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Old 1 August 2009, 02:39 PM   #1
Lol-x
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Patina & Aging

One of the tell tale signs (or indeed effects) of age and therefore vintage Rolex watches (specifically sports watches) is the effect age and environmental influences have on the colour of the dial, the hour markers and the hands.

Over time, a black dial can become a chocolate colour.

Over time, white tritium luminous material on the dial and hands can become cream, yellow, tan, brown and eventually dark brown to black. which are all collectively known as a patina or tonal coloration.

This raises a number of issues:

(a) How does patina occur?
Well it is not entirely clear to me, but it seems that it is just a chemical reaction in the tritium material that can occur with varying exposure to UV rays, however some say that their watches have spent years in the sun and the tritium lume whiter than those watches that have spent most of their life kept in a box.
On balance I would tend to believe that UV (the sun's) rays are instrumental as part of the aging and process of tritium lume acquring a cream-yellow-brown patina.

(b) Is patina desirable?

Well this depends on your personal tastes and preferences on a subjective level. I think that many would find pale white-cream the most acceptable in the aging of tritium lume, however once the lume goes beyond yellow...i.e. a tan-brown colour then many consider the lume has gone past its best days.

However even if one has say tan lume, there is a lot to be said for a vintage watch original dial and hands. After all we are talking about a vintage timepiece.

Here is a 5512 with lume:

5512.jpg

Notice how the effect of lighting can change the colour of lume (a point to note when buying off a photograph, the photo does not always speak the truth).

The lume on this watch is a shade of yellow, and the hands are a shade or two darker. This is not unusual as the lume on the hands seems to change colour (age) more quickly than the tritium on dials. It's unfortunate, but it is just one of the effects of aging tritium material.

Collectors tend to value more highly watches kept in original condition, while others may simply care to have a NOS (new old stock) look and to that extent replace an old dial and hands with a new luminova replacement.

That is fine, but just be aware the collectablity and hence value can be deminished by the watch not being kept 'original'. As long as you know the pitfalls and the wheres and whys you are empowered to make and enjoy your own decisions
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Old 1 August 2009, 02:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lol-x View Post
(b) Is patina desirable?

........there is a lot to be said for a vintage watch original dial and hands. After all we are talking about a vintage timepiece........

I guess it depends on the watch and the collector, Steve. Some watches present themselves better when in pristine original condition, whereas others seem to fit into the same category as your old, worn out but still favourite slippers. I wouldn't enhance the dial or hands on this old girl for any amount, it took almost 60 years for them to get that way.
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Old 1 August 2009, 11:51 PM   #3
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I've learned to appreciate vintage patina from use not abuse. As Al says it's in the eyes of the collector [your dial is sweet, Al!]. My Tudor DD has some pitting from, I assume, deteriated seals. Doesn't bother me in the least because it's very difficult to see unless magnified.
Patina w/ even shading and color is probably an asset on vintage pieces, imho.
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Old 2 August 2009, 12:51 AM   #4
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this is after 56 years and I want to keep it this way all I'm going to do is change the crystal
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Old 2 August 2009, 01:48 AM   #5
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Great thread and information Steve.

I personally value a light to moderate patina in vintage pieces. I do not like when there is brown to black 'discolorations' on some old dials especially when not even or symmetric.

Here is a picture of my snowflake Tudor which has some of the most beautiful patina I have ever seen (and the best faded bezel ever!).

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Old 2 August 2009, 02:54 AM   #6
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Some age greenish. At least in person.

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Old 2 August 2009, 03:15 AM   #7
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this is after 56 years and I want to keep it this way all I'm going to do is change the crystal
Is that a 6294? That dial is perfect and reflects its experience properly. I have a 1954 version, very similar, but with a honeycomb dial. Unfortunately it had to be refinished in 1987 due to damage. Just about my favorite and it gets worn often. It runs perfectly.

I do not think your 1953 model should have a cyclops. My mid 1954 does not. The cyclops started to appear in production in late '54. I like the cleaner look without it. You might also.

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Old 2 August 2009, 03:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Is that a 6294? That dial is perfect and reflects its experience properly. I have a 1954 version, very similar, but with a honeycomb dial. Unfortunately it had to be refinished in 1987 due to damage. Just about my favorite and it gets worn often. It runs perfectly.

I do not think your 1953 model should have a cyclops. My mid 1954 does not. The cyclops started to appear in production in late '54. I like the cleaner look without it. You might also.

Mark
well from what I've seen (and I haven't had the back off) from the SN which is 967xxx it should be a 53 but as I said I haven't had the back off and when I had the case tube replaced about a month ago they didn't tell me aggghhhhhhh.
You may be right though , As I said I haven't had the back off for definative documentation. It was my father's and has been sitting around for the last 25 years.
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Old 2 August 2009, 03:27 AM   #9
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Here's is some pleasing patina...

3134


2940


1016


16750
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Old 2 August 2009, 05:18 AM   #10
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Beautiful dials, everybody!
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Old 2 August 2009, 06:41 AM   #11
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What about the bezel insert....

