Jump to content
  • 0
bojan1990

Problems with polishing a watch case

Question

Hello,

currently, I am experimenting with polishing an old watch case made out of stainless steel. I polish everything with hand, I am basically tried to follow the tutorial made by Nickolas Hacko here http://www.clockmaker.com.au/rolex/rolex_case_polishing.html I started with P220, moved to P800 and P1500. However, the scratches were still visible, so I continued with Silicon Carbide 1200/4000 (I would say this is the finest sandpaper I had). After that, I proceeded with the polishing paste, but the little scratches were still visible (not at the whole surface, but parts of them). I also noticed that the flat parts (side surfaces) were better polished compared to the front (oval) surfaces of the watch. Probably due to the straighter moves I had to make in this area. Any ideas what to do next or where I made mistake?

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

  • 1
2 hours ago, Geo said:

Put simply, burnishing moves metal, buffing removes metal!

Succinctly put Geo.

@bojan1990 patience is the key. Each time you move up a grade you have to make sure that you remove all of the marks made by the previous grade before going up again. Use good quality wet/dry paper with water to help prevent clogging, and rinse the piece thoroughly between grades to ensure that there are no loose particles from the previous paper to foul the subsequent step.

You shouldn't really need to go above 2500 grit, after which switch to a polish like Solvol AutoSol on a soft rag and keep going until you get a deep lustre, then if you really want a top finish buff it up with a red Selvyt cloth. It works for me every time.

You can speed things up using a Dremel with a soft mop when you get to the Solvol stage but be careful to preserve the contours and lines of the case. They can disappear very fast and then they're gone.

 

 

 

Edited by Marc
pics removed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1
3 hours ago, bojan1990 said:

Marc, thanks for the help. I do have some questions related to the sandpaper:

1. Sandpapers that I have are P220, P550, P800, P1000 and P1500. How to know if they are made to be used with or without water applied?

2. Along with the above mentioned sandpapers, I do have Silicon Carbide 800/2400 and 1200/4000 sandpapers. I am not sure which grade are they, since there are two numbers presented on them. They are very very fine and distinguish themselves from the rest of the sandpapers. All of the sandpapers that I have (both P and Silicon Carbide) are circular shaped. 

3. I bough a polishing paste here in Germany, it says that the grade is 4 (medium) and the shine level is 7. The paste is pure white, density is a little bit less than the tooth paste, similar to Solvol AutoSol. May I use it for the final touch?

@bojan1990 The P sandpaper grit sizes that you have sound about right, however, you say that they are circular sheets. This suggests to me that they are intended for use with a mandrel or backplate on a power tool as a sanding disc, and as such they are unlikely to be a wet/dry type abrasive. I'm not sure about the silicon carbide papers that you mention as they seem to refer to two different grades but again being circular suggests that they are designed for use with a power tool and therefore unlikely to need to be waterproof.

The papers that I use are 3M wet/dry (or waterproof) silicon carbide papers designed for the automotive refinishing industry. They are good quality, inexpensive, and fairly easy to get hold of (just google 3M wet/dry). Whatever you use though if it doesn't state that it is waterproof then it probably isn't, and if you want to test it just leave a piece in some water for 10 minutes and then see if the paper remains sound and the abrasive doesn't just rub off.

Use the paper with plenty of water. This helps to stop the paper clogging which in turn results in a better finish and prolongs the useful life of the paper. It also helps to flush away any grit that does dislodge from the paper as well as the removed metal, both of which can degrade the finish if alowed to remain.

The polishing paste that you mention sounds as though it should be ok and will likely result in a good finish, certainly if it is comparable to Solvol you will have no problems. It will also double as an excellent finish for polishing acrylic crystals (incidentally this entire process works just as well to restore scratched acrylic crystals).

For a final finish I use a red Selvyt cloth which is basically a polishing cloth impregnated with rouge. This also is what I use to maintain the finish of a watch during normal use; once a month or so just giving it a quick wipe over to briong it back to sparkling, although this is probably not the best idea with a plated finish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1
6 hours ago, hir3na5hra said:

JDM.... Take note.

As mentioned already I have left this discussion, it's not my duty to educate. Feel free to sandpaper your or your friend' s watches, just.don't don't expect to be told that is right by anyone that does it the correct way.

Edited by jdm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
1 hour ago, bojan1990 said:

I started with P220, moved to P800 and P1500

Never use abrasive paper on a watch case, is very bad for a (self appointed) watchmaker to suggest that. As mentioned, buffing and polishing with a rotary tool is the proper technique. There are few more valid YT videos on the subject.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
4 minutes ago, Geo said:

Why?

Because it's not needed. As shown in the video above, buffing does not just remove material, but it also moves it.  It is a much less aggressive method with a reduced number of passes, and associated mess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

That's fine if you have both the machinery and skill to use it!   I would like to inform folk it is so easy to round sharp edges and loose the original profile..........very quickly. 

Using various grades of wet or dry paper, a piece of wood with metal polish and finally a silver polishing cloth will result in a black polish finish.  Using this method (it does take some time) there is far less chance of damaging original profiles.  More importantly,  by using this method you can carefully reclaim profiles that have been damaged.  I have seen more damage caused by folk using buffs that anything, and not always by amateurs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
35 minutes ago, Geo said:

That's fine if you have both the machinery and skill to use it!   I would like to inform folk it is so easy to round sharp edges and loose the original profile..........very quickly. 

