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To polish or not to polish? "Click" to Login or Register 
That is the question that I'm sure has been discussed here but I want current thinking on it. I'm sure there are two schools of thought on this: those who not only want the best looking pocket watches in their collections but also believe that particularly if the case is original to the movement,then it's no different than restoring a vintage automobile or other item back to it's original look AND those who believe that the history of the watch, so to speak, should be evident. Also, do you think the public prefers to buy a polished watch or one that shows it's wear. I'm thinking right now about an early Bunn Special made in 1913. Is it freakish to have a like new case on that, even if it is the original case?
Posts: 383 | Location: Northern Pennsylvania USA | Registered: April 04, 2007
IHC Member 1338
My customers prefer their watches looking as good as possible. Now if its close to NOS I would simply wipe it down gingerly

As "Larry L" used to say in his descriptions if brass starts showing you can always polish it up again and have it looking nice for a while.
And that old boy sold a TON of watches at prices NO one ele has ever been able to fetch.

Tom Dunn...
Posts: 3052 | Location: Ramsey, Illinois in the USA | Registered: December 15, 2008
Picture of Dave Keefe
I like the look of a watch that has lived an honest life. The wear helps tell its story and adds to the charm. I have a few early 1900s ligne 19 Omegas that fit the bill.

My new Bunn Special, well I still might have bought it, but I would have paid far less for it if it wasn’t in such great shape
Posts: 92 | Location: Vancouver, Canada | Registered: November 24, 2020
Picture of Billy Kuhn
If you are in the repair business and you do the COA on their watch they only see the case. So it needs to look as good as it runs.
Posts: 1012 | Location: Killen, Alabama in the USA | Registered: January 15, 2013
IHC Life Member

I like my watches to look as good as they can and have several that are polished. They look great and provide that WOW factor. It must have been a great feeling to purchase new back in the day. However, I do have watches that are in the original cigarette case with the original outer box and watches in the original box with paperwork that I wouldn't even begin to consider polishing.
Posts: 175 | Location: Eastern Massachusetts in the USA | Registered: November 28, 2013
IHC Member 1613
I do not like watch vintage cases that are polished to a mirror finished....A little hand polish is ok....
Posts: 2010 | Location: Chesapeake City, Maryland in the USA | Registered: September 27, 2011
IHC Member 163
Picture of Mark Cross
In my 'case', it all depends on the material the case is made of.

If gold, a light polish is appreciated, but a high polish just tells me material has been removed in the effort.

As to silveroide, polish away. I like a shiny watch, as intended by the manufacturer for carry.

Regards! Mark
Posts: 3832 | Location: Estill Springs, Tennessee, USA | Registered: December 02, 2002
The wristwatch guys seem to have a fetish for polished vintage watches -- they want them "unpolished" and there are a lot of misleading claims about this in many sellers listings.

To be fair, these collectors object to watches with significant material taken off the lugs and cases, to where they lose some of their "original" profile.

I understand this, and have seen pictures of some truly gruesome examples. But at the same time, for many perfectly nice watches, they get a bit carried away about polishing.

Personally, I would never get a watch mechanically polished. A hand polish is fine with me.
Posts: 124 | Location: Ottawa in Canada | Registered: December 21, 2012
Since I don't carry the watches on a daily basis, if they are any material I clean them. I have ended up with some watches that when you open up the case you wonder if they had been drug through the sewer, well maybe not quite that bad but close. I clean them up but don't get excessive and put them in a cloth bag and put them away. Like your rings they deserve a good cleaning every once in a while.
Posts: 1797 | Location: Michigan in the USA | Registered: September 19, 2009
My take: I generally don't like to polish cases unless it's a silveroid case in good condition; or an excellent condition gold filled case, and then just a hand-polish with a rouge cloth. A worn case will be cleaned up, and that's all. There is an incongruity in a case with a high polish and worn-down engraving.
Posts: 653 | Location: St Paul, Minnesota in the USA | Registered: May 04, 2004
Life Achievement
Military Expert
Picture of Greg Crockett
Some years ago, a related topic was discussed. Some of the collector/members introduced the Japanese cultural esthetic of wabi sabi to watch collecting. As applied to a vintage watch, wabi sabi teaches acceptance of transience and imperfection, in other words signs of long honest use can add a level of esthetic merit to an object, such as a watch. It's in the eye of each collector if a watch has wabi-sabi. In other words, "does it speak to you?" Then, for the restorer of watches, the question is how to enhance a well used watch with proper repair work, that does not go so far as to destroy the aged esthetic of the watch?
Posts: 2003 | Location: East Lansing, Michigan USA | Registered: November 24, 2002
IHC Menber 3062
This is interesting to me, a non-collector, what about marks and scratches on a case back around where it’s opened?
Do you pay more attention to polishing or removing marks around where a case back is opened and what is suggested to use to remove, or lighten up those marks?

Leo Horishny
Sun Valley, NV
Posts: 22 | Location: Nevada in the USA | Registered: September 20, 2021
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