What Did this Dial Originally Look Like?

PaulWeber

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Feb 10, 2017
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Hello all,

My latest acquisition is a rather large, French crystal regulator (12.5” tall). The movement is marked “Made in France” so I guess it was made after around 1914.

I bought it because I thought the dial was unusual. It’s like a “silvered” dial, only it’s golden or maybe just brass. I was a little bit disappointed when it arrived because the dial was more tired-looking than I expected, at least compared to the seller‘s photos.

Anyway, so here’s my question: I’m considering having the dial professionally restored. But I’m really not even sure what this dial might have looked like when it was new. was it maybe bare, brushed brass, or a painted finish? Does anyone know? And if so, could someone please post a picture of what this dial may have looked like when new. Thank you!

—Paul

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tracerjack

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Jun 6, 2016
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It can be very difficult from a photo to tell if the numbers are engraved, or else from some other process lower than the face of the dial. If the numbers are, the dial may have been silvered. I am no expert and am only using logic to supply an answer to your question. With engraved numbers, the entire silver layer can be rubbed away leaving the wax filled numbers still legible. If the numbers are screened or painted, the dial must have been gold colored. Were the numbers and letters screened or painted over a silvered surface, they would be long gone with the silver.
 

PaulWeber

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Feb 10, 2017
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Yes, I agree with your logic. I don’t think the numbers are engraved or recessed, which leads me to believe the dial face was originally gold. But the next question is: Was the dial painted or gilded gold, or was it simply polished brass or maybe even brushed brass? It’s hard for a lay person like me to go back in time to make this determination, which is why I think I’m going to consult a professional restorer.
 

bruce linde

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if the numbers are engraved, you'll be able to feel it. if they feel pretty flush with the surface then they're painted on.

i think the dial would have been the same color, but lighter for more contrast.

if you take good photos you can clean up the dial using simichrome and have the numbers repainted on... or, you could silver it and do the same.
 

tracerjack

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If it were gilded, I would think you would find remnants of the gilt somewhere on the dial. The shield looks as if it were polished and the ring a matte finish. With the bezel a polished finish, I think the matte would have looked very nice between the two highly polished pieces.
 

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