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In-Depth: Four Tips To Spot (And Avoid) A Restored Dial

Two pink gold 6062s, both the same in respect – yet not in cost. (Images through Antiquorum, Philips)

Why This Matters

In most collectors’ brains, what’s worse than a non-perfect however original dial is one that has been redone or “revamped.” That implies someone, ordinarily an outsider other than the original maker, has modified the original dial to differing degrees. These modifications could go from a straightforward re-lume to an outright repainting of the dial. For example, an all-original Rolex 6062 got multiple times the cost of a comparable, yet re-lumed 6062 – showing the top notch that collectors pay for originality.

So in case you’re pondering getting going as a serious collector, you’d need something that is original and untouched when purchasing your first vintage watch – particularly so in case you’re considering selling the piece later on. Where would you start? There are regularly three spots to go:

The first is to get it from an accomplished professional (for example a vendor), believing that he knows his stuff and sells a watch that is all-original, and if not, discloses any previous “work” done on the watch. However, it is hard to be a specialist on each and every brand out there, particularly in vintage watches where reference materials are more earnestly to come by. Given the various brands that most vendors convey, with numerous models of each brand, and different versions of each model (for instance, there are more than eight distinctive Omega Speedmasters in only twenty years of production – see our Reference Points article here ), sellers may sometimes not be right. Throw in assistance dials, which are dials supplanted by the original maker if the watch is sent for administration (a common practice at brands, for example, Rolex or Omega once upon a time), and things get significantly more complicated.

All comparable, yet extraordinary, Omega Speedmasters

The second option is to offered at auction houses. Most auction houses, like Christie’s or Sotheby’s, have committed groups that decide the condition and originality of each watch they sell. All things considered, once more, auction houses also face similar issues as individual sellers do, and may now and again commit errors . What’s more is that with a good vendor, the individual will consistently take the watch back should any issue emerge. At auction houses, every thing is sold “with no guarantees” and except if you have a long-standing and important (read as “costly”) relationship with the house, there would almost certainly be no course of action should a discovery be made after the sale.

“I love eBay; it rewards knowledge, steadiness and deft action yet rebuffs ignorance, foolishness and greed.”

– M4tt, forums.watchuseek, 06/2010

The third, yet least secure option, is to pay off eBay or forums like ChronoTrader or TimeZone. Be that as it may, be cautious – it is the Wild West in where in a real sense anything goes. There are watches there that range from little re-dials to complete restorations, to outrageous fakes, as we’ve habitually attempted to feature to you in our Bidder Beware section of Bring A Loupe . However, these spots are also where the best arrangements are found, where information and aptitude can be arbitraged for serious worth. An old quote from an online forum says everything, “I love eBay; it rewards knowledge, steadiness and deft action yet rebuffs ignorance, foolishness and greed.”

Given the entirety of that, the couple of recommendations that we share here on how to spot a non-original dial are probably pertinent paying little mind to the way you choose to take. The rundown isn’t comprehensive, nor is it new to the world of collecting, however it nonetheless plans to give you some feeling of what to keep an eye out for. One proviso – deciding if a dial is original or ‘restored’ is certainly not an accurate science. There are a lot of instances of original dials that, by our methods, would otherwise be delegated “restored.” simultaneously, regardless of whether a dial satisfied not only one, yet all of the criterion we provide, it actually probably won’t be an original dial.

So a ultimate conclusion is still, as pointless as this may sound, truly up to one’s “hunch” – something that comes with experience and lots and lots of examination. Welcome to the world of vintage watches.

1. Quality And Consistency Of Printing

The first approach to recognize a re-dial is to look at the nature of the imprinting on the dial. With the exception of a couple of special, hand-painted pieces, original dials are regularly imprinted in a factory, while re-dials are normally done by hand – which implies that they are substantially more prone to human error. For example, crooked lines or letters and fonts in poor quality are more prone to be consequences of a re-dial.

An obvious, poorly-executed redial; it would be amusing on the off chance that it didn’t sell on eBay for ~$1,250. (Picture by means of eBay)

While some re-dials are more obvious (see the somewhat “ruined” Universal Genève Triple-Date Moonphase above that also “doubles up” as a Polerouter Deluxe), other restorations might be more unpretentious. Specialists might have the option to get a feeling of whether the ink utilized in the printing is original to the watch or if any degradation is consistent with the time-frame of production, however that intuition typically only comes after a long period of collecting (and, indeed, looking at a lot of watches).

What in case you’re analyzing your initial not many vintage watches? While deciding quality as a whole may be a difficult task, one could possibly discover some hints by looking at the consistency of printing within the watch.

One method we propose is to compare printed numerals inside the dial. In numerous dials, numerals are ordinarily imprinted in the equivalent “type” of font; that is, if the 6’s and 9’s are open (and not closed) on one sub-dial, they should also be comparatively open at other locations around the dial.

