External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

View Poll Results: Yay or Nay to external AR coatings?

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  • Yay

    10 28.57%
  • Nay

    25 71.43%
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Thread: External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

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  1. #1
    Member PYLTN's Avatar
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    External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

    I have had a couple of watches with external AR coatings and find them a pain. Yes, they cut down on reflections but they also act as magnets for dust and smudges. I find myself spending more time removing said dust and smudges than I do enjoying the lack of reflections.

    I wonder what others think on the subject. So vote and have your say.

  2. #2
    Member Vlance's Avatar
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    Re: External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

    I️ often enjoy the look, but hate the worry of scratching it. Kind of a double edged sword in my book.

  3. #3
    Member kalburnfall's Avatar
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    Re: External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

    I’m very conscious about how my watches are exposed when they’re on my wrist. Defensive driving for my watches has become second nature to me after many years. Scratching AR hasn’t really been something I’ve thought to worry about in particular; I just try to avoid any kind of damage to them in general. Times I am looking specifically for AR damage though is when buying watches like the 556i which people say is easy to scratch the AR on.
    Overall I like the look of AR on watches, whether it’s tinted or clear or even absent altogether doesn’t really matter too much for me. Only time the AR color has bothered me a bit was the purple hue on the Aqua Terra grey dial - made the watch look purple.


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  5. #4
    Member 41Mets's Avatar
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    Re: External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

    I like what it does for looking at the dial, but I really hate how easily it gets smudged and how hard it is to get rid of the smudges. That's has not, however, kept me from purchasing watches with double AR coating.



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  6. #5
    Member timefleas's Avatar
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    Re: External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

    As a photographer first, and a watch hobbiest somewhere down the line, I really am sensitive to quality and purity of "glass"--AR coating, is indeed a coating, pure and simple--it adds a layer of emulsion to the otherwise pure crystal surface, and while it usually does what it is supposed to do (arrest reflections) it also contributes in at least a minimal way to decreasing transparency, evident in particular at side angles, where you often see muddy blue and gray colorings. And, as a coating, it is less dense, less impregnable, than the underlying (Sapphire at least) crystal, and as such, can, in some situations, get scratched. For these reasons I tend to avoid external AR, and remove it from any watch that has it.

  7. #6
    Member 3005's Avatar
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    Re: External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

    Ugh, no. I baby my watches and my Sinn 104's AR coating was scratched within a week of purchase. I also really didn't like how it made the watch face look a blueish shade from certain angles.

    Really was one of the main factors why I sold that watch.
    Last edited by 3005; November 11th, 2017 at 17:12.

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  8. #7
    Member Chris Stark's Avatar
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    Re: External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

    I think the disadvantage outweighs the advantage on exterior coatings. I would prefer a sapphire crystal with an under-crystal coating only. The two coatings together are not exponentially better than one.
    Plus the fingerprint issue, blueish cast, possible scratching/scraping, etc..

    It's such an issue that Damasko offers an exterior AR "delete" option at time of purchase. With that said, my Damasko crystal remains scratch free...so far.
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  9. #8
    Member sticky's Avatar
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    Re: External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

    External AR seems to love my fingerprints so it’s a definite “nay” from me given the choice (which I’m not).

  10. #9
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    External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by timefleas View Post
    As a photographer first, and a watch hobbiest somewhere down the line, I really am sensitive to quality and purity of "glass"--AR coating, is indeed a coating, pure and simple--it adds a layer of emulsion to the otherwise pure crystal surface, and while it usually does what it is supposed to do (arrest reflections) it also contributes in at least a minimal way to decreasing transparency, evident in particular at side angles, where you often see muddy blue and gray colorings. And, as a coating, it is less dense, less impregnable, than the underlying (Sapphire at least) crystal, and as such, can, in some situations, get scratched. For these reasons I tend to avoid external AR, and remove it from any watch that has it.
    Sorry, but this is mostly incorrect.

    A watch crystal has a different refractivity than air, and thus some wavelengths (frequencies) are reflected or scattered by the impedance mismatch between air and glass. In its simplest form, an anti-reflective coating is an oxide layer of intermediate refractivity and a thickness of a quarter of a wavelength of the reflecting light, which acts as an impedance matching device. It improves rather than inhibits transmissibility. For example, the transmission of old four-element, three-group Tessars was in the 80% range. Planars (6 air-spaced elements) were infeasible until practical coatings were invented by Zeiss in the late 30's. A coated Planar, with many air surfaces, has about 96% transmission. Same with Biogons and opposing Biogon designs like the Super Angulon, which were infeasable without good coatings. When multicoatings were invented, the impedance match worked more broadly across the visible spectrum and transmission improved to 99%. Multicoatings have layers of various thicknesses to match the impedance at different frequencies. Complex lenses with a dozen or more elements struggled to be effective before multicoatings. Coatings allow more light to go through the lens rather than being reflected, and make the lens more transparent.

    Another example: Uncoated 3mm-thick Sapphire windows for lab applications have a transmissibility that peaks at about 83%. The same window with anti-reflective coating peaks at 97-98%, depending on the coatings. (Data from Thorlabs)

    Early coatings used soft metal oxides and flourides. I'm thinking of the "Luminized" coatings of early Kodak commercial lenses. But later oxide coatings are quite hard. Sapphire itself is an oxide, after all. By "early", I mean through the early 60's or before.

    It is possible to scratch coatings on watch crystals (and camera lenses), but I've managed to avoid doing it in both cases, and that includes camera lenses made in the 60's and used heavily in professional settings.

    But, to the OP's point, oil of any type provides a coating that overrides the effect of the anti-reflective coating, and oily smudges are conspicuous as brightly reflective spots on an otherwise low-reflection surface.

    But I'd still rather have it.

    Rick "whose 30-year-old Ebel Chronograph has an original coated crystal that is still unscratched" Denney
    Last edited by Rdenney; November 11th, 2017 at 20:43.
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  11. #10
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    Re: External AR coatings - Yay or Nay?

    The ones I've owned with internal AR only have been more than good enough for the task. No external coatings for me.
    Last edited by Overwound; November 11th, 2017 at 21:23.

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