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Vintage wrist watch case repair


#1

Good Afternoon, I am a vintage watch enthusiast and am considering
getting involved in watch case repair. Many of these vintage wrist
watches are either 10K or 14K gold-filled, that is, a thick layer of
gold sandwiched with a base metal such as brass or nickel (not a
plating process). Many watches exhibit wear-through at high points
on the cases where the base metal will show through, the gold having
been worn away over the years.

I would imagine I could buy some gold wire that has a melting point
lower than that of the 10K or 14K gold used in the manufacture of
these watch cases. Would I use a jewelers torch to melt the wire
into the worn area? One I get a layer down I could file and sand the
area to get the restoration complete.

Some watches are yellow gold-filled, some are rose (also called pink
or coral), and some are white gold-filled. Do you have wire that
comes in colors?

I would appreciate any insight you can give me on my desire to get
into vintage wrist watch case repair.

Thanks you.

Sincerely,
Ed Kulha


#2
    Good Afternoon, I am a vintage watch enthusiast and am
considering getting involved in watch case repair.  Many of these
vintage wrist watches are either 10K or 14K gold-filled, that is, a
thick layer of gold sandwiched with a base metal such as brass or
nickel (not a plating process).  Many watches exhibit wear-through
at high points on the cases where the base metal will show through,
the gold having been worn away over the years. 

Hi, There are a couple of points you should consider before trying to
repair rolled gold cases. Firstly, is it worth it - generally the
watches which come in rolled gold cases are not of the highest
quality and so have very limited commercial potential. If they are of
horological significance, their value may be much reduced by having a
case which lacks the normal signs of wear. Secondly, the rubbing of
the gold from the case occurs at the edges where friction against
clothing has gradually rubbed the gold away -this means that the gold
does not just stop at a sharp edge but is gradually reduced in
thickness over a significant area. How would you plan to blend the
new gold into the old, or are you thinking of cutting back into the
existing metal to create a full-thickness ‘edge’ (which will
probably show noticeably as the case tarnishes)? Finally, it is
almost impossible to get gold of exactly the right colour - you would
have to know the original formulation and processing characteristics
to do so. When I have been asked to ‘restore’ cases of this type for
watches of ‘sentimental’ value, I have always explained to the
customer that the case is unlikely to be exactly the same colour
afterwards and I have then bult up the worn corners with selective
electroplating, polished this down to a smooth surface and then
electroplated the whole thing. Here you are at the mercy of the
electroplaters and what colour gold they have in their bath - or,
indeed, what colour gold they have been supplied with by the gold
salt makers.

Best wishes,
Ian
(Restorer of antique watches)
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield, UK