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Early Process of Hand-Painted Watch Dials

During the early years of the American watch industry, each dial was meticulously hand-painted, proving to be one of the most time consuming elements in the production process. 

After the dial had completed the firing process, numeral indicators and the name of the watch company were applied in black enamel paint with a fine camel hair brush. 

Due to the delicate work, this job was often given to skilled female workers at the factory. The dial would proceed through a sequential process of marking guides and applying paint. 

Once the dial painting was finished, the dial was fired again to permanently set the enamel paint.

Hand-painted dials can be identified under magnification by the small imperfections evident in the brush strokes, contrasting the “stamp-like” appearance of dials marked with a transfer process.


Arabic Serpentine Dial – American Watch Company (Waltham)
Grade Appleton, Tracy & Co. – 18-Size, Model 1857, 15 Jewels, c.1859, Serial No. 17939.

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