all seen Whats Hot & Whats Not lists. Right
now, Jennifer Lopez is hot. Kool and the Gang is not. Boot Cut jeans are
hot and acid washed jeans are not. But what about watches? Ah, watches
a timeless (pun intended) item that never goes out of style.
are functional as well as beautiful, and for that reason, they are and
will remain a mainstay in jewelry sales. In fact, watches are often considered
one of the most important products in terms of overall jewelry sales,
right up there with diamond jewelry, gold jewelry and loose diamonds.
are popular as gifts, awards and incentives. People buy watches for themselves
and as gifts for holidays and special occasions, such as graduations,
anniversaries and birthdays. Watches also make excellent corporate awards
and business gifts. Presentation watches watches given to commemorate
years of service or retirement from a company are a tradition in
the business world.
a watch is given as a gift or as an award, engraving always adds a special
touch. Personalizing a watch with a special message adds sentimental value
to the item and, in the case of business gifts and incentives, can also
serve to recognize individual achievements. From the retailers viewpoint,
perhaps one of the most appealing features of selling engraved watches
is that they are seldom, if ever, returned for exchange or refund. Once
a watch has been engraved, it is considered un-returnable by both the
customer and the retailer.
on watches also presents another avenue for expanding your services and
increasing profits, especially in the case of presentation watches. Many
companies have ongoing programs in which employees are presented a watch
after a certain number of years of service with the company. Offering
watches and watch engraving services to these customers can mean high
volume business on a regular basis.
up on your watch engraving skills can also provide the opportunity to
work with area merchandisers. For example, a local jeweler or department
store may sell watches but not provide engraving services, and you may
offer engraving services but not watches. A marriage of these two services
can mean lucrative business for both parties.
the popularity of watches, in general, has remained constant over the
years, styles have changed to keep up with the times. Today, watches are
available in a wide range of prices and styles, from inexpensive sports
watches to more elaborate, jewel-encrusted watches.
article focuses on pantograph engraving, which is still the most popular
method used for engraving most jewelry items, including watches. Some
shops engrave watches by computer, but many engravers still feel more
comfortable engraving expensive jewelry items manually.
of the newer watch styles are a little trickier to engrave due to their
unusual shapes and different band styles. However, successfully engraving
any watch only takes a little know-how and a few helpful hints and techniques,
which this article will provide.
engraving watches involves a few basic steps: selecting the message, selecting
a typestyle, arranging the message (layout) on the watch back, holding
the watch in the engraving machine, and engraving. Following these procedures
makes watch engraving a simple and straightforward task. Interestingly
all of these steps, except the actual engraving, are common to both manual
and computerized engraving.
Selecting The Message
message to be engraved on the back of a watch typically depends on three
factors: the available engraving space, the purpose of the watch (for
example, is it a gift watch or a presentation watch?) and customer preference.
for presentation watches often consist of the company name or logo, the
recipients name, and the date of retirement or the number of years
of service to the company. A typical message for a presentation watch
would read Brown Mfg. Corp., 25 Years of Service, Cliff Clevenger.
given as gifts often include the recipients name, the givers
name, a descriptive message and a date. Typical messages that are engraved
on watches could be B.J.H., 10 Happy Years, K.L.H., 6-15-03,
Cassandra, Sweet 16, Love Mom & Dad, or To Martin Stevenson
on your retirement, etc.
watches are engraved for personalization purposes only, as a safeguard
against loss or theft. Engraving the recipients name, initials or
monogram is popular for this.
recipients name is the most important element of the message. Whenever
possible, use the persons entire name (first and last). If space
permits, you can also use the persons middle initial, e.g. Cliff
in mind, however, that the amount of engravable space on watches is limited,
and this can impact the wording of the message. This is especially true
of womens watches, which are usually smaller than mens watches.
Many watches also have manufacturers markings stamped on the back,
e.g. stainless steel or a serial or model number, which further
limits the engraving area.
to the limited engraving area on most watches, it is often necessary to
abbreviate the message in order to make it fit. Remember that the clarity
of the message is important, so avoid over abbreviating that is,
abbreviating to the point the message appears cryptic and loses its meaning.
have several options for shortening a persons name to fit on the
back of a watch. If the persons name only needs to be shortened
slightly to fit within the engravable area, first try dropping the middle
initial. Some people also go by a shortened version of their given name;
for example, Clifton may go by Cliff.
its necessary to abbreviate a persons name, start by using
the first two initials followed by the surname, e.g. C.D. Clevenger. Another
option is to use the persons three initials, e.g. C.D.C. When engraving
initials, keep in mind that all three initials are engraved at the same
size, and a period normally follows each character, although some engraving
typestyles are designed to incorporate a star or similar design between
the letters rather than periods after them.
are one of the easiest parts of the message to abbreviate without losing
clarity. For example, January 1, 2003 can be abbreviated to read Jan.
1, 2003 or 1-1-03.
other common words can be abbreviated in the interest of saving space.
Words such as years, service and graduate can be shortened (yrs., ser.,
grad.) without detracting from the message.
youre faced with shortening a message to fit within a given area,
keep in mind a few golden rules: Do not over abbreviate, always abbreviate
for clarity, and always check with the customer first before changing
are another appealing watch engraving option. A monogram is a stylized
arrangement of a persons initials, usually including the first name
initial, last name initial and middle name initial, in that order. The
initial for the last name is normally larger than the other two. Monograms
are not only an attractive method of personalization, but they are a good
choice when space is a factor.
Selecting The Typestyle
selecting the message to be engraved, the next step is to choose an appropriate
typestyle. In general, single and double-line typestyles work best for
engraving messages containing complete words on watches due to the small
engraving area. Three-line, four-line and ornate styles, such as Ornamental
Block, often appear crowded and difficult to read when engraved at a small
selection depends primarily on customer preference and the recipients
gender. For instance, plain block typestyles, such as Double-Line Century,
are often preferred by men, whereas Script appears more delicate and is
a frequent choice for women. Miniature typestyles, including single-line
block and single-line script, are one of the most popular choices for
watch engraving due to inherent space limitations.
the watch recipient is female and the engraving consists of her name,
a date and the givers name, Double-Line Script or Miniature Script
are common choices. If a female recipients initials are to be engraved,
Upright Script is often a better alternative. An upright typestyle appears
visually balanced within the engraving area as opposed to slanted fonts,
which often give the illusion of being slightly off-center, particularly
when used for engraving initials.
Block or Double-Line Century are popular choices for engraving a males
name on a watch. Descriptive messages are often engraved using block styles,
such as Double-Line Century. Script is also frequently used for messages
when the watch is being given as a gift to a man from a woman. Popular
styles for engraving a mans initials include various block letters
or Old English.
you will be engraving a monogram on a watch, there are a variety of typestyles
to choose from. Monogramming typesets are available that contain two or
three character sizes in the same set, thereby eliminating the need to
change the engraving ratio to accomplish the different letter sizes. Some
of the monogramming typesets, such as New Hermes Circle and Diamond
Monograms, also have distinct characters for the left, right and center
initials. Circle Monogram, for example, includes distinct characters that
create a monogram in the shape of a nearly perfect circle. Standard typestyles,
such as Upright Script or Old English,
can also be used for monograms by engraving outer letters a smaller size.
Popular choices for engraving a monogram on a womans watch include
Circle Monogram or Interlocking Script Monogram. Interlocking Script is
an especially attractive choice, since this typestyle places the initials
in an elaborate interlocked configuration. For engