Repairing worn or damaged PVD bracelets

Repairing worn or damaged PVD bracelets

Seiko’s relationship with black coatings on their watch bracelets goes back a long way — at least as far back as 1975 when they released the 0634-5019.

And ever since that time, people have lamented the fragility of the coating, how it wears badly, or chips, or gets damaged in some other way.

So it was with the NOS 0634-5019 I won in a local auction. A lovely looking watch in all respects other than a dud LCD and an ugly looking clasp where something (moisture possibly, or maybe some paint-unfriendly chemical like acetone) had caused the coating to chip and run.

It really detracted from the look of the watch so my first thought (other than trying to find a replacement which isn’t easy or cheap) was just to remove all the paint off the clasp and have it in silver/stainless.

Since the bracelet is two-tone anyway, it wouldn’t have looked too bad, but also wouldn’t have been original nor would it make the SEIKO SQ embossing stand out any more.

So I decided to see if the finish could be repaired with some at-home powder coating — especially since I don’t have any equipment for PVD coating anything!

I bought my powder coating gun long before I got an air compressor so needed one that had a fan built-in and opted for a debadged version of the Craftsman powder coating gun. Cost was around USD75 from memory, with shipping about that much again, and it only runs on 110v so needed to use a stepdown converter in order to make it run. A local powder coating firm sold me some containers of powder and I bought a toaster oven … and did nothing for three years.

Originally I was going to powder coat pinball parts of a machine I was restoring (and I still might get around to doing that) but time and other commitments meant that machine is still only about 1/3 restored and has been that way for a couple of years now.

So I dragged all the powder coating bits and pieces out and prepped the clasp by removing all the coating then cleaning with acetone (like with just about everything, the time you spend on preparation is reflected in the end result).

Found some black powder, loaded the sprayer, pre-heated the oven, and go…

If you don’t know much about powder coating, there’s plenty of YouTube about it and it pretty much is as easy as it looks in the videos as long as you take your time and spend time on preparation.

Once it’s been baking for 25 minutes, open the doors and wait for your piece to cool. If you’ve bought some high-temp masking tape (I hadn’t) there’s a chance you won’t have to spend time sanding off the powder coat from parts you didn’t want coated. Although the powder I had produced a glossy finish so I had to do some sanding to flatten the gloss so it would look more like the rest of the bracelet.

Here’s the piece mostly done…

And here it is back on the watch. You’d be very hard-pressed to be able to tell the difference between the powder coated finish and the original PVD coating.

Since I’m on the looking for a similar bracelet (the C-150) to restore a Seiko G757-5020 there’s a chance I’ll have to break out the powder coat again and having seen the results of this one, I’ll be pretty confident giving it a crack next time as well.

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