Although I have used many different materials for the dials of my watches in the past, currently I am using almost exclusively metal, as my background includes the art of the metalsmith – fashioning handcrafted items from metal. I have been experimenting with a variety of different materials though, and if they make it onto my dials, you will see information about them here.
Currently, I am using the following metal types for my dials: copper, brass, bronze, fine silver, mokume-gane, and niobium. Below you’ll find info’, colouring techniques, and pictures regarding each metal type.
Each dial that has the possibility of oxidation, or tarnishing, gets a coating of museum quality wax to seal the surface and help prevent the metal from changing colour, but I cannot guarantee that, over time, the colour will not “patina” slightly.
I’ve also started using a new technique using solvent based dyes to colour the surface of the dials. It yields wonderfully bright, translucent colours, but it’s a little restrictive in a way, which is outlined in a section below.
This is just straight-up copper, Cu on the periodic table. I usually just use this metal bare or naked for it’s copper colour, though I have been experimenting with the patination of copper.
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. I use brass in the majority of my watches because I can create a grey or oxidized finish by using a chemical patina to treat the surface of the metal. I also use this metal in it’s bare or naked state.
There are lots of different alloys that are called bronze, but I usually use an alloy of copper and tin, CuSn8 bronze. Again, like copper and brass, it’s used because of it’s colour, and I typically only use it on a dial bare/naked, though, as with copper, I have been experimenting with patination techniques.
You’ve probably noticed I always describe the silver I use as ‘fine’ rather than ‘sterling’. The reason is that these are two very different things. Fine silver is pure silver, well, 99.99% pure, at least. Sterling silver is an alloy made up of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. I use fine silver because it doesn’t tarnish nearly as easily as does sterling silver. I only use fine silver for it’s base silver colour, though very occasionally I make it frosty white by applying a special heat treatment, but that technique is extremely restrictive when it comes to applying luminous pigments. If you’d like more information about this, please contact me via the web site. Below is a picture of a regular fine silver dial.
This is a special technique to create a layered laminated metal, similar to that of Damascus steel, which was originally developed in Japan. There’s a decent Wikipedia article about it here. The layers can consist of all sorts of different types of metal, but generally, the metals used are silver, copper, bronze or brass. Typically, I have copper and silver in the mokume-gane I use, but mokume’ made with gold, platinum, and/or palladium is also possible. Many patterns are also available, but I generally use the random pattern or a wavy pattern. No two pieces of mokume-gane are exactly the same, but similar effects can be duplicated. Usually, the metal is also oxidized to enhance the pattern. Below is a picture of a copper and silver mokume’ dial that has been oxidized. Please contact me via the web site if you are interested in a watch with a dial made in this way.
Solvent Dye Colouring Technique
The solvent dye that I use has been specially formulated for use on metal. It yields bright, stable, UV resistant colours which can be applied in a number of different ways: I’ve found the two most effective methods to be airbrushing, and ‘brushing-on’ using various tools, each giving their own effect. The only trouble with this technique is that it must be performed before the application of any luminous pigment, and that’s not the way I usually go about my dial making process. So, this leads to certain design restrictions when used in combination with luminous pigments. The only reason I have starting using this type of colouring is that reds and oranges can’t be achieved using niobium (see below). Here are a couple of pictures showing watches I’ve made using this technique.
A photo posted by Scott Wilk (@wilkwatchworks) on
Luminous pigments are the coloured substances I hand apply to the dial of the watch to make areas which glow in the dark. I use the Super-LumiNova brand of luminous pigments which is Swiss made. There are many different colours of pigment available. Here is a swatch I made up a while ago showing some of the pigments I use, but please be aware that this is only a small fraction of the colours available. If you know the Pantone colour number of a colour you’d like to use on a watch dial, special ordering may be available, so please contact me if you are looking for a specific colour.
The colours are as follows, from top to bottom, left to right: Yellow, Black, Dark Grey, Light Grey, Green, Light Blue, Red, Dark Blue, White (Green Glow), White (blue glow), Brown, Purple
I can also change the colour of the luminous pigment in the hands to any of the colours shown in the swatch above. There is a $40 fee for applying a colour other than white, which is what normally comes in all of my luminous hand sets.
The colour of the glow is typically either a green or blue colour, though most of the colours I use fluoresce green. I do have some colours which fluoresce blue, which are available upon request. Below are two images of my Lydian Tourbillon, the first taken in daylight and the second taken by @barnyard_burke showing how it glows in the dark.
A photo posted by Scott Wilk (@wilkwatchworks) on
Niobium (ny-OH-bee-əm) or columbium (kə-LUM-bee-əm), is a chemical element with the symbol Nb and atomic number 41. It is a soft, grey, ductile transition metal, which is often found in the pyrochlore mineral, the main commercial source for niobium, and columbite. The name comes from Greek mythology: Niobe, daughter of Tantalus. (Source: wikipedia)
I started using niobium in my watches as a way to achieve colour, but with a different look from painting or printing colours, as is the norm in the watch industry. The process by which I achieve the bright and lustrous colours on niobium is called anodizing. It is basically running electricity through the dial in a water bath, using an anodizing machine. To achieve different colours, different voltages are used.
Because I make each watch by hand, I can offer different levels of customization, one of which is a variety of colour choices for your niobium dial. Here are the current colour selections with more to follow in the future. If purchasing a watch with a niobium dial, please specify the name of the colour you want during checkout or email me afterwards to let me know.
I can also create a gradation of colour on a dial if you wanted to have that kind of look. For an example, I can make the top of the dial Violet and transition the colour through Space Blue and finish with Light Blue at the bottom of the dial. If you are interested in this sort of look and want to know which colours can be transitioned into each other, please contact me. An example of one of my finished dials with graduated colouring is the Demarcated Quartz watch.
Please be aware that the final colour that appears on the dial may be slightly different from what you see on your screen as a result of varying colour settings on different computer monitors.
|Apple Green||Golden Yellow|
|Light Blue||Light Magenta|