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How to Refinish Watch and Clock Hands

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How to Refinish Watch and Clock Hands

To refinish watch and clock hands:

  1. Clean watch hands with detergent.
  2. Remove any heavy corrosion using a glass scratch brush. To remove paint you can use acetone.
  3. Polish hands on a leather buff stick with rouge to remove any scratches. Or even more conveniently you can purchase fingernail polishing sticks in various grits which work WONDERFULLY.
  4. Polish hands on polishing cloth until a high luster is attained.
  5. Clean hands with detergent and rinse well in water.
  6. Electroplate hands with Rhodium, nickel or gold.
  7. Clean and rinse.
  8. Put hour hand on hand tack pointing left and put minute hand on hand tack pointing right.
  9. Using a large clock oiler pick up some paint and quickly apply it to the underside of the hand starting at the base draw the paint to the end with one smooth motion. If you need more paint than can be picked up using a clock oiler, try a toothpick. The problem with using wood is sometimes pieces get into the paint and the wood also absorbs the paint quickly.

To refinish (Steel) blued hands follow above steps 1 through 5, then place hands on a plate of steel or brass, (You can also set the hands on a pile of brass shavings or pumice powder) hold the plate with a pair of pliers and heat bottom with alcohol lamp or torch just until hands start to change blue dump them into a can of water. This is the basic idea. I also often use pumice powder, brass filings, caustic bluing and a few others, You need to try different things until you find what works well for you. I have good results with these methods. Extra fine pumice powder works very well for very fine hands. Be sure hands are completely polished and extremely clean before bluing.

You can also sometimes try using gun bluing touch-up pens or permanent marker, but I only would suggest this as a last resort.

I sometimes use lacquer-based model paint to refill paint-filled hands but good water based paint works well to refill hands due to its elasticity. This paint also works well on sweep second hands when it is thinned properly. Lacquer works better when painting the surface of hands.

I have used Bergeon luminous paint and sometimes Newall tritium to refill luminous hands but super luminova type by far is the best. When using the Super-Luminova you can mix the paint powder(pigment), binder(glue), and thinner in many different proportions so as to get exactly the consistency needed. First I put a tiny amount of the glue in a clean oiling cup, then I add the luminous powder until opaque then I thin the mixture until it has the desired consistency for the job at hand. I use it fairly thick when painting hands and thin when re-finishing markers but this also depends on size and shape of the item to be painted.

Most of the time a good cleaning and a quick polish on a polish cloth is all it takes to make hands look great again.


About the Author:

About Carignan Watch Repair Company Carignan Watch Company was officially started in January 1996. However, long before that, owner Denis Carignan was repairing watches as a hobby. It all began when he found an old pocket watch while antiquing. He was amazed by the craftsmanship and became captivated by what is known as horology. Over the years, we have repaired and restored thousands of timepieces. We specialize in repairing the timepieces that others give up on. Carignan Watch Company has a large inventory of parts and materials, and we also manufacture parts that cannot be purchased due to age or rarity. We service a variety of timepieces. We are an independent repair shop; we are in no way authorized by, affiliated with, or endorsed by ANY watch manufacturer, company or re-seller, and we like it that way. About Denis Carignan, Owner, Carignan Watch Company Many years ago I fell in love with watches and, like many others, I tried having a few serviced by so-called watchmakers and was very disappointed . The “factory authorized service centers” were even worse to deal with unfortunately. When I say I fell in love with watches, I mean it. They fascinate me on many levels and I think it is an absolute shame that it is difficult to get them serviced properly. I began repairing my own watches and before long I jumped in with both feet. From that point on, watches and the repair of them has been my passion, or perhaps obsession. I have devoted nearly all of my adult life to learning the craft and have been providing people and their watches the best possible services available for may years. When someone says “it cannot be done” or “you can’t fix this,” it sparks something in my mind that is hard for me to stop. At times I have spent hundreds of hours on a project that many other watchmakers had abandoned, determined to see it through no matter what. This is usually not profitable, but it sure is nice to see the look on the customer’s face when I hand them their running watch that is for all intensive purposes “back from the dead.” If I don’t know something, I ask someone. If I do not have something I need, I find it. If I cannot find something I need, I make it. If something is truly beyond my ability, I admit it and try to find someone who can help. If help cannot be found, I will do everything possible to learn how to do it myself. I take pride in my work, which I enjoy, and I am grateful to God for the abilities he has given me and plan to use those gifts for as long as I can. I came from a long line of engineers, machinists, and inventors, on both sides of my family, so it’s no wonder, I guess, that I am so interested in mechanical things. Every thing I have I worked very hard for. I hope someday my daughter will get into the business, but only time will tell; she is still young. I am self-employed and independent from any watch manufacturer at this time, for a reason. I do not like being dictated to and refuse to do things that I do not agree with. I am always working on honing the skills I have and learning new ones. I am very well connected and do not shy away from the tough jobs. I take the training I want to take. I work on whatever watch I want to work on, and I use the tools and equipment that I want and deem appropriate to use. I use both antique tools and modern tools that I have purchased over the course of many years. My shop is extremely well equipped and exactly the way I need it and want it. Very few shops have the capabilities that mine does. In my opinion, you should be able to bring your watch to whomever you want to have it repaired; it is your watch and your money. The person you bring it to should be able to get the training, parts, and equipment to service your watch easily and cost effectively, without jumping through constantly-changing hoops and hemorrhaging money. Pomp and circumstance is not something you will find here.
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