A watchmaker’s work is often left unappreciated as it is hidden inside the case. The fact that the watch is keeping time and functioning as it should are the only outside indicators of a well serviced watch. When studying to become a watchmaker we were often told the mantra that “you can’t see a good watchmaker’s work”; meaning that the work should be so clean and precise that there’s no evidence of any intervention. So being able to polish a watch case and bracelet and restore the watch so that it has the finish, shape and function as when new is something that the customer can immediately appreciate. It is also what I find to be one of the most satisfying parts of being a watchmaker.

If you are interested in having me refurbish your watch for you, please get in touch via the contact form.

The before and after of a refurbished watch bracelet.

Watch polishing is a full-time job at most large repair centres, and specialised people will do nothing but refurbish cases and bracelets all day.

Watch bracelet and case polishing can also be referred to as refurbishing, refinishing and valeting.

Please note this article is describing commercial polishing and so no more than one or two hours is taken on any watch. Better finishes, in particular a higher mirror finish, come from using additional grades of polishing compound to achieve a more graduated removal of scratches. But if you are working in a busy service centre then the overall time spent polishing offers diminishing returns and so it is generally not financially reasonable to go beyond what is demonstrated below.

Saying that, for most of my own polishing work I tend to go the extra mile and achieve as high a mirror finish as possible. For this I use compounds and mops that have been imported from Switzerland, and include using parachute silk as a final buffing wheel.

How to Clean a Watch

Whether you are cleaning a stainless steel watch, a gold watch or a plated watch the techniques are the same.

Watchmaking is not always a pretty occupation. Even an outwardly well kept watch can have years of build-up of dead skin and dried sweat in hard to reach places; such as behind the extension clasp or underneath the bezel. You should always clean a watch before you start to polish it, to ensure that the dirt is not transferred to your polishing mops – plus it makes it a lot more pleasant to work on

If possible you should always try and remove the bracelet from the head of the watch. It is usually held in with two springbars or pins. The bracelet can then be cleaned with a hard bristle brush and washing-up liquid and water. This will clean up most of the surface dirt, however you will not be able to clean up the dirt that is deep between the links as well as any surface oxidisation. To do that we will need to use an ultrasonic tank.

For the initial clean you will not need to fill the tank with anything other than water with a little washing-up liquid. However for really dirty items, or for the final clean I would recommend a professional cleaning fluid designed for ultrasonic tanks.

When cleaning the watch head, if the watch movement is de-cased then follow the same procedure as the bracelet. In some cases when a watch is incredibly dirty or has something such as blood on it, then I will pressure test the watch; and if it passes then place it into the ultrasonic tank for 30 seconds to clean off the worst of the dirt.

If you’re lucky then you will have access to a steam cleaner. This will allow you to get the dirtiest of bracelets both clean and sanitised in just a couple of minutes. It is the best option for removing polishing compound too.

Types of Finish on a Watch Case and Bracelet

There are two main finishes that a watchmaker will want to achieve:

  • The first is highly polished, or a mirror finish; basically trying to make the metal as reflective and smooth as possible.
  • The second is a grained or brushed finish, which is where there are deliberate scratches made in the metal in one direction.

The example above shows a mirror finish on the centre links and a brushed finish on the side links and safety clasp.

There is also a sand blasted finish, but I will not be covering that here. This is a finish that is done by firing sand at a high speed through a nozzle in an enclosed area. It creates a mottled effect, with the technique to achieve it similar to airbrushing with paint.

Understanding the different properties of the metals used in watch cases and bracelets is vital if you wish to work proficiently with them

Types of Metal Used in Watch Bracelets and Cases

Steel: When polishing cases and bracelets most of the refurbishment will be done on steel, specifically stainless-steel. This is because it is relatively cheap to manufacture and very commonly used. It is hard wearing and can give a number of satisfying finishes

Gold: This is a very soft metal that is very easily polished to a mirror finish. With gold, the watchmaker will try to remove as little material as possible in order not to devalue the piece, and so heavily scratched gold generally cannot be restored completely. Most watches are either 9ct or 18ct gold

Titanium: Some watches use titanium, which is a very light and tough metal that you cannot bring to a high polish without a lot of effort. As it does not mark easily most work is generally just a case of refinishing the original effect – which is most commonly brushed

Platinum: Only used on the highest end watches, particularly Patek Philippe. Platinum is harder than gold, but the same polishing techniques apply. You shouldn’t use an abrasive compound on platinum as you will devalue the piece

Tools and Materials used in Polishing Watches

All case and bracelet polishing is done on a lathe, unless otherwise mentioned. This should be a purpose built polishing lathe with air extraction and decent lighting.

