Dials – 2 Piece how to make

Below are some step-by-step images that will take you through this process. The best results are made by using Resin to fill the indices (numbers) rather than a plexi (its more accurate and looks better). However not everyone is able to add resin so this tutorial will show you other methods.

Below 6154 (only) for the gap around the edge (gaposis).

Upgrading to the Nightwatch Case

This section will show some of the differences between the old style 6152 Jackson Case and the 6152 Nightwatch Case

Above shows the old Jackson made Panerai 127 case (discontinued) it was used to make the Vintage Panerai 6152 Case after shaping. Its not plain to see but this type of case was Die-Cast and mass produced. It started life as molten metal being injected into a mold and later machined finished. This is a very cost effective way of making watch cases, they offer excellent value for money and were used by many people to build their own watch projects.

The Nightwatch Case doesnt use the Die-Cast Method, this case starts life as a solid bar of Stainless Steel which is machined into shape. The authentic 6152 Panerai Vintage cases were made the same way. In fact all good quality watches cases are machined rather than die-cast. The advantages over die-cast is that the machined case has normal stainless steel hardness (die-cast is a little softer) and the machined cases are also a little more precise (but not always noticeable). The downside is that machined cases cost a lot more than die-cast to produce, especially if they are made in small batches.

Another area that will be upgraded is the dial. Above shows an early type 2mm thick 3 Piece Dial. Its a good dial, however, it uses a Plexi which was believed to be the accurate way to build these dials. This was later found to be incorrect. Authentic Vintage Panerai 6152 dials used Resin, they did have a Plexi but the Plexi was never visible, the Plexi was used to hold the lume and sat in the centre of the dial.

The image above shows how even the Holders have progressed over the years. The bottom Movement Holder with the hole in the centre is the new Nightwatch 6152 Case Holder its much closer to the genuine Vintage Panerai Holder.

Case (A) shows the old Jackson 6152 Case. What isn’t clear is that this case had a specially fabricated 2-Piece Bezel in order to fit the thick 2mm dials. The New Nightwatch Case (B) is machined from a solid block of Stainless Steel the same as the authentic cases and thus it doesn’t use or require a 2 Piece Bezel. This is important because it keeps the watch sealed from water, especially important in the 1950/60’s as the Vintage Panerai watches were made for the Italian Navy and used by divers.

Another upgrade is shown above. The older 6152 cases had pressure-fit Stem Tubes. Above we see the Nightwatch screw-in Stem Tube and Spring Loaded Crown with rubber o’rings to seal. The image above was taken after the Stem Tube was soldered into the case. The Vintage 6152 Panerai Case was also soldered, it achieved two things, firstly it made the case watertight and secondly its prevented the Stem Tube from coming loose.

The image above shows how the solder has “sweated” through the case to the outside. This is a method of soldering whereby the solder is drawn through or deep into the metal. If enough solder is added at the front of the case eventually you see it at the back around the Stem Tube, this is what the term “sweating” means. It makes a very strong water-proof seal.

Above shows the Stem Tube after being soldered and cleaned, it will be aged later. However, now is the time to check the set-up for the Crown and Crown Guard.

Pretty much all authentic Vintage Panerai 6152’s with Solid Case Backs had Dust Covers. The build above is the same.

The image above shows small adjustments being made to the slight dome on the back of the Dust Cover. Its being “set-up” so that when the Case Back is screwed in place it slightly touches the Dust Cover in the centre. This stops any upwards or downward movements inside the watch.

The Old and the New. The old Jackson type Case Back wasn’t designed to take a Dust Cover. The Nightwatch Case Back on the right is machined much deeper so that there is space for the Dust Cover.

Finally everything fits as it should.

Its time to go back and age the Stem Tube, its supposed to look 50 years old.

Looks a lot better after ageing. The authentic Panerai Stem Tubes were made from Bronze.

(A) is the New Dial with the Resin Indices (numbers) and (B) is the old style dial with Plexi Numbers. Also whats important to note is that the New Dial (A) has a textured surface (bead blasted). This makes the dial surface less shiny, you can see the difference in the two dials above.

The clarity of the resin is easy to see. The New Dial is very clear and the lume under the resin is sharp and clear. Note the old dial on the right.

