I am a terrible person for tinkering with things. I am not what you would call a watch modder, nor a professional in any capacity (my Masters Degree did not involve any tools beyond an iPad/Laptop to be honest — I mean, sure, I used a pen and paper too, but that’s just old habits) let alone near watches. However, I am from a long line of people that have more toolboxes than is necessarily normal (I am at three or four, modestly sized ones — still a baby) and a tendency towards make-do and mend, repair, modification, and creation. My first springbar tool was in fact an old small screwdriver, that my father ground a notch into, but I digress.
Lumed bezels are… kind of cool. That cool Bond film watch from Omega had one. Various brands now put them on the odd model. Another affordable Chinese brand even makes this exact watch with one as the only difference, but I can’t remember its name, and am not looking to buy a new watch for that feature alone. You can buy aftermarket ones in various designs (not, annoyingly, this one, or this would be a quicker experience too) or you can do something a bit daft.
You can lume it yourself.
Here, I have used a Sakura Glow-In-The-Dark Solid Marker. (About thirteen quid on Amazon) I first got one years ago for putting stars on the ceiling for my little one — then did my own room too, because it was fun. Oh, and outlines on the fuse box and light switches.
I may have got carried away.
This is actually the second time I have done this, on this exact watch, as I got bored the first time and didn’t like the slight downsides. (More on that later) Which brings up the first advantage of this over the possibly easier and more controlled version — paint. Unlike that, this is utterly reverseable. (Hand gel and a soft bristle toothbrush, or mineral oil and the same most likely)
First, I literally poke it into the recessed numbers with a ‘pegwood’ — or as we call them in the real non-YouTube watch repair world, which can be oddly Blue Peter at times, a cocktail stick. Because the nature of the pen is like very soft glue stick (Pritt, Bostik, UHU, you know the ones) on a hot day, you basically have to cake it. Do try to not get it too much between the bezel and the case, and do not do this unless you know the bezel insert is ceramic, the crystal sapphire, or that you might wreck the watch. You probably won’t, but if you kill your sub or seamaster, that’s on you ok?
Like so. Then you leave it for 24 hours, to really let it cure. It’s hard stuff. Do not make the mistake I did of rubbing it down with anything hugely abrasive (ceramic is not a hundred percent scratch proof, trust me, things that will restore a brushed finish on you watch may also scratch ceramic if you… oh, I don’t know, don’t pay attention and rub furiously at it with a scouring pad. Say between the fifty and the lume pip. Off the top of my head.) instead go at it gently, the object is to clean off everything except what you want to keep in the bezel markings. What I did, was soak the watch face down in mineral oil (not spirits, we’re not ghosting an ally bezel here, nor taking the insert out) then go at it with my thumbnail, cocktail stick, and finish with a nice bit of microfibre polishing cloth. Then, against all hope, it looked like this:
As you can see, there’s a few bits needing more filling. That’s ok, I know from last year that I can just do very localised areas rather than go all in like this again. A UV torch makes it much easier than standing in the sun, then into a cupboard, to work out which bits you missed.
But also as you can see, it works.
Is it waterproof?
Yeah. How else do I get the mineral oil off so the bezel isn’t slicker than a Rolex wearer in a Hugo Boss suit at a speed dating event in Thurrock? (No offence to my Lakeside massive. Nor the Rolex Massive. Hugo Boss fans… yeah. You’re maybe alright too.) Washing up liquid, and a gentle scrub. It’s still gonna be a bit unset at this point, but I can confirm this method survives at least baths and showers. Assuming you don’t go at it with anything bristled when you’re in there, and why would you?
So… the only other downside not obvious from the process, is that it does lighten the inlays ever so slightly in certain lights. It’s very slight, and partially caused by how glowy it is. (I think it’s basically glue with whatever Citizen lume their watches with in) This watch now looks like this:
Which — is alright. Sure, last time I scrubbed it all out again. But I am fussy and indecisive. I don’t need Snoopy on a watch, I need good ole wish washy Charlie Brown.
It makes up for the rather naff lume pip on my Pagani, and I can embrace the stealthy lifestyle of James Bond, by having my wrist light up like Blackpool as soon as it gets dark. And speaking of Lume pips, it’s rather good for adding or replacing them, and you can even apply a thin ink layer on top and still keep the glow if the pale white tint annoys you too much. Like so:
Because a dive bezel watch with lumed hands really needs a pip to function properly doesn’t it?
Now, you can do this yourself on whatever you fancy, but again — choose wisely, be prepared to balls it up, and if you do, it’s not my fault. This is information only really. But tinkering is fun, and as Neil would say…
That’s an Art Attack. Try it yourself!