Machinery consist in an rotary tool or even a just a drill , which you can jury rig to a vice, even a proper suppor will cost few Euros.

For the rest I don't agree with using abrasives, which remove more material which can never be put back. Of course, if at the end of the process one finds that polishing compound works better when applied by hand, that is fine, but so far I've achieved the best results with small felt wheels, some are knife shape, etc.. Cousins has a lot of these.

The supposed damage to sharp edges is a vastly exaggerated issue, for one not all cases have sharp edges, or damage near to the edges. I've successfully repaired or refinished tens of case, and some were badly damaged. Of course as in everything which involves manual skills, one has to use judgement and control of the technique.

Edited by jdm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
3 hours ago, Marc said:

Buffing/polishing compounds are abrasives.

Of course they are. If you read my postings and watch the video (by the premier watchmaking school in the USA) above, you will notice that the idea is to abrading less, and move material with heat. These are the main advantages of buffing over a pure abrasive action.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

And i think michael boltons methods are the same as yours, i like the way he works, keeping the lines sharp, by hand .
Buffing with a big machine,are in my opinion, just too dangerous, and i dont want to end up with a lump of shiny metal, with no lines !!
And btw its always a good idea to practise on a scrap case before you let the abrasive sink into valuable items ! Been there done that !


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Restored by myself :).

Had deep dings on bezel and case side, but made one more happy owner now.  Something which I still need to perfection is the very peculiar non-directional satin finish that is proper for the top of lugs, and the circular finish on the case back, for which a lathe will be enough.

 

Edited by jdm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
On 10/30/2017 at 4:08 PM, Latvas said:

Try looking at michael bolton on youtube, i learned a lot from him, emoji1303.png


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Thanks, I will take a look on that. However, I do not have any machine available. Hope I can do something only by hand for now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

A bit like oils, this is one of those hot button issues.
I don't think anyone is necessarily 'wrong' but my perspective - whatever it's worth - is much in line with JDMs, proper/best practice for case/bracelet refurbishment relies on buffing, which removes microscopic amounts of material and simply moves the vast majority of the metal into its original shape, when that's an option i find it hard to justify sanding and removing significant amounts of metal to remove the appearance of scratches. It does have risks and skill/knowledge requirements like a lot of things, however.
If you have the knowledge, skill, and experience there are very few cases (no pun intended) where it would be unavoidable for you to smooth a sharp edge, mostly on bracelets i think.
What some people don't realize is that you can sometimes even buff a sharp edge back, at least to an extent, though you may not exactly be able to shave with it. :D

Edited by Ishima

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

I prefere to buff but it does make a lot of mess which is a real problem for me as I only have a small workshop.  I therefore tend to just polish cases with a "Proxon" and different grades of  Dialux waxes. I get really some nice finishes but it does not remove dings. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
30 minutes ago, clockboy said:

I therefore tend to just polish cases with a "Proxon" and different grades of  Dialux waxes. I get really some nice finishes but it does not remove dings. 

That is exactly what I do, but I switch to a drill with a 5cm wheel for the deepest scratches and dings. You need orange Dialux for buffing. Grey works too to a limited extent. To limit mess place vice, tool and all in a cardboard box and work inside there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
Hello,
currently, I am experimenting with polishing an old watch case made out of stainless steel. I polish everything with hand, I am basically tried to follow the tutorial made by Nickolas Hacko here http://www.clockmaker.com.au/rolex/rolex_case_polishing.html I started with P220, moved to P800 and P1500. However, the scratches were still visible, so I continued with Silicon Carbide 1200/4000 (I would say this is the finest sandpaper I had). After that, I proceeded with the polishing paste, but the little scratches were still visible (not at the whole surface, but parts of them). I also noticed that the flat parts (side surfaces) were better polished compared to the front (oval) surfaces of the watch. Probably due to the straighter moves I had to make in this area. Any ideas what to do next or where I made mistake?
Thanks!
Hi. I think after getting rid of most of the scratching with the rough grades and moving down to P1500, move on to the buffing wheels. Use a calico mop with Hyfin. It polishes steel up immaculately.

Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
12 minutes ago, hir3na5hra said:

Hi. I think after getting rid of most of the scratching with the rough grades and moving down to P1500, move on to the buffing wheels. \

Again... do not use abrasive paper on watches cases, as it removes material and make you work longer and unnecessarily.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
Again... do not use abrasive paper on watches cases, as it removes material and make you work longer and unnecessarily.
If you want to remove heavy scratching from steel, it's absolutely necessary. I've been doing it for years. How can you possibly just shine over scratches! Are you saying companies like Rolex, Richard Mills and Patel Phillips never grind away scratches before polishing? Let me tell you that they do as I've worked with them.

Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0



If you want to remove heavy scratching from steel, it's absolutely necessary. I've been doing it for years. How can you possibly just shine over scratches! Are you saying companies like Rolex, Richard Mille and Patek Phillipe never grind away scratches before polishing? Let me tell you that they do as I've worked with them.

Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk



Haha! Patel Phillips

Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Answer this question...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...