• Apprentice
    12 May 2023, 8:32 p.m.

    Good evening,

    I am looking for some advice, I sent my watch for authentication and received
    the attached reply. As collectors would you change the dial and hands or leave
    them as originals?

    Thanks in advance,


    Dear Mr. Johnson,

    I hope this email finds you well and you are enjoying your day.

    I am glad to inform you that your Vintage open-face pocket watch cal.52 has
    been registered with reference 43312682 and it has been shipped to

    In our manufacture, our specialists have verified that your timepiece has a
    higher radiation level than our accepted tolerance and we can only repair it
    according to our safety regulations, under special conditions and in a
    specially protected atmosphere.

    Since you asked only for the Certificate of Authenticity, we need to inform
    you that it can only be issued together with the decontamination and whole
    intervention such as the dial and hands replacement because they are

    Moreover, we need to remove and substitute them in a controlled atmosphere and
    disposed of properly.

    If you do not agree to the replacement of the dial and hands, we have to
    return the watch unrepaired.

    The provisional cost ceiling for this special procedure (including the
    additional repair of the watch, replacement of the crown and certificate)
    amounts to between approximately CHF 4,000.00 to CHF 5,000.00.

    Please, be aware that in order to perform a diagnosis and make a detailed cost
    estimate for the necessary work, the dial and hands must first be removed and
    disposed of. This cannot be reversed if the cost estimate is then rejected.

    In this way, our watchmakers can proceed with the precise examination
    according to which they will issue the certificate of authenticity.

    Finally, according to this diagnosis, they will verify if some other spare
    parts need to be replaced.
    We would like you to be aware that if the spare parts for the repair are not
    available and can no longer be produced, we reserve the right to return the
    watch unrepaired and to charge the costs already incurred.

    In order to proceed with the service, we need your written agreement to
    proceed with the decontamination and dial and hands replacement, please.

    Hoping it is a clear information to you, I thank you in advance for your
    attention and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards,

    IWC Concierge Services
    +44 207 075 07 33

    Catch IWC CEO Chris Grainger talk with creators and pioneers about watches,
    visions and everyday life. Listen to the latest episode of IWC's podcast
    Partners in Time

  • Master
    12 May 2023, 9:05 p.m.

    I don't believe you should change the dial or hands! Please, NO!

    There is, I believe, Swiss law saying the high radiation on old watches needs
    to be removed, and IWC service is just following this, but it would be a
    terrible mistake to have that done. Find someone who will service the watch
    without replacing the best parts.

    Just my opinion, but I believe most purist collectors will agree.

    Good luck.

  • Apprentice
    12 May 2023, 9:08 p.m.

    Thanks Nelson, I thought I should leave well alone. Could you recommend

  • Master
    12 May 2023, 11:07 p.m.

    Well, depends on where you live. I'm sure if you are comfortable posting a
    country, Forum members will chime in with suggestions.

  • Apprentice
    13 May 2023, 7:39 a.m.

    I live in the UK, but happy to travel. Very interested in seeing the movement
    in action, I imagine it is beautiful.

  • Master
    13 May 2023, 9:49 a.m.

    Sending it in minus the dial may have been more fruitful.

  • Apprentice
    13 May 2023, 7:52 p.m.

    Good point, thank you Catherine. I think I'm going to have to start over and
    will follow your advice.

  • Master
    13 May 2023, 10:05 p.m.

    Big up the Stewman...please keep the forum versed with millions of pic's..

    Buy a c.52 mvmnt for a parts donor and sit on it. ....there are people in the
    uk who
    could straighten it..if you dont find em in a rush it doesnt matter, youve
    done the hard work. Enjoy the journey.

    Leave the case and have the dial crumbs arrested.

  • Apprentice
    14 May 2023, 9:41 a.m.

    Thank you Catherine,

    The journey has been very interesting so far. I have become obsessed with the
    provenance. My late grandfather told my aunt that he was given the watch by a
    German paratrooper in occupied France.

    The crown is interesting. A gentleman that I met yesterday described it as
    _Kintsugi.. A repair that might have increased the value, given its own
    provenance. _Note the serrated edge on the crown, this is also seen on the
    crown of the first wrist watch made by IWC, also see attached pocket watch
    with the same design. He told me not to have it changed to a conical crown,
    and to leave history alone.

