General Thoughts for Watch Enthusiasts

Posted by Greg on March 31, 1998 at 17:20:26:

I was recently e-mailing a friend , and thought everyone could find some value in some of my experiences, so here they are. (Some of this is from one of my previous posts, but I like the packaging better this time…)

My thoughts on buying:

If you see a watch that is “to-die-for”:

Get a picture of it and stick it up on your refrigerator door, telling yourself that if you still want it in a month, that you’ll go out and buy it. (I usually end up with at least a few pictures by the end of the month…) If you still want to part with the money to get it, then go for it, making sure that you get such a great deal on it that if you change your mind you won’t get burned on the trade in.
This has worked out well for me, I very seldom end up buying these watches… The ones that I have bought, I absolutely love!

Pace yourself:

I often find myself buying less expensive watches that I haven’t really been too “hot” on, just because I find such an exceptional deal. I’ve done this so many times, that I have often failed to save for that one I really want; And the reason they’re usually such screaming deals, is that they’re hard to find strong buyers for. We probably all have a few that fall into this category…

From now on I manage 2 separate watch budgets (call me sick!):

One for the long term major purchases (in my case anything over $1000) and a separate one for low end fixer-uppers that I can tinker with and suppress my addiction 😉

Refinishing projects:


I have a bench grinder with polishing wheels on it that works really well for me, but I made-do with a DREMEL for quite some time. remember to always use the correct rouge or polishing compounds for the right type of polishing. I Use red rouge for all Gold, and for final polishing on SS, and white rouge for pre-polish on gold or to make SS look like Platinum! Never use that cheap-o rouge that dremel sells… It actually breaks down over time, hardens, and has an abrasive effect on metals. Look for a jewelry supply store for the good stuff, or get started with an assortment of rouge sticks from Eagle (“More of Everything”)

General Cleaning:

I just bought an Ultrasonic cleaner (a real ultrasonic cleaner, mind you, not those silly “vibrating” machines sold at the jewelry counter in department stores). Instead of spending lots of money on cleaning solution, I use plain old ammonia (really cheap) mixed 1:1 with water. It works great! but I can’t recommend sticking a non-quartz watch in one-long story.;-(

If you don’t have an ultrasonic cleaner, use my espresso-maker trick. Use the steamer on the machine to clean “gunk” out of all those hard to reach areas i.e.. between watchband links, etc. I recommend using oven mitts for this maneuver, though, if you plan on keeping the flesh on your fingers 😉 One warning, never steam the watch case itself, as the excessive heat can damage the movement and the seals.

Brushed stainless steel:

Don’t waste your time with that 3M emery stuff here… Best thing to use is 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Gently rub WITH the existing “grain” of the metal until you get the desired effect (you may want to practice this on an older watch before you take to the triplock clasp on your Seadweller….
Follow up with a light polishing with your Dremel using a felt wheel on the screw mandrel.
Never try to restore the brushed finish with the emery cloth, or a wire-brush wheel; The result will be a “matte” finish instead of the brushed finish you’re going for. This works great on case-backs too!

Plastic crystals:

Here’s where that 3M stuff comes in handy.
Using the emery cloth, GENTLY rub the surface of the crystal in a circular motion until the surface has a uniform white haze, and the dial is no longer visible. Follow up with a white-rouge polish (DON’T USE YOUR DREMEL FOR THIS, YOU WILL MELT THE CRYSTAL) on the buffing wheel, and finish polishing using Maguire’s plastic polish with a terry-cloth towel (available at all auto-parts stores) – Good as new!

Setting the time on a mechanical movement:

I’ve heard lots of complaints about watches where the hands don’t line up quite right. Keep in mind that that the hands are not aware of their position on the dial, but rather, are aligned with each other.
What I find that works best for me is to stop the seconds hand at the 30 second position instead of 60. Advance the minute hand BEYOND the desired position, and then back it up to align exactly between the correct minute markers. I promise that if the hands are
reasonably aligned with each other that the minute hand will nail the minute marker with the second hand straight up every time!

As you might have guessed I spend a lot of time on this stuff, but, it’s really rewarding to me to find that trashed 60’s Omega in a pawn shop for $40, and spending countless hours turning it into a pristine masterpiece. (Hard to believe that I have a full-time job, AND I’m happily married, eh?)
BTW: I’m 28, and have only been at watch collecting for 2 years…Now you know I’m obsessed!!!;-)

I hope these tips help, and I welcome your experiences as well.

Thanks to all who really make this forum such a valuable resource.