Watch Plating 101 Primer 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14

Factors

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factor 6 - Color and tint: Matching the original color of your vintage watch is important to assure an authentic and aesthetically pleasing look that best duplicates its original factory finish!

Contrary to popular belief the color of the gold plating has very little direct relationship to the purity rating of the gold being used. Different goldplated colors are achieved by adding small amounts of alloy metals to change the "color and tint" of the final gold plated finish.

As an example, if your watch had a designation of "14 karat gold plating", that color was probably achieved by adding small amounts of either nickel, cobalt or palladium (or combinations of all of them) to "pale it down" from the distinctive yellow-orange color of pure 24 karat gold. Other techniques such as changing the temperature of the plating bath, adjusting the d.c. voltage, or simple agitation of the watch case in the plating bath, can allow the color of the plated gold to be modified even more.The goldplated layer might still be 90% pure gold, but its color would look like it is a 14 karat gold finish (actual 14 karat gold is 58% pure relative to 24karat which is 99.99% gold). Therefore you should know that when you designate a 14kt or 18kt goldplated finish for your watch, the final finish color may have no direct relationship to the actual gold purity deposited on the watch.

As a sidebar, with the exception of large scale or high volume plating jobs, the actual cost differences between 14kt color goldplated and 24 karat color goldplated items are insignificant. In actuality, yellow 14 karat hard gold platings for watches (5-7 microns) are more difficult to plate (i.e. embrittlement from internal stressing,) but are far more durable than non-alloyed pure 24 karat color goldplated finishes.

With this family of 14 karat color goldplating finishes it is quite easy to duplicate many of the "yellow hamilton" gold colors used in the fifties and sixties on mid to high priced watches. In addition, they have great color, excellent scratch resistance, look less garish, or fake than the 22kt or 24kt color goldplated finishes. If your looking for more exotic colors for your watch, green gold ,rose gold, gray gold and purple gold plated finishes are also available. These types of gold plated finishes have been alloyed with other metals to achieve their color. They still appear gold, but have a "tint" to their finish from the alloy that was added to the plating bath.

Beware, some of the highly advertised "secret formula" 99.9% pure 24 karat goldplated finishes that are being offered. They appear bluish-yellow (cobalt alloyed) in color and are far from the desirable "warm yellow" color of the original watch finish. That does not mean that their finish is not durable or executed well, but they will have an undesireable color.

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