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Can gold filling be repaired or is it better left alone?

I bought this watch recently (as best I can tell looking through this site is that it matches this one - https://www.mybulova.com/watches/1938-minute-man-8377). I've never really been interested in watches until recently when some interesting/valuable pieces came into my hands via my step-father (a long retired watch maker).

I'd often though one day I'd get around to buying a Bulova watch in particular, and was prompted by the recent acquisitions to add to the collection. I bought the watch for sentimental reason so value is of no interest to me (some years ago I had the honour of spending some time with, and hearing stories from a member of the Bulova family).

The gold filling is chipped on the (6) lugs. My question here is firstly, can they be patched/repaired? And secondly if it can, is it worth doing and will a repair stop further loss of the gold from the fringes of the chips?

Other than that the watch is in good condition, very clean an keeps good time. I'm thrilled to finally own one and this along with the others in my collection will get passed down through my family along with the stories behind them all...

 

 

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Panel Member
Posted March 23, 2019 - 1:30pm

Hello Alan, welcome to myBulova.

This is known as 'Brassing' and is from the wear and tear of daily use. The gold fill, which is a heavy gold plate mechanically bonded, wears away because it is soft and the brass or base metal is exposed.

To remedy this, the most common option is re-plating, and this is electroplating. Layers of 40 microns are possible, but electroplating is not as robust nor as long wearing as gold fill. I have also seen where gold is built up in spots using gold wire and laser welding, but this is more expensive procedure, and you'd need the services of a goldsmith.

A casemaker would be able to re-make the case entire, but this is the most expensive option, and I'm not sure if this type of case can be done from scratch. Mostly I have seen round cases made from scratch out of solid gold, and qualified casemakers are few and far between.

Here in Canada we have a company called Replate-it:

http://www.replateit.com

I should add that you can polish the case to minmize the appearance of the gold loss, as the brass looks similar to the gold. The best results are obtained using jeweller's rouge and a buffing wheel. 

 

 

 

 

alangnw
Posted March 24, 2019 - 7:45pm

Rob, thank you so much for such an informative reply. Plenty to consider.

I think for now I'll just use it and see how it wears (after all it is an eighty year old watch so the wear would be expected). If it wears more I'll consider taking it to a local jewellers to get it built up again.

I don't think I'd look at replacing the case with anything but another original. I like the idea of it being all original.

Thanks again for the very helpful reply!

SpaceviewM2
Posted March 25, 2019 - 11:08am

I would also highly recommend replateit.com. They have done several of my watch cases and they do a fabulous job. The pic below is a before and after that I got back from them a week or so ago. Cost was only $76.00USD for this case restoration so you can't go wrong sending them cases that need restored. You can see the difference. The only issue is you have to send the bare case, no movemnet/no crystal. They keep their costs down by only repairing cases and not having to tear down a watch. I did remove the crystal when I sent them the case and installed a new crystal after I got it back. 

 

 

 

alangnw
Posted March 25, 2019 - 12:14pm

That's impressive. Almost as much as the cost watch, and perhaps a little expensive postage wise (I live in Spain). But worth bearing in mind if it does get worse and there must be similar companies in Europe. Thanks.