Always wear safety goggles. Some people would recommend wearing latex gloves to help avoid staining your hands with polishing compound.

Polishing compounds are used with mops. A felt mop such as this are used to remove scratches for when you want a high polished finish. You spin the mop in the lathe and let the compound rub off onto the wheel
A cotton mop is used for buffing. You can use the same compound on a different mop and the abrasive effect will change. The amount of pressure you use on the mop has a huge effect too
An Aluminium Oxide wheel is used to give a brushed finish. The brand I use is Bufflex
Gold is polished with a cotton mop with an Iron Oxide compound. Here I’ve covered the brushed steel parts in Protective Tape to isolate the polishing effect
For removing heavy scratches on steel you use a grit wheel; this brand is Artiflex. This is a rubber-like wheel that you do not use with a compound. It can even out all the marks, but due to the fact it will scratch the steel it is not appropriate if you want to later have a high polish finish
When dealing with a scratched bracelet that I will later want to have a polished finish, you can use a wheel made out of an abrasive block. The brand Garryflex make different grades of block and I have found that if you cut a piece off a Red Garryflex block and turn it into a circular shape, you will find that it is great for evening out scratches, without being as harsh as a grit wheel. Some people use a wheel made from a Blue Garryflex block when they are graining small areas of steel
There are special polishing compounds that look like bars of soap and come in different colours depending on their grit size. I’ve experimented a lot with the different types and found what works for me; although most people have their own preferences and get similar results. I use a brand called Dialux

For steel I use blue to polish and green to finish. For gold I use their red block.

If you are wanting a super-fine finish then you can use their white compound, which is what you can also use to polish acrylic glasses and finish gold.

For the highest-end of mirror finish, the black compound together with a Swansdown mop will get superb results, although this level is generally unnecessary.

Different brands have a different colour scheme, but for Dialux;


  • Grey to cut
  • Blue to polish
  • Green to finish

Gold and platinum

  • Red to polish
  • White to finish


  • White to polish


  • Gold plating or folded gold should never be polished. At best the layer is only a few microns thick and will wear off very quickly
  • Never cross-contaminate mops i.e. never polish with green then go straight to blue without cleaning the previous compound off. You want each mop to be as pure as possible. I store each mop in a bag after use to stop it from becoming contaminated
  • For when you have a two-tone or two-finish then you should start with the polished and/or softest areas first. So if you have gold and steel, you will start with the gold, if you have a brushed and polished finish you will start on the polished part. Once that part is finished you then tape over the finished area so that you can work on the other area without damaging your previous work
  • When polishing gold, less is always more. Gold is so soft that you will remove a lot of material fast if you are not careful. I use the red compound, which is Iron Oxide, on a cotton mop and go over each area for a few seconds only. I will never polish the edge of a case-back or inside edge of a case; as you can very easily change the shape so that the watch case will not fit together any longer. To get a brushed finish on gold I will use a Garryflex block and do it by hand by pushing the gold in one direction on the block; you should never mechanically grain gold
If you cannot remove the glass easily, or a new glass seal is unavailable in case of the old one being damaged, then be sure to cover the glass in protective tape if you are working on the case. Sapphire and mineral glass cannot be polished without specialist equipment, and instead you will be left with an unattractive frosted look on any area you scuff


This Tag Heuer Link is very heavily scratched. The black lettering on the bezel has worn off, and there is a scratch to the glass off centre towards 10 o clock. Most watches can tell a story to the watchmaker who repairs them. You can confidently say that for this watch to be so badly damaged it has been worn by someone all-day every-day, no matter what they were doing
The scratches are so severe that the original finish has been completely lost. This bracelet should have a pattern that is a highly polished link then a brushed finished link alternating
If possible, if it best to remove the glass when polishing the case. To ensure that the glass is replaced in the same direction I mark where 12 o clock is. This ensures that the scratches and marks are in the same place as when received; otherwise a customer may think their watch has new scratches, when it is actually just their old scratches rotated to a new position. The bezel should always be removed and worked on separately. The tool is a claw that holds the bezel from three points as you twist and lift it off
Usually you would not use a grit wheel when you are going to aim to later achieve a polished finish. However this bracelet is in such poor condition that it is necessary. Notice how the bracelet is being held. It is slowly fed over the top of my finger. Never hold an object you are polishing too tightly, as if it ever catches on the mop/wheel you will want it to be safely pulled out of your hand; and not to pull your hand with the object into the lathe
Here the left hand side is done and the right hand side is untouched. You are wanting to create an even finish that you can then work with
All of the big scratches have now been removed and have been replaced by the roughly uniform marks left by the grit wheel
We start with a cutting compound on a felt mop. As is is only the alternate link that is polished, we do not need to work on those links that are later going to be grained
This is a different watch, however the effect is clear. If you only polish in one direction you will get tracks along the surface, as shown on the side of the case here
By moving the piece in a circular motion and polishing from different angles, you can achieve a more even finish. This applies to using all wheels and mops, with the exception of when you are trying to get a grained finish
After the cutting compound has been used, we have reduced the scratches we made with the grit wheel
Then I use a finishing polish on a different felt mop. This is to remove the scratches that the previous abrasive introduced and leave a higher level of finish
You can see each alternating link has now been polished. The finish is quite even but it will not yet be good enough
To give the final polish to achieve a mirror finish I use a cotton mop. You can add a polishing compound to the mop, but I normally leave the residue from the previous mop on the bracelet which will then be picked up. This will leave you will a very smooth and even surface
After the cotton buffing mop has been used the links are now polished to a high enough level that I am happy with. Their true lustre will not come through until the bracelet has been thoroughly cleaned however
As it is always easier to work on smaller pieces, I dismantled the bracelet as much as I could to give myself less work for the next step
The next step is to add the brushed finish to the links that are not polished. Some of the links cannot be easily dismantled and so we must cover the existing polished links in a protective film to avoid them getting accidentally scratched. This style of bracelet is particularly time consuming to wrap up, and this is the main reason why I was keen to dismantle the watch as much as possible earlier
To give a good brushed finish you will want to present the piece in a straight line. Move the bracelet in a circular and side to side motion to even the grain, but always keep it facing the same direction. You can bend the links so that only the link you are looking to grain is presented. When you have finished, turn the bracelet 180 degrees and grain it from the other direction to get a more even finish. Don’t forget the side of the link, and ensure that they are grained in the same direction as the top surface
The finished grain. When using the Aluminium Oxide wheel be careful to avoid running the brush over the tape, as it will break through given enough force and ruin the polished finish underneath
The final step is to remove the tape, re-assemble the bracelet, and then give a brushed finish to the underside of the bracelet
After each stage the bracelet should be thoroughly cleaned to avoid any cross contamination of abrasives. When you use each mop and wheel you want to be confident of the finish you will achieve, which you can only be if you keep each mop as pure as possible
After the final steam clean followed by an ultrasonic bath, the watch bracelet comes out looking like new. The flash of the camera will highlight some imperfections, however as I said at the start of the article, we are aiming for a time-sensitive, commercially-driven result. Based on the condition of the bracelet as it was received, I can be highly confident the customer will be satisfied with the result



When refurbishing a watch, special attention should be paid to the detailing on the bezel. The bezel is at the front of the watch and borders the dial, and so is very prominent for the customer. Often if a watch is worn then the numbering and/or lettering on the bezel and case can become worn. After the bezel has been polished, you can re-paint the numbering in the recesses.

