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TheFoo

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More photos of my restored 5296:

D11D60CF-04CC-4891-88CB-586CAC2CFBF2.jpeg

53D6A1EC-E0C7-4B74-9ABF-9405C40647DB.jpeg


They touched up the whole case, since the repaired bezel stood out as too new looking and there were some tiny nicks here and there (which they fixed with laser welds).

I should have the watch in hand tomorrow and will inspect in person, but the photos already show exceptional work.

The trick is mimicking exactly how Patek does it. Lapping machines are first used to re-cut the profile and keep or restore crisp edges, which is how any expert case specialist would work on virtually any watch case. This is different from putting the watch to a buffing wheel (how your local jeweler would likely do it). However because of the 5296’s curves and integrated bezel, lapping is a particularly tough job since the lapping discs are big, flat, rotating metal surfaces that you have to grind the case against without damaging adjacent areas.

Moreover, Patek always does an intensive hand polish on each watch after it’s been cut. Hence, when you handle a Patek compared to most other watches (including peers), you might notice a somewhat softer glow, rounder reflections, and a shape that is not 100% sharp/crisp. In contrast, machine finishing (such as Zaratsu) leaves near perfectly square reflective surfaces.

These guys in California did a proper hand polish to finish-off the watch. Looks just like factory to me, at least from the pics. Amazing. Almost nobody will do this. Patek will when they service your watch, but they won’t do the re-cutting step.

Now I feel like I can wear my watches with impunity.
 
Last edited:

chocomallo

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More photos of my restored 5296:

View attachment 1646188
View attachment 1646189

They touched up the whole case, since the repaired bezel stood out as too new looking and there were some tiny nicks here and there (which they fixed with laser welds).

I should have the watch in hand tomorrow and will inspect in person, but the photos already show exceptional work.

The trick is mimicking exactly how Patek does it. Lapping machines are first used to re-cut the profile and keep or restore crisp edges, which is how any expert case specialist would work on virtually any watch case. This is different from putting the watch to a buffing wheel (how your local jeweler would likely do it). However because of the 5296’s curves and integrated bezel, lapping is a particularly tough job since the lapping discs are big, flat, rotating metal surfaces that you have to grind the case against without damaging adjacent areas.

Moreover, Patek always does an intensive hand polish on each watch after it’s been cut. Hence, when you handle a Patek compared to most other watches (including peers), you might notice a somewhat softer glow, rounder reflections, and a shape that is not 100% sharp/crisp. In contrast, machine finishing (such as Zaratsu) leaves near perfectly square reflective surfaces.

These guys in California did a proper hand polish to finish-off the watch. Looks just like factory to me, at least from the pics. Amazing. Almost nobody will do this. Patek will when they service your watch, but they won’t do the re-cutting step.

Now I feel like I can wear my watches with impunity.
That looks really good. Glad that you got the result you wanted for such a personal piece. I think you mentioned before that they melted down a Patek buckle to match the alloy. Did they then turn that into the filament for the laser welding on the bezel or was it a different technique? I am fascinated by the repair process especially given the complexity of the Patek cases that you have described.
 

TheFoo

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That looks really good. Glad that you got the result you wanted for such a personal piece. I think you mentioned before that they melted down a Patek buckle to match the alloy. Did they then turn that into the filament for the laser welding on the bezel or was it a different technique? I am fascinated by the repair process especially given the complexity of the Patek cases that you have described.
Yes, they melted a Patek white gold buckle to use for the laser welding. It’s the only way to get an exact match, as Patek’s precise white gold alloy composition is a secret.

I will see tomorrow when I get the watch in person, but photos imply far better work than a regular polish from Patek. My hope is that it looks indistinguishable from factory, in fact.
 

chocomallo

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Yes, they melted a Patek white gold buckle to use for the laser welding. It’s the only way to get an exact match, as Patek’s precise white gold alloy composition is a secret.

I will see tomorrow when I get the watch in person, but photos imply far better work than a regular polish from Patek. My hope is that it looks indistinguishable from factory, in fact.
Nice. Looking forward to some before and after pics. Just throw away those polishing pads before it areives

Do you feel a little disappointed that Patek as a brand wouldn’t undertake the restoration in the end? You own four Patek watches now I think. And Patek claims to be able to restore any watch ever made. But they wouldn’t do what this California outfit did. Just curious about the end result of the roller coaster ride you’ve been through in get it back to factory.

Speaking of the thinness of the Aquanaut, have you tried the Octo Finissimo? I agree about the thinness of the Aquanaut. Although I far prefer the 5065. Nice kop though.
 

TheFoo

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Nice. Looking forward to some before and after pics. Just throw away those polishing pads before it areives

Do you feel a little disappointed that Patek as a brand wouldn’t undertake the restoration in the end? You own four Patek watches now I think. And Patek claims to be able to restore any watch ever made. But they wouldn’t do what this California outfit did. Just curious about the end result of the roller coaster ride you’ve been through in get it back to factory.

Speaking of the thinness of the Aquanaut, have you tried the Octo Finissimo? I agree about the thinness of the Aquanaut. Although I far prefer the 5065. Nice kop though.
I’m not really disappointed, per se.

