Hi folks, I would like to offer  a special thanks to @NCRich and @Bart Cordell for providing me with all the measurements and moral support that I needed to complete this project. For the past few months I've been working on a project that I'm sure many vintage watch enthusiasts have considered embarking on themselves - creating a bakelite bezel insert for the 6542. This all started off because A) I thought these inserts were beautiful and B) I wanted to create an affordable alternative to the $250-500 Vietnam inserts. After many months of struggling with seemingly every little task, I finally managed to get a decent end product. So, before I spoil you with pictures ....how did I do it? Well, first off I decided that the easiest way to do this damn thing would be with 3D printing, as I am familiar with AutoCAD. So I downloaded as many reference photos I could find of original bakelite inserts, threw them into Adobe Illustrator and began making a pattern that I would later import into CAD. There were many iterations of this drawing. Some of the earlier ones I experimented on with Blender, a free 3D modeling program. These attempts were very crude, and I ditched this program eventually as it was causing many headaches. After weeks of tinkering around, I was satisfied with the drawing I had created, and I found an excellent alternative to Blender that was much more intuitive to use - so I imported the pattern and got to modeling. At the beginning, I figured it would be smart to make a 3D model of a mold for a bezel so I could pour in clear plastic and create as many as I needed to - makes sense right? Well apparently plastic bonds to plastic, so this idea - and the many 3D models that came with it - were tossed out the window.  Bye! Now my only option was to model the bezel itself, which was actually less annoying than trying to model a mold for one. Here are renderings I created from my first effort, not too bad but still a lot to improve clearly. After much refining, I came up with something that I thought was reasonably accurate enough to print. So I did. I received my baby in the mail after waiting for two looonnng weeks. I was overjoyed! Now all I needed was a mold. I did much research, and came to the conclusion that a silicon mold was my best option to produce clear resin castings. Here's what I came up with. The pencil became the pour spout and the toothpicks are to allow trapped air bubbles to escape. This is when I started to realize why these things are so damn expensive. Now all I had to do was pour in the resin, produce a bunch of really shitty reproductions because I have no idea what I'm doing (seriously, so shitty), until I finally managed to create this: A crystal clear "bakelite" insert. I decided that I wanted the lume to actually function as per the original, so I bought some powder and delicately painted it into the numerals. I then hand painted both the red and the blue halves. I wanted to give this one a vintage look, because I find those inserts to be the most attractive. The ones where the blue fades to a seafoam color and looks like a cloudy sky (I've spent way too much time looking at pictures of bakelite inserts clearly). Here it is halfway finished and with only one coat of paint. and from the front side And after many more coats of paint... In the sun And a lume shot VS the real deal All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with the way this turned out, and hopefully my future castings will only improve in quality - one can only hope. I think I'll sell this one on Ebay for Vietnam prices to recoup the many hundreds of dollars I've spent making this damn thing...and to provide me with funds to make a new round of inserts to sell to my rep-world friends.  Thanks for reading.
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