Many customers believe that special paint is used on a watch, however most watchmakers – even those working for famous brands – use enamel paints that are designed for model painting, and paint them using an old oiler. Through experimenting I have found that nail varnish is superior, as it is hard wearing, quick drying, water-proof and naturally leaves a smooth finish. You can buy nail art bottles, which have a small nozzle at the end that are perfect for repainting the features on a bezel or case
When dry, nail varnish is very easy to remove with direct force. You can use some sharpened peg wood to clean away any of the excess paint on the surface of the bezel
Using a tissue dipped in a solvent, such as isopropanol, you can wipe the surface of the bezel to clean away the remaining excess paint and thereby leaving the varnish in the numbered recesses only
The finished bezel
Some watches will require for you to repaint the luminous dot. To do this first paint the black border in the recess and allow it to dry. Then mix the luminous powder with 2 part glue and using a large oiler place a blob in the recess. When it is partially dry, place another blob on top of it; as the size of the dot will have reduced as it has dried. Once you are happy with the result and it has completely dried, make another small amount of two part glue and paint a thin glaze over the entire marker. This will protect it and make the dot waterproof


The bracelet of the Omega Seamaster has two finishes. Moving from the outside inwards the finish is; grained, polished, grained, polished, grained, polished, grained, polished, grained.

The polished parts are quite small and so are difficult to isolate, and so this bracelet is good practice for getting comfortable with using the protective tape. As with the Tag Heuer Link example above, the same techniques apply to a two-tone bracelet e.g. a bracelet that uses both gold and steel.

First you will want to even out the bracelet with an abrasive wheel and then finish off the parts that you will want polished
We will now start to mask over parts of the bracelet, covering the areas that we have polished. There are many different approaches to this; here I have covered the entire middle of the bracelet leaving the side of the links ready to be grained
Moving the bracelet in a circular motion, let it feed through over your finger. Keep the bracelet straight and try and bend it slightly to present the best surface of the part of the link you want to grain. Be careful to not have the wheel touch the protective tape; as it will easily wear it away. When finished, turn the bracelet 180 degrees and repeat coming in the other direction to ensure the results are as even as possible
Remove the tape and check your progress. It is very difficult to refinish any scuffed polished parts once the bracelet has been refurbished, and so it is best to remedy any mistakes you make as soon as you see them
Next we will want to grain the central part, and so carefully cover rest of the bracelet
There are now two final parts to work on. These are not as raised as the centre or sides and so can be a bit trickier, however if you take your time and are careful it is fairly straightforward to do. Once you have done one side, remove the tape and repeat for the other side
The finished bracelet. Once all the tape has been removed, you should thoroughly clean the bracelet and check it for any areas you have missed or accidentally scuffed.


This Omega Seamaster case-back has a number of different finishes on it. It has a highly polished edge, and circular grained inner edge, and a straight grained centre. To make the circular grain on the inner edge we use protective tape to cover the centre. The polished edge can be easily re-touched if you accidentally scuff it
Placing the case-back in a self-centring 3 jaw chuck, you spin the case-back and touch the part you want to grain with an abrasive block; in this case Blue Garryflex
You can stop the lathe at any point and check your work. You will want to draw the abrasive block slowly and evenly across the case-back to ensure that the grain is evenly spread
To then put the straight grain on the piece, you will want to remove the tape and reapply it covering the entire case-back. Running a knife around the edge on the raised central part you can then remove the tape from the middle part only. Run the case-back under the wheel, moving it side to side to ensure an even grain, and then turn the piece around and grain it from the other direction to make it as even as possible

