For those who are interested in the process, history and terms of dial refinishing, We created this page to explain about the various techniques and styles:

Plain Butler Dial (Silver)

This is the most simple and very common finish in early American wrist watches, especially Hamilton and Elgin models, and in some military style Swiss watches. The finish of the surface is satin-glossy.

The surface is in silver tone and it has print(s) of the logo and indexes, normally in black. The print is similar to enamel dials and in some early Swiss military style dials it is also common to find the '12' figures in either red or dark blue.

Pearl White (Argenté White)

This surface finish was widely common in the Swiss dial industry since the early 20th century and was fairly popular in the United States as well, especially for lady Elgin models. The surface has a matte-satin texture and has a color combination of white with shimmering effect that look like pearl tone.

While most of the dials are printed in black ink, some more expensive dials were made with hard enamel print which was much more durable over time.
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Embossed Figures

The numbers/markers were punched from the bottom of the surface and then polished to the original tone of the dial, normally golden, with contrast to the finished surface (normally pearl white or silver). Once created, they cannot be taken off from the dial (as opposed to applied numerals).

Dials with embossed figures were common both in the Swiss and American industry since the early 30s. Many Hamilton models, as well as Gruen, Bulova and later on Elgin models, were using this technique.


Luminous Figures

Luminous figures were developed by the Swiss industry around first world war and became popular over the years. You can read more about luminos hands history here.

First the black print is applied to the refinished surface and only then the luminous material is applied on top of the print, as a last stage.

We use exclusively Super-Luminova® non-toxic luminous compound on all of our luminous work.
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Dual Tone

These dials have a combinations of more than one tone, texture or color on the surface. Normally the combination would be between Butler and Pearl finish -or- copper and gold tones, as shown in the samples.

Colored Dials

Colored dials are relatively newer in the history of dial refinishing, as well as in the industry itself, and became most popular in the late 60s with the introduction of more colorful wrist watches by the Swiss and Japanese makers.

We can accomodate most colors in either satin or glossy finish.

On the right: Showing two identical Hamilton dials with different background color and texture.
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Gold-Inlaid Figures

The golden inlaid figures (And sometimes copper, or silver tone inlaid as well) were very common in expensive models of Elgin and Gruen, as well as other Swiss manufacturers.

The figures are part of the background and do not stick out of the surface, as opposed to embossed figures or applied figures. Refinishing gold inlaid figures require a lot of stages and special attention to details.

Applied Figures

Applied figures were very popular on Hamilton models since the early 30s and in some later Swiss models from the late 40s and on.

In order to find out if your dial has applied or embossed figures, you simply need to check the back of the dial; If there are signs of grinding as shown in the lower left photo (this effect is caused from cutting the pins of the applied figures) then the dial is applied. If the dial is plain on the back then it is embossed.

Pearl Track

This effect was very common in round Swiss watches from the 40s-50s period, especially in models by IWC Schaffhausen, DOXA and others.

Basically it is an external minute/seconds track of 60 small pearl-like tiny dots, in a form of a circular engraving on the surface of the dial. The idea is taking out the refinished layer tone, resulting in an effect of small 'pearls' within the original tone of the metal. Depending on the tone of the metal, these will be either silver or golden in tone.

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Luminous Dots

The luminous dots effect was very popular in Swiss wrist watches since the early 50s and is still popular today, both in Swiss and Japanese watches. The raised markers would have a tritium or phosphorous based luminous paste applied to them in a shape of a small dot, triangle etc. to mark the appropriate marker, so the owner of the watch can distinguish the hour differences in darkness.

We use exclusively Super-Luminova® non-toxic luminous compound on all of our luminous work.

SWISS Markings

Most original Swiss made dials were manufactured with marking on the dial. Those marks of origin would normally come below the '6' figure in a small black print and were available in different variations such as: SWISS, Switzerland, Swiss Made, Made in Switzerland, T Swiss T (For dials where Tritium is used for luminous dots/hands) and more.

We offer this complementary service to refinish your dial back to its most original condition.

Chronograph Track

Chronograph dial refinish projects are more complicated prints which require refinish work in several stages.

These include surface refinishing, normally in dual or even triple tone, track and logo prints in 2-3 colors and luminous figures.

We have several chronograph tracks to accomodate most common Swiss chronograph models and can also make new prints to match your custom requirements.


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