What is a Modern Vintage? The modern vintage (MV) is a watch that is built using old techniques that are uncommon nowadays. Often this includes case shaping by hand, soldering joints, the type of processes that are not usually found on watches today.
This section shows how to personalize a 3646 type watch and build a Modern Vintage with a lot of attention on how to build a very personalized dial.
This build will start by using the 3646 California Dial Case. This type of case is very sleek about 47mm in diameter and very comfortable to wear.
You can add any picture to a watch dial: Below I have used an image from an artist friend of mine, but it could have been almost any image, even a photograph of a son, daughter, car, building, dog, drawing or painting....anything
Case Shaping: This process is already documented on this website so if you haven't seen or are not sure how to shape and solder a 3646 Case then click on the following link How to Shape and Solder the 3646 Case
Dial: The focal point of this watch will be the dial and below you will see how to take the artwork, then print using a standard computer and finally to place the transparent print onto a dial.
All that is required is a simple computer printer, normal white paper, clear acrylic varnish (spray) and some clear resin.
Lets start by making the dial. Below is a 37mm diameter Brass Plate thats 1mm thick. The centre hole has been drilled for the Hour and Minute Hands and also a second hole has been drilled that will sit below 12 o'clock and act as a marker.
The Dial Feet: The holes for the dial feet were made by placing the Brass Backing Plate onto the movement the marking and drilling 1mm holes, these must be precise.
Copper Dial Feet: 1mm copper wire was used to make the dial feet, push through the hole then solder and file to shape. Finally test the fit if you look at the last image there is a small gap between the Brass Dial Plate and the Bezel. This gap is important as the thickness of the dial is about to increase.
Polish the Brass backing Plate: I want a gold coloured dial finish so below I have polished the Brass Backing Plate to a high shine, most of this plate will be visible on the finished dial.
How to get your image onto the Dial
- Find an image on your PC, (any image you like)
- Use a standard printer and print the image onto standard paper
- Spray the image with 5 or 6 coats of clear acryilic varnish and leave to dry
- Cut the image to size
- Soak the image in warm water
- Rub the back of the image (paper) with your finger
- Keep rubbing until all the paper is removed (it takes time)
- You should be left with a clear printed sheet of acrylic
How to fix the image onto your dial:
Lay the clear image you have made onto the surface of the dial (brass plate)
- Smooth Finish: For a smooth finish "lightly" spray the dial with acrylic spray and lay the image you have made. This will leave a nice flat image
- Textured Finish: Brush acrylic varnish and apply "plenty so that its thickly covered". Then add the image you have made. Thick acrylic will cause the image transfer to wrinkle, it will texture the surface as it drys. Only do this if you want a textured finish.
Adding the Lume Marker: Below I have mixed some luminous powder with 2 part epoxy glue, then added a little colour. This mixture is placed in the hole that I drilled so that it will be below 12 o'clock.
Textured Dial: Here we see that the surface of the dial is textured which is caused by too much acrylic varnish being applied to the dial (this is what I want).
- Heavy Texturing: Leave the wrinkles as they are
- Light Texturing: Pop the wrinkles with a pin and allow the air to escape then press the wrinkles flat. I will use this method on the dial I am making.
Adding The Resin: add a small amount of thin tape to the edge of the dial so that when the resin is poured onto the dial it doesn't run off and instead leaves a thick coat about 1mm thick. Mix good quality clear acrylic resin (available online) and pour.
The Meniscus Problem: This is the curved upper surface that forms around the edge of the resin. It means the dial surface isn't totally flat. Below you can see the edges shown in the red arrows curve upwards.
- Method A) Rub the dial on a flat sheet of P400 wet and dry paper until flat, then pour another coat of resin on the dial without any tape around the sides or edges
- Method B) Rub the dial on a flat sheet of P400 wet and dry paper until flat, then polish the dial using "Displex" (google it, its available online) this is the method I used .
What your dial should now look like:
Adding the Hands: I have used Blue hands and applied a Beige Lume so that it blends with the dial (white lume was too bold).
Close-up of the dial: Below you can see the textured surface of the dial. If you look very carefully I have left behind a very small amount of paper when I made the acrylic transfer on the dial. This has created another unique texture, its very fine (almost totally transparent) and its a lovely texture to add. But remember it needs to be super fine to work properly. To do this you need to check to see if any paper is left on your transfer, fine amounts of paper are only visible when the transfer is dry and may not be visible when wet.
Also I haven't tried to make the dial flawless, artwork often has some of the artist's own flaws within, its what makes his/her work personal. I didn't want to make this dial appear to be a factory dial. Sometimes flaws can add to the overall finish of the work. The best way to leave any flaws are on the transfer, the resin should always be flawless.
Another feature that I left was the small copper dial feet, I decided not to hide these tiny dots by covering them with the transfer and instead to leave them visible on the dial, they are not easy to see but there are two 1mm copper dots at 1 o'clock and 7 o'clock.
The movement: I used the reliable fast beat 6497
The finished watch: