Lessening fear of/ distaste for Acrylic.
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  1. #1
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    Lessening fear of/ distaste for Acrylic.

    I just cleaned an acrylic crystal, prior to sticking on a screen protector which I had to cut to fit. After realising I'd made a complete hash of the trim-job, I ditched the protector and decided to see how clean/unmarked my crystal was with a 15 times loupe. Holy Guacamole! This thing looks like the surface of the moon! Very unhappy indeed and wondering if I had been responsible, with my professional lenes-cleaning kit designed for DSLRs. But I persevered with a just-out-of-the-package microfibre lens cloth and got it more or less acceptable. I then remembered another acrylic crystal in need of TLC so I brought this one out and gave it 200 gentle swirls with the cloth. Holy Macaroni! This thing is polishing up nicely! Another 200 swirls (or about 3 mins) and it's perfect! Better than when I bloody well bought it! Back to the original watch. Now perfect also and no toothpaste involved.
    I've been aware for some time now that acrylic is better at resisting shattering and maintains physical integrity in a shock as well as any crystal material, but have ALWAYS been suspect about them and wondered just why Sinn would put one in as an option on a 500 quid watch when they are so hard to keep immaculate. Now I know it's because they are so easy to return to that state. I don't know if I'm exactly an advocate, but tonight was very re-assuring and I won't be put off from a purchase by this material again. Anyone out there actively prefer acrylic? Speedmaster owners speak up!
    Last edited by Scottish Steve; November 29th, 2011 at 13:26.

  2. #2
    Member GregoryD's Avatar
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    Re: Lessening fear of/ distaste for Acrylic.

    I am right there with you - I used to wonder why people liked acrylic, but after buying a vintage watch I grew to love it. Although it can scratch easily, it's easily polished (as you found out) and can give a watch a warm feel. I wish more manufacturers had acrylic as an option on their watches.
    Cheers,
    Greg



  3. #3
    Moderator Public Forum John MS's Avatar
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    Re: Lessening fear of/ distaste for Acrylic.

    Try that with a sapphire or glass crystal!

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    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
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    Re: Lessening fear of/ distaste for Acrylic.

    No big deal. My 30 year old Omega quartz has an acrylic crystal and it is easily polished or replaced if it gets badly scratched. Usually I had the service center polish it up when I got the battery replaced.
    Most of my vintage stuff is also acrylic.

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    Member Seele's Avatar
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    Re: Lessening fear of/ distaste for Acrylic.

    As vintage pieces predominate my collection I take acrylic - technically poly (methyl methacrylate) - for granted, and I have no wish to go sapphire at all. Point being: those who insist on sapphire tend to stick to one mantra: "sapphire is hard to scratch, acrylic can scratch" and that's it. But watches using acrylic crystals - which are almost invariably domed - actually use it structurally.

    When the crystal is fitted into the front bezel with the help of a crystal lift, the curvature of the dome is slightly increased and the diameter minutely reduced. When installed, the crystal is trying to recover its original shape, so it is forcing itself against the bezel, effecting a tight interference fit. This also means the internal stress within the crystal is doing the work: the outside surface is under tension and the inside surface under compression.

    As acrylic is a tough material it can withstand this internal stress with ease. However, if a domed sapphire - or mineral - crystal is installed in its place, the same internal stress makes it always near the verge of exploding, for it is a much more brittle material. In fact, exploding mineral crystals is not an unusual occurrence as it is easier to scratch than sapphire. Once the surface is scratched, the even loading of the stress on the front surface becomes disrupted, and the stress would escape by exploding.

    Sure, sapphire is indeed harder to get scratched, but they can - and will get scratched nonetheless. For my money, I'd stick to acrylic without feeling it is "cheap", but be happy that it is the appropriate material for the purpose. In fact I even source modern compatible acrylic crystals to replace those on some of my watches, if they offer more desirable characteristics. For instance, I install modern slim crystals on my Vympel ultra-thins, which further reduce the overall thickness by 1mm... and that's an appealing thought indeed.
    nuovorecord likes this.

  7. #6
    Moderator Public Forum John MS's Avatar
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    Re: Lessening fear of/ distaste for Acrylic.

    Yes, several of my vintage watches have acrylic crystals as well. My favorite is an Enicar from the late 1960's with a raised and sharply shouldered crystal.

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    Re: Lessening fear of/ distaste for Acrylic.

    It seems you can never stop learning about this stuff, even the basics you thought you had boxed off years ago. The watch I originally worked on today was almost not bought due to the acrylic; now I've increased my knowledge and experience, increased my pleasure of ownership and potentially opened up a whole new world of vintage items to covet. Er, yeah, great idea! I can faintly hear my debit card whispering to me as I type!

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    Member gaijin's Avatar
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    Re: Lessening fear of/ distaste for Acrylic.

    No problems with acrylic (PMMA) here:



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    Re: Lessening fear of/ distaste for Acrylic.

    I do agree about the warm feel, but hitherto have always seen that warmth as a sign of inferior materials. Not so now..

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    Re: Lessening fear of/ distaste for Acrylic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scottish Steve View Post
    I do agree about the warm feel, but hitherto have always seen that warmth as a sign of inferior materials. Not so now..
    There is no "inferior" material, only inappropriate material for any particular job. If you are talking about domed crystals, then acrylic is the appropriate one, and if you insist on using the word "inferior" then sapphire would be it.

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