To relume or not relume?
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  1. #1
    Member YuriyV's Avatar
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    To relume or not relume?

    Hi, guys!
    I'm an amateur watchmaker, not a collector.
    Now working on vintage Zodiac Rotographic (in stainless case). The dial (of creamy white color) has a beautiful patina. Definitely I'm not going to touch it.
    Although luminous compound on the dial and hand completely deteriorated. And became to black flaky mess.
    I'm concerned, that old degaraded lume will continue to damage the dial.
    In other hand collectors prefer original look.
    My question is on the title.
    After close examination I can see that old lume was of orange color. As it was on my other Rotographic with black dial in gold plated case, I did recently (see pictures).
    In that case, I had no questions, because original orange lume remain on the dial in good state.
    I just relumed hands because after that hands match overall good state of dial.
    Here is a bit different story. Aged dial. Even more aged hands.Does relume drastically impact vintage look of the watch?
    Going to sell it on eBay when completed. Does it lower the price?
    Thank you for any input!
    Yuriy
    Vintage Zodiac addict.

  2. #2
    Member YuriyV's Avatar
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    Re: To relume or not relume?

    Here are the pictures.
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    Attached Images Attached Images

    bobbee, bsshog40, JOSE G and 1 others like this.
    Vintage Zodiac addict.

  3. #3
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    Re: To relume or not relume?

    That is a question I have had as well and I decided to relume the hands on most of mine. I think some watches look incomplete without the lume and as you said they also could damage the dial. Here are some pictures of a couple I just got back and they look better to me than they did previously. I'm not sure what it does to the value though. I do think your watch looks good with the hands as they are though since the lume is still all there.

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    Last edited by mmarc77; February 6th, 2016 at 18:45.

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  5. #4
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    Re: To relume or not relume?

    I like it in its current state.
    bobbee and JOSE G like this.

  6. #5
    Member cd1963's Avatar
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    Re: To relume or not relume?

    I think that restoring luminescence to a watch's hands and numbers or markers is definitely a mine field. If I owned your watch and was planning on selling it on eBay, I would leave it as is. The dial, hands and lume are harmonious and enhance the authenticity and attractiveness of the watch. If you were to spend a considerable amount of time, and energy putting new material on the hands and dial, you may find it difficult to recoup your additional costs. I've seen some good restorations and I've seen many more bad. When they are bad, they are really bad. The material can be too thick, too grainy, the wrong color, and applied with a shovel. Any one bad condition will wreck the harmony of the watch face and turn off many of your potential buyers. People usually don't buy vintage to tell time in the dark. If they do, It would be better to let them decide how they want to deal with the lume on their new forever watch.

  7. #6
    Member YuriyV's Avatar
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    Re: To relume or not relume?

    Thank you, guys, for the input. So far Not to relume overweights.
    Although how would you evaluate my work on reluming of hands on that black dial Zodiac? Bad, not bad, acceptable? If I will do in the same quality for white one, does it overweight the Not to relume? Hope itis last questio before final decision. Thanks!
    Vintage Zodiac addict.

  8. #7
    Member cd1963's Avatar
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    Re: To relume or not relume?

    The Relume on the black Zodiac looks very harmonious and in keeping with the story of the dial. I like the fact that you've paid attention to the color for the hands. If you can do as well for the lighter dialed Zodiac, I'd say go for it. You already have the hands and face removed so you're well on your way.

    If I was to buy the watch after it has been relumed, I'd want to see the same color lume on the hands and markers. I'd also want to see the lume tinted a shade that is in keeping with the age of the watch.

    Here is a picture of my dads watch with original lume from the 40's. Imaging how incomplete a relume of this watch's hands would look if they were new and white. To me, it would stand out as conspicuously clean. I would want any relume to have the same smooth aged parchment appearance that the original has so as to keep in harmony with the lume on the numbers and the overall patina of the dial.
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    Last edited by cd1963; February 7th, 2016 at 16:13.
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  9. #8
    Member YuriyV's Avatar
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    Re: To relume or not relume?

    Very nice watch!
    Thanks for advise. I think To relume overweights now. : Will do my best to preverve vintage look.
    cd1963 and Wibbs like this.
    Vintage Zodiac addict.

  10. #9
    Member Wibbs's Avatar
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    Re: To relume or not relume?

    I've relumed a couple of my watch hands, but made sure to colour match as closely as possible the appearance of the original material. Tiny quantities of acrylic artists paints added into modern lume and even the addition of cigar ash to give the graininess. Takes a bit of practice but worth it.



    In the above example one hand had most of the lume preserved, the other only had some left near the base of the hand. I left the original and feathered in the new stuff. It's only noticeable if I walk into a dark area on a bright day as the new lume glows.

    The dial on this Doxa was originally messy.



    That photo really makes it look better than it was. So as I wear these watches and that type of watch isn't particularly rare I stripped it down and removed the original flaky lume. Very carefully. I wore a face mask and surgical gloves and submerged the dial in oil to reduce as much as possible the very dangerous radium dust. These have a metal gilt dial so can clean up well. Others may not.

    I then relumed the hands(the original lume had long gone), using the same mix I had made up for the previous watch above(pretty much the same vintage).



    Popped in a new crystal and the result was this.




    Again, WARNING, be extremely careful with old lume material. Pre the 60s(and sometimes after) it's made up with radium and although it may no longer glow it's just as radioactive and dangerous as the day it was first produced.
    jackruff and NeedAG like this.

  11. #10
    Vint. Forum Co-Moderator Mirius's Avatar
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    Re: To relume or not relume?

    Ouch! I really like the improvement in that Doxa!
    Wibbs likes this.


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