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TheFoo

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I'm not an experienced welder, but have worked a bit with Mig and Tig, oh yeah and brazing.

@TheFoo 's watch has me perplexed. I thought white gold was a plating process. I didn't know "Solid white gold" was a real thing. . . is it?
I can't imagine he rounded an edge without going through the plating. Wouldn't the actual base of the case be Bronze or something like that? The base is Gold?
White gold? Or yellow gold then plated???? (brain imploding at this point)
At the moment i am imagining that they would have to add material of the base metal then re-plate it?
How are they going to add the material? With a metal filler rod? What method?
So they add material. then re-cut the edge and re-plate it?
Laser brazing?
Aaaargh, dammit @TheFoo why do you have to be this way?
It is solid white gold, not plating. 18K white gold is an alloy of 75% gold and 25% other metal to make it white. Usually, this other metal is nickel, silver, and/or palladium. Some white gold is plated with rhodium to make it whiter. However, Patek’s white gold is unplated.

They add material using a laser welder, which creates tiny welds that don’t damage the surrounding area. After welding enough material to exceed the height of the surrounding, undamaged surface, the surface is polished until that excess material is completely flush.
 

Thrift Vader

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Thanks for that. Brain hurt is lessened.
I assumed white gold was all rhodium plating. (I'm a poor boy)

So they are going to melt some white gold filler rod onto it then recut?
 

TheFoo

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Thanks for that. Brain hurt is lessened.
I assumed white gold was all rhodium plating. (I'm a poor boy)

So they are going to melt some gold filler rod onto it then recut?
They use gold wire matching the original alloy. After filling in any low areas, they then polish down to make everything smooth. If a flat, straight area, they would use a lapping machine to cut a new edge.
 

Thrift Vader

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They use gold wire matching the original alloy. After filling in any low areas, they then polish down to make everything smooth. If a flat, straight area, they would use a lapping machine to cut a new edge.
So. . . . Are they going to do this for you or not?
I mean, if you are going to pay, why not?

Although, I agree with @9thsymph just enjoy it as is. you have made it yours.
It has character now.
 

TheFoo

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So. . . . Are they going to do this for you or not?
I mean, if you are going to pay, why not?

Although, I agree with @9thsymph just enjoy it as is. you have made it yours.
It has character now.
Looking for the best specialist to do it. Because of the complexity of the case profile, it is a very challenging job. As mentioned, many have said they don’t know how, don’t have the equipment, or don’t want to take the risk.
 

montecristo#2

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I’ve been learning a lot about case finishing and polishing techniques, which has imparted a new understanding of how special Patek’s case work really is.

For some background, I noticed a defect (possibly a self-inflicted one) in the bezel of my Calatrava. A portion (about a quarter of it) is rounded off at the edge and lower than the rest of the bezel. I believe this likely happened as a result of overzealous hand-polishing on my part when trying to remove a couple of deeper scratches. Otherwise, it could have been the AD’s fault and I just never noticed it. Unlikely it came from Patek that way.

Anyway, of course, now I am obsessed with getting it fixed. The watch is currently with Patek for assessment, but I am 99% certain of the outcome: they will offer to polish down the bezel and whole case to match. I don’t like this approach because it will take away considerable material and re-profile the entire watch. Yet, Patek does not offer more intensive restoration (via laser welding) unless it is a much older piece or the damage is much worse. They do not weld material back onto rounded edges to restore them.

So, assuming I’m right, I need to pursue another path: an independent case restorer.

As you guys know, I used LA Watchworks to work on my Daytona case. Don’t take my word for it, but if you read around you’ll find that nobody in the world does better case refinishing and restoration on Rolexes. In fact, of the dozen or so well-known European and American case restorers I’ve spoken to, that seems to be the consistent consensus.

However LAWW will not help with my Calatrava! They looked at two dozen photos, studied the case construction for a week, and ultimately said they simply lack the expertise to get at the bezel from all angles without risking catastrophic case damage. As it turns out, each case restorer has his own specialized (often self-designed) tools and LAWW’s are specifically geared toward Rolex cases.

Now, LAWW will handle other non-Rolex watches, including a large number of Langes and Royal Oaks, but those all have cases that are all highly modular in construction and have designs that lend themselves to machine finishing. For example, the Royal Oak is time consuming to properly polish because of all the facets, but apparently it is quite easy to do technically: (1) the angles are all straight and (2) the bezel comes off.

