Breitling Chronograph Restoration

Case Bezel Machining, Dial Printing and Hand Fitting

Here, I’m going to write about our work with a vintage, 18K gold Breitling chronograph. Is has a few problems: the bezel is missing, the dial is tarnished and stained, and both seconds hands are also missing.

18K gold Breitling chronograph damaged dial

As is, do you think it has the potential to become a beautiful and beloved timepiece?

The movement can be identified by its 45-minute chronograph counter positioned at “12” (pictured above).

It’s famous Venus 170 caliber (below).

Breitling chronograph Venus 170 movement

The Venus logo is visible on the balance cock.

For this project we fully stripped down and serviced the movement, but in this review we will focus more on the complex problems, such as the dial and case restoration.

New Bezel Machining

First of all, we create a model of the front bezel, based on actual case sizes.

New chronograph bezel modelling – it will be about 11 grams of gold.

A more detailed review of the case and bezel making process can be found in our Ulysse Nardin 14K gold making project.

The metal blank is then machined in 0,005 – 0,10 mm tolerances, and with numerous fitting checks to the actual case to ensure that it fits properly.

Watch case gold bezel making lathe
Our new bezel machine on a small lathe.

The next step is crystal mounting and hands fitting. Fitting the hands is not quite as easy as you’d think, as we have to use hands that are roughly the same age and style as the rest of the watch, using original vintage spares only, not new.

All fitted hands must strictly comply with three parameters:

  • Size
  • Style
  • Deep blue tone
Venus 170 Breitling chronograph
The newly fitted vintage hands. Note the Venus logo – a star on a shield, ‘170’ caliber code.

Breitling Chronograph Dial Printing

The stains and tarnish on the dial are not really dust, but actually a corrosion in the lacquer layer. To get rid of this damage we will have to strip off all the remaining paint, and then make a new print on the original plate.

Typical stages of dial restoration:

  1. Original dial scanning, retouching where needed
  2. Precise computer modelling of dial layout – lines, numerals, indices, signatures
  3. Creating a typographic matrix for each printing layer
  4. Stripping off the dial plate and cleaning it down to the naked metal
  5. New galvanic base layer – gold/silver plating
  6. Printing all layers of the dial, and then drying
  7. Protection varnish
Breitling chronograph dial restoration
Here we have the newly printed dial on the original vintage plate
Breitling chronograph dial
Particular attention is paid to the style, thickness, layout, markings, and positioning of the numerals.

After the dial is ready, we will mount it and make some final adjustments.

18K gold Breitling chronograph, restored dial

Of course, any original dial is much more of a collectible item than a restored dial. We reprint the dials only in case of really significant damage, and never recommend renewing the dial in basic restoration cases.

Ready to be shipped to the customer.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via e-mail , or via our Contacts page. Our shop is based in Bristol, United Kingdom.

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