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Are these hands salvageable?

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Working on my '69 Omega Seamaster and close examination of the hands reveal some odd discoloration. At first I just thought they were dirty or pitted, but it looks to me like someone tried to blue them. What do you think?



More importantly, these are brass hands that have been plated so is there a preferred restoration method? Or should I chuck them?

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I don't think you need to chuck them. They look in good shape.

How are they supposed to look like from a '69 Omega?

12 hours ago, eccentric59 said:

these are brass hands that have been plated

Is that a statement or a question?

If they are brass, the can be copper / nickel / sliver / gold plated.

My 1975 Speedmaster Mark II original hands looked terrible (picture before I took the hands off. As soon as I touched them, the loose paint fell off everywhere)

I bought a set of generic hands. Later, luckily, I decided to restore the old hands, much higher and better quality than the generic. They are spray painted, which is a different ball game than plating ...... but now I'm very happy that I decided to restore the original hands and to have them back on 😉

If you can restore the original hands, do so 😎



Edited by Endeavor
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I'd be tempted to soak in acetone over night to make sure any residual paint or other stuff is gone before you start trying to fix them, at least you know that you are then playing with a clean sheet, so to speak. Then maybe look at very high grit wet and dry paper and then polishing sticks (12,000 grit) to get a mirror finish in them. Other thing to remember is that we are looking at them under high magnification, and nothing looks great under high magnification (even brand new hands), with the naked eye they will look much better.

The good news is that the hand shape is fairly generic, I am sure someone will educate us to the hand shape name. Therefore, if all goes wrong they can be replaced with very similar ones.

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1 hour ago, watchweasol said:

Hi. A little TLC with a glass fibre brush will clean them up ok.   As for blueing there are chemicals used for blueing such as rifle barrel and other metals. Its painted on and gives the blued finish without heat.

There is very specific stuff for chemical blueing of brass, you need to get the right one. They can be pretty nasty chemicals depending on the material to be blued.



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Okay, to clarify, they are plated brass hands. The original for this reference 166.003 were (are?) the chrome/silver/nickel plated dauphine style as shown above, bevel cut with the center slot painted black to match the indices on the dial.


I would like them to match the original look, if possible. I did find a pretty good match on Otto Frei's site with white lume instead of black paint, but that's easy enough to change. I don't have any experience with plating and don't know if I want to invest in the time or materials just for a set of hands.

6 hours ago, Kalanag said:

I wonder how plated brass can be blued? For blueing it needs to be carbon steel. If it is carbon steel you can polish it.

It was the discoloration of the minute hand specifically that has me curious. If someone attempted to blue chrome or nickel plated hands would they discolor like that? And would the plating fail from the heat? That's kind of what they look like, especially since the dial itself is almost pristine.

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Maybe give them a light rub over with a stick having a soft leather glued to it, surprising how gentle/abrasive it can be.

do that first and take it from there is what I would try.



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Posted (edited)

So I sort of semi-finished the Omega. Right now I have a replacement set of hands on that came with lume rather than black cutouts. I did order an extra set of hands that I intend to replace the lume with the black paint as original. I haven't quite given up on the original hands but they are in rough shape and I think they will need to be taken down to the original brass and replated to be usable. 


Edited by eccentric59
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