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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have just recently become interested in learning about vintage watches, and after spending the past week stalking these forums, there is definitely endless amounts of knowledge and experience to learn from here.

Before I buy my first vintage watch, I really want to learn as much as I can so that I can recognize a deal/rip-off. My question is, how do I know if a watch has been redialed and if so, how do I know if it is a good redial. I have read other threads on this, but what is not clear is how one finds a high quality photo of the original watch dial to compare the two? Do you just do a google search? I know of the omega vintage watch database site, but even there, it shows only one example for a certain year, movement, etc. and then im unsure if the dial color is original, or if the fine details (e.g. the swiss made at bottom) are different for different dials. Any help/advice in getting better at recognizing redials from original and bad redials from good ones would be appreciated.
 

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Knowledge is power. The more you know, the better you get.

One common giveaway: Black dial with white lettering which is not completely opaque or crisp.

Another: no Swiss or Swiss Made on the dial. (Or, if there, in a straight line and not following the curve of the dial edge.)

But the main giveaway: it looks too new.
 

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One cue that I use is to compare the dial under the case to the dial portion that you can see. Look for color differences and scuffing from slight movement of the mechanism. The picture is an example of a very good dial but showing wear around the edges indicating that it is original (or an old redial in some cases).
Face.jpg

the main giveaway: it looks too new.
+1. Even the best dials from the 1950s or earlier will probably show some sort a light patina. Look very closely at the details.
 

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Besides studying the print quality, you also need to be familiar with what a genuine dial for a particular watch looks like.

What I often do for a watch I do not know is do a Google image search for that watch and see the varieties that may exist from trusted sources.

You also need to pay attention to a seller's description. If it does not say specifically original dial, it most likely is not.

Studying the patina (or lack thereof) in relation to the condition of raised markers, as well as how well they line up with printed the "tick marks".

Certain watches have informational websites that show examples and talk about history. Good to have a bookmarked library of these.
 

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but not all swiss watch manufacturers imprinted "swiss" or "swiss made" on their dials, did they? are there particular manufacturers for whom this was/should be the case?
 

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Hi there and welcome!

Agree with everything said above! knowledge, experience and research are all needed... Using the forum as a resource is a must when you start out... as much as it very exciting when you start out making those initial purchases... its probably the time when you are most likely to make mistakes if you go it alone... I am speaking from experience... did not join the forum for over a year from when I started... I bought some real duff watches in that first year!!

things to be wary of on dials:

Dials looking brand new in 'older' watches
Obscure colour of dial
Text/logo's not crisp
Bright green lume or excessive amounts of lume.

Good luck and ask if you are unsure!!
 

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Paleotime: The Bulova dial you showed is not an original dial.

As an owner of a dial refinish business, I can give you some tips about refinished dials in general and how to spot bad ones.

1. SWISS / SWISS MADE is not a solid key to determine how original the dial is but most likely regular refinishers will not invest in putting them back on, as it involves an additional print process which takes more time, hence costs more than an economy level refinish. Note that most Swiss makers did have Swiss, Swiss made, Switzerland on the dials and still do.

2. Note on most circular shapes Rolex/Omega/Longines from 1960 and up - These mostly had sunburst effect which require a complicated refinish process. Most refinished dials from that era will be plain metallic with no sunburst effect.

3. Raised embossed numerals - Look for imperfections in the gold coating under loupe. If the surface is uneven or the plating is unequal to all numerals/markers that would be suspicious.

4. Print - Originally 30s to 50s dials were printed with enamel-like paint which is raised above the surface, crisp and has a satin tone.
If the print is fuzzy, in one line with the surface (in terms of height, as if it was dissolved in the background) or too matte in tone, that is most likely a (bad) refinish.

5. Pearl index marks are most likely to be either manually silver/gold painted dots or simply left in the tone of the surface, instead of pearl-drilled.

You can see more technical definitions in our website:
TIMEPIECE : Watch Dial Restoration Definitions

If someone needs help identifying dials and have good pictures, feel free to contact me.
 

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Paleotime: The Bulova dial you showed is not an original dial.
Hi...Given what I know about the history of this particular watch in my collection it not being original would be a very big surprise. Reasons for your point of view?
 

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I believe in particular (3) and (4) in my explanations above. I believe this is an old refinish.
I determine this from the photo I see.
I am normally right about these thing but since the watch is not here I could be wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all the advice. At least I know what Im supposed to be looking for now. I ll be sure to post new threads for watches that I have questions on. Thanks again everyone.
 

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but not all swiss watch manufacturers imprinted "swiss" or "swiss made" on their dials, did they? are there particular manufacturers for whom this was/should be the case?
This is an incorrect generalization. There are exceptions. Omega, for instance.
 

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If I may add...if you plan on buying vintage on auction sites there are sellers from India and Ukraine who deal mostly with refinished dials or franken-watches which you might want to avoid. Now before I get any complaints about this I know that there are GOOD sellers from those countries...but the OP is not experienced in spotting redials (and neither am I for that matter) so at least for the time being it's safe if you try to avoid sellers from those countries.
 

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Paleotime: The Bulova dial you showed is not an original dial.

As an owner of a dial refinish business, I can give you some tips about refinished dials in general and how to spot bad ones.

1. SWISS / SWISS MADE is not a solid key to determine how original the dial is but most likely regular refinishers will not invest in putting them back on, as it involves an additional print process which takes more time, hence costs more than an economy level refinish. Note that most Swiss makers did have Swiss, Swiss made, Switzerland on the dials and still do.

2. Note on most circular shapes Rolex/Omega/Longines from 1960 and up - These mostly had sunburst effect which require a complicated refinish process. Most refinished dials from that era will be plain metallic with no sunburst effect.

3. Raised embossed numerals - Look for imperfections in the gold coating under loupe. If the surface is uneven or the plating is unequal to all numerals/markers that would be suspicious.

4. Print - Originally 30s to 50s dials were printed with enamel-like paint which is raised above the surface, crisp and has a satin tone.
If the print is fuzzy, in one line with the surface (in terms of height, as if it was dissolved in the background) or too matte in tone, that is most likely a (bad) refinish.

5. Pearl index marks are most likely to be either manually silver/gold painted dots or simply left in the tone of the surface, instead of pearl-drilled.

You can see more technical definitions in our website:
TIMEPIECE : Watch Dial Restoration Definitions

If someone needs help identifying dials and have good pictures, feel free to contact me.

Can we make this, and other similar posts into a STICKY for future reference??

What say thou Mr Eeeb?? :)
 

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MrSnak: This issue has a lot to do with the historical development and achievement of the Swiss horological industry.
You may want to research further about a twin subject 'Swiss fakes' of the 19th century if that is of any interest to you/others.
In short, from basically hand made 'OEM' manufacturers in the 19th century (I am speaking in general means, not to particulate Patek Philippe and higher end stuff etc)
The Swiss industry moved from a nearly invisible to non-existent evidence of SWISS MADE on watches, to later early 20th century "standard" SWISS MADE on dials and movements, as the Swiss industry managed to get a reputation and volume as a predominant maker and conquer the lead in world production in terms of turnover and quality.

Personally I have never seen any Swiss made watch after 1930 that did not carry any Swiss made variant on the dial and/or movement, except of hand made / custom dials of course.

Johnny Monkey: As far as I am concerned - My pleasure :)
 
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