Because everything on the Nightwatch Case is designed to fit together then the hole in the Movement Holder lines up exactly with the winding hole in the movement (same as the authentic watch). Whilst this may sound relatively simple, however, on the older Chinese mass-produced cases people used to struggle to get parts that were compatible and often they would have to file larger holes to make things fit. This is why some holders have slots and not holes, it’s a universal fit but it was never used on authentic Panerai Vintage Watches.

The back of the dial is also improved and much more accurate. The Dial Feet are hand-made and soldered.

Its time to put all the parts together and finish the watch.

Dials – Adding Resin

Step-by-Step Instructions: The following information will show step-by-step images and instructions on how to successfully add resin to a dial. Some people have had difficulty doing this type of work so I will show how easy it can be whilst avoiding mistakes.

History (Why Add Resin?): Its believed that when the Italian Navy ordered watches from Panerai they insisted that the Lume be encased or sealed inside the Dial. The Lume they used in those days was Radium (which of course is radioactive). Panerai achieved this by applying Resin to the dial numbers (to seal the dial front), then they added the Lume to a Plexi Holder that was inserted into the center of the dial and finally they sealed the dial with a Backing Plate. Thus the Lume was completed sealed inside the dial.

Which Resin is Best? First decide which resin you want, Clear or Amber. Use clear if you want a super clear glass-like finish. The correct type of resin is IMPORTANT. The type I will use above has a “working time” of about 3 hours, it takes 24 hours to dry and 36 hours to become fully hard (very hard). The finish is superb and a lot better than the standard resins normally used in the glass-fiber industry (I do not use this type they can be too dense). Use the very best resin you can, this is important when working is very small areas.

Amber Resin: The image above shows the Amber version. You would expect the resin when applied to make the Dial Indices (numbers) really amber, even on a white background. This is NOT true. The Amber will add a small “amber tint” and will not be very visible. This is why its often used on the 6152 Dial that normally has very white indices (numbers). It will “not” make a white dial numbers amber or yellow, it will only make them a little less white. It is perfect for the 6152 and will keep the numbers looking white with no signs of yellowing.

3646: Amber is used on the 3646 but to get the yellow or orange type indices (numbers) then the user must add colour to the Luminous pigment (Lume) that is applied behind the resin.

Getting Started: Measure out Two Parts of Resin to One Part Hardener

You only need a little: Above we can see 2 X Parts Resin and 1 X Part Hardener. Do NOT use too much (do not use all the bottle). A little Resin goes a Long Way! The cup above contains enough resin to make about 7 to 10 dials.

Oh Those Bubbles! Mix the resin well and then wait. Allow 30 minutes and the bubbles will clear on their own. The Resin has a “working-time”of 3 hours so there is no hurry.

The 30 Minute Wait or Coffee time: After waiting only 30 minutes the Resin now has very few bubbles.

How Long Should I Wait Before I add Resin to the Dial? Its better if you can allow the resin to sit for 2 hours. Its tempting to start work right away but if you wait for a couple of hours the resin will thicken a little and also become tacky. This makes it easier to apply but also it makes the Resin Flow and LEVEL much better.

The Magic Applicator: Well its not magic but it will make a big difference in helping make the perfect resin dial. This applicator allows controlled amounts of resin to be applied to the dial. Its probably the secret to making a good resin dial. I have tried many various applicators, brushes, tools etc but none work as well as this applicator bottle.

Remember not to use all your Resin: Only use some of your Resin, save the rest for later in case you want to make more dials or make a correction. There is enough in the bottle above to make about 5 dials.

Hot Tip: I sometimes file the tip of the applicator tube, it just makes the application a little neater but you dont need to do this, the standard applicator works just fine.

Keep it upside down: Standing the bottle upside down in a container will help prevent air mixing with the resin.

Lets get started: Above I will start with a 3646 Three Piece Dial (2mm thick). But you can use any type of dial, later in this article I will apply resin to a thin Two Piece Dial (about 0.8 thick).

How to apply, this is the part you need to get right: First clean the tip of the metal applicator (you do NOT want any excess resin). Next start by squeezing the applicator bottle so that a tiny amount of resin becomes visible at the end of the tip. Apply a tiny amount of resin into the Number, the DRAG the resin back to the other side of the number so that the number is filled. You may need to practice this a few times so be prepared to clean off any errors and start again. (Use paint thinner to clean). DO NOT USE TOO MUCH RESIN….KEEP IT THIN. Numbers “3”, “6”, “9” and “2” are the most difficult so take your time. Dont expect it to be perfect first time, it may take a little practice but once you achieve good results then it becomes quite easy.

