Two Tone Ace

Vintage Illinois Watch Discussion Forum
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Re: Two Tone Ace

#21 Post by timeliz » Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:15 pm

FYI: Although I did not specify this, I wasn't referring to kiln hard glass enamel in my post, but the Testors paint "enamel".
Whether one does or does not apply paint is a personal preference imho.

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Re: Two Tone Ace

#22 Post by mrtoad » Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:53 pm

That's an interesting generic "Canby" type case, Afire. It looks like base metal, not solid or filled, and I can't really tell what the black is. I also notice it's a two-piece, hinged case that's trying to look like a three-piece case and that the black isn't on the sides. But my reaction, with the caveat that I don't have the case in hand to examine closely, is that this is chemical treatment, not enamel paint. It looks grainy, particularly in the places where it's thin, and enamel paint, emulating vitreous enamel, tends to be glossy.

I've seen a lot of Native American jewelry with blackened depressions in silver; they always look grainy against the polished silver. I don't know, of course, that contemporary artists use the same processes as the old case manufacturers.

Our experience with both studying watches and reading catalogs is that the major manufacturers carefully distinguished between enamel and oxidation in their advertising copy. Here's an extract from the 1930 Ball catalogue, p. 37, which was supplied to Ball by Waltham. In two adjacent descriptions of watches, "enamel" is applied to the filled-in numerals and "oxidized" is used to describe the darkening of engraved patterns.


(The Catalog Queen is threatening to supply even more of these examples.)

As Liz says, applying modern enamel paint is a matter of taste. I do it sometimes, but most of the time not (in my case, it's probably affected by extension from the preference among a lot of Illinois collectors for not refinishing dials).

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Re: Two Tone Ace

#23 Post by afire » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:20 pm

mrtoad wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:53 pm
That's an interesting generic "Canby" type case, Afire. It looks like base metal, not solid or filled...
It's chrome over nickel. Given that it's chromium, I would think the accenting is paint, not oxidation. ... SwpLNX9vnz
I remain skeptical that "oxidized" generally means anything more than oxidized in appearance. As I mentioned, I had a box of these cases. They looked enamel (paint) filled to me, though admittedly, at the time, it wouldn't have occurred to me that they'd have been anything else, so I wasn't looking at them with a particularly critical eye.
But the couple of truly NOS Gruen cases of this type that I have/had with this type of finish ("antique finish" in late 1920s Gruen parlance) are definitely highlighted with matte paint.
On the other hand, I have had a small number of cases that do indeed have an appearance of a true oxidized treatment, and it looks quite different from the more commonly seen paint filled engravings.
And my pride and joy, Gruen Import 103, has some darkening in its engravings that clearly isn't paint, and isn't particularly pronounced (though moreso on the sides than the bezel), and may also be oxidation.
In my mind, if it's hard, glossy and flush, it's true enamel. If it's matte and dark, it's paint. If it's a subtle matte and hazy effect, then maybe it's oxidation.
Real men wear small watches.

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