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PatronSaintofChainsaws

How-To: Fading bezel inserts for a vintage appearance

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PatronSaintofChainsaws

I originally post this over on Homage Forum, and in the spirit of promoting the HF <-> RWG Tutorial Trade Agreement of 2009, I'm reposting it here, for your viewing pleasure.

 

Here's a link to the original thread, if you care to read it.

 

One of the things that really makes the appearance of a vintage Submariner is the faded insert, having been exposed to years of wear, sun, saltwater, and whatever else. A good modification when building a vintage-homage is fading/bleaching the insert, so as to create the appearance of years of wear and tear. There's no real functional reason why anyone would want to do this...it just looks cool is all.

 

Items that you will need:

  • 1x Bezel insert
  • 1x Container of bleach
  • 1x Small glass
  • 1x Glue
  • 1x 3M Scotch-Brite pad (optional)

 

Picture020-1.jpg

 

First, if the insert that you want to age is still installed, you'll need to remove it from the bezel. If you're working on one with a modern-style pearl, the easiest option is to pry off the pearl (using your fingernail, or a razorblade, depending on how strong the glue is) and then insert some sort of makeshift prybar into the hole and gently lift up on the insert. Once lifted, catch the edge of the insert with some sort of foreign object and carefully work your way around the outside edge until it pulls free.

 

These inserts tend to warp easily, so it's important to work slowly and carefully to prevent this from happening. Don't force it...if it wont lift easily, you're better off removing the bezel and then pushing the insert out from the back (I'll cover bezel removal in a future tutorial).

 

If the insert is solid all the way around and doesn't have a pearl, then I'm not sure what the best option would be. Use your best judgement in that case.

 

Picture009-1.jpg

Picture010.jpg

 

Next, remove the glue from the back of the insert. Depending on the type of original glue, sometimes it can be rubbed off easily, other times you may need to apply something to the glue in order to loosen it it. Here, I'm using a Q-Tip dipped in rubbing alcohol.

 

Picture012.jpg

 

Pour enough bleach into your glass so that the insert can be submerged completely in it, then sink the insert to the bottom of the bleach.

 

Picture016-1.jpg

 

Watch the insert carefully for any visible changes, as it could take as little as 1-2 minutes for a major change to occur. In this instance, the insert I was trying to fade had a glossy coating, so it took almost an hour for any noticeable change to occur.

 

Once you can see a color difference, tilt the glass until part of the insert is no longer submerged, so as to see what the insert looks like dry. When submerged, the insert will appear darker than when it is dry, so be careful not to overdo it.

 

Picture003.jpgPicture005-1.jpg

 

Once it has reached the desired fade, take the insert out and wash it off, then wipe it dry.

 

Picture008-1.jpgPicture010-1.jpg

 

In the case that your insert is resistant to fading, like if it has a glossy finish and/or appears not to change after being in the bleach for over an hour, use a Scotch-Brite pad to carefully buff the surface of the insert. Once the glossy coating on the insert has been reduced slightly, put the insert back into the bleach and repeat the prior steps.

 

Picture002-1.jpg

Picture021.jpg

 

After you're done, apply a layer of the glue of your choice to the back of the insert and pearl, and reinstall the insert back into the bezel.

 

Picture001-1.jpg

 

As the glue sets, you'll need to rotate the bezel intermittently to keep any excess glue that seeps down from freezing the bezel in place

 

Here's the pictured insert installed in the bezel, sans the pearl.

 

Picture011-5.jpg

 

That's it!

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greg_r

Great tutorial, mate. Thanks for the re-post! :irish_dance:

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trailboss99

I find a few drops of acetone on the insert will wick under and melt the glue usualy found on these inserts. It will also melt a plastic pearl so remove it first!

The same trick is great for freeing up a gumed up bezel.

 

 

Col.

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RolexAddict

very interesting PatronSaintofChainsaws, I will make short:

very intersting PSC, :)

 

I had read on french forums some articles about the bleach soak trick, this sounds like to be the best,

 

Personally I tried some different experiments, but no way, the result was crap... I am not an expert.

 

So, here we have the right technology, :frusty:

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tissotman

Thats really good how that happens great tip there ive got a vintage sub i need to do that to.

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Daytona_Dreamer

This was perfect advice for a vintage 5513 that needed bezel work.

 

Don't forget that you can dilute the bleach to get a slower reaction, and give yourself a little cushion on the clock. This gave me more time to get the fade just the way I wanted it...without going overboard. I did a 4:1 dilute and got the perfect fade over about 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Thanks PSC!

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Robin195959
This was perfect advice for a vintage 5513 that needed bezel work.

 

Don't forget that you can dilute the bleach to get a slower reaction, and give yourself a little cushion on the clock. This gave me more time to get the fade just the way I wanted it...without going overboard. I did a 4:1 dilute and got the perfect fade over about 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Thanks PSC!

 

This was perfect advice for a vintage 5513 that needed bezel work.

 

Don't forget that you can dilute the bleach to get a slower reaction, and give yourself a little cushion on the clock. This gave me more time to get the fade just the way I wanted it...without going overboard. I did a 4:1 dilute and got the perfect fade over about 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Thanks PSC!

 

Great tip DD

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Chiruku

Massive thanks to the OP for posting this - my experiment below is simply adding my 2 cents on personal experience with insert quality.

 

My first couple of attempts were with (what I now know to be) lesser quality inserts. Same process as above (I used normal household bleach) and no more than 10 seconds per dunk before a wash off and dry. These cheaper blue ones - one went a nice shade of purple, and the other a horrible aqua blue really quickly. As soon as you put them in you could see the bleach discolouring so the paint was obviously not that deep.

 

So, a quick peruse on Cousins UK led to 2 new inserts arriving a day later. These took much longer to get going - and took about 6 lots of 10 second dunks (each followed by wash and dry) to get the desired effect. I also found that with a better quality insert, there was very little difference right up to round 3 or 4 - and then all of a sudden it went really quickly - so thats something to watch out for.

 

Anyway - might be useful to someone reading this one day!

 

The setup:

IMG_7231_zpsrxqxmtp5.jpg

 

The result:

IMG_7232_zps92acbuxh.jpg

Edited by Chiruku

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nuvolablue

Has anyone tried using a wood stain to darken a bezel insert that has been over-ghosted?

Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

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bloon

Trade agreement!? Awesome! Hey OP @PatronSaintofChainsaws, wonderful tutorial. Know it's time consuming but could you please reupload the pics? It'll be good to walk through the steps!

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