Additional Notes on Polishing Watch Bracelets and Cases

This Ladies Omega Constellation has a number of challenges. The grain on the bracelet is horizontal and so each link must be grained individually. The links are also separated by highly polished sleeves. The quickest way I have found to refurbish this bracelet is to polish the sleeves first, and then using a small purpose made Blue Garryflex wheel individually grain each of the links by folding the bracelet so that just that link is presented. This helps avoid you having to spend too long taping over the polished sleeves
This Ladies Constellation has a similar challenge as above, but it is compounded by the fact that the bracelet central sleeves are all gold, and the end pieces are steel. Rather than spend a long time dismantling the watch, I instead use the steel polishing compound (Blue) on both the steel and gold. It is noted that it is suitable for gold in the description. Then I finish the whole area with the Red compound on a cotton mop. When I have a bezel such as this diamond and gold one, the gold is too soft to risk removing it. Due to the risk of accidentally scuffing the diamond bezel while trying to refurbish the case – a very expensive mistake – I would not attempt to refinish the case at all. Instead, I will manage the customer’s expectations by telling them before any work has started that the bracelet is the only part that I will valet. Most customers understand and would not want you to take any unnecessary risks with their watch
Watch bracelets such as this with unusually shaped links, gold, brushed and polished finishes, and the inability to dismantle the links can be very time consuming to complete. Start with the softest metal – the gold – then work on the polished steel, and finally the horizontal grained steel
The refurbished bracelet
This Tag Heuer has a sunburst effect on the case. Which is where the grain is always in the direction away from the centre of the case. To achieve this you first need to remove the bezel, glass and bracelet. Then rotate the case under the graining wheel, making sure to move the case up and down the cover the side as well as the top. When you have gone around the case once then you need to quickly retouch the case at the points of the compass i.e. N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW. That will give definite lines in those prominent directions, with the grain made on the original rotation filling in the rest of the area. It is not a perfect result, but it is almost indistinguishable from a factory produced effect and has the benefit of being very quick to complete

If you are interested in having me refurbish your watch for you, please get in touch via the contact form.


  1. Jason Humphrey

    This article is gold and has come just at the right time. I found your site by google searching “polishing watch cases tape” and will be sure to delve further into your site.
    I have just gotten a bench grinder with one end adapted for polishing by a company I know (A1 Abrasives) I’ve got a couple of different polishing wheels and an abrasive wheel and a couple of compound blocks (I think rouge is one). I’ve also got 2 grades of Garyflex. Now I’m more confident to have a go. Will start with some old watch bracelets. The only thing I’m missing (I think) is the tape. I think cousins sell Polymide tape. Is that what you use?

    N.b. I’d love to get into some more complex areas of watchmaking but at 46 and with a mortgage, I’m taking baby steps and enjoying my hobby while selling a few Seiko based watch mods to cover me in tools etc.
    Thanks again, Jason

    1. Colin

      Hi Jason,

      Thanks for your message. Yes, the tape is Polymide. The generic tape is fine to use, although you might want to get a few different widths.

      Watchmaking is a career or hobby choice that is open to all ages and financial situations. I think taking it slow as you’re doing is a great way to build up your skill and confidence.

      Hope your attempt at polishing turns out great, and if not, then at least you can learn some really valuable lessons doing it; and have fun at the same time!

      All the best


    2. Stanley Abor

      I want to be receiving horological information from your site. Like the polishing programme, thank you for that and i wish to receive more from your site. Thanks.

      1. Colin

        Thanks Stanley, you can tick the box and subscribe to any future updates.


  2. Roland

    Hello Colin;

    Excellent information! While waiting for your article to be published, I’ve done my Rolex submariner Bi-color with hand tools (Dremel alike), little felt wheels, diamond paste (up to #10.000 grit) and kitchen scotch brite, and the results a reasonable good. I didn’t go for “ultra”-gloss as only by looking at the gold (so to speak), will scratch it again 🙂
    Next time I will follow your guidelines and thank you very much for following up on my question, or perhaps you were planning this article anyway 😉 I’m sure a lots of people will be delighted with this info, me for one !
    Hope to see more very interesting info…. Slowly your website becomes the place to be.
    Best regards; Roland, Denmark.

  3. Paul Brady

    Really good blog on polishing. Doing some research on titanium mirror finish polishing on bracelets. Never satisfied with its finish…

  4. Nils

    Hello and thank you for great information. I’m wondering about the green paste. You write under the picture of dialux paste that green is for “steel”
    And to “finish” but a bit later under a
    Picture/post about the tag
    Heuer link bracelet you write that you select green as a cutting compound. “We start with a cutting compound on a felt mop” this got me confused. Hope you can explain this to me 🙂 kind regards