The problem with the Calatrava is that the bezel and middle case are actually one piece! That means the side or the bezel (perpendicular to the flat plane of the middle case) cannot be polished with a lapping machine—you’d risk damaging the lugs.

Why on earth does Patek build cases this way? Chiefly because you can make a thinner case if you don’t need to design it for screwing-on a bezel. It is also the more traditional, artisanal way to do it.

As I’ve been learning, the skill involved in the case making is tremendous and requires a lot more hand work than most other makers deploy. It also requires specialized equipment. For example, to get at the side of the bezel, they turn the case on a lathe while someone free floats a knife-like tool with diamond paste over the surface as it spins. They have to do this without hitting the lugs! Then they have to hand-polish each case with wooden sticks and buffing wheels to finish them off. In comparison, typical Lange construction includes a removable bezel and can be polished mostly by machine.

So other than a greater appreciation for Patek, where does that leave me? There are no U.S. firms that can do the restoration work on my case. They all said: only Patek knows how to do this.

Apparently, the best case restorers are in Italy. A number of firms combine highly specialized and expensive machinery with artisanal hand-polishing skills to mimic factory finishing. I’m speaking with three of the best ones. Two have expressed concern that Patek construction is very difficult to work with but are willing to try. One is still assessing.

I’ve also spoken to a watchmaker in Austria who is the eastern European servicing center for Audemars, JLC, IWC, etc. When he saw my watch case, he put me in contact with their head case restorer. Really smart and competent guy. Refinishes Royal Oaks in his sleep. He’s spent the past week studying how to handle my Calatrava. Apparently, there is a particular piece of diamond polishing equipment be would need to borrow. Waiting to hear back from him.

Anyway, will know more about my options in the next few days.

In the meantime: kudos to Patek.
Too bad it’s not a Lange. Or even a Vacheron. Both do laser welding and it’s excellent.
 

usctrojans31

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Ah, I guess I should have been clear that I do not regret the purchase just the pricing. Guess I'm just saying it's something like clothing where I wouldn't have minded getting it at sale instead of paying full msrp especially when it's typical you could have gotten it at some discount. No major regrets but 1) I wouldn't have mind saving a couple grand which would have gone into another watch and whatnot and 2) I don't want to be a sucker. Who pays full MSRP for a car, etc. etc. Maybe it's the SF hivemind that has me twisted a bit.

The JLC I did tried on and was actually surprised how well it fit me. Rolex I have not tried on, but like clothing, I'm pretty much guessing if it's right up my alley, which it seems like it is. That being said, I'm not gonna buy anything before trying it on. So when I say going grey it's definitely after going to a dealer/boutique and trying it on. I just have a feeling that when I do try it on I would most definitely want it. It happened with the JLC.

Better impulse control this time around.
Here's my read of the situation. Most people get better satisfaction from planning a vacation rather than going on the vacation because once it's over, there's less to look forward to.

The JLC is a terrific watch. Sure you could have maybe saved a bit of money, or perhaps you couldn't have. If the piece was the last one in North America, it's usually indicative of demand outpacing supply, which also means that the probability of discounts falls.

So take a breath and focus on your new watch. Not the possibility of what could or could not have been.
 

Phileas Fogg

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Longish noob post incoming.

Sooooo got my first watch (pics down below) and it's a JLC master control calendar via the boutique in Costa Mesa. Apparently the last one in NA for the time being. Still getting a Reverso later on. I got the master control at a little under 12k total and honestly my enthusiasm was a little bit blunted by that. Don't regret it but for some inexplicable reason this watch doesn't feel like a 12k watch and more of a <10K total watch. I legitimately have no explanation for this especially as it really is a good watch with some great complications and movement. I don't know. I like it but I'm left a little cold.

I suppose as a beginner I expected something a little more. You live and you learn, I guess.

I also learned that 40mm is definitely my max and I don't want to go over 11mm in thickness. So most sports watches are off for me. Which leads me into this tangent: where's a good Rolex dealer I can get a good discount in SoCal? If it's even possible with the model I'm looking at anyway.

