Vintage Watches and Patina!


When buying a vintage watch there are a number of things to consider such as, authenticity, originality of its parts, service history, history of particular models and of course..condition.

This is a large topic for discussion so for now we will focus on dial condition and what is known as patina.

When the paint on a watch dial is exposed to sunlight over a number of years this causes the paint to fade or take on a slightly different shade, ageing spots can also appear.

This also occurs on the hour markers and hands where the lume that is originally a yellow color fades to a brownish color.

So should we restore aged dials?

Some watch dealers take every watch, service it, completely clean and restore it before selling it on, with the price of this added on. If this is done well and carefully as to not overly polish and repaint the dial then this is good, though often many old watches are over polished, poorly repainted and have replacement parts.

Some watches need restoration e.g. water damaged watches or severely aged watches where they are difficult to read but for a watch with some light patina, does it really need a repaint? Remember that a repaint will never match the original quality in terms of print sharpness, symmetry and overall detail.

In my experience some people like an old watch restored to perfect condition while others like a watch with some light ageing, and feel it adds character and a true vintage feel.

Patina can be a reassuring feature, and will likely suggest originality of the hands and dial which in expensive watches is something collectors often desire.

When buying a vintage watch, if you find the watch you really want which functions very well and is the right price my advice is do not let a little ageing to the dial put you off, instead embrace it and see it as a part of the charm of a 50 year old watch! You may even be lucky to find a 'cupboard' watch, which is completely original but not worn a lot so in excellent condition.


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