    1. Colin

      Hi Nils,

      Many thanks for your comment. The compounds used have a different cutting effect depending on the type of mop used. A felt mop will always cut, and a cotton mop will always buff, the degree to which they do so depends on the compound used with them. So a green compound can be used for both cutting and finishing. I hope that is clearer 🙂


  5. WILl

    Great stuff…. I have used a dremel tool using several different cotton buffs and gotten good results……… your explanation on using different directions when polishing or buffing was indeed very helpful……. I am now trying hand sanding using different grits of sand paper which offers good results but is somewhat tedious… the end results is great but you still have to polish using one of the these compounds green or white your choice to get a high luster. This process is great for watch cases!
    I have several rose gold Michael Kors watches with badly scuffed bands how would you repair these……. . they are eletro-plated or can they be fixed if so how can this be done?

    1. Colin

      Hi Wil,

      Thanks for your comments. I’m glad you found the article useful.

      I’m sure you could get decent results using sand and emery paper, however the process would be far too time consuming to be practical for anything other than your own private watches. Kudos for your patience though!

      Electro plated watches, or any other kind of plating are unfortunately a tough one. On some gold plated watches you “can” give them a very light polish to bring out the lustre, but as it will be so easy to remove the plating entirely I don’t know of anyone credible who would make a habit of doing that. If it is a particularly valuable piece then you can have them replated in a precious metal, but this is time consuming (especially if the bracelet/case is two tone and needs dismantling) and can be expensive. The plating on Michael Kors wathes is unfortunately only coloured Rose Gold, and not actual gold, and so you can’t replate it. The most economical thing to do for such watches is to replace the bracelet and case completely. Fossil, who owns the brand, can supply the necessary parts.

      I hope that helps.

  6. Mehdi

    Hi Colin,
    Thank you very much for putting this article togethe, I personally find it very very informative, by reading it I niw understand that it’s not as simple as I’d have thought

    I wa thinking that it will be possible to polich a watch efficiently using something like DREMEL® 3000 (3000-1/25)
    But apparently no bench lathe no descent serious polishing…or do you think that I can get a way with something like the dremel?


    1. Colin

      Hi Medhi, thanks for your comment. You can use a hand drill for polishing.

      When polishing you will want either the abrasive mob or the piece you are polishing to be secured. On a lathe it is the mop that is secured and the piece that you are able to freely move around. If you are using a hand drill then you would want to secure the piece so that it is immobile. If both the drill and the watch are able to move then you will not be able to get accurate or satisfying results.

      You don’t need an expensive setup to do effective polishing or refurbishing work, but the better tools will allow you to work faster and with more consistent results.

      I hope that helps.


  7. Alexy

    Very informative article, thank you

  8. Andrew Wright

    …. This is a superb, informative article; hopefully, you will be able to undertake some work on a few of my watches. I feel really confident in your ability, as you speak with such authority on this specialist subject .
    Do you have any videos on YouTube…?
    Best regards.

    A Wright.

    1. Colin

      Hi Andrew, many thanks for your kind message. I don’t have any videos unfortunately. It’s something I’d love to do but I just don’t have the time.

      By all means get in touch if you would like for me to look at something for you.


  9. Andy

    Hi Colin, very informative article and helpful to a novice hobbyist like myself. I see that you mention not to touch gold plated items, would this be the same as say Gold filled 80 microns?

    Just always fancied an Omega TC1 LED, ( OK, some may say not a “proper” watch!) most cases are scratched, but didn’t know if they could be slightly restored . Do you think the bracelet be the same or thinner?

    Thanks again 🙂

    1. Colin

      Hi Andy, gold filled is the same as plated for polishing, which means that you can buff it slightly but anything more severe will quickly remove the gold.

      The Omega LED watch is a classic. The few I’ve seen have had a brushed finish. This effect will be done to the bracelet before it is plated and then the plating is added on top. To refinish this type of bracelet you will brush it as normal and then have to replate the entire bracelet. So it can be done but it can prove expensive.

  10. Do Minh Hoi

    this article is so awesome and helpful. thanks for the author. I believe i can re-polish my watch now 🙂

  11. Michelle Gregersen

    Might I ask the specifications of the Artifex wheel in the article? I am look for one but I am not sure which grit or hardness I should be getting.

