Can we Fix This Date Ring?

Of course, as a jeweler and watchmaker, I’ve run into lots of people who have accidents with their items.  It happens.  

A man swimming at the beach forgets to tighten down the crown of his Rolex watch, and, oops….  Water Logged.  If we get to it early enough, we can usually save it, but in this case, the customer didn’t realize it until later in the day, and forgot to bring it in for service.

I spent the better part of an entire day, cleaning and removing rust from inside the watch, as well as replacing screws which were too damaged.  This is an older watch, and the customer didn’t want to put too much money into it, but insisted that we get it back to him as soon as possible, as he is heading back North for a few weeks.

In this example, the Dial and the Date Ring are the two parts we could not get in time.  I took this as a way to perform an experiment, on my own, so that the Date would show up on the watch, instead of rusty numbers.  Watch the video below, and let me know what you think.  If you would like to purchase the materials I’ve used, then follow the links below the video to purchase these products.

How did I do it?

First, let’s start with the old date ring, and see how it is rusted and has had the paint delaminate from the metal ring.  Coming up with a solution is rather easy.

First, I removed all the paint from the surface of the date ring.  I used some 2000 grit sandpaper, and wet-sanded it until it was clean.

The next step was to measure all the dimensions for the date ring, as well as the width of the numbers surrounding the date ring.


Once I had the measurements, I was off to my computer, and using my favorite design software, Blender3D.  Its not for everyone, but I know how to use it well, and it works great for me. 

Click here to download it, as it is free for Mac, Windows and Linux.

In the video, I kind of rush through this process, but if you want help doing this, please let me know, and I’ll be glad to make a video of how I designed the date ring on my computer and readied it for printing.

Products I used are here

Clear Waterslide Paper
White Waterslide Paper
Spray Clear Coat

The next step was to make the choice, do I paint the date ring white, or use White Waterslide Paper.  I chose to use the White paper as apposed to the transparent, since it would be easier and quicker in this case.

After exporting my design as an image, I was able to import it into my word processor, and scale it to size for printing.  For some strange reason, I could not get the image to print in Black and White, which would have looked a whole lot better, so I ended up sending it to the printer as a color image.  

Black and White, would have given me more detail, and a sharper contrast.  However, since this is temporary, I’m not worried.  You could, if you wish, use this technique to make a permanent repair if you like.  Thats on your.

Once I had my date ring image printed, it is time to go back to the bench, and prepare to finish the process.  First, you have to spray down the sheet of paper with some spray uv resistant clear coat spray paint.  Let it dry for an hour, or use a hairdryer for five minutes to dry of the clear coat.

Once dry, I centered the date ring over the image, and used scotch tape to hold it in place, then began to use an razor knife to cut out the parameter of the image.

Next, I cut out the inner section of the date ring image, so that it would fit properly onto the date ring.  Trimming and checking as I went along.  This is the step you will spend the most time on.

Once trimmed, I removed the image from the date ring, cleaned off the scotch tape, and soaked the printed image of the date ring in water for approximately 15 to 20 seconds.  This will allow the image to separate from the paper, and create a sticky glue like material which I then stuck onto the date ring.  

Don’t worry, you’ll have about 30 seconds to a minute to work with it, and center it until you are satisfied, and then you can mat it dry, and allow it to air dry for about 30 minutes.  Once it had dried, I followed up by using some 3000 grit sandpaper, to just trim off any of the sticker that over-hung the date ring’s edges.


I’m sure that you’ll agree that I could have made the image a bit nicer, and in my second attempt, I did just that.  I managed to get my printer to print perfectly in black ink only, and that made all the difference.

After assembly of the watch, I was pleasantly surprised to see the result.  The customer is happy because, he was glad not to see “Any Big Hole” in the front of his watch!

So, I’m happy with the results.  I think that if you take your time, and do this job with a bit of patients, you will be happy too.

Let me know if you liked this or if it was helpful in any way.


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