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How are stainless steel watch cases polished


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Hi everryone:

I don,t see how a hobbyist vintage watch collector like me servicing my own watches can do without the know how to polish SS cases.

Please advise

 

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Sorry to keep popping up!

I saw the video linked above. It’s pretty good with the exception that no sandpaper is typically used.

Buffing is instead of sanding and then polishing is the finishing step.

I learnt quite a bit from this video from the Lititz Technicum:




Cheers!





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There are many ways to skin the cat.... but

You can get excellent results using a felt wheel, high quality like Bergeron using a heavy cutting compound.

Buffing should remove MINIMAL amount of material but the combo of 1. Felt + 2. Heat + 3. The compound will actually move material from taller sites into deeper (nicks) ones.

This is where a case can lose its form and symmetry.

Buffing alone won’t get you there... this has to be followed by polishing.

For a nice polish a non braided cotton wheel with white followed by yellow compound really bring up the shine.

I have a couple examples:

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Polishing watch cases  can get to be a hot topic as there are strong feelings for and against.

Done correctly it can restore the look of a tired case, done incorrectky virtually ruins the watch in the eyes of serious collectors.

If you do want to learn buy some cheap watches to practice on first.

I've personally not tried to polish any cases, I just settle for completely cleaning them and replacing the crystal.

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1 hour ago, Tmuir said:

Polishing watch cases  can get to be a hot topic as there are strong feelings for and against.

I think you (and possibly the OP) are referring to buffing. Polishing is a superficial process that doesn't alter the dimensions and look of the watch. It does not remove scratches but cleans up dullness and scuff marks.

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Best not to get too pedantic about the difference between polishing and buffing, If you tried to tell the engineers here that polishing does not scratch, they'd yell at you, and force you to look through a microscope at the surface of whatever is being worked on.

The only thing anyone can say definitively about polishing and buffing is that there are different common usages of the terms in different fields and industries. 

 

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I have been removing scratches and fully restoring stainless steel watch cases for years. I use a Dremel tool and red level polish or metals and the result is a completely new looking case. I do this when I repair a watch and the customer is usually totally impressed. It does take some time to remove the scratches but worth it. What you are actually doing is melting the metal into itself.


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4 hours ago, jdrichard said:

I have been removing scratches and fully restoring stainless steel watch cases for years. I use a Dremel tool and red level polish or metals and the result is a completely new looking case. I do this when I repair a watch and the customer is usually totally impressed. It does take some time to remove the scratches but worth it. What you are actually doing is melting the metal into itself.


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Is red level polish, a brand name? Or tells the type.  Regrads

 

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11 hours ago, Nucejoe said:

Is red level polish, a brand name? Or tells the type.  Regrads

Check Dialux on Cousins UK. The color indicates not only the grade, but also for which metal is recommended.

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Esslinger has a nice tutorial on SS polishing. I have this polish i cant remember the name of it and its not in my possession but it cost me $30 and its the same used by omega when they polish cases. There are so many different compounds out there it’s basically a matter of preference as to what you like to use what’s more important is the type of buffs and polishing pads you use. For removing scratches very quickly you could use compound used for platinum you have to know what you’re doing to use it because you can really dull the facets. Red water soluble rougue is great and makes easy to clean case in ultrasonic. Just a mask and eyewear. Whenever i use red rougue my face looks red except around my eyes and mouth lol. As what most people don’t realize is buffing could take as long as 30mins its not a once over type of deal. AND BE VERY LIBERAL WITH THE ROGUE. Once it starts to disappear add more to the wheel.

This is what i use:
Buffing
Hard felt for buffing deep scratches
Muslin 3 rows of stitch for light scratches
(I use 2-3inch hard felts buffs you want to cover the entire area you buffing with the wheel, this wide diameter comes in handy when doing watch faces and backs. Quite pricey though)

Polishing
Muslin buff with no stitching I use a dremel to get to the hard to reach places.

Things like 3m pads and emory cloth also assist in removing scratches before a buff. Polyimide tape is a must for protecting facets and edges especially when trying to achieve a statin or brushed look combined with high polish.


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