    1. Colin

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for your message. Like most things it is personal preference and so there is no correct answer. My preference is for a less severe grinding wheel and so I would go for the 400 grit with medium elasticity. With that you should be able to remove all but the most deep of scratches and you also run less risk of removing too much material and accidentally re-shaping what you are trying to polish.

      You will also find that the scratches introduced by a finer grit are much easier to polish out.


  12. Michelle Gregersen

    Thank you very much colin, you have been of great help.

  13. Paddy

    Hello Colin,

    Great article!

    Any advice on what medium to use to polish the case of a rose gold plated steel watch case? The watch came out of the box with a thin transparent soft sheet of plastic wrapped around the case for protection. But along the sides of the case where it was in contact with this almost ‘tacky’ plastic there are the outlines of a stain. It is a dark brown colour, almost like corrosion and does not rub off with a cotton polishing cloth.

    1. Colin

      Hi Paddy

      Thanks for your message.

      You generally cannot polish plated metal, as polishing removes material and in a plated finish it will remove the plating.

      If you are talking about a rose gold finish that is on a fashion branded watch such as a Michael Kors or Emporio Armarni, then the plating is not rose gold, but just a rose gold colour. Pure gold does not tarnish or stain.

      The stain is likely oxidisation, and if it has not corroded the metal you should be able to remove it with soapy water. If the stain does not come off with non-abrasive cleaning then there is likely nothing you can do about it. Most of the brands of watch that use rose gold coloured plating will have quite a robust replacement policy and so you should be able to contact them and have the case, or the entire watch, replaced.

      I hope that helps


  14. Paddy

    Hi Colin,

    Thanks for the advice. The watch is a ladies Rotary Revelation LS02974. I assumed that it is plated with rose gold as I saw that mentioned somewhere on a website when I was searching for information about it but maybe it is not plated.

    Anyway soapy water does not move the ring shaped dark brown stains. I think it must be oxidisation where it was in contact with the plastic cover on the widest part of the case around the edge. The ring shape of the stain matches the line where contact between the plastic cover and the case ended and the combination of exposure to the air and the plastic at this point maybe is what caused it. I don’t know if Rotary will help with this one as I don’t have any warranty card for the watch. I was wondering if a slightly stronger cleaner like Goddards silver polish might work?


  15. Andreas.TT

    I am a watchmaker with experience, but i can always learn.
    Especialy like the nail varnish solution and the differences of the dialux compounds.
    Thank you for your time and sharing the knowlage.

    1. Colin

      Hi Andreas

      Thanks a lot! I’m glad you found it useful.


  16. Edward

    Dear Colin,

    Thank you very much for the inspiration on polishing. I’ve learnt what I can and cannot do. I just acquired a little Dremel for sanding and polishing jobs and am eying a steel watch bracelet with the new knowledge. Fun!


    1. Colin

      Hi Edward, that’s great and I’m glad you found the article useful. Best of luck with practising some polishing and let me know if you need any further advice.


    2. Nicholas T

      Hey Colin,

      Good day to you. Would you mind explaining what do “cut”,”polish”,”finishing” mean exactly? And what is the correct order in-between the 3 when you want to get the job done.

      Thank you for the great article.


      1. Colin

        Hi Nicholas,

        Thanks for your message. In this context to “cut” is to remove metal, you can change the shape, remove deep scratches and overall even out the surface. “Polish” then removes the marks made from cutting and replaces them with smaller, less visible marks. “Finishing” then either removes the marks left from polishing, so that they are not immediately visible to the naked eye, or adds a finishing effect – such as a grained finish. The order you mentioned is the order you would want to complete them in.

        I hope that helps.


  17. David

    The most informative lesson on the www. I thank you sir. I was wondering why don’t I see polisher use the orange dialux instead of the grey for metal and the yellow one for the glass as a prepolish. Wouldn’t it cut faster?

    1. Colin

      Hi David,

      Different people will find that slightly different methods work better for them. You can certainly experiment with different levels of compound; I have seen people polish steel with the “red” iron oxide block, which is meant for gold. There’s no right or wrong answer, although the speed of cutting isn’t too important as you’re only spending a few seconds on each piece. The type of mop you use – felt/cotton etc has a much bigger effect on the cutting than the compound alone.


