In-Depth: The Famed Enamel Dials Of The Patek Philippe Ref. 2526, And A Visit To The Factory Where They're Trying Tirelessly To Replicate Them

Notice the smooth shade of the “Serpico Y Laino Caracas”– marked dial on this 2526.

Enamel dial fabricating is a withering craftsmanship. In a real sense. In Switzerland, there is just one dial producer, Donze Cadrans, making them that is autonomous of other watch firms, and this Donze Cadrans makes lacquer dials for any semblance of Patek Philippe, A. Lange & Söhne, Ulysse Nardin, and Hermès (among others). Utilizing just six individuals, the combined insight of whom adds to a century worth of time, the production of polish dials is something that may look simple, however is in reality extremely complex. Veneer dials (even the most fundamental structure) are basically a show-stopper and the accompanying model shows the complexity and nuances that this involves.

Side by side, it’s generally simple to tell the diverse between a unique dial and an advanced recreation.

Talking to the craftsmans at Donze Cadrans is time very much spent. It was finding out about how polish dials are produced that the second, seriously concerning, revelation was made. Unique Patek 2526 dials, it appears, are exceptional as far as their production, yet in addition both their shading and the base metal plate utilized are extraordinary. Donze Cadrans has begun, in line for certain 2526 proprietors, to make substitution veneer dials. I should add that this lone alludes to the white and cream shaded dials and not the more extraordinary dark variants. So, without seeing the rear of the dial, or cautiously reviewing the textual style or the shade of the lacquer, it is altogether conceivable that you could be taking a gander at a watch with an extremely persuading substitution. So this is what to look for.

First, there’s the tone. I talked with the lead dial creator at Donze Cadrans and he revealed to me that it has not been conceivable to imitate the genuine cream tone from the first 2526 dial. It would appear simple to duplicate a tone, correct? In any case, as the enamelists concede, they have not had the option to duplicate the specific tone and shine of those unique 2526 dials, regardless of a bed leading group of numerous shades of white or close to white finish powder on which to draw from in the files. What’s more, that carries me to the subsequent part. The first base metal for the 2526 dials was silver. Present day lacquer dials ordinarily have a metal base plate produced using copper. For what reason does this have an effect? Terminated polish dials are a combination of materials – the finish powder bonds with the metal plate, and the layering in the plating interaction additionally adds to the shading distinction. A third part may lie in the quantity of polish layers that are terminated to deliver the completed article. Current, and more refined, veneer procedures permit the dial to be more strong however may add to an alternate completion and tonality.

Dials covered with veneer powder, prepared to be fired.

The dials subsequent to terminating – you can perceive how gleaming they become as the finish sets.

Let’s look somewhat nearer at how that combination interaction functions. In the first place, take your metal circle. As of now referenced, for present day lacquer dials (and some more seasoned dials, besides) that would be a slender circle of copper. The plate is marginally bended to permit the thick properties of the softened veneer to frame a uniform layer over the metal. Polish dials are developed of layers, so relying upon the necessary profundity of the finish surface, the right number of layers are applied likewise. The craftsman cleans the veneer powder onto the plate and afterward momentarily fires it in a 800° C (1,472° F) broiler, eliminates it, and permit it to cool, setting the lacquer. When cooled, the outside of the plate is analyzed for “frissures” or little air pockets that create in the liquefying cycle and scratch off the surface. Untreated, frissures will prompt a shortcoming in the dial that can bring about breaks happening later on. The thicker the application of the finish powder in one go, the almost certain it is that frissures will create (there’s more material to deliver a foaming impact). The thicker the lacquer dial (the more layers), the more noteworthy the profundity of shading and brilliance in the surface.

The dials are terminated at 800° C to transform the finish powder into the hard, reflexive substance you’re recognizable with.

So this is the place where it gets interesting. The first 2526 dials were allegedly twofold terminated, albeit nobody knows without a doubt – they don’t know precisely what “twofold terminating” a 2526 dial involved. Whoever was in control or engaged with the production of the dials for Patek, harking back to the 1950s is a distant memory and the information on how they were really made has been lost. Notwithstanding, it likely methods the dials were just terminated multiple times. Current dials are terminated anyplace somewhere in the range of six and multiple times, contingent upon the necessary thickness of the dial polish. The advanced dependable guideline is that each terminating of another layer adds approximately 0.1mm of profundity. A unique Patek 2526 dial has a normal of 0.65mm of profundity, which, on the off chance that we accept just two firings, would show that the finish powder was layered significantly thicker than is regular today. This is completely conceivable. The real methods (and innovation) of making genuine terminated veneer dials have not changed, however the interaction has been refined. In layering the polish powder in a thicker layer (on the first 2526 dials), and just endeavor the cycle twice, the producer expects a more prominent possibility of winding up with a conflicting completion and frissures that should be fixed.

Different powders make various tones and sorts of enamel.

Even with the present refined technique for produce, the disappointment rate on these dials is still high. For each one dial that is fruitful, there are approximately three that are tossed into the canister. Note that if the dial is triple layered – requiring three separate plated dial parts to be bound together, likewise with the Richard Lange Pour le Mérite or the Slim d’Hermè – the disappointment rate increases in extent, which means approximately just one of every 10 or 12 endures. At the point when the Patek 2526 dials were initially being created, the disappointment rate for the single-layer dials was significantly higher: one of every 10 would advance toward a watch. The explanation primarily being the manner in which the lacquer was layered, adding to disappointment as the dial ages as well. Breaks appear in light of the fact that the frissures were not really eliminated before the resulting terminating of the dial.

First arrangement dials are not difficult to spot due to the spaces around the markers and hands.

What ought to be noted is that a Patek 2526 dials are currently being reproduced to supplant broken or cracked unique dials. The dials are being supplied with the retailer names also where appropriate (in the model shown you’ll see “Serpico y Laino Caracas”). Nonetheless, a nearby examination of the dial, overlooking any remaining components like the specific shade of white or cream, space around the markers, and the name of the retailer (or not), you’ll see that the text style for “Patek Philippe Geneve” is marginally unique in relation to on the first. It’s somewhat more slender, more lengthened, and, indeed, I will say it, more refined on the first. While a first arrangement Patek 2526 dial is not difficult to spot because of the spaces around the hour markers on the dial, it’s harder to recognize a real second arrangement versus an advanced version.

A white gold 2526 with a veritable, unique dial in supreme condition.

The lesson of the story is straightforward: in case you’re on the lookout for a 2526, check the dial! The first dials are somewhat more obscure, more extravagant in surface, and a creamier tone. Current dials are marginally lighter, more predictable as far as the dial surface, and more white in shading. Given that most of the incentive for a Patek 2526 lies in the state of the first dial, and unique dials are becoming all the more scant (time is against their endurance), be certain that the Patek 2526 you are taking a gander at doesn’t have a cutting edge substitution. Check tone, consistency, textual style, and, if conceivable, the back. The rear of the first will likewise have a chronic number stepped on the disk.

Caveat emptor.