Disaster! Above you can see I have added too much resin to the dial. If you do this then the Plexi that holds the Lume may not fit. Also the resin will probably run to the edge of the dial and drain the number making the number look concave. (too little resin). Clean off any excess Resin with Paint thinners and start again. Dont waste time trying to correct it, its quicker to remove and start again.

That looks better! Above the dial has had the excess resin removed (cleaned) and new resin applied.

Do not fall into this trap! Note the two red lines. Never let your resin run into this area. If you do the resin will run around the inside edge of your dial and your number will end up almost empty of resin. Its ok to have a little excess on the sides of the number (but NOT too much).

What is the suction bottle for? Sometimes you can add a little too much resin to the number and the resin will look convex. This suction bottle when squeezed will suck up small amounts of resin. However, its NOT suitable for cleaning up excess resin, if you have excess resin then use paint thinners, clean and start again.

Less is best: It better to add too little resin rather than too much because you can always add a tiny drop more later. Allow the resin time to flow and settle. If you add too much then your numbers will be convex ie the resin will act like a “lens” (not good).

You can add resin to any type of dial: Above I am adding Resin to a 2mm thick Dial and also a 0.8mm thick Dial. Both dials will look better for the resin.

5 Minute Resin: After mixing etc it took probably less than 5 minutes to add the Resin. This was without making any mistakes. Dont expect to achieve this if this is your first attempt. I always suggest starting by practicing on an old dial.

Surely the Dial above is an Error, theres NOT enough Resin! True, there isn’t enough Resin but Panerai did do this. I believe it was a factory error but quite a few dials were issued like this. The owner of this dial requested I make it with too little resin to form the “concave” resin indices you see above. However most Vintage Panerai Dials had resin that was flat.

Adding Stem Tube Threads to a 3646 or California Dial Case

Note: The New Nightwatch Cases as of July 2019 now come threaded, you do not need to drill and thread the case as shown below. This tutorial is for those with a case that is not threaded.

This section will deal with how to upgrade the Crown on your 3646 Case. To do this I will drill the Case and add threads to accept a new Stem Tube and “Onion” Type 3646 Crown.

The Stem Tube I will use is 4mm and the thread pitch is 0.35mm

First start by drilling the case. The recommended size is 3.4mm but I am using a 3.6mm drill bit (slightly larger). This will make the threading process a little easier. Using a 3.6 drill bit is adequate, the threads may not be quite as deep but they are perfectly strong. The stem I am about to fit is not heavy duty so it does not require any real strength other than to hold itself in place. I will later Tap (thread) the 3646 Case using an M4 (4mm) Tap with a 0.35mm thread pitch.

Tapping the Case: Its important that the “thread pitch” you make in the case is the same as the thread pitch on the stem tube. The hole in the case is now 3.6mm and I will start the threading process using a M4 Tap with a 0.35mm Thread Pitch (easy to buy on the internet).

To make the threads I will use a set of Three Taps. Tap 1 is the Starter (a fine weak thread). Tap 2 is an intermediate thread (a little deeper) and Tap 3 is a Full Depth Thread.

  1. Use the “Starter” Tap 1 the make the first few “light threads”. I prefer to make a few starter threads to “at least” half way into the hole in the case. Make sure you apply pressure to the Tap so that the threads dont slip, the Tap needs to constantly cut new threads. Remove the Tap from the case
  2. Next take Tap 2 (Intermediate Tap) This will re-cut the previous threads you have made with Tap 1 (starter tap). Once this Tap is half way through the Case there is usually enough strength to proceed with this Tap so that it goes right through the Case.
  3. If you look at Tap 2 the threads start light and continue to full deep threads. Therefore there is no need to finish the case off using Tap 3 once Tap 2 has gone through the Case.

Now its time to try the Stem Tube and see how it fits.

The next stage is to Solder the Stem into the Case. The Authentic 3646 Cases were soldered in the same way. This wasn’t to make the Stem strong, it was instead to make it water-tight when diving under pressure and also to stop it turning when you unscrew the Crown.

