What could be more frustrating than a damaged watch crystal? It's disheartening for any watch lover to see even the tiniest scratch on their timepiece. 

Since luxury is all about elegance and grace, having flawless crystal-clear glass is a top priority for watch enthusiasts. Moreover, the glass cover is like the face of the watch, and having transparent and clear crystal glass enhances the timeless beauty of your stylish timepiece.

It stands true that lost time can't be recovered, but scratched glass is a different story. Removing scratches from your glass is possible with some straightforward DIY techniques. Also, you might be skeptical about whether it's doable with home remedies, but it certainly is. Just follow simple instructions, and you can't go wrong!

Identify The Material Of Your Watch Crystal

When you're figuring out how to address scratched watch glass, the initial and most crucial step is recognizing the kind of crystal used in the watch. Various types of crystals serve as protective covers for the watch face, like acrylic crystal, mineral glass, sapphire crystal, and more. Each crystal type demands slightly different scratch removal methods.

Before the 1980s, almost all watches featured an acrylic crystal for shielding the dial and hands. Also, acrylic was usually the top choice for:

  • Its cost-effectiveness 
  • Its ability to be polished

Although you’ll still see acrylic crystals on less expensive watches, many manufacturers have shifted to mineral glass. For this reason, many watchmakers suggest replacing these crystals, considering the minimal cost in comparison to the parts and labour required for a DIY approach. Moreover, before you set out to eliminate those scratches from your watch glass, it's vital to determine the crystal type in use. 

Now, let's examine these crystals.

Acrylic Crystal

Acrylic crystal costs less than other crystal types in watches. It's lightweight and see-through, but it can crack easily. Luckily, you can remove surface scratches from the watch glass if they're not too deep. To fix watch face scratches:

  • Cover the watch dial's edge with a strap or band.
  • Use an abrasive agent and rub it in a circular motion on the scratched area with a polishing cloth.
  • Also, keep rubbing until the scratches vanish.

Mineral Glass

Mineral glass is the most common crystal used in today's watches. Why? Because of its durability, reliability, strength, and hardness. 

It's toughened by heating it at high temperatures and applying a hardening material, making it more robust than acrylic crystal with high scratch and shock resistance. However, this hardness also means it's not easy to polish out scratches. So, it's best to replace the crystal instead of attempting to remove scratches, as manual work for removal has little effect.

Sapphire Crystal

Sapphire crystal (as seen in this Tissot PRX watch) is the most sought-after watch crystal type. It's commonly found in expensive, high-quality watches, exuding luxury and refinement. Additionally, it ranks at 9 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it the second hardest substance on Earth after diamond. Essentially, only a diamond can scratch sapphire, making it the ultimate choice for a scratch-resistant watch face.

Moreover, removing scratches from sapphire crystal is more cost-effective than replacing it, which can sometimes cost you a couple hundred dollars. Well, it depends on the:

  • Watch type 
  • Glass size

It's wiser to buff out the scratches using some polishing methods and solutions. Because sapphire crystal is tougher than mineral glass, it might require extra effort but will save you money. 

Before you start with the repair process, it's good to assess and classify scratches as minor or major. Besides, these techniques work best for superficial scratches, so exerting considerable effort on unrepairable scratches will consume time and potentially lead to a shattered crystal.

The Detailed Procedure For Fixing Scratches

Step #1: Protect the Watch Bezel

To start, shield the watch bezel with tape or straps. This safeguard prevents potential damage to the watch components when applying and rubbing the polishing paste.

Step #2: Polish Away Scratches

  • After covering the bezel, apply a modest amount of polishing paste to the scratched area on the watch glass. 
  • Then, use a soft polishing cloth and rub in a circular motion to remove the scratches. 

This process might take a few minutes, so keep at it. Over time, you'll see the scratches gradually disappearing.

Step #3: Keep Polishing

While the scratches vanish slowly, continue the polishing. Apply a small amount of polishing paste to the remaining scratches, and use a fresh piece of polishing cloth for a more refined finish on your watch glass. Once the crystal returns to its original clarity, remove excess paste and check for any remaining imperfections, striving for a crystal-clear glass.

Step #4: Repeat (If Necessary)

If some scratches persist, repeat the second and third steps. Yet, if all the scratches are gone, remove any remnants of the polishing agents from the glass, thoroughly clean it, and you're all set!

Can Toothpaste Remove Watch Scratches?