I really like the rosegold case and black dial Rolex Cellini Time piece. Visually interesting enough with its hours but not overly complicated and it lines up with the rest of my wardrobe. However, it doesn't feel/look like a 15k watch. Maybe a 12k watch. I'm not sure if the finishing/movement is up to par with that asking 15K price. I want to go through an AD for this one.

Couple problems though: 1) the Cellini line sounds like it's about to be done with 2) the dealer (even boutiques I'm sure) probably won't have it in stock 3) and do I even negotiate for a piece I probably have to put down a deposit so they can go get it elsewhere/Rolex HQ?

Should I go grey or wait for the possible new line that may or may not exist to take the place of Cellini. I'm open to alternatives (has to be gold case and dark color dial) but I'm really liking the Cellini as it really ticks all my boxes for a watch and it's relatively within reach.



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You just spent $12k on a watch. You’re buying a luxury item and as such, something that goes beyond the rational and should not be intellectualized.

It’s a nice watch and you should enjoy it. When something else catches your eye and you have the means, then get it.

Unless you’re buying it to flip, then don’t approach it so business like. Approach it as a hobby and an appreciator of the art and science of watchmaking. When I see a Rembrandt in a museum, I don’t think of what the raw materials cost.

As for gray market, sure you might be able to find the same watch for a little less, but this is like buying your heroin from a guy in the alley instead of Lance (see pulp fiction). If I’m spending that kind of money, I’ll buy from an AD if for no other reason than peace of mind.
 
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Ambulance Chaser

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Sooooo got my first watch (pics down below) and it's a JLC master control calendar via the boutique in Costa Mesa. Apparently the last one in NA for the time being. Still getting a Reverso later on. I got the master control at a little under 12k total and honestly my enthusiasm was a little bit blunted by that. Don't regret it but for some inexplicable reason this watch doesn't feel like a 12k watch and more of a <10K total watch. I legitimately have no explanation for this especially as it really is a good watch with some great complications and movement. I don't know. I like it but I'm left a little cold.

I suppose as a beginner I expected something a little more. You live and you learn, I guess.
I had this same feeling when I traded up a watch several years ago. I realized later that I could have gotten more value for my watch if I was a better haggler. I still really like the watch I received in exchange, so it's water under the bridge. There will be many times in your life when you miss opportunities to save money. Unless you're really hard up for the cash (in which case you shouldn't be engaging in discretionary spending), it's not worth thinking about anymore.
 

pmeis

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I just made an appointment with the DC Hermes boutique to see the new H08 model this coming Saturday morning. Wish me (or more accurately, my credit card) good luck. I fear the watch-buying moratorium may be coming to an end.
Ask them about buying additional straps. I believe the answer is “later”, but the more people who ask about it, hopefully the sooner they’ll start offering them.
 

Thrift Vader

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@Valfunde I got a compliment yesterday. "Your watch is so cool" from my driving instructor. It's a Casio i paid $40 for. He had on a gold plated Casio.

Did you pay too much? Depends on your reasons for buying it.
You will get compliments either way.
Knowing the craftsmanship that goes into your watch. and the relative rarity of it in the wild. You got "A Thing". A special timepiece. That basically only you have. It's yours.
I got my $40 Casio, but can appreciate why you would spend 12k on what you want. Enjoy it. it's a handsome piece.
 

Ambulance Chaser

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Ask them about buying additional straps. I believe the answer is “later”, but the more people who ask about it, hopefully the sooner they’ll start offering them.
I thought about the possibility of putting a non-Hermes strap on the watch. Then I looked at a picture of the watch again and saw that the strap end is flush with the case. A non-Hermes strap would leave an unsightly gap. Good for Hermes, bad for the consumer.
 

NakedYoga

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Wait list? What wait list?


my favorite line is how the subject of sex never came up.
Just two free spirits sharing a couple of margaritas in his hotel room, as people do.

No sex, but both men were able to identify her distinctive inner thigh tattoo... 🤔
 

pmeis

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I thought about the possibility of putting a non-Hermes strap on the watch. Then I looked at a picture of the watch again and saw that the strap end is flush with the case. A non-Hermes strap would leave an unsightly gap. Good for Hermes, bad for the consumer.
I think it’ll be fine. the fabric strap version isn’t fitted and it looks fine...though not quite as nice as the rubber strap. Though I’m just mainly looking forward to getting the orange rubber, so I‘m not concerned with third party straps at this point. .
 

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