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I've been pondering for a while what would hypothetically happen to a watch if it were left outside, in the sun and weather.

Say you had a new / near new dive watch. It's sealed up so rain isn't going to affect it.. But leaving it in the sun for months on end. If it's Quartz it'll keep on ticking while it's out there.

Any ideas as to what would happen, visually.. mechanically? Would it create somewhat of a forced "patina"? Would the movement overheat?

I'm not planning on leaving anything outside but purely curious as to what others think could happen.


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Do not know what might happen to my watch when left outside, one is for sure: the watch will not be there tomorrow since it found a new owner.
Ahahah answer of the year!!! Yep, I wouldn't intentionally leave a watch outside for the same exact reason!!!
 

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Do not know what might happen to my watch when left outside, one is for sure: the watch will not be there tomorrow since it found a new owner.
And if you give me his address I could go retrieve it before the sun goes down
 

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You'd end up in the ER with a 2nd degree burn after you put it on?
 
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Lots of sun-bleaching would happen
Exactly this.

I recently had a customer contact me about a faded dial and internal bezel on a blue-dialed watch. The fading happened over 7 months, and was really incredible - completely even, with no blotchiness or pitting, no disintegration of the lume - you'd see some or all of this with chemical exposure or baking, but this was just a totally even fade.

I contacted two of my suppliers about it, and sent pics. I got a crash course in dial pigments and their longevity. White and lighter colored dials are generally going to hold up better to prolonged exposure, but dark colors are going to absorb the light, heat up, and break down the pigments.

The strap was pretty faded too, so all together, we ruled out chemical splashes or baths, and 'cooking' of the dial, as well as defect, since it was three faded components on a single watch - a statistical near-impossibility.

It was pretty obvious the owner had left it in the sun for a long time. No idea why they'd do it, or why they waited so long to address it. My guess would be they stored it on a windowsill when not wearing it, or the guy's a truck driver and hung his left arm out the window of his cab all day.

Time keeping didn't seem to be dramatically effected. If I recall, it was +/- 15 secs/day, which is a little outside the expected range for that calibre, but still within spec.

Dis be my fone...
 
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Exactly this.

I recently had a customer contact me about a faded dial and internal bezel on a blue-dialed watch. The fading happened over 7 months, and was really incredible - completely even, with no blotchiness or pitting, no disintegration of the lume - you'd see some or all of this with chemical exposure or baking, but this was just a totally even fade.

I contacted two of my suppliers about it, and sent pics. I got a crash course in dial pigments and their longevity. White and lighter colored dials are generally going to hold up better to prolonged exposure, but dark colors are going to absorb the light, heat up, and break down the pigments.

The strap was pretty faded too, so all together, we ruled out chemical splashes or baths, and 'cooking' of the dial, as well as defect, since it was three faded components on a single watch - a statistical near-impossibility.

It was pretty obvious the owner had left it in the sun for a long time. No idea why they'd do it, or why they waited so long to address it. My guess would be they stored it on a windowsill when not wearing it, or the guy's a truck driver and hung his left arm out the window of his cab all day.

Time keeping didn't seem to be dramatically effected. If I recall, it was +/- 15 secs/day, which is a little outside the expected range for that calibre, but still within spec.

Dis be my fone...
Could be a tanning bed too. I know people who go in those things a few times a week. I don't get it. A bit of a tan may be attractive, but looking like a carrot is not.
 
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And there was me thinking I was the only one who lived in a place where it would be unwise to leave a watch outside un-attended.
 

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Could be a tanning bed too. I know people who go in those things a few times a week. I don't get it. A bit of a tan may be attractive, but looking like a carrot is not.
I hadn't thought of that, but yeah, not only is that also a possibility, I'm now thinking it may be the most likely explanation, as this person didn't live in the sun belt.

Dis be my fone...
 

