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I've seen a number of watches that have had their case backs engraved. Is there anything that can be done to undo the process :) If so, does it compromise the value of the watch? Basically are these watches compromised or value significantly lower due to engraving/repairs?

Mike
 

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Yes it can usually be removed, provided no original marks are in the way - expensive though. As for effect on value, depends on the engraving. Some will significantly increase the value, adding dates and provenance. Most in general won't.
 

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Yes it can usually be removed, provided no original marks are in the way - expensive though. As for effect on value, depends on the engraving. Some will significantly increase the value, adding dates and provenance. Most in general won't.
Interesting. I've seen several that are retirement engravings as well as the person getting the watch.
If it's just a joe schmo does this do anything for the watch?
 

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We had a thread on this a while ago... there was no consensus on how engraving affects value. My view is I am buying vintage that I know others have owned before. I like the connection to them that engravings (and watchmaker markings inside the caseback) make. And, if real, they often provide definitive dating.

They can be removed but the removal has to go as deep as the engraving... sometimes that is too deep to avoid removing the rest of the data on the caseback. And that is not good.
 

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On something like a solid gold or silver case, you could (in theory) fill the engraving with new material and buff it out. Might be tricky to match the colour of the gold though. Silver would be easier, I'd imagine. In theory, this works on gold filled as well, but would hardly be worth the effort. I doubt it would be easy or practical for steel.
 

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I agree Steel casebacks would be in a way tougher but, with a lot of skill with a TIG welder and a grinder you technically could fill things up pretty good, the only problem might be discoloration of the caseback. But you could heat treat the whole peice afterwards to achieve an even tone...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I agree Steel casebacks would be in a way tougher but, with a lot of skill with a TIG welder and a grinder you technically could fill things up pretty good, the only problem might be discoloration of the caseback. But you could heat treat the whole peice afterwards to achieve an even tone...
Thanks for the input guys. I'm not looking for steel, that wouldn't be an issue. I have been pretty amazed at the depth some of the engravings I've seen. I don't mind them too much, but some give me an eerie feeling, knowing someone has passed that used to wear the watch...Maybe like it's haunted or something...

Mike
 

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...but some give me an eerie feeling, knowing someone has passed that used to wear the watch...Maybe like it's haunted or something...
I am the complete opposite. I like the engravings - I think they are a window into time - even the joe shmo ones you mention. Probably 90% of my collection would have deceased first owners, and a couple would have around 4 generations behind them. Never found a watch eerie.
 

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Count me among the people who enjoy period engravings on watches.

I particularly enjoy the artistry present many times in monograms and sometimes seen in more complex engravings

I don't particularly like crudely done engravings, but will overlook them if the watch or even the engraving itself(what is says) is interesting.

The common retirement engravings in general don't increase or decrease value for me-with the exception of railroad retirement engravings on railroad grade watches(I like these).

The one absolute deal-killer for me is seeing a modern engraving on an antique watch. This is the only type of engraving that, for me, devalues a watch. In most cases, I will pass on them.
 

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I think it all depends. . .There is a Rolex for sale on another forum with the initials "DDR" and an SS# engraved on the caseback. The seller claims the watch belonged to David Dean Rusk. If that's the case (though why anyone, least of all a famous person would inscribe their SS# on a watch is beyond me), the engraving would increase the value of the watch. If it's a fake, well. . .
 

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I too enjoy the engravings and find the historic context they offer interesting. On a personal note - my father was a master engraver, one of the last chase-hammer and chisel guys in an industrial setting. So I have an appreciation of the execution of some of the hand engraving.
 

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I'm personally not a fan of engraving, unless the watch's previous owner was a relative. Unless the timepiece was previously owned by someone famous, I have no connection to the engraving and would have it removed if I decided to buy the watch.
 
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