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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is about my futile attempts to restore a mirror finish and is looking for feedback from those who think they know how to.

Alright, we all love our watches. And scratches can be a real thorn in the eye. We all know that a good watchmaker can restore the watch to like new finish. But it would be nice to give it a once over from time to time instead of having to wait half a decade or more. And it would be nice to be able to do it oneself and at a low cost.

So I set out to hand polish my watches. Never had anything but hair line marks and minor dings. Dings you can't do anything and I now think hair line marks you shouldn't do anything.

I read a number of tutorials, used a 10x jeweler's loupe and good light, tried different polishers and polishing and buffing cloths including, the famed Cap Cod cloth, the Sunshine cloth from Japan and Flitz metal polish.

Let me tell you, it is possible to get a hair line mark out. BUT you will get micro swirls and micro scratches that I find even more distracting than a hair line on mirror finish. I used all possible combinations of abrasives, substrates and pressure from 10lb to a butterfly touch with swirls and straight strokes. No go. Micro marks are there to stay. Flitz is the roughest of those three polishes, followed by Cape Cod -which gives a nice shine but leaves marks that are visible with the naked eye - and the Sunshine cloth is the softest polish. I think that's what I'd recommend with a light touch to give the watch a once over from time to time, maybe thrice a year.

I have not tried the Fabulustre jeweler's rouge cloth. That's supposed to be even less cutting than the sunshine cloth. So perhaps it can make the micro marks disappear.

Those who say the Cape Cod cloth restores a steel watch to mirror finish (without any visible marks) either have a technique that they should share or they just don't look well or not under the right light.

So what's the deal?

Till

P.S.: As a little bonus, watch this video on how a Breitling watch is restored at the factory: YouTube - Breitling Maintenance - Polishing
 

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Two comments: 1. Find an old rockhound and use his polish wheels. I should have taken that stuff when my father passed away. 2. No wonder my 10-year old B-1 looks so good. The previous owner didn't wear it after its last service and it looks brand new.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks so much for the link, Toby. The problem is: He also does the final stage with a motorized wheel. I'm sure there are skilled craftsmen who can achieve a mirror polish even by hand. After all you can go down to 1 micron grades of abrasive. Watchmakers use agate stone to polish. If you ever touched an agate that thing is already as smooth as a mirror finish steel case. ;)

And for a touch-up in between full professional polishes the sandpaper stuff is just too hardcore for me.

I wonder how much it would be to have a watchmaker only touch up the case sides and perhaps the bezel. Maybe an intermediate small service at 2.5 years or so could be looked at. But this still doesn't deal with the problem of those little everyday marks.

It's funny, on some watches it's really easy to live with, sometimes I actually like the marks but on others it bothers me.

I also wonder, in light of this polishing experience, if brushed finishes may not be easier to touch-up after all. At least you don't have to deal with marring the polish through micro scratches.

Till
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
six duplicate posts. What's wrong there?
 

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To answer the first question, yes, you can acheive a mirror polish by hand, if you don't have a buffing wheel. However, plan to expend a good deal of elbow grease on the project.

As to the server problem, hit the "submit button once and only once. To keep from loosing the post in a server glitch, high light everything and hit "CTRL C", that way if the server dumps your post in oblivion, you don't that to re-type the whole thing over.
 

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This is about my futile attempts to restore a mirror finish and is looking for feedback from those who think they know how to.

Alright, we all love our watches. And scratches can be a real thorn in the eye. We all know that a good watchmaker can restore the watch to like new finish. But it would be nice to give it a once over from time to time instead of having to wait half a decade or more. And it would be nice to be able to do it oneself and at a low cost.

So I set out to hand polish my watches. Never had anything but hair line marks and minor dings. Dings you can't do anything and I now think hair line marks you shouldn't do anything.

I read a number of tutorials, used a 10x jeweler's loupe and good light, tried different polishers and polishing and buffing cloths including, the famed Cap Cod cloth, the Sunshine cloth from Japan and Flitz metal polish.

Let me tell you, it is possible to get a hair line mark out. BUT you will get micro swirls and micro scratches that I find even more distracting than a hair line on mirror finish. I used all possible combinations of abrasives, substrates and pressure from 10lb to a butterfly touch with swirls and straight strokes. No go. Micro marks are there to stay. Flitz is the roughest of those three polishes, followed by Cape Cod -which gives a nice shine but leaves marks that are visible with the naked eye - and the Sunshine cloth is the softest polish. I think that's what I'd recommend with a light touch to give the watch a once over from time to time, maybe thrice a year.

I have not tried the Fabulustre jeweler's rouge cloth. That's supposed to be even less cutting than the sunshine cloth. So perhaps it can make the micro marks disappear.

Those who say the Cape Cod cloth restores a steel watch to mirror finish (without any visible marks) either have a technique that they should share or they just don't look well or not under the right light.

So what's the deal?

Till

P.S.: As a little bonus, watch this video on how a Breitling watch is restored at the factory: YouTube - Breitling Maintenance - Polishing
You can obtain a mirror-like finish by hand or by wheel simply by reducing the grit size. It's going to take a lot of elbow action, especially if you want to remove all evidence of wear. However, you might want to consider simply living with the scratches that watches inevitably accumulate. Or at the very least being very conservative in your approach to polishing. I say that because polishing will inevitably round off otherwise sharp and well-defined edges and detail. The result will be one of those mirror-like watches with softly rounded case and bracelet that we so often see for sale.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So what grade of abrasive is needed to avoid micro scratches? I don't mind the elbow grease if it's not a weekly requirement but perhaps once a year.

I appreciate the over-polishing warning. That's precisely why I was looking for an option that is not as intrusive as using a wheel or full one sandpaper just to get rid of some hairline scratches.


OT:
As for the server, I did hit the button several times that time because I simply didn't even get any feedback that anything was happening at all. Not even the little clock. I waited like five minutes. I always copy the text when I see it doesn't register right away. I've seen this on other forums but here it's particularly bad and the new server we recently got doesn't seem to have helped any.

Till
 

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So what grade of abrasive is needed to avoid micro scratches? I don't mind the elbow grease if it's not a weekly requirement but perhaps once a year.

I appreciate the over-polishing warning. That's precisely why I was looking for an option that is not as intrusive as using a wheel or full one sandpaper just to get rid of some hairline scratches.

OT:
As for the server, I did hit the button several times that time because I simply didn't even get any feedback that anything was happening at all. Not even the little clock. I waited like five minutes. I always copy the text when I see it doesn't register right away. I've seen this on other forums but here it's particularly bad and the new server we recently got doesn't seem to have helped any.

Till
Look at the Vigor final polishing rouges. Slippery slope warning: Just remember that the section you choose to polish may ultimately end up with a finish that is off slightly from the rest of the watch.
 

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I had this same problem polishing the mirror finish back to factory on my Breitling Avenger Seawolf. Problem is the cape cod was not the same that Breitling uses and will not give you factory finish. So I got the same pink and yellow polishing bars in the Breitling video. Did you see those bars on the polishing lanes? It's available under cousinsuk.com . Look under consumables. Use a cordless dremmel and cotton wheel attachement. At least it will be more a DIY job and with less heat generating by the cordless power.
 
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