Patek can and will restore any watch they’ve made, but there are differing standards for what is considered a proper restoration. Rebuilding softened edges with laser welding and re-cutting them to original profile is simply not considered appropriate restorative work by Patek—and many others, including collectors, agree. This seems to reflect the notion that doing so is akin to “faking” a watch’s history and condition. I’m not saying I agree with that perspective, but the point is that a lot of people commonly share it.

Also, there is perhaps more risk in this kind of work than Patek considers acceptable. The specialist flat-out told me that there was some small, but real, chance he might irreparably ruin my case: the welding might damage adjacent areas, the diamond cutting might go into the lugs, the welded gold might be porous and require repeated re-welding that weakens structural integrity, etc. The risk was great enough that he would not start the job until back-channeling with connections at Patek to secure availability of a replacement case should the worst come to fruition.

Anyway, I don’t really blame Patek for not wanting to restore my watch the exact way I wanted it restored. I respect the philosophical disagreement on the matter, particularly since we are ultimately talking about immaterial and completely superficial damage. The important thing to me is that they will always keep my watch running and guarantee that they can restore it back to an extremely high standard. Most high-end watch companies cannot even guarantee parts availability after 10 years and don’t have the ability to fabricate replacements. That is not a worry with Patek.
 
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TheFoo

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Speaking of the thinness of the Aquanaut, have you tried the Octo Finissimo? I agree about the thinness of the Aquanaut. Although I far prefer the 5065. Nice kop though.
Have not tried on the Octo, but it is truly an ultra-thin watch, which necessarily brings compromises to function and durability.

The older generation Aquanauts have gorgeous cream-colored Tritium lume and more pronounced, three-dimensional dials, both of which are features I much prefer versus current production. However, the old ones also were not proportioned or laid-out as well. Check-out the ‘3’ on any prior generation of the watch—it is awkwardly nudged inward, out-of-line with the other numerals, in order to make room for the date window. The 5167 handles this much more elegantly, with the date window placed where the ‘3’ should have been and the ‘3’ itself left out entirely. Now, when I look at older Aquanauts, as charming as I find them, they also look distinctly cruder than the 5167. It’s almost as if they were beta tests or prototypes for the current model.

Also, I like the 5167 numerals better but prefer the less integrated straps on the older Aquanauts.

5065
6674023F-4B06-4644-B204-6BAF5E0DA6EA.jpeg


5167
E4D26599-C8B0-489F-9AC2-78E3520D232D.jpeg
 
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chocomallo

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Have not tried on the Octo, but it is truly an ultra-thin watch, which necessarily brings compromises to function and durability.

The older generation Aquanauts have gorgeous cream-colored Tritium lume and more pronounced, three-dimensional dials, both of which are features I much prefer versus current production. However, the old ones also were not proportioned and laid out as well. Check-out the ‘3’ on any prior generation of the watch—it is awkwardly nudged inward, out-of-line with the other numerals, in order to make room for the date window. The 5167 handles this much more elegantly, with the date window placed where the ‘3’ should have been and the ‘3’ itself left out entirely. Now, when I look at older Aquanauts, as charming as I find them, they also look distinctly cruder than the 5167. It’s almost as if they were beta tests or prototypes for the current model.

Also, I like the 5167 numerals better but prefer the less integrated straps on the older Aquanauts.

5065
View attachment 1646316

5167
View attachment 1646317
It is all those weird details on the 5065 that make it more charming for me. The tritium I don’t care for. But the nudged in 3 and the off kilter hour markers are part of the appeal to me. Even the rubber strap that has an edge between the lugs is great. It is the ultimate non-Patek Patek. 5065J is my favorite watch ever. Maybe two years ago I saw one for less than 30k US and that was up from 25k within a few months. I thought it was so overpriced. Now I really kick myself for not grabbing one back then. Haha. So it goes. Congrats on the 5167 though. I think it beats any Daytona 10 out of 10 times. Honestly I think chronographs are among the dumbest complications. Why bother with a complication no one ever uses?
 

chocomallo

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Have not tried on the Octo, but it is truly an ultra-thin watch, which necessarily brings compromises to function and durability.

The older generation Aquanauts have gorgeous cream-colored Tritium lume and more pronounced, three-dimensional dials, both of which are features I much prefer versus current production. However, the old ones also were not proportioned or laid-out as well. Check-out the ‘3’ on any prior generation of the watch—it is awkwardly nudged inward, out-of-line with the other numerals, in order to make room for the date window. The 5167 handles this much more elegantly, with the date window placed where the ‘3’ should have been and the ‘3’ itself left out entirely. Now, when I look at older Aquanauts, as charming as I find them, they also look distinctly cruder than the 5167. It’s almost as if they were beta tests or prototypes for the current model.

Also, I like the 5167 numerals better but prefer the less integrated straps on the older Aquanauts.

5065
View attachment 1646316

5167
View attachment 1646317
You should really give the Octo a try just for the experience of it. It’s like a second skin if the case fits. I’ve had mine for more than three years and it has been as reliable as a Rolex. If you fancy it, they can be had at pretty decent discounts.
 