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you could just take the watch apart (learn from youtube video is usually a good start) and bake the dial only in the oven. I heard there are many people who do this with new Rolex dial and fit it back in order to create a forced patina effect. not the best way I know but if you want patina quick and easy, that's one good way to do it.
 

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you could just take the watch apart (learn from youtube video is usually a good start) and bake the dial only in the oven. I heard there are many people who do this with new Rolex dial and fit it back in order to create a forced patina effect. not the best way I know but if you want patina quick and easy, that's one good way to do it.
Well, better than sand blasted jeans where you pay more so someone can wear your jeans out more before you buy them. I hope they know what they're doing when they put it back because I'd love to see the Rolex salesperson's face when someone comes back asking to get it fixed under warranty.
 

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If you're trying to force patina a dial, baking it would do it. However, you need to be careful, as 1) that typically darkens it, rather than lightens it, and 2), the color change can continue as the dial cools, so you need to be good with timing it, which comes with experience.

Also, it can ruin the lume, making it cracked and flakey, so you end up with a lot of that crud between your dial and crystal after you re-assemble it.

WUS member Jelliottz is a bit of a mad scientist with this stuff, always doing forced-patina experiments on vintage mod homages he builds. He likes to put coffee grounds in the oven with the dials, or rub coffee grounds on them - he does something with coffee grounds, but the details are sketchy.

UV light would definitely lighten a dark dial. I don't know if it would darken a lighter colored dial, though maybe that's what would happen. The benefit is that the fading would be more even, and it wouldn't dry out the lume, though it could dry out the lubricants if you just left the whole watch under a UV lamp.

You can chemically fade (or maybe darken, I don't know) a dial, like with bleach, but it's easy to over-do it, and the results are often a blotchy appearance, pitting in the dial, and it absolutely destroys the lume, if you do it in a chemical bath.

Specifically answering the OP's question, about what would happen if you left a watch in the sun - I wouldn't recommend it. It will prematurely fade a dark dial, reduce the longevity of your lume, possibly heat the lubricants and damage the movement. If you intend to fade the dial because you think you'd like the look, I'd recommend buying some cheap mod dials and experimenting first, then disassembling your watch and leaving only the dial exposed to the light, rather than the entire assembled watch.
 

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Do not know what might happen to my watch when left outside, one is for sure: the watch will not be there tomorrow since it found a new owner.
Before I moved recently, I was clearing out junk. I had a Citizen Skyhawk-type watch with a dead battery (from before the days of Eco-Drive) and a mode selector button that did not work consistently. Didn't want the watch anymore (the watch was a hand-me-down, not one that I wanted), and I didn't want to get it fixed or try to sell it, so I just put it out on the lawn to see if someone would take it or not. Before a few minutes passed, the watch was gone already.
 

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I've been pondering for a while what would hypothetically happen to a watch if it were left outside, in the sun and weather.

Say you had a new / near new dive watch. It's sealed up so rain isn't going to affect it.. But leaving it in the sun for months on end. If it's Quartz it'll keep on ticking while it's out there.

Any ideas as to what would happen, visually.. mechanically? Would it create somewhat of a forced "patina"? Would the movement overheat?

I'm not planning on leaving anything outside but purely curious as to what others think could happen.


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1. As mentioned the oil will probably dry up faster.
2. The seals will probably harden up and no longer be water resistant.
3. Once the seals leak then rainwater, melting snow, dog pee, etc., will work it's way in and corrode the movement and the dial.
4. Dial colors will fade and with enough built up heat the paint will crack.

Either buy a vintage watch with patina or buy one of the new watches with created aging. What kind of patination are you looking for.
 

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I did it once for about 8 hours. Installed a new bezel insert and the adhesive that I bought needed a lot of drying. Since im pressed with time, I left it outside, out of sight from the public of course. Came home and was relieved that it was still there. The adhesive dried up as expected and the insert has not popped out yet even after few dips into the ocean. I dont know what will happen though if it is left out on the sun for extended period of time.
 
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