Over time and with exposure to sun light, the bezel insert will fade and turn from black to a fabulous gray.....It gives the watch a wonderful look and feel and plays off the Matt Dial wonderfully......In my opinion of course.
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Old 2 August 2009, 07:18 AM   #12
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I like it on older watches. Though some models don't show much.

My wife's shows zero patina (but no lume) and it's a 1.2 Mil serial:



On the other hand, my cal.321 Speedmaster, most of the lume crumbled away, but what's left glows... it's a 1967. :)

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Old 2 August 2009, 12:33 PM   #13
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My Uncle's turned from a silver dial to a pinkish color!
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Old 2 August 2009, 11:35 PM   #14
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Great photos guys.

With the advent of luminova it will be interesting to see whether it changes colour at all over time. It may in fact be that tritium dials (and hence those models with tritium) will become even more collectable over time as there are simply no more tritium models being produced that can exude vintage patina and character.

No more cream or yellow patina lume will occur unless Rolex decides to bring out a model (maybe a re-edition of a discontinued model) where the lume although luminova is by chemical process intentionally made to look vintage cream or yellow.

We have seen this recently with JLC who recently released a special edition of the long discontinued "Polaris". It has been very successful for JLC and one could well imagine how popular a Double Red Sea Dweller would be if Rolex were to release it in 10 years time.
polaris.jpg
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Old 3 August 2009, 08:05 AM   #15
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What causes patina is an ongoing debate between all vintage collectors. We all know tritium degrades.

It has been noted that some watches kept in safes show patina. Also some watches worn in the sun seem to stay white longer in several cases.

But there are always exceptions to every theory. UV light does not seem to be the culprit.

Some thoughts......

The confusion could be that they were applied by hand and some had more material than others?

It could be that different batches of tritium were not mixed exactly the same?

It is just a characteristic of tritium?

No one seems to know the real answer to why some get very dark and some stay white as snow. Then there are those in the middle looking like light coffee. I surely do not know the answer, I just accept the results. =) maverick

white


coffee
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Old 3 August 2009, 12:41 PM   #16
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Well said Dennis.

For me it's the eveness of the patina.









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Old 3 August 2009, 11:46 PM   #17
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I believe that it may be from re-charging the dials with tritium. On some watches it appears as if someone saturated the markings leaving a concentrated amount in certain areas of each marking. I believe that some "patina" is faked. This is done with archaeological pieces all the time to make it appear as if it is thousands of years old when in fact its a fake. This is especially done with biblical antiquities.
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Old 3 August 2009, 11:49 PM   #18
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I don't know about watches, but having run a large art and antique auction house for many years, I know that things with the 'best' patina often bring outrageous prices. It's a thing that savvy collectors look for and value.

It does help to authenticate, as patina is hard (but not impossible) to fake.

I'd suspect it applies to vintage watches as well.
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Old 3 August 2009, 11:52 PM   #19
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Here is an article which included patina faking. Two links.

http://www.sbl-site.org/publications...?articleId=374

http://www.slate.com/id/2111607/
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Old 4 August 2009, 02:29 AM   #20
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People that collect/sell antiques know little secrets to clean items to make them look new again. On the flip side of that coin, they also know how to make something look "antiquish". I don't collect antiques but my father did. He once found a silver bowl made by the Unger Brothers and paid $6 for it at an auction. He used saliva to test if it was silver or not. Saliva takes off tarnish nicely on silver. The bowl was worth hundreds. Just an example of how the world of collectables works. For all you know, that vintage dial was an aftermarket dunked in lemonaide.
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Old 17 August 2009, 10:18 AM   #21
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So how do you guys feel about nicks in the steel case? Send it to Rolex and those all disappear, but from a collectors point of view?
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Old 17 August 2009, 10:28 AM   #22
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So how do you guys feel about nicks in the steel case? Send it to Rolex and those all disappear, but from a collectors point of view?
Some like them "as new", some like the "history". Personally I like the case and lugs as fat as possible.
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Old 17 August 2009, 11:10 AM   #23
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Count me in the history camp.
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Old 17 August 2009, 11:29 AM   #24
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Some like them "as new", some like the "history". Personally I like the case and lugs as fat as possible.
I am with Mike.... fat lugs and cases are golden on a vintage piece.
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Old 17 August 2009, 11:30 AM   #25
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Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.... PATINA........
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Old 17 August 2009, 11:34 AM   #26
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Some like them "as new", some like the "history". Personally I like the case and lugs as fat as possible.
I'm assuming "fat" means not ground down to create a newly imperfect perfection.
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Old 14 February 2014, 08:09 PM   #27
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Nice Topic
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Old 14 February 2014, 08:57 PM   #28
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Patina is a thing of beauty and often a misused term used by dodgy sellers to describe damaged dials and cases.

Love the patina on these two of mine!


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Old 14 February 2014, 09:44 PM   #29
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adjectives for me are

-untouched
-factory original
-unpolished/never polished

then i go nuts
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Old 14 February 2014, 10:01 PM   #30
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