Question about applied dial markers
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  1. #1
    Member TorzJohnson's Avatar
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    Question about applied dial markers

    About 20 years ago I had a Seiko watch that had applied dial markers, little metal widgets. After a few years one of the markers fell off, and wedged itself between the hands somehow. I took it in for service, and after about 2 months (and more money than it should have cost), I got it back fixed. After a few more months, another marker fell off. I just tossed the watch after that. This watch was not a cheapo, it would be about $300 in 2009 dollars.

    So fast forward to today, and I'm looking to make my first automatic watch purchase in the near future and will be willing to pay a goodly amount to get a high quality watch. But one of the front-runners in my choices has rather prominent applied dial markers (it's the Ball Cleveland Express).

    Could those of you with a lot of experience in the watch world reassure me a little? I'd love to get this watch, but I worry about those markers. Is it a pretty rare occurrence to have them fall off?

  2. #2
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    Re: Question about applied dial markers

    I'd think that any type of glue is bound to degrade to some extent over time, but adhesives have probably improved enough over the past 20 years that it should not be an issue. Also, any watch with a screw down crown should do a better job at keeping out moisture and anything else that could work against the integrity of the bond. My oldest watch (about 15 years old) has applied markers, and I have not had a problem.

  3. #3
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    Re: Question about applied dial markers

    I'll try.

    For the most part, those markers should not come off unless the watch gets subjected to some rather harsh bumps or shocks. And I'd bet that Ball would fix the problem for you for free if it happened, unless the watch was clearly the victim of abuse.


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  5. #4
    Member Hansch99's Avatar
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    Re: Question about applied dial markers

    That happened to me with a Swiss Army watch once--the shield emblem came off and wedged the second hand. I got it fixed for free, so it was no big deal. I've never heard of that happening to more expensive watches, but you never know.

  6. #5
    Member TorzJohnson's Avatar
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    Re: Question about applied dial markers

    Thanks for the replies so far.

    Y'know, looking at close up pics of the Cleveland Express, the markers look like they're standing off the face of the watch. Maybe they have them on little rivets or something?

  7. #6
    Moderator Public Forum John MS's Avatar
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    Re: Question about applied dial markers

    Quote Originally Posted by TorzJohnson View Post
    About 20 years ago I had a Seiko watch that had applied dial markers, little metal widgets. After a few years one of the markers fell off, and wedged itself between the hands somehow. I took it in for service, and after about 2 months (and more money than it should have cost), I got it back fixed. After a few more months, another marker fell off. I just tossed the watch after that. This watch was not a cheapo, it would be about $300 in 2009 dollars.

    So fast forward to today, and I'm looking to make my first automatic watch purchase in the near future and will be willing to pay a goodly amount to get a high quality watch. But one of the front-runners in my choices has rather prominent applied dial markers (it's the Ball Cleveland Express).

    Could those of you with a lot of experience in the watch world reassure me a little? I'd love to get this watch, but I worry about those markers. Is it a pretty rare occurrence to have them fall off?
    I have watches applied markers that date back to the 1920's and have not had a single marker fall off. Within the collection is a 1968 Seiko Lord Matic and 1979 Seiko King Quartz both of which have applied markers.

    I think there is a Ball watch forum, so you might ask there.

  8. #7
    Member Erik_H's Avatar
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    Re: Question about applied dial markers

    Quote Originally Posted by John MS View Post
    I have watches applied markers that date back to the 1920's and have not had a single marker fall off.
    Applied markers and numbers were re-invented by the Gruen Watch Company in the early 20th century. They took the idea from very old clocks. At that time (1900+) almost all watches were having enamel dials with painted numerals, but by the 1930'ies almost all watch manufacturers used applied markers. Gruen never patented this though.
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