Inconsistent 3’s and 5’s. (Picture through forums.watchuseek)

Consistent fonts throughout.

For occurrence, consider the printed numerals in the two Universal Genève Tri-compaxes above. While both may appear to be original from the outset, a more profound look at the example on the left shows that the 3’s in the outer minute track have round tops, however those in the sub-dials have level tops. By and large, the subdial markings are also printed poorly (see the 24 on the subdial at 3 o’clock)

A correct and original dial is introduced on the right, where the 3’s and 4’s in the sub-dials and outer minute track coordinate in font. The length of the records on each sub-dial just as the outer minute track are also consistent and well printed.

While not cursing on their own, particularly since brands sometimes utilized various fonts on a similar dial, inner inconsistencies may give some clues with respect to whether the dial has been re-done.

Sub-Dials And Minute Track

Another approach to tell a re-dial is by observing the printing of records. By and large, these should be sharp and fresh, and neither too close nor too a long way from the edge of the track. For example, consider the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock sub-dials on the Universal Genève Aerocompax on the left (below). There’s a little however critical freedom between the track and the edge of each sub-dial that loans it a somewhat questionable and un-fresh look. The imprinting on the hour sub-dial at 6 o’clock, on the other hand, is too close to the edge.

Compare these qualities to the correct reference of a similar watch on the right.

Incorrect print of sub-dial. (Picture by means of eBay)

Correct print of sub-dial. (Picture by means of VintageOyster)

In a similar vein, it’s worth also looking at any territories with overlapping printing. Does it look clean and without any ink smears? Repainting a territory of the dial with overlapping printing by hand is a fundamentally troublesome endeavor, particularly so if the original freshness is as yet kept up. The dial below shows some rough smirching and general low-quality imprinting in those areas.

Messy printing at overlapped territories. (Picture through eBay)

2. Incorrect Logo Font

The second, and sometimes either the simplest or most troublesome approach to advise a re-dial is to look at the printed logo on the dial. Some re-dials of the logo are glaringly obvious, and a snappy Google search can show you an illustration of a correct and original version. Here is a correct version of a Longines font during the 1930s-50s.

Correct Longines font. (Picture through Matthew Bain Inc.)

This, for example, is obviously refinished.

Re-dial of Longines font. (Picture through eBay)

But this is probably somewhat harder to tell.

(Image by means of Auctionata)

Upon a closer examination and comparison with correct fonts, I accept there should be a longer queue on the top of the “L” – and the finish of the L should not be at a particularly upward inclination. The “S” also looks a touch too fat. The remainder of the dial gives more signs – see the discussion on this specific dial here on OmegaForums .

The issue with this method is that even fonts in similar periods may undergo unobtrusive changes year to year . This makes the identification of a re-dial significantly harder – one not only necessities to coordinate the chronic number of the movement to the time of production, yet additionally consider that the movement may not be cased in the very year, then look up references (which may not exist!) to various fonts or logos to decide the specific style. It truly is more similar to a craftsmanship than a definite science. The good news? Inevitably, you begin to develop a feeling of what to look out for and some dials naturally begin to appear “off” to you.

3. Consistency Of Lume

The third method is to check the consistency of the luminous material, also known as “lume.” For example, is the lume on the hands consistent with that on the lists? In an all-original watch, the material of the lume on every one of the hands and records should be the same.

To represent this point, consider the pair of Omega Speedmasters below.

Different lume on chronograph hand versus other pieces of the watch. (Picture by means of. HQ Milton)

Consistent lume. (Picture by means of HQ Milton)

The dealer correctly points out the re-lumed chronograph hand on the watch on the left (the remainder of the watch seems to hold original lume). The lume on all fours are somewhat a blurred yellow, while the lume on the compass seconds hand looks more white, introducing a case for a re-lume. The watch on the right – from a similar merchant – presents a case for original lume.

Having said that, the shades or colors of lume may be somewhat unique even inside a similar watch, in light of the fact that for reasons unknown (for example moisture) the lume may have matured differently.

However, also note that if the lume on all pieces of the watch is too consistent, yet does not coordinate the time-frame that the watch was produced, at that point the watch has likely either gone through a complete re-lume or the dial and hands have been supplanted. For example, tritium lume (maybe applied on a watch sometime during the ’60s to ’70s) should no longer glow either too brilliantly or for a long time in obscurity, given that the half-life for tritium is ~12-13 years. It should also not look too “white,” but instead a somewhat blurred yellow or brown. These descriptions may appear to be somewhat obscure, however it’s not too hard to get a simple sense for a re-lume in the wake of investing some energy inspecting contrasting examples.

Lastly, to additionally complicate things, some re-lume jobs may utilize idle tritium for the re-luming process, which may coordinate otherwise normally matured tritium. Now, it gets somewhat more hard to separate original lume from a re-lume. We won’t go into the subtleties here, yet there are a couple of aides out there on forums that profound jump into this process.