TheFoo

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You should really give the Octo a try just for the experience of it. It’s like a second skin if the case fits. I’ve had mine for more than three years and it has been as reliable as a Rolex. If you fancy it, they can be had at pretty decent discounts.
I respect the watch, but the aesthetics are not to my taste.
 

TheFoo

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It is all those weird details on the 5065 that make it more charming for me. The tritium I don’t care for. But the nudged in 3 and the off kilter hour markers are part of the appeal to me. Even the rubber strap that has an edge between the lugs is great. It is the ultimate non-Patek Patek. 5065J is my favorite watch ever. Maybe two years ago I saw one for less than 30k US and that was up from 25k within a few months. I thought it was so overpriced. Now I really kick myself for not grabbing one back then. Haha. So it goes. Congrats on the 5167 though. I think it beats any Daytona 10 out of 10 times. Honestly I think chronographs are among the dumbest complications. Why bother with a complication no one ever uses?
Chronographs are often the most beautiful watches to me. The symmetrical sub-dials, the chunky pushers, etc. Also, I like that it is a complication you can interact with.

I time my tea infusions when I am into the later steeps.
 

chocomallo

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Chronographs are often the most beautiful watches to me. The symmetrical sub-dials, the chunky pushers, etc. Also, I like that it is a complication you can interact with.

I time my tea infusions when I am into the later steeps.
I used to feel the same. I like the look still, but I’ve never used the chrono function a single time on any chrono I’ve owned. I think it is the same reason why people like the 3940. The symmetry is really attractive. But sort of a worthless complication unless you wear it daily.

I think the only complications I will buy from now on are second time zone/GMT and date. Otherwise I only want time only.

Perhaps I am trying to slice things too simply given that mechanical watches are obsolete, but if I wear one I still want to actually use the functions that it has. Or for it to have whimsical complications that are more art than function. Like the Hermes watch that has the rotating moon module.
 

Drek Galloche

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Most high-end watch companies cannot even guarantee parts availability after 10 years and don’t have the ability to fabricate replacements. That is not a worry with Patek.
I think with future improvements and cost reduction of 3-d printing any part for any watch could be manufactured locally.

Chronographs are attractive because the subdials offer opportunity for unique design language (dial layout). I pick watches on how they look not the functionality. I believe chronographs are useless complication, unless you have HOUR subdial and then one could use chronos as second time zone (which I do on occasion). I have chronographs with 4 subdials that are completely unreadable but the dial looks attractive and technical / instrument-like ,so it works on aesthetical level and that is enough.

Unfortunately often a little watch logo on top of the dial blinds consumers and thus repulsive watches become design icons. If watches were judged on aesthetical merits alone we would've seen all kinds of watches from diff. manufacturers at the top of ''the list'', but alas.
 
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pmeis

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My Shadow is only the 3rd Chrono I’ve owned out of 75+ watches. While I think chronos look cool, I’ve generally been of the mind that if I’m not going to use the function, why bother with the added expense and hindered legibility.

This has probably kept me from experiencing some really cool watches though. Even though it was love at first sight with the Shadow, part of the reason it took me seven months to convince myself to get it because it was a Chrono. (The all grey/black color scheme was also something I wasn’t sure I could pull off)
Can’t say I use the chrono a whole lot (though I know some would argue it’s useless anyway without the seconds track 😉), but I just like knowing that it’s there and the look of the layout really does make the whole thing work.
 

Thrift Vader

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I have 2 chronographs. which i like a lot. but i doubt i'd ever buy another one because i don't like cluttered watch dials. A clean dial with good fonts/hands and maybe a date window is all i need. the only exception would be a really nice moonphase.
 

classicalthunde

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More photos of my restored 5296:

View attachment 1646188
View attachment 1646189

They touched up the whole case, since the repaired bezel stood out as too new looking and there were some tiny nicks here and there (which they fixed with laser welds).

I should have the watch in hand tomorrow and will inspect in person, but the photos already show exceptional work.

The trick is mimicking exactly how Patek does it. Lapping machines are first used to re-cut the profile and keep or restore crisp edges, which is how any expert case specialist would work on virtually any watch case. This is different from putting the watch to a buffing wheel (how your local jeweler would likely do it). However because of the 5296’s curves and integrated bezel, lapping is a particularly tough job since the lapping discs are big, flat, rotating metal surfaces that you have to grind the case against without damaging adjacent areas.

Moreover, Patek always does an intensive hand polish on each watch after it’s been cut. Hence, when you handle a Patek compared to most other watches (including peers), you might notice a somewhat softer glow, rounder reflections, and a shape that is not 100% sharp/crisp. In contrast, machine finishing (such as Zaratsu) leaves near perfectly square reflective surfaces.

These guys in California did a proper hand polish to finish-off the watch. Looks just like factory to me, at least from the pics. Amazing. Almost nobody will do this. Patek will when they service your watch, but they won’t do the re-cutting step.

Now I feel like I can wear my watches with impunity.
Do you have any concerns that Patek will refuse to service in the future due to the 3rd party case restoration?

I think @Dino944 recently talked about how Rolex will not service any watched with major mods...
 

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