VINTAGE WATCH RESTORATION
Nicolas Watch Co. love vintage timepieces and will gently restore such items to their former glory, carefully re-establishing the original appearance using modern restoration techniques, thus preserving their unique nature and sentimental value.
Below are some of the main considerations when undertaking vintage watch restoration:
VINTAGE WATCH PARTS
A large part of the delicate challenge in restoring a vintage watch will include sourcing original replacement parts which have worn or are damaged. As time goes on, such parts become more and more scarce and the search for them can be global.
Nicolas Watch Co. have invested in a ‘stock-bank’ of vintage movements for some popular brands to facilitate this issue, however we are obviously unable to predict the ongoing need.
In situations where a part really cannot be sourced, we can sometimes re-make it ourselves. This can be an involved process and the costs need to be balanced against the watch’s value (both financially and sentimentally).
VINTAGE WATCH CASES & BRACELETS
Refurbishing the watch case and bracelet is important and can essentially make or break the watch’s restorative value. Cases and bracelets made from either stainless steel or gold are fairly straight forward to refurbish. If severe deterioration or breakage is apparent, new metal and careful laser work may be required. This work needs to be measured against the intention of the owner to either keep or sell the watch on. Many collectors enjoy a watch which displays its age through scratches and dents and would prefer the outer metal elements not to be refurbished.
Furthermore, many vintage watches had their case backs engraved which, in the collectors’ world, diminishes value. The removal of an engraving is possible but again, dependant on the work involved, the costs would need to be considered against the watch’s value. For very old and degraded watchcases, especially silver pocket watches, Nicolas Watch Co. are able to rebuild exact replica casing from scratch.
VINTAGE WATCH DIALS, DIAL PATINA & DIAL RESTORATION
The condition of a timepiece’s dial must be considered, often above everything else. Watch dials which have discoloured are known as patinated dials. If the patination is even, this can increase its collector desirability and value. Collectors have come up with all sorts of terms to describe patina, such as:
Pumkin - Associated with the orange colour on an aged Rolex Submariner’s luminous markers
Tropical - Used for watch dials which have been exposed to the sun and have discoloured usually beige to brown, sometimes with a speckled effect
Camel - A less obvious discolouration of white dials
If a dial has been damaged or aged to a point where its numbers, markers or brand name is undecipherable, the process of dial restoration, known as re-dialing is possible. Dial restoration is a contentious matter amongst collectors, who may value an obscured original dial to a freshly restored dial. As with all vintage watch restoration work, re-dialing work should be deliberated on based upon research on the actual piece and its auction value. Nicolas Watch Co. are able to advise on whether to restore a watch dial and of course undertake such work if warranted.
I’ve been dealing with Nicolas Watch Co. for a number of years. They sourced a very rare vintage Patek Philippe for me, negotiated a superb buying price and then fully refurbished the piece to like new. They also care for and repair my other timepieces. I would be happy to recommend them to anyone who has a passion for watches and who wants a great service at a reasonable price.
Michael, Central London (Vintage Watch Collection)