Refinishing vs. Polishing a Watch?A big draw of buying a luxury watch is that, in theory, it should last for a long time. In fact, some high-quality mechanical watches can actually stay in shape for several lifetimes. However, this is, of course, dependent on how well you take care of your timepiece—including regular servicing and maintenance. Yet, even those who are well versed in luxury watches erroneously assume that refinishing and polishing a watch is the same thing when they are two completely different processes. We recently collaborated with our partner, Watch Central Repair for some insider information. So, today we’ll be highlighting the differences between refinishing vs. polishing a watch and we'll explore why it’s important to know the distinction between the two when caring for your prized luxury watches.
What does Refinishing a Watch Mean?
To compare refinishing vs. polishing a watch is like comparing a visit to a walk-in clinic versus a stay in a hospital. One is a quick fix while the other is a comprehensive process. Although many service centers claim to offer complex refinishing services for luxury watches, what they are actually offering is often insufficient polishing procedures. Polishing a watch only requires external work, nothing more.
- First, the watch is actually disassembled and exterior as well as interior components—are thoroughly inspected.
- The state of the various gaskets (crystal gasket, caseback gasket, pusher gaskets, crown gaskets), as well as the pushers, crowns, pusher tubes, and crown tubes are all checked during inspection. This is done to ensure that the watch will be water resistant after reassembly.
- Components can include exterior parts such as the case, bezel, crystal, and bracelet, and internal parts such as gaskets and tubes.
- Then, components that need work will be cleaned, and polished. If any aspect of the watch needs to be repaired, the client is always notified so they can make the decision to move forward with a repair.
- Following that, the watch is reassembled. Once assembled, the watch undergoes accuracy testing to ensure the watch is running optimally, water resistance testing to prevent any water from leaking into the timepiece, and other quality inspection points to verify that the watch will continue to work flawlessly on the wrist.
What Kind of Machinery Should be Used when Refinishing a Watch?
To refinish a watch not only takes great skill on the part of the technicians, but also specialized and expensive machinery, which few repair centers actually have. Proper repair centers such as Watch Central have the same type of machinery that watch manufacturers have. Just like the best watches, the best quality machines often come from Switzerland—a country that truly understands and fosters top watchmaking mastery. For instance, specific sanding machines with Swiss-made grinding belts, like the ones Watch Central have in-house, allows the technician to achieve the exact same finishes as the watch manufacture intended.
[caption id="attachment_1040" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Before and after refinishing work at Watch Central[/caption] But it’s not enough just to have the right belts; a watch specialist needs to understand which specific belt should be used on which surfaces to get the right finish. Plus, when correctly refinishing a watch, there are certain surfaces that require specific materials that can only be filled in with special lasers. Many repair centers and independent polishers simply do not have access to suitable equipment, machinery, and materials to get the job done right.
How Do I Make Sure my Watch is in the Right (Refinishing) Hands?
Prior to sending your watch or watches in for refinishing, do your research. The last thing you want to do is to leave your beloved watch to someone that doesn’t have the appropriate skill level or equipment to correctly service it. Always check reviews, see what other customers have to say, and don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have before committing to the service. Any reputable establishment should be able to walk you through the process in a detailed manner and answer any questions you want answered. Also, a warranty of work should be expected on any watch repair services provided.
[caption id="attachment_1043" align="aligncenter" width="600"] This Breguet watch now looks like new thanks to Watch Central[/caption] And finally, always make sure to request proof of what work was done on your watch with a comprehensive refinishing report. Have more questions about servicing your watch? Visit Watch Central Repair to learn more.