ago, Waggy said:

That's right, polish entire case to high shine, then after this just brush finish the bits that need it.

Great! Thanks for clarifying and sorry for being a bit of PITA! 😉

Oh BTW, when I've finished my stash of Polywatch I'll get myself a tube of Autosol acrylic polish. Excellent tip!

Edited by VWatchie
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42 minutes ago, VWatchie said:

Great! Thanks for clarifying and sorry for being a bit of PITA! 😉

Oh BTW, when I've finished my stash of Polywatch I'll get myself a tube of Autosol acrylic polish. Excellent tip!

I haven't tried the acrylic version but if its as good as or better than the metal polish it will be perfect

17047479791441183601713778706303.jpg

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