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Old 9 November 2019, 12:35 PM   #1
Etouffee
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Pitting and corrosion of hands?

New here. Help me understand, Iíve been looking at a lot of vintage watches and read and see a lot of pitted and corroded minute, hour and second hands. How does this happen to water proof/resistant watches? Frankly, some not that old... Iíve been lurking here a while but have not seen a ďwhyĒ. Is this due to poor watch maintenance? What causes this? Just age?

Seems a sealed unit, this shouldnít happen.

Iím sure this has been addressed, please forgive a redundancy...

Thanks for your enlightenment. (Be kind, 1st post)
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Old 9 November 2019, 12:42 PM   #2
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Welcome.. Good question. IDK thinking maybe something to do with the older tritium being radioactive. Experts will chime in..

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Old 9 November 2019, 01:13 PM   #3
MasonDixon
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They're only water resistant as long as the gaskets and sealing surfaces are in good condition. Bad gaskets and/or corrosion on the sealing surfaces can allow water to get in and cause the kind of damage you're seeing.
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Old 9 November 2019, 01:25 PM   #4
Bigblu10
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I don't believe the hands on vintage watches were made of gold as they are today.
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Old 9 November 2019, 01:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etouffee View Post
. . .
Seems a sealed unit, this shouldnít happen.

Iím sure this has been addressed, please forgive a redundancy...

Thanks for your enlightenment. (Be kind, 1st post)
I'm pretty sure that stuff can corrode and degrade without having to pour water into your watch.
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Old 9 November 2019, 06:02 PM   #6
MILGAUSS88
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Condensation, from changes in temperature.
Small amounts of moisture from humidity.

The worst i have seen are watches with plastic crystals that have turned yellow.
I believe the were manufactured with bromine. Anyway, the plastic releases a gas when it deteriorates. And the gas can eat right through the hands I have seen some where the hands are just rusty flakes. Movements are generally ok, but the hands will be shot.

I think I have only seen this plastic crystal on a Rolex once, a small 28mm watch from the WWII era. I have seen it on several other brands though.
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Old 9 November 2019, 11:21 PM   #7
Etouffee
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Thank you for a serious, legitimate response rather than an inane comment of pouring water on a watch (and that from a moderator - seriously?) Not amused.

Back to the question, as I’ve said: I’ve seen quite a few watches with pitted and corroded hands ( 60’s, 70’s & early 80’s) and it does not really appear to affect value which it seems to me - it should. My initial reaction is to stay away from these. Am I wrong?
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Old 10 November 2019, 12:20 AM   #8
Dan S
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If the seals are not properly maintained, moisture can get inside and gradually cause corrosion to the hands. Moisture can also enter when the crown is out. It's a major cause of damage to the dial as well as the hands. It's not particularly desirable to have corroded hands, and it will affect value compared to pristine hands, but there are many other factors that also affect value much more. Personally, slightly degraded hands would not deter me from buying a watch that was otherwise in good condition. However, it would cause me to look more closely at the dial, to see if it had been damaged or refinished.
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Old 10 November 2019, 12:21 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Etouffee View Post
Thank you for a serious, legitimate response rather than an inane comment of pouring water on a watch (and that from a moderator - seriously?) Not amused.
Yeah, Larry! Making these aggressive, inane comments on a very serious topic in this formal and somber forum isnít helping anyone! And from a Moderator, no less! I can assure you, sir, no one is amused!

…touffťe (a dish I do love) itís early Saturday morning, itís just a watch forum, and no one is meaning any harm (I thought Larryís clinking glasses emoji he added conveyed that).

And yes, Iíd say moisture over time
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Old 10 November 2019, 12:57 AM   #10
Etouffee
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Touche’, I have taken my morning “chill pill”. Much better now, Thanks!
Appreciate the input.
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Old 10 November 2019, 01:29 AM   #11
mountainjogger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tools View Post
I'm pretty sure that stuff can corrode and degrade without having to pour water into your watch.
I am not a mind reader. But I think Larry's point is that a breach in seals or improper service or a crack in a crystal is not necessary for corrosion.

Absent a vacuum. Corrosion happens. May take a long time. But it does happen.
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Old 10 November 2019, 02:01 AM   #12
Verdi
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There are soooo many posts like “never serviced my watch in 20-30 years” “dont service if it works fine”.....

Well, the payback of that is exactly why we see pitted and corroded cases, hands etc
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Old 10 November 2019, 03:42 AM   #13
linesiders
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etouffee View Post
Thank you for a serious, legitimate response rather than an inane comment of pouring water on a watch (and that from a moderator - seriously?) Not amused.

Back to the question, as Iíve said: Iíve seen quite a few watches with pitted and corroded hands ( 60ís, 70ís & early 80ís) and it does not really appear to affect value which it seems to me - it should. My initial reaction is to stay away from these. Am I wrong?

Eh tu?

I will post the following in a very constructive and positive manner, hoping you, the new guy, won't take offense.

Don't get too worried about it. His response was correct and our very long term and helpful moderator was lighthearted - AND KIND - in his response and meant it that way. Several other knowledgeable people have responded as well. You, as the 2 post new guy asking a question, are taking offense to that. Please don't take offense. Instead, put'cher big boy pants on, pull up a chair, pour a glass and hang out.

As to your original question, moisture happens, even in a water proof watch, particularly with contrasting environmental conditions. Add things that do not make it waterproof (poor seals as mentioned above) and sometimes inferior metals - particularly in the 70s, add up to hands corroding.
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