Patina or Water Damage?

by Javier Arranz

If you’ve been in this world for just a few months, I’m sure you’ve heard about the term “patina”. You may have come across some videos or posts relating to this matter.

Patina or water damage? Meanwhile some people try to hide the real meaning of that term, the most simple and honest answer is the following:

Like it or not, patina is water damage. This water damage causes the ageing of the dial in a really particular and unique way. It may turn a dark brown, usually called “tropical” among collectors, or it may cause some bubbling on the watch dial. Now, it is certain that patina can make a watch more attractive throughout collectors and newcomers to the industry. For example, we can see heavy patina’ed watches that are really sought after:

Omega Speedmaster ref 105.003 Source: OnlyVintage

From my honest point of view, I think patina is one of the most charming features of a vintage watch. Is it water damage (or humidity)? Yes. But, as long as the inner workings of the watch are clean, I would definately buy watches with patina. And I have.

One thing that collectors defend, and that I agree on, is that patina gives the watch its character and its personality. Your aged watch is unique, and once it’s sold or gone, it’s gone forever. I remember when I first bought a heavy patina’ed watch. It was an Omega Seamaster calendar.

Omega Seamaster Calendar Source: Stem&Bezel

It was just beautiful. That orange-brown dial made it unique! And I loved it. So, after defining and seeing some patina, here are some tips to help you buy watches with patina:

  • Always take a look at the movement. If the dial has been exposed to humidity, there’s also a high chance of the movement being in need of a service (if it hasn’t alredy been done).
  • Uniform patina, usually is more collectible than random spots of patina throughout the dial.
  • The brown-ish, the better. We really enjoy tropical dials.
  • Be careful with chronograph watches that are heavy patina’ed, as the servicing costs for those are more expensive.
  • Buy what you really like.

I hope now everything is more clear around the famous term that, altough beautiful, it’s still damage.

You may also like

Leave a Comment