Is it possible to remove gold plating?

Thread: Is it possible to remove gold plating?

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  1. #1
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    Is it possible to remove gold plating?

    I just bought a vintage watch. Most of the gold plating has worn off the bezel, but remains in places. Is it possible to polish off the remaining plating without resorting to chemical solutions?

    P.S. Anyone ever heard of Windsor? I'd guess sixties' vintage. I'll post some photos when I get a chance to take some, but these photos I found online. The watch is almost identical; mine has a slightly different seconds subdial, and "LIFETIME MAINSPRING is just above "antimagnetic" above the subdial.



    Last edited by unwatched; May 13th, 2010 at 21:46.

  2. #2
    Member Popoki Nui's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to remove gold plating?

    Sure it is. I've done it on several watches with various sanding, brushing, and polishing agents, but it is VERY difficult to do with the watch intact. And you must be VERY careful not to damage the edges (i.e. not rounding or softening the edges/details of the case), crystal seat, or caseback threads. And patience....lots of it.

    It's always best to remove the movement and crystal; it makes it so much easier to work on the case. And you will need to send the bare case out for replating anyway.

    Have fun!
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  3. #3
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    Re: Is it possible to remove gold plating?

    Quote Originally Posted by Popoki Nui View Post
    Sure it is. I've done it on several watches with various sanding, brushing, and polishing agents, but it is VERY difficult to do with the watch intact. And you must be VERY careful not to damage the edges (i.e. not rounding or softening the edges/details of the case), crystal seat, or caseback threads. And patience....lots of it.

    It's always best to remove the movement and crystal; it makes it so much easier to work on the case. And you will need to send the bare case out for replating anyway.

    Have fun!
    Actually, shouldn't be too difficult on this watch - just a little plating left on one side of the bezel and a little on the lugs. I also have no intention of replating it, it looks just fine in silver. What agents?

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    Member ltri's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to remove gold plating?

    Quote Originally Posted by unwatched View Post

    P.S. Anyone ever heard of Windsor? I'd guess sixties' vintage. I'll post some photos when I get a chance to take some, but these photos I found online. The watch is almost identical; mine has a slightly different seconds subdial, and "LIFETIME MAINSPRING is just above "antimagnetic" above the subdial.
    the lifetime mainspring and antimagnetic both written on the dial and the diamond tooled and electronically timed engraved on the back is a tell tale sign that this is a cheaper watch with a pin lever movement in it.
    I'm a watchbreaker not a watchmaker.

  6. #5
    Member Popoki Nui's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to remove gold plating?

    Quote Originally Posted by unwatched View Post
    Actually, shouldn't be too difficult on this watch - just a little plating left on one side of the bezel and a little on the lugs. I also have no intention of replating it, it looks just fine in silver. What agents?
    What is the case made of? Looks like it says brass on the caseback? That "silver" metal under the gold plate (and over the brass base metal) may be nickel, so hope you're not allergic to that.

    Depending on how thick the remaining gold plating is, I would begin with a 400 or 600 grit wet-and-dry emery paper and carefully wear away the plating. Then switch to 800 and then 1000 grit to smooth the finish. After that, I use Mibro hard metal polishing stick and a felt disk on my Dremel (or a felt polishing wheel on a bench grinder) for a final high gloss polish. Be very careful you don't wear thru the nickel plate down to the brass base!!!!

    If you're reluctant to use the sandpaper, you can try just polishing the plating off. Try to find some ceruim oxide powder. Mix it into a slurry and polish with with the Dremel/felt disk or felt wheel/bench grinder. Then finish with the Mibro stick as above.

    Hope this helps.
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    Re: Is it possible to remove gold plating?

    Thank you. Oh, quick follow up - is sandpaper OK to use instead of emery paper? I have some 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper lying around, but no emery paper.
    Last edited by unwatched; May 14th, 2010 at 06:22.

  8. #7
    Member Popoki Nui's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to remove gold plating?

    Quote Originally Posted by unwatched View Post
    Thank you. Oh, quick follow up - is sandpaper OK to use instead of emery paper? I have some 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper lying around, but no emery paper.
    As long as it is the high-quality, black sandpaper, it's probably ok. Another quick tip: lightly rub together two pieces of each grit you're planning to use. This will knock down any chunks of grit that may leave gouges in your watch case.
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  9. #8
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    Re: Is it possible to remove gold plating?

    Looks amazingly similar to this one which has a cheap one jewel movement.


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  10. #9
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    Re: Is it possible to remove gold plating?

    You'll find that the "base metal" under the plating tends to tarnish very quickly. If you remove and polish the case yourself, you should be able to find someone to replate it fairly cheaply (provided you aren't looking to plate it in gold or something expensive).
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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    Re: Is it possible to remove gold plating?

    Quote Originally Posted by dualtime View Post
    Looks amazingly similar to this one which has a cheap one jewel movement.


    Actually, mine looks pretty much identical to that picture, down to the missing top of the 6. After doing some reading, looks like it is a pretty historic watch - one of the early examples of "planned obsolescence," i.e. too cheap to spend money fixing. Mine even failed at the simple task of breaking down.
    Last edited by unwatched; May 14th, 2010 at 18:10.

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