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Some purists want to see an ORIGINAL dial on a vintage watch...even if it looks really bad. Personally, I don't really care for the "patina" look, unless it is uniform across the dial with little to no blemishes. If a dial has imperfections that stand out too much then I am a real advocate of dial refinishing.
The process is really interesting. First a printing plate is made from the design on the original dial. Then the raised markers are removed and replaced if necessary. Then the dial is stripped down to bare metal, and a new finish is applied to match what was there before. Then the printing is applied using the plate that was created earlier.
Since this is not an exact science, the dial will never be as good as when it was first made, however, I have been very happy with all of the dials I have had redone. It really finishes off a job!
The dial refinishing companies WILL NOT accept the whole watch...they will only take the DIAL. If you don't have the skills to remove the dial yourself, see WATCH REPAIR SHOPS to find a good watchmaker in your area. Most watchmakers should charge about $45-50 for the whole job. That includes removing the dial, shipping it, and the cost of refinishing and reassembly... what a deal!!!!!!
INTERNATIONAL DIAL CO., INC.
58 W. SUGARTREE
P.O. BOX 970
WILMINGTON, OH 45177
I have had hundreds of dials done by them. Their customer service is excellent, turn around time is great, and the finished product is very good! They recently added a new service that allows you to track your order and view before and after pictures of YOUR dial on their website...
For a "Normal Refinishing" it usually costs about $30 bucks and the results are awesome!. They also offer "Exact Refinishing" for highly collectible watches. This service costs a little more... I usually use the Normal Refinishing service because the results are so good... Check out these photo's of an actual dial I had done recently by International Dial Co.
Final note: There are two big dial re-finisher's in the U.S. - International Dial Co. and Kirk Rich Dial. I can not recommend Kirk Rich Dial because they will not return phone calls or emails. I have heard that their work is quite good, but expensive. I tried on numerous occasions via phone messages and email to get some answers regarding their prices and quality etc. But never received a response...
On the other hand, service at International Dial Co. is fantastic.