How to re-attach dial feet [2]

My aversion to dial spots (those little adhesive dots used to glue on dials) knows little bounds. It’s a shoddy job, the dial can still turn with time, and in my book, it’s not an appropriate repair. On a £2 quartz movement, dial spots might be appropriate, but on anything mechanical, I’d rather not.

Above, a dial with broken off feet. You can still see some remaining dial spots, and, in preparation for the new dial feet, I have marked the centre of the feet on the dial. I use a sharp needle and a pair of tweezers as a ruler.

The accurate position of the new feet is vital, so it’s well worth spending some time marking their position.

I’ve tried various pieces of equipment, including a purpose built dial feet soldering machine that’s for sale on eBay. My final weapon of choice now is a Weller 100W soldering gun, good flux, and some very thin electronic solder, preferably old stock with lead in. If you look closely, you can see the “DM 1.50” sticker on the flux. If I remember correctly, I bought it in 1982 in Germany, and there is still enough flux in the tub to pass it on to someone after I have soldered my last dial foot.

With a Dremel, I remove any dirt from the spot where the dial foot goes, and rough up the surface a bit. Then I put a thin layer of flux on the spot. Note how I have marked the position of the dial foot with three lines so I can place the new foot correctly.

I use dial feet that have a little foot, as it gives me more surface for the solder, and a better hold on the dial.

The dial foot also gets a bit of flux, and I then apply a thin layer of solder on the dial foot.

The dial foot with a layer of solder on it. Less is more, and I will not apply any extra solder when fixing the foot to the dial – this is all that is necessary.

With the soldering gun, I heat up the side of the foot and the dial at the same time. It’s best to pre-heat the gun, so that it’s as hot as it can be before applying it to the joint. We want to solder for as little time as possible, to avoid damage to the dial.

You will know if the feet are in the correction position when putting the dial on – the centre hole still has to be centred. If not, you might have to heat up again, and move the feet a little bit.

The dial wasn’t overheated, and there is no damage. This can be trickier on painted dials. If varnish gets damaged, it can always be removed and replaced.

Depending on the movement, it might be necessary to file down the dial ring that sits under the dial to make room for the wider dial foot.

17 thoughts on “How to re-attach dial feet [2]

  1. Thank you for this interesting post!
    I have also made good experience using a high quality 2-component glue, as there is not much load on a dial. You just have to carefully clean the surfaces and using as little glue as possible and give it enough time to completely dry up. It is also important to choose a glue which can withstand a warm environment as temperatures inside a watch can reach up to more than 40 degrees Celsius.

  2. Hi Christian,

    Have you tried using low temperature melt solder? Many modellers use 70 degrees melting point solder for white metal kits and 145 degrees melting point solder for soldering brass. This way there is less chance of overheating and/or damaging the dial. A lower temperature iron can be used also.


  3. Great job! I can imagine that you have to be extremely careful not ot overheat the dial. Some damages to the front of the dial due to heat might not be reversible.

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