  18. Weixiang

    Hi Colin! Loved the article, thank you for sharing on your polishing techniques. Was wondering if you would know which Dialux compound works well for polishing titanium watches? Thank you

    1. Colin

      Hi Wei Xiang,

      I’ve never polished titanium myself before, as the only finish on titanium I’ve ever come across is either sand-blasted or grained. That said, you can polish titanium. Just follow the same steps as steel, but you will likely need slightly longer on each mop/compound to allow for the fact that titanium is a stronger material.


  19. Dan

    Hi Colin, very insightful article.
    I own an omega Seamaster 300, with the caseback similar to the one you described. The previous owner had disclosed that he had tried to remove some minor scratches from the caseback using scotch bright, and in doing so imparted some uneven scratches on the brushed circular part of the caseback.
    I intent to have this caseback refinished, however my concern here is that it will remove metal and may “thin out the case”. Would this be so? and what advise can you give me here? Thanks

    1. Colin

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for your message.

      Whenever you use an abrasive on a metal, whether it’s Scotch-Brite, sand paper, or a polishing compound, you will remove some of the metal. So, refinishing will always remove material. There is a risk on some watches, generally vintage watches or gold cased watches that are much thinner, to thin the case or caseback too much while refinishing it, which will make the permanent damage visible, and may affect the water resistance of the case or even the ability to close it properly.

      However, the caseback on a watch such as a Seamaster would be something in the region of 2-3mm thick of high-grade steel. This would take a significant effort to remove enough steel for it to be considered thin; although in trying to even out the scratches you may end up losing some of the original shape of the caseback. This is because you will generally refinish a case to its lowest point i.e. a caseback with a 0.1mm deep scratch would need to have 0.1mm removed from the entire area so that the scratch is no longer visible.

      The brushed finish of a Seamaster will tend to hide scratches better than a polished finished and so simply by reapplying the circular grain over the top of the uneven scratches, this may be enough to hide them. If not, the uneven scratches would need to be ground down until they are no longer visible, and then the circular grain applied.

      If it is the case that too much material has been removed, then before any refinishing takes place, it is possible to weld some additional steel into the low areas, thereby raising the low point and not having to remove so much material.

      I haven’t seen your watch, but from my experience, the Seamaster case is one of the most forgiving and one that is possible to refinish to a high standard even if it is heavily marked. So you should hopefully be ok.


      1. Dan

        Thanks for your detailed response and bearing this in mind I have chosen not to have it refinished. As you quite rightly pointed out, the caseback on the Seamaster does well to hide the already imparted scratches. (Which on closer examination and under different lighting only seem to show up). With this in mind I don’t see the need to further have them brushed out.

        Thanks again for your insight, it is very much appreciated.

  20. Nick L

    Hi Colin, I’m glad I found this article.
    I have no problem with the brushed finish but when it comes to the mirror finish it’s different. If you look from a distance, it looks good and shiny but if you look closer (also depending on the angle) you can sort of see some marks. I’m using the Tripoli for deeper scratches and then finish it off with the Blue Dialux for the mirror finish. I’m pretty sure I’m using the right cotton wheels for each steps. (You tell me, I’ll try to add pictures) I’ve even tried the rotation tech I you mentioned but same results. What kind of pressure should I use? Any idea what I’m doing wrong?
    Thanks a million!

    1. Colin

      Hi Nick

      Thanks for your message. If you’re still seeing scratches, then you need to have removed those before you do the final polish.

      I’ve not used Tripoli myself before, but it looks to be for non-ferrous metals and plastics and so it may be the case that it’s not cutting the steel enough and so is not removing all the existing scratches and marks.

      So, you could try and different compound, or instead use a felt mop for the initial polish. Before you use the final polish your piece should basically be polished and shiny, with a compound like the Blue Dialux just smoothing everything out and making it more reflective.

      Try using the Dialux compounds, Grey to cut, Blue to polish and Green to finish. That should really make a huge difference to what you’re seeing.


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