Toothpaste is not an effective solution for removing scratches from your watch. While it may work on certain types of glass and mirrors, it doesn't yield the same results on metal surfaces. Moreover, toothpaste can interact with your watch's metal or crystal and cause more harm than good. Some people suggest that toothpaste acts as a mild polishing agent, but it lacks the abrasive properties of diamond paste or specially formulated watch polish.

Given that proper watch polish is relatively affordable, it's a safer choice than risking damage to your valuable watch, from the case to the bracelet.

Note: If you're dealing with minor scratches on the watch face, you can use toothpaste as a gentle abrasive. Besides, simply follow the same steps as mentioned earlier.

In Instances Of Irreplaceable Damage

When considering replacement crystal faces, it's beneficial to explore alternative options like plexiglass. It offers the advantage that it doesn't require a complete replacement if your watch sustains minor scratches. However, it's worth noting that plexiglass is more prone to acquiring light scratches and scuffs compared to sapphire watch crystals.

Moreover, plexiglass is commonly used as a crystal replacement in watches intended for more demanding activities, such as dive and pilot watches. In contrast, sapphire and mineral glass crystals are more commonly found in higher-end daily luxury and dress watches.

Further, glass is softer than sapphire glass, making it easier to chafe or scuff the surface or screen protector. This soft nature also allows for the effective removal of unwanted scratches through proper buffing in a circular motion. On the other hand, the hard surface of the sapphire crystal makes it highly resistant to scrapes but nearly impossible to repair should it get nicked.

What About The Scratches On The Rest Of Your Watch?

Before you embark on a DIY watch-polishing project, take heed of some important considerations:

Value of Vintage Watches

Polishing a watch's case can potentially reduce the value of a valuable vintage timepiece. 

  • It may alter the case's shape noticeably.
  • It won't return to its original factory finish. 

The watch's unique character will be irreversibly changed, although it's worth considering that scratches also impact its character, so there's a tradeoff to weigh.

Professional Finishes

Moreover, most watches have their finishes applied using specialized equipment and skills. It's best to entrust this task to professionals, whether you send the watch to the brand for servicing or have a skilled jeweller or watchmaker handle it. Also, a watchmaker can disassemble the watch and treat its components correctly while attempting it as an amateur carries risks.

For Do-It-Yourselfers!

With all that said, if you possess the patience, a knack for DIY work, and are determined to address minor scratches, read on for the next steps.

Identify the Surface Finish with Scratches

Metal surfaces come with various finishes, such as:

  • Polished
  • Brushed
  • Matte

Each requires different considerations. Further, you wouldn't want a polished spot on a predominantly brushed surface, and handling scratched matte or bead-blasted finishes is typically a job for professionals. The aim is to closely match the existing finish and those of the surrounding surfaces.

Scratch Removal from Polished Surfaces

When it comes to removing scratches from polished areas of a timepiece, there are several methods, but a jeweller's cloth is a practical choice. One side of it contains powder that fills in the scratches, while the other side keeps your hand clean and is used for final cleaning. While this approach can yield satisfactory results, you might still notice remnants of the scrapes.

Scratch Removal from Brushed Surfaces

Brushed or satin finishes consist of a series of consistent scratches on the metal. Moreover, addressing scratches on these surfaces involves refinishing the metal. Brushed finishes can range from fine to coarse and subtle to deep. The key is to match both the polishing material and the pressure applied to maintain consistency with the existing finish, preventing a noticeable patch.

Additionally, jewellers use specialized tools and supplies for this task, but if you're taking the DIY route, gently use a tool brush, like an eraser, following the grain (wearing latex gloves can protect your skin from fibreglass).

Can You Buff Stainless Steel Watches?

Buffing does help remove scratches, but it's not the whole solution. After buffing, it's essential to follow up with polishing to achieve the desired shine for the cleaned surface. The stainless steel case itself can also undergo buffing to address scratches, but there are limits to what can be accomplished.

However, when dealing with deep scratches, excessive buffing can actually remove so much metal that it compromises the watch's quality.

Bottom Line

The first step would always be taking care of your timepiece in a way that never comes down to you searching for these remedies. However, maybe you have a family heirloom that wasn’t treated politely or is too old. Either way, you can’t let go of something so important so easily. 

So, you should keep coming back to Bijoux Eclore’s website for more tips and make sure your watch is shining as the day it first touched your wrist. We also have an extensive collection of watches that you might want to explore. Being authorised retailers for luxury watch brands, you’re surely going to find one masterpiece after another. 

A true heaven for watch lovers!