Before we start to Solder, REMEMBER to remove the small rubber o’ring from inside the Stem Tube. If you dont it will melt when you start to solder.

Type of Flux & Solder: To do this I would strongly advise using the very best flux and solder (there is a kit available on the Vintage Watch Parts website). The correct flux makes a big difference between the work being fairly easy and difficult. Dont try doing this work with cheap flux, and always us “fine” solder. You do NOT want to get solder on the Stem Tube Threads.

First apply the Flux around the Stem Tube (inside of the Case). Next use a “Flame” (Gas Blowtorch – NOT electric) and heat the flux, the flux will go black, next, try and touch the solder to the case it should melt on contact. As soon as you have some solder on the case add a little flux to the solder, the solder should easily flow. In fact the solder should “Sweat” inside the case and into the threads, sometimes it can be visible on the outside of the Case (stem tube area) this means the solder has fully sweated through the case. Its not always possible to do this so dont worry if you cannot.

Tip: What does it mean if you add solder to the case and it doesn’t flow but stays in a large ball or blob of molten solder. Often it means your Case is TOO HOT. Cool with flux and it should flow like water.

Next, run solder around the top edge of the Stem Tube to form a nice seal. Be careful not to get solder on the threads. This is why I say you must use fine solder and good flux.

Once Soldered you should clean the Case by polishing. Remember to put the rubber o’ring back inside the Stem Tube

Below is a comparison between Crowns. The Old Crown is larger and more common on modern Panerai Watches. The 3646 Onion Crown is just like the Vintage Crown. Its not always important to have the correct 3646 Crown because during the late 1940’s (and early 1950’s) there was a parts shortage and it is very common to see authentic 3646 Watches with Rolex Crowns fitted.

One final upgrade – The owner of this watch wanted Lead O’rings fitted under the Bezel and to the Case Back. Lead o’rings were used as seals on the authentic watches but many didn’t survive over the years or were lost.

Making the 6152 Water-Tight

There are three areas to seal A) The Case Back B) The Stem Tube and Crown C) The Plexi

How it was done
The threaded Stem Tube was soldered to the case and cleaned (many authentic cases were soldered as the stem-tube threads would leak under pressure).

Below: Make sure all your parts clean before soldering. Once you have screwed the stem tube into the case heat the area up and run a little solder around the threads or between Case and Stem Tube. Make sure you use the best quality flux you can find it makes soldering so much easier.

Below: Clean the excess solder and try to make it look like its part of the case (its better not to have too much solder).

Below: After cleaning the Stem Tube is aged in a little acid (you can also do this by placing the case in a bag with a “boiled egg” it will age the brass or bronze (yes it works!)

Plexi: The Plexi was sealed using a rubberized adhesive (I am told authentic Vintage Panerai’s used a glue to seal and didn’t use an o’ring)

Case Back: Case Back is sealed with an o’ring
The Crown applies a good amount of pressure to the Crown O’ring (important at depth)
There is no Two Piece Bezel with this case so there is nothing else to seal.

6152 Case Polishing

There also a great step-by-step tutorial just above this post. To find it, go to “6152 Project” at the top of this page and look for the drop-down box. There are over 80 images that take you through every stage.

How to build the 6152 step-by-step using the Nightwatch 6152 Case:

This section shows how to polish and age the case

Paper is all you need: You can use an industrial polisher to finish your case but this will give a “brand new shine” depending on which grade of buffing wheel you use. Below I will finish this case using only wet and dry grit paper. When done correctly it will give a low-level shine as you would expect on a watch that is over 50 year old

Below: Start by rubbing the case with P400 wet and dry

Below: This image shows a case thats been polished using a machine. This is fine but it does look too new.

Below: When you polish the case you will start to see any errors you have made. Get them all out.

Below: The case has had P400 wet and dry and now its had P1200 wet and dry (a very fine grade paper). I usually rub the p1200 on itself  (rub 2 surfaces of p1200 together) to make it even finer. Then rub the case, you will find that the paper on its own will polish the case to a nice level (not too shiny).

Below: Polished with only paper

Ageing the Case Further using acid and making it look 50 years old

I have separated these stages as some people will not have acid or prefer not to work with it. Acid will add very fast aging to the case. Here is how its done.

