Omega Watches: Do Refinished Dials Lower Your Investment Value?


A dial is possibly the most important visual feature of a watch. Regardless of the excellence of the movement or its timekeeping qualities, if the dial is severely discolored or chipped, it makes the watch look poor, tired, or worn and certainly diminishes its value.

Collectors are often put off by the very faded scales and dials in the rather original Omega constellations. Many avoid these watches due to the general assumption that humidity is the main cause of the disintegration of the dial. The theory goes that very discolored dials provide a good outer clue of possible rusty movement and are best avoided.

There is another possible cause of dial discoloration that forces the astute buyer to take a closer look at watches with discolored dials.

Sun damage is another cause of paint failure and the sun can mimic water damage to dial paint in many cases.

A beautiful movement with no water damage may be underneath, and this type of paint failure, while not good for original watch collectors, is an excellent candidate for restoration. However, even seasoned buyers should be careful when buying watches with badly worn dials; You must very carefully determine whether the watch face is damaged by the sun or moisture.

So the first thing to do when you come across an Omega with a very discolored dial is to look under the hood with a jeweler’s loup. A clean, rust-free movement is easily identified, and if the case seals have been well maintained, there will be no rust spots on the non-copper parts of the movement or corrosion of the case, particularly at the case back seam.

If the movement has weathered the elements and history or use well, you have a choice: buy and restore (or restore) or continue your journey to find an antique Omega with an original dial. If you go the restoration route, you could send the watch to Omega in Biel, wait a long time, and finally receive the watch with a new factory dial.

However, in the case of Pie Pan Constellations, Omega is believed to have run out of factory dials and will replace the old Pie Pan dials with convex Constellation dials from the same period. Given the increasing probability of not being able to get an original Pie Pan dial, you can choose to redial.

So if you choose to redial, what do you let yourself in? If you can get a great re-marker, they are few and far between, then a dial refinished to look exactly like an original will make a watch look much more attractive.

But, from the point of view of collecting original Omegas, it may not improve the value of the watch; there is an exception and we will review it later. From the point of view of vintage collectors, a restored dial diminishes the value of a watch compared to a watch with an intact original dial that may have a nice patina.

Why is this? Well, in general, the refinished dials are not of the same quality as the factory originals. Many refinished dials do not last as long and are not as durable as the original dials. Factory dials can have baked, anodized, and other manufacturing finishes, such as clear coatings that cover both the dial and markers to inhibit the aging process.

Refinished dials are often painted, have ink stamped writing, and have a lower quality finish and durability. They can be marked more easily and often do not contain the level of detail of the originals.

Also, many original dials have the markers soldered to the dial, whereas in a large number of refinished dials I’ve seen, the markers have been glued back instead of soldered (for the obvious reason that the soldering process could damage the paint on a re-dial) Sometimes the glue is so thick on the back of the dial that it interferes with the operation of the watch, especially with dated models.

Poor re-dialing with inaccurate details can cause your watch’s value to drop faster than a souffle placed in a refrigerator! It’s fair to say that there are far more shoddy, incompetent, and inferior refinish houses than there are high-end restorers. So if you come across one, treat it like royalty.

Now with the exception mentioned above. Due to the globalization of the antique watch market and the accessibility of stocks, many more people have the opportunity to buy Omega watches. A new niche has emerged in the antique watch market for vintage watches that look almost new in the showroom. This market is largely driven by newcomers. I can attest to this from a steady stream of emails from those people, and for them “look” is very important and “patina” and originality are often overlooked. These buyers will pay a lot of money for the look and ease of use, so you will sometimes see quite high prices being paid for watches with refinished dials.

However, I imagine that a lot of newcomers to collecting, if they are serious, will eventually develop a higher level of collecting sophistication and become interested in the finer details, originality, richness of patina, and other collectability factors. .

Due to the dwindling supply of new and old Omega dials, in particular Pie Pan Constellations and other older models, rebinding will increasingly become a reality. However, from a long-term collection point of view, redialing should be an option when you have no other options.

(c) Desmond Guilfoyle 2006

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