Enamel Restoration

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retroworx
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Enamel Restoration

#1 Post by retroworx » Mon Feb 03, 2014 1:58 pm

One of the few deals I think I got on eBay and my first solid gold watch (Damn you, Roger!!):

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It was up for a bit as a BIN/offer with not too great a pic before Holben listed this one recently:

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Holben's pic sold me on the other! I made a great deal with the gent who had owned it for over 30 years and paid significantly less than I would have had I gotten the one from Holben.

I would like to get the enameled numerals restored as in Holben's pic, though, so my questions:

1) If I have the enameling done and it turns out to be sloppy work, can it be removed with no harm to the watch?

2) Do watchmakers do this enamel work themselves or do they send it out?

3) I have read some threads here about doing this sort of work oneself with an enamel paint pen, for instance. If I mess up, can it be removed easily?

(Holben's was a redial, not sure if his or mine is "correct". The guy who owned mine had not had it redone. . . )
Last edited by retroworx on Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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afire
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Re: Enamel Restoration

#2 Post by afire » Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:49 pm

It's very easy to do yourself. Just get the enamel in there and be as clean as you can. Once it's dry, you can probably scrape any slop off with a fingernail or take some extremely fine sandpaper to it followed up by polishing. You can also clean up the slop while wet, but then you run the risk of making the enamel matte, and this seems like it should probably be glossy. Really, I don't think there's one right way to do it. But a little trial and error should find you a method that works for you. And no, there is no risk to the case. Worst case scenario, you can always take some paint stripper to it if you have to. But if you're determined to get the job done one way or the other, there wouldn't really be any need to strip it. Just keep trying until you get a finish you're happy with.
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norm650
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Re: Enamel Restoration

#3 Post by norm650 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:46 pm

I've been enameling watches for about two years, my method is this. I take the watch apart, separate the case parts that I'm going to enamel and if indicated, remove the crystal. If the case needs to be polished now is the time to do it! Whether you do or don't polish the case the next step is to clean the case (I use dish detergent, a soft tooth brush and put in to microwave, bring to a boil etc.) if you have access to an ultrasonic cleaner then that's the best way to go.
You will need a small bottle of "Testors" glossy black enamel paint, the finest sable paint brush that you can find and a bottle of paint thinner/remover. I apply the enamel with a brush as carefully as I can making sure to fill the engraving so that's it's flush with the bezel (all the way up to the top). I usually do one side or section at a time, rather than do the entire bezel or center case all at once. Once I apply enamel, I wait about 5 seconds then I wipe the excess from the entire section that I've just painted with a lint free paper towel saturated with paint thinner. This process does take some skill so if you wind up smearing at first, with practice, you will get the right "feel" so that you are just wiping excess paint without smearing.
When the entire part is done, I let it dry for 24 hours, then I very quickly and gently finger wash in room temperature water with a little dish washing liquid and I rinse off with cool water and blow dry with compressed air. Try and keep lint towel, etc. away from the painted sections for another day or so.
I'm sure that there are variations of what I do and I feel as long as they work and you are happy with your results that's all that matters! I think however, that's it's real important to take the movement and crystal out of the case, this way there can be no unfortunate accidents. "It's like the first time you learned what can happen if you don't remove the carburetor from off of the manifold................." :lol:

Here's a sample of my work before and after, hopefully you can tell which is which. :)
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retroworx
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Re: Enamel Restoration

#4 Post by retroworx » Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:39 pm

Norm, you just convinced me to send it out! :lol:

But seriously, thanks for the tips, Guys. I don't think my eyesight is up to the attempt, but I have some magnifiers coming in from Ofrei that might solve that problem...
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Re: Enamel Restoration

#5 Post by norm650 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:41 pm

retroworx,
I just looked at the bezel that you want enameled. It is a very, very simple an easy design for a beginner to start with. Bear in mind that if you smear the bezel, you can always clean it off with the paint thinner without causing any damage to the bezel, so don't be afraid that you will ruin something. If you decide to send it out, I'd be happy to do it for you.
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Re: Enamel Restoration

#6 Post by retroworx » Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:28 am

norm650 wrote:retroworx,
If you decide to send it out, I'd be happy to do it for you.
What a kind offer, Norm thank you!

Once I get my courage up (and my magnifiers on :geek: ) I will give it a shot myself. If I fail miserably, I will get back to you. :D
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Re: Enamel Restoration

#7 Post by retroworx » Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:38 am

I finally got brave enough to give it a try. Thought this Elgin Cranbrook was a good place to start because the areas needing fill are pretty wide compared to some deco etched cases, for instance:
cranbrook.jpg
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A bit sloppy, but the paint thinner hasn't arrived yet to clean up the overspill. Looks sorta okay to the naked eye, though, at least better than no enamel at all. I must say that the paint pen I used had a tip almost exactly the width of these grooves and I haven't been able to locate one any finer -- couldn't quite get the paint into the sharp corners. Don't see how I could work on an etched case without using the fill-and-wipe method. Will give it a go once the paint remover arrives.
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Re: Enamel Restoration

#8 Post by vintagehamiltons » Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:04 am

Rick turned me on to using a Testor's paint marker and it worked great. Remove the bezel and pop out the crystal, completely cover the bezel in paint, and let it dry for several hours. Then, I just fold up a paper towel, put some acetone (you can use nail polish remover, too) on it and gently wipe the surface clean, leaving the paint in the engraving. VERY easy.


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retroworx
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Re: Enamel Restoration

#9 Post by retroworx » Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:13 am

Thanks, Tom. I will purchase that specific pen today!
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Re: Enamel Restoration

#10 Post by retroworx » Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:45 am

Any reason I should be concerned if I remove the paint with this Testors Paint Thinner? It won't harm RGP or gold-fill?
tesr2148__99725.1389382219.1280.1280.jpg
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