Below: The case is being prepared with P1200 wet and dry. You can skip this process as shown above if you have already polished your case with p1200, simply dont polish the case too much and make it too shiny

Below: Make the case shiny but not too shiny (a little dull)

Below: This is what the finish should look like before acid

Below: The case has been dipped into hydrochloric acid for around 5 minutes (test first with a piece of stainless steel as acid come in different strengths).

Below: 5 minutes later

Below: later the case will be lightly polished in places, this image shows the case not polished straight after acid.

Below: Now its time to polish some areas with a cloth to remove some of the acid ageing. Do not used wet and dry paper.

Below: The inside of the case is nicely aged and is left as it it.

6152 Case Project – Rear Case

How to build the 6152 step-by-step using the Nightwatch 6152 Case:

Important: Try not to get the shape around the edge perfectly round. If you look at the image below you can see that the Case Edge on the authentic case doesnt follow the exact curve of the Case Back Edge.

Below: The red arrows show the areas to be filed.

Below: Use a small flat file to do this work

Below: Start by working the curve with your file this will shape the following

  1. The outer back edge of the case
  2. The bottom curvature of the case

Below: Note how its even and smooth, remove the file marks with P400 wet and dry paper.

Below: This is an important image because it shows the curvature of the rear of the case. The case is already shaped well so all you are doing is adjusting it a little to get the same curve as shown in the image below.

Below: The case is starting to take shape. At this stage its been finished with P400 wet and dry

Below: Look carefully and you can see it needs a little more metal taking off. Dont worry if you dont get it right first time and always remember not to take too much metal off if this is your first time.

Below: After some adjustment we have the correct shape, this shape compares well with a genuine case.

Below: The adjustments that have been made have also shaped the rear a little.

Image Above: shows an authentic Vintage Panerai 6152 watch.

6152 Case Project – Lug shaping.

How to build the 6152 step-by-step using the Nightwatch 6152 Case:

Important: The 6152 has added metal to the top surface of the Lugs. This is so that you can shape the lugs to the desired dimensions, to give the “step” you see in the images below. Remember, try not to remove too much metal, if you want to remove more you can always do this later.

Below: I am going to use a small fine/medium flat file. Note the edge of the file, make sure that the smooth side is the side you use near the top surface of the case.

Below: This is the side you should NOT use. Keep this side away from the case

Below: Start by filing down the top surface of the lugs.

Below: Start with one lug and try and get it right before starting on the next

Below: When you remove metal from the top surface you will see a small curve of metal starting to form in the corner of the lug (see red arrow). Use a small square file to remove this

Below: This is an image of the type of file you require

Below: The “step” has been formed to the depth that is required. The case comes with a “step” and for some people this may be enough. However, because extra metal has been added in this area you have the opportunity to make the step as small or as deep as you wish.

Below: We can now compare our case with a genuine case. Tip: Lighting can play tricks, what you see in the image isn’t always accurate so compare different images.

Below: If you look at the case from the side, the step doesn’t look as deep. This is because the top surface edge of the case curves down towards the top of the lug.

Below: Now its time to smooth out the rear of the lugs, the image below shows the area to be filed flat.

Below: It doesn’t take long and with a little filing the area is soon flat.

Below: Dont forget to finish smoothing the area using P400 wet and dry paper (or grit paper).

Below: This area has not been polished on a polishing machine. Instead you can get great results just by using P1200 wet and dry paper. This gives more of an aged finish and not the super bright finish that the polishing machine gives.

How to cut a stem and fit a Crown Guard

Below are some tips on setting up the Crown Guard Lever so that it closes just right. The lever should close firmly so that it applies some pressure to the Crown. Panerai used this design so that their watches remained water tight in deep water.

1) Winding Stem: Cut the Winding stem so that you are able to set the hands (adjust the time of the watch). Be careful!…. do NOT try to cut it accurately first time. Often I have to adjust the winding stem a few times so that its the perfect length, do this by cutting a very little, even filing or grinding the stem. Cut a little, try it, cut a little, try it…take your time do a little each time. If you cut it too long then you will not be able to set the hands when inside the Crown Guard. If you cut it too short then when you set the hands it wont go back into the winding position. Do this first BEFORE you adjust the Crown Guard lever.

