Instant Vintage: How to Give Your Watch a Patina Part 2
Hello modding enthusiasts, and welcome to part 2 of our mini-series on “How to Give Your Watch a Patina.” By now, you know that patina is nature’s way of helping us make our watches look better as the years go by, giving it a weathered effect that makes watch enthusiasts go crazy. It’s a bit ironic that one scratch or ding makes the watch look less valuable in our eyes, and yet an antique that literally corroded from years of exposure to seawater or acid is a thing of beauty. We don’t make the rules, but we sure agree to it.
In part one of this mini-series, we talked about how you can use chemicals to quicken the aging process for stainless steel and bronze watches. Now we will talk about how you can compress years’ worth of aging in a matter of minutes for your dials and hands, to make it seem like you’ve owned the watch for years when in truth, you just recently modded it.
Enough introductions, let’s get right into the mods!
How to add faux patina to a watch dial
To get started with dial aging or faux patina, you'll need a few key materials and a basic understanding of the temperature settings in your oven. First, gather your supplies: a watch dial that you wish to age, dry used coffee grounds (preferably a medium roast from any supermarket brand), an oven, and watch tools such as tweezers, a dust blower, and rodico.
Before diving into the process, it's crucial to determine the appropriate oven temperature. Oven performance can vary widely among brands and models, so a preliminary test is essential. Begin by preheating your oven to a moderate 120°C. Next, take a tray and spread about 1/8 cup dry used coffee grounds evenly across it. Place this tray in the oven but leave out the watch dial for now. Wait for approximately 5 minutes to see if the coffee grounds start to smoke. If not, gradually increase the oven's temperature by 10 degrees and wait another 5 minutes.
Continue this process until you observe the coffee grounds smoking. Remember, this smoking point is your upper temperature limit for dial aging, and it's essential not to exceed it during the process.
Aging the Dial with Coffee
- Prepare the Dial: Preheat your oven to a slightly lower temperature, around 100°C or 210°F. Take the watch dial and place it face down, ensuring it fully touches the coffee grounds without necessarily being buried.
- Begin the Baking: Carefully position the dial into the preheated oven and allow it to bake for an initial 10-minute duration.
- Gradual Temperature Increase: After this initial baking period, check the dial's color. At this point, it's common not to observe significant changes in the patina. Continue to slowly increase the temperature (5°C - 10°C each time) every 10 minutes.
- Monitor and Adjust: Continually monitor the dial's color and adjust the temperature incrementally as needed to reach the desired patina. Don’t let the heat get too high or you risk damaging the paint off the dial. Use the “smoking coffee signal” to check if you should turn down the heat.
- Final Touch: Once you achieve the desired patina color, remove the dial from the oven and proceed with cleaning while it's still hot. Use a dust blower to carefully remove any coffee grounds that may have adhered to the dial during the process and use rodico to get the more stubborn specks off.
These steps yield a vintage, aged appearance for your watch dial. If you want it to have a darker patina, you can retry the methods above using fresh dry coffee grounds. And if you want to mimic natural stains, you can use slightly damp grounds. Remember to exercise caution and patience throughout the process to achieve the best results without overheating the dial or compromising its integrity.
Source: Jaeiger, WatchUSeek
Moving on now to the hands.
How to add faux patina to watch hands
Aging watch hands to achieve that perfect vintage look is the next step in our series of patination techniques, and it is quite like the method we used for the dial. You should have some practice by now!
As we all know, the devil is in the details. While a beautifully aged dial is a sight to behold, it can look a bit out of place when paired with brand new watch hands. So, in this section, we'll focus on aging the hands to match that delightful patina.
Method 1: Using Liquid Coffee
This approach involves achieving a substantial patina while preserving the original lume. To begin, prepare the hands by ensuring they are stable on a flat surface. Next, apply liquid coffee, preferably filtered, onto the hands. You have two options: precise application to the lumed area using a pegwood or toothpick, or a brush with a pointed tip. After applying, place the hands in the oven at 120°C or 248°F for 20 minutes. This allows the coffee's color to settle onto the hands. While you may see some coffee stains extending beyond the lume area, don't worry; these can be easily wiped away using a wet Q-tip followed by a piece of cloth, and finally, some rodico to clean off any remaining debris.
Method 2: Deep Patina
Source: Jaeiger, WatchUSeek
For a deep and unmistakable patina, dry coffee grounds are the way to go. Same as what we did for dials, you'll need to find the temperature at which the coffee grounds begin to smoke. Start at a low temperature and gradually raise it until you see the coffee smoking. Place the hands face down on the coffee grounds and bake them for just 5 minutes to get a dark brown patina. The goal here is to achieve a dramatic patina without overwhelming the hands with excessive soot.
Experimenting with these methods is encouraged, especially if you want to match the color of your dial with that of the hands. You can adjust settings like temperature and duration to get a slightly deeper or lighter patina.
In the end, you'll have hands that perfectly complement your aged dial, creating a harmonious vintage look.
Brand New Vintage Pt. 2
Again, if you want to just achieve that creamy, patinated lume without having to go through the trouble of baking your dial and hands (and potentially damaging them), you can always check our Vintage Lumed catalog to see our handsets and dials that already have lume with a yellowish tint, without diminishing the brightness of its glow. We have sword style hands, and snowflake sets, vintage Barakuda dials and Khaki-field style ones, and more for your vintage modding convenience.
And that's a wrap, fellow watch modders! We've come to the end of our two-part journey into the world of giving your watches that cool aged look. You've seen how a little wear and tear can actually make your watch more appealing, and we hope it inspired you to do more with your watch.
As we close this chapter on patina, let's not forget that it's not just about looks; it's about the stories behind those marks and stains. Each one tells a tale of your watch's life.
This might be the end of our two-parter, but don't worry. We're always cooking up new guides to keep your modding game strong. Stay tuned for more guides, reviews, and horology opinions and happy modding!