To refinish watch and clock hands:
- Clean watch hands with detergent.
- Remove any heavy corrosion using a glass scratch brush. To remove paint you can use acetone.
- 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.
- Polish hands on polishing cloth until a high luster is attained.
- Clean hands with detergent and rinse well in water.
- Electroplate hands with Rhodium, nickel or gold.
- Clean and rinse.
- Put hour hand on hand tack pointing left and put minute hand on hand tack pointing right.
- 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.