September 01, 2018

PATINA – A BRONZE ODYSSEY Part 2 By Adam Clegg

Case Finishes

The most common case finishes we see are…

  • Brushed.
  • Polished.
  • Blasted – Microscopic beads of glass (or sand) are shot through a gun with compressed air to give this finish.

It is important when removing patina / cleaning the case, to remain aware that polishing will remove brushed and blasted finishes; though there are ways of cleaning without doing this, so it needn’t stop you going ahead and forcing that patina. We will touch on these methods of cleaning later on.

Cleanliness / Tools

The Golden rule of forcing patina is CLEANLINESS; our skin contains oils to protect it and these oils transfer to your watch case as you wear it. In every day life this isn’t a problem, but when we want to subject our nice new watch to patinating agents, these oils can affect the rate of reaction and give anomalies such as finger prints in the patina. If you’re not bothered by this then I suppose it is not important; if like me (I think I may have a touch of OCD) this would annoy you, then it is important to spend the time cleaning your case prior to exposure.

 Typical things you might use when cleaning your watch….

  • Rubber Gloves (to stop contamination after cleaning).
  • Household Detergent (great at removing grease).
  • A Toothbrush – very good for cleaning right into all the hard to reach areas.
  • Kitchen Roll / Blue Roll.
  • Methylated Spirits – this is alcohol based and is extremely good at removing oils / grease. If you do decide to use this, the best method is to pour some onto Blue Roll or kitchen Roll (enough to dampen it, but not enough that it is dripping off) and gently wipe the case of the watch.

 My chosen method of cleaning watch cases prior to exposure to my chosen “agent” is…

  • Remove the strap.
  • Run some warm water in the kitchen sink.
  • Put the wife’s rubber gloves on (usually to derisive comments in from my family).
  • Apply a little detergent to a toothbrush and dip in the water.
  • Ensure the crown is screwed down.
  • Give the case a thorough brushing, followed by a rinse in the warm water.
  • Repeat to ensure any contaminants are removed.

 Now your watch is clean it is important not to touch it with your hands, so keep those rubber gloves on for the next bit…

Patinating Agents

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, but there are things here you can find in your house, or buy online fairly easily. With regards to the Liver of Sulphur (LOS), stink bombs and Boiled eggs, the reacting chemicals are the sulphurous compounds contained therein (generally H2SO4 – Hydrogen Sulphide).

 Liver of Sulphur.

  • Hard Boiled Eggs.
  • Ammonia.
  • Vinegar Fume & Salt Soak.
  • Brass Black.
  • Stink Bombs (available from most Joke Shops if you don’t want to buy Liver of Sulphur).
  • Swimming Pool / Chlorinated Water – This method also has the added advantage that it’s great for your cardio-vascular fitness, while you are patinating your watch!! Winner!


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