Retouched Dials on Antique/Vintage Rolexes

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keely
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Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:56 pm

Retouched Dials on Antique/Vintage Rolexes

#1 Post by keely » Thu Nov 12, 2015 7:09 pm

I am rediscovering my passion for antique/vintage Rolexes and Tudors, and I've noticed that a number of eBay offerings have retouched dials. In particular, I've been keeping an eye on a WWII Oyster Raleigh with a beautifully-retouched dial--yes, the 6 is closed!

Just wondering--I love original dials as much as anyone, but does a retouched dial impact the watch's value that significantly? Especially if it's well done?

Also, for those of us who aren't experts: Are there clues to help you identify whether a dial has been retouched or not? That is, other than a very vintage dial being in "too good to be true" condition?

C. Hurt
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Re: Retouched Dials on Antique/Vintage Rolexes

#2 Post by C. Hurt » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:40 am

Collectors of wristwatches from that era, and especially for Rolex and Tudor, (as well as Omega and Lecoultre) are very particular about originality on dials.

The original dials tend to be highly detailed, and there are many variations. Once a dial is refinished, there is no way to know what it originally looked like. There are also more than a few Tudors that have been "upgraded" to say Rolex, and that tends to add to the suspicions of collectors, and to limit the value of examples with refinished dials.

As with most watches, I say if you intend to keep and wear it, do what you want with the dial, but if you are thinking of an investment, watches with original dials are worth a premium over refinished ones.

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afire
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Re: Retouched Dials on Antique/Vintage Rolexes

#3 Post by afire » Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:22 am

keely wrote:Also, for those of us who aren't experts: Are there clues to help you identify whether a dial has been retouched or not? That is, other than a very vintage dial being in "too good to be true" condition?
Too good to be true or incorrect details are two ways to do it by just eyeballing. If you actually have the watch, a couple of other tells are refinishers will often put a notch in the edge of a dial at 3:00 as a marker to keep the orientation correct. If you remove the dial, refinishers often scratch codes or something on the back of the dial.

Cary's remarks are of course spot on, particularly with the brands he mentioned, and extra particularly for Rolex for the reasons mentioned.

But I also think for some brands, it's not such an issue. Hamilton collectors seem to be very okay with refinished dials, perhaps partly because there's a good source (International Dial) for mostly correct refinishes. And my brand of choice, Gruen, used hard-fired inlaid enamel print for many years. When these dials are refinished, they aren't even reprinted. Just stripped, cleaned, polished and given a fresh clear coat. With few exceptions, they come out perfect, like new.

A really nice original dial is probably always more valuable than a refinish. But most dials haven't survived in nice condition. Personally, I'd prefer a correct, clean refinish over a ratty original.
Real men wear small watches.

keely
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Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:56 pm

Re: Retouched Dials on Antique/Vintage Rolexes

#4 Post by keely » Fri Nov 13, 2015 1:42 pm

Thanks very much for your responses, C Hurt and Afire. Very informative posts from both of you, and much appreciated!

Watches aren't investments for me--strictly for enjoyment, so while the antique lover in me prefers the original finish, I have to confess that I, too, would rather have a refinished dial than a nasty, dirty-looking one!

Thanks again for the info. And I'll keep my eyes open for those 3:00 notches!

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