2) Crown Guard Lever: These are always made to be a little larger than is required. This is because the lever can be filed to be the correct size for all the different movements that are used to build projects. Do NOT file the lever until you have cut the winding stem to the correct length! When you try to close the lever for the first time it will not close as the lever will be too large. File a little off the “point of the lever”, then try… do NOT try to get it correct first time. Repeat over again and adjust it a little each time until you get it just right. The lever should close firmly and apply some pressure to the crown, but it should not be too tight that its difficult to close.

Here are some Step by Step Imaged and Instructions

Below:  You may want to file the Crown Guard first. Normally there is a small step on the Top Front and Bottom Front of the Crown Guard. Theres also a little filing along the edges near the crown, see arrows below.

Below: The lever will be too large at first. All levers should be filed to the exact size for a nice firm fit when the crown guard closes. Movement stems are not the same, so the lever is made a little larger than is normally required. DO NOT File this lever until the crown and stem are 100% correct!

Below: A good crown guard will use 2mm screws, check that it aligns correctly with the case.

Below: Also check that the lever sits nicely against the case. There should not be a large gap.

Below: To fit, mark and then cut your stem so that it is “close” do NOT try to cut it perfect first time, you will probably fail. Cut it a Little Too Large!

Below: The stem is too long the Crown does not close fully. This is ok, we now need to adjust the length of the stem carefully. Do a little at a time.

Below: Now we can grind a little off the stem. Do a little (not too much ) and test, repeat until perfect.

Below: Now the stem is close to the Crown we can test the Crown Guard to see if the Crown will open inside the Crown Guard. If it doesnt, grind a little more off the stem.

Below: What happens when you have made a mistake and taken too much off the stem! The crown will not close, the stem is now too short. Dont worry there is a solution.

Below: here is a nice tip. We cannot make the stem longer but by adding a little cold solder into the crown then screwing the stem into the crown it will crush the solder so that the stem is a little longer. Dont heat up the solder simply cut a little off with a sharp knife. Dont add too much solder if there isn’t enough simply add a little more.

Below: Now we can test the crown and the lever. The lever should close firmly (not too firm) and the crown should pull out easily inside the crown guard.

Below: The completed crown guard and stem correctly fitted.

Dials – 3 Piece Dials Info

The making of the 3 Piece Dials:

Quick Points:
1) Many 3 Piece Dials are not 2mm thick
2) The indices (numbers) do not have a Plexi
3) Indices (numbers) on the 3646 and 6152 dials were not the same
4) Engraving had more than one font type on the same dial!

6152 LP:
The 6152 Dial was anodized before the Indices (numbers) and engraving were cut.

1) Dial machined from a solid aluminium bar
2) Dial surface textured
3) Dial then anodized
4) Dial indices (numbers) cut into the anodized surface using Pantograph Machine (hand operated)
5) Dial engraving (text added)
6) Resin added to Indices by hand (numbers)
8) Internal plexi machined on a lathe from a solid bar
9) Plexi recesses cut by Pantograph
10) Plexi filled with lume
11) Backing plate cut from brass
12) Dial feet soldered to backing plate
13) Backing plate nickel plated

Note the different Indices (Numbers) thicknesses between the Non Sub-Dial version and the Sub-Dial version. This is probably because of the different time periods the dials were made. For example the early MM Non-Sub Dial with Rolex Movement has thicker Indices. The later (1950’s-60) MM with Sub-Dial using the Angelus 240cal Movement has thinner Indices.

3646 RP and Sterile:
The 3646 Dial was anodized after the Indices (numbers) and engraving were cut.

1) Dial machined from a solid aluminium bar
2) Dial surface textured
4) Dial indices (numbers) cut into the surface using Pantograph Machine (hand operated)
5) Dial engraving (text added)
3) Dial then anodized
6) Resin added to Indices by hand (numbers)
8) Internal plexi machined on a lathe from a solid bar
9) Plexi recesses cut by Pantograph
10) Plexi filled with lume
11) Backing plate cut from brass
12) Dial feet soldered to backing plate
13) Backing plate nickel plated

Backing plates are made from brass the dial feet are then soldered

The Backing plates are then nickel plated

Below the assembled 240 type dial with backing plate

Below: the assembled 3646 dial with backing plate