    There are numbers crudely scratched into the inside of the case beside the
    serial number, I'm not sure what they relate to, but fascinated to find out.

    Is there a database of the remaining watches?

    I fear that I may have caught an incurable bug!

    I promise to share the watches journey.

  • Connoisseur
    14 May 2023, 12:01 p.m.

    Hi, beautiful watch with a very interesting history.

    The scratched numbers are most likely the markings put there by a watchmaker
    after servicing. My watchmaker always does this and when I leave the watch for
    service he can see in his books when the watch was last serviced.

    As far as I know there is no database that keeps track of the signatures, it
    would be interesting to know by whom, when and where the service was done.

    And by the way, I fully agree with those who says that you should not have the
    dial and hands replaced. The radiation is not harmful to you, but can be to a
    service person that handles lots of watches like this.

    Best regards,

    Henrik in Sweden

  • Master
    14 May 2023, 5:10 p.m.

    The lume of these watches most likely contains radium. The half-life of radium
    is 1600 years and the radiation intensity is much stronger than tritium lume
    with a half-life of only 12 years.

    Radium's radiation isn't the biggest problem, it's crumbling lume.
    Unfortunately, luminous masses always start crumbling, it's only a matter of

    If even tiny particles of the luminous material get into the lungs, serious
    illness can occur.

    And one more aspect. New owners (every watch gets new owners at some point)
    has no idea that the newly acquired watch is contaminated with radium.

    Radium is a long-term problem, remaining radioactive for a few thousand years.
    That's why I would have it converted to SL luminous materials, because then
    this watch will also be suitable for the future.


  • Connoisseur
    14 May 2023, 5:30 p.m.

    Hi again,

    Hebe is absolutely right. Superluminova is the way to go. There should be
    someone willing to change to SL on the dial and hands.


  • Apprentice
    15 May 2023, 7:51 a.m.

    Hi Hebe,

    This information is really useful, I appreciate your input. Is the application
    of superluminova common when replacing radium lume?

    Kind regards,


  • Master
    16 May 2023, 7:50 a.m.

    Is it common to use Superluminova when replacing radium lamps?

    I am not aware of any other alternative. Just replacing dial and hands.


  • Apprentice
    16 May 2023, 8:29 a.m.

    Hi Henrik,

    The numbers don't look like dates. We don't think that the watch hasn't been
    serviced or repaired since the Second World War.

    Kind regards,


  • Connoisseur
    16 May 2023, 4:33 p.m.


    My guess is that the numbers are the watchmaker's job number. If the watch is
    returned for a new service he can check his ledger for the number and there
    the date will be recorded.

    Best regards


  • Apprentice
    17 May 2023, 10:46 a.m.

    Hi David,

    Thank you for the advice, your input is appreciated. I feel as though I am
    stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    I'd like to get the piece authenticated and learn about its background, I need
    to see if IWC will do this with the hands and dial removed. I'm looking for a
    good horologist to potentially carry out this work, if you can recommend
    anyone in the UK I'd appreciate it.

    If IWC won't authenticate without the dial and hands, then I feel that I have
    to go down the route of replacing the radium with Superluminova, as advised by
    Hebe earlier in the chat. Hoping that the levels of radiation are reduced
    enough for the authenticity process to be carried out.

    I would like to learn as much as I can about the watch, its inscriptions, the
    crown, and the journey that took it to France during the war. To do this I
    need IWC's input, but don't want to spoil the watch in the process.

    I'll present these questions to IWC and will also seek the advice of

    Thanks again,


  • Master
    17 May 2023, 10:43 p.m.

    Beware of DAVIDOLIVER. Although the advice may seem sound, it was generated by
    a chatbot, as evidenced by the first sentence:

    "If you are referring to "Beobachtungs-Uhren," which translates to
    Watches" in English, it depends on the specific circumstances and your
    personal preferences."

    If DAVIDOLIVER was a person, they would have seen the second image that was
    posted with "B-UHR" clearly engraved inside the caseback, and would not have
    questioned what you are referring to.

    It is interesting that these chatbots can engage in basic conversation, but
    still are not ready to analize images (at least for civilian purposes).