Application Of Lume

At a similar time, it very well may be worth checking whether the application of lume is consistent. In the event that luminous material is on the files, they should be on the hands also (and the other way around). Having lume on only one of the two would nullify the point of lume in any case – to read a clock in the dark.

As a model, consider the two Longines Conquest Automatic watches below. The watch on the left has lume on all fours the lists, yet the one on the privilege has lume on both the lists (see the little protruding tips) and the hands. The former is an indication of a reworked dial for most watches.

(In this particular occasion, note that some Longines Conquest Automatic watches may have come with non-lumed hands and dials also. Yet, consistency is critical – lumed hands should come with lumed dials, and bad habit versa).

Lume on the hands, yet not the lists. (Picture through eBay)

Correct lume on all fours. (Picture through Matthew Bain Inc.)

However, there might be exceptions to this also – for example, there may have been instances of the IWC Ingenieur 666A that accompanied only lumed hands (and no lume on the dial) – once more, showing that the one guideline in vintage watches is that there are no absolutes. With Patek Philippe, it isn’t unexpected to see luminous dials with non-luminous hands and the other way around, so once more, what may apply to one make won’t really apply to another.

4. The Dial Itself

Finally, some re-dials are obvious on the off chance that you know what to look out for. For example, they could be just about as obvious as incorrect Roman numerals (for example VI comes after VII), or something more unobtrusive as incorrect tachymeter markings.

For occurrence, consider this illustration of a Longines 13ZN:

A basically incorrect tachymeter. (Picture through Chrono24)

Take note of the printed number at the 6 o’clock position, below “40.” The (Base 1000) tachymeter gauges your speed by figuring the time you take to travel one mile (or one kilometer). You start the chronograph toward the start of the mile, and stop it once you arrive at the finish of a mile. Consequently if a mile requires 60 seconds (one full turn of the compass seconds), you would go at 60 miles each hour, subsequently the “60” stamping below the 12 minute marker. Two full turns would show that you’re going at 30 miles each hour. In the event that it only takes you 30 seconds to travel a mile, you would go at 120 miles each hour and consequently the number at 6 o’clock on the tachymeter should peruse “120” and not “140” in the model above.

Examples of “wrongly” printed dials are normally more uncommon, however once spotted can offer you clear admonition hints about its originality. However, note that misprints do occur. One notable and acknowledged model is the Omega Speedmaster “220” bezel (actually part of the case, and not dial) that can be found on the reference 145.022-69.

Checking The Back Of The Dial

Lastly, in the event that you approach the watch, you should carry it to a watchmaker to check the opposite of the dial. For some models, the (dial) producer’s name is stepped on the rear of the actual dial. For example, look at this Longines dial:

(Image by means of eBay)

You can see “Artist” faintly stepped on the dial close to the top right of the image. While the presence of such a stamp probably won’t prove the dial’s credibility, if the stamp was not there (this is a situation maybe more pertinent to some vintage Rolex watches) – at that point some questions should be raised about the validness of the dial.

Last Comments

Our last suggestion is: it is in every case good to decide in favor of caution. Maybe you’re buying a watch on eBay, and the value looks appealing. Though the photos are hazy, you figure the dial may get an opportunity of being original. By then, it very well may be worth investigating who the dealer is. Has the individual been selling looks for a long time? Assuming this is the case, odds are the dealer has a good thought of if the watch has an original dial – and consequently the hazy pictures could be intentionally concealing something. Particularly if past postings have consistently shown clear pictures.

But is the vender someone who also sells coins, candles, and other kinds of gems? At that point there might be a bigger possibility that the individual is basically terrible at taking pictures, and the dial may be an original one regardless of the poor pictures. All things considered, caveat emptor is your closest companion in those situations – except if you’re quite certain and prepared to face the challenge, we would recommend avoiding these deals.

There is one last point I’d prefer to make – you may believe that this whole discussion about originality, ideal dials without patina, and non-re-dials, is only significant in case you’re going to sell the watch. In case you’re considering saving it for a long time, and truly enjoying wearing it, it truly doesn’t make any difference. That is completely obvious and is a reasonable assertion to make, and we agree.

But one thing to remember is that your inclinations may change. Personally, my collection – both what I collect and the condition of watches that I collect – has evolved since I initially started collecting watches. You may be okay correct now with watches that are not in extraordinary or original condition, however there might be a period a couple of years down the road when that changes. By then, you may either lament your previous buy or think that its difficult to auction to someone else.

Given that vulnerability, and the way that originality is important to most people, the optimal decision may very well be to avoid unoriginal dials and watches in your purchases.

In the interim, don’t hesitate to look at a wonderful arrangement of books here at HODINKEE that would be incredible as references, just as the gigantic resource online in various forums. Exploration and knowledge is your companion, and difficult work certainly pays off.