After the auto winder discussion, I would like to offer my opinion on another subject that has almost religious dimensions (e.g. the discussion has become as entrenched as trying to find out which god is better). This subject is luminous compound.
The fundamentalists adore and admire the flakiest and brownest compound, and it’s even better when bits have fallen off that can be found in the movement. Gorgeous. Or not.
Proof is in the pudding, and if you look at any watch that Mitka and I have in our collection, the rule for us is simple. If the original compound is stable and has a decent colour, we will leave it in place. But if it has badly discoloured (brown), or is starting to break up, we will replace it. We mix our own colours, and try to find a sympathetic tone that fits the age of the watch. Usually, that tends to be a slightly yellow tone.
Let’s have a look at some original lume. Here is a Speedy dial and hands. The markers have lost most of their compound, and what is left doesn’t look original. The hands have luminous compound on them, which might well be original, and it has the colour of a dog turd. Would I want this on my wrist? No. Especially not compared to what I could wear …
Which is this lovely watch. It’s the same dial and hands that we have seen, but with new luminous compound, mixed in a slightly yellow tone. No comparison.
It’s not original, I give you that, but it looks a lot closer to what the watch looked like when it was new, so in my book, it’s more original than the dog poo lume that the watch had before.
The most hard core defenders of old luminous compound come from the Rolex side of things, so let’s have a look at what we can do there!
Here is a Rolex 3272 calibre 630. I’m sure most Rolex collectors would want to leave that exactly as it is.
For me, it’s also a question of what I want to wear on my wrist. Doing what I do for a living, I can’t walk around with a watch that looks like something chewed it and spat it out. It’s got to look good. Not new, but good. So for me, the “after” photo watch is the one that I would want to wear. Not only does it look a mile better, it also has the advantage of having stable luminous compound that won’t break off and get into the movement. Because if that happens, you’re in for another service, and they don’t come cheap, as it takes quite a bit of time to take the whole movement apart again and to clean everything.
For me, it’s a bit like having a vintage car, and leaving the rusted reflectors in the headlights, as they are original. You can’t see diddly-squat at night, the headlights look terrible, but it’s original. Surely, you would either get new reflectors, or have the old ones re-chromed, wouldn’t you? Because you want your vintage car not only to look good, but you also want to see something when you drive it at night.
Next thing, we’ll be welding broken mainsprings, and admiring oval worn jewel holes for their originality…