Get your patina on bronze and brass
This post is made possible from the experiences of a fellow collector. You can check out his instagram here.
While patina and aging were mostly the realm of dials, hands and bezels in the past, the introduction of these bronze and brass into modern watches presents watch enthusiasts with a new playing ground.
Patina is the *ahem* natural aging of material due to periodic exposure (or lack thereof) to elements like sun, air and water. The effects can vary greatly, and for those who came out winners in the patina coin flip, the value of the watch could then increase significantly.
It is the process that gave rise to the infamous tropic dials, ghost bezels and my personal favourite - freckles on champagne dials.
Despite the varying effects, one thing is common among the patina trio - they are all permanent. Collectors choosing to expose their watches to *ahem* natural processes risk ruining the otherwise original dial. Forever.
The bronze / brass scenario is quite unique in this case in that the effects of patina becomes erasable, a wipe with lemon or a polishing agent the convented reset button to an undesired outcome.
Recently my collector pal Cedric embarked in his attempt to get that perfect grey green surface goop on his brass diver. I asked if he could share his experience and here is the process in his own words. Sort of. I had to sort this out from a chat window.
Me: Ok bro, tell me how you went about getting this (patina) on your watch
Ced: The basics is to use the sulphur gas from boiled egg yolks to quicken the process.
(He shared that he read it on a website and decided to give it a go.)
Ced: The process is simple - you put the watch case into an air tight environment with the smashed boiled egg.
Me: So it worked in one try?
Ced: I had to do it five times.
Attempt One - Watch case in air-tight container. One egg, pre-smashed. Overnight.
Attempt Two - Watch case in air-tight ziplock bag. One egg, smashed in bag, wasn’t hard boiled enough. Reset.
Attempt Three - Watch case in air-tight ziplock bag. One egg, smashed in bag. Overnight.
Ced: At this point the watch started to develop the patina. But it wasn’t as pronounced as I wanted so I went on with the next two attempts. I also decided to add the buckle to the mix.
Attempt Four - Watch case and buckle in air-tight ziplock bag. TWO EGGS, smashed in bag.
Ced: Two eggs gave too much patina, and it turned out to be uneven because the bag was too big.
Attempt Five - Watch case and buckle in smaller air-tight ziplock bag. One egg, smashed in bag. Sun. 24hrs.
Ced: The last one worked. I took the watch and buckle out and did some light polishing with autosol and cloth to get the finishing I wanted.
For that extra touch, I submerged the watch in salt water, with a few grains of undissolved salt on top of selected parts.
That went on the window and sun for another 24hrs.
The watch is one dry cloth away from awesome.
Me: And that, dear readers, is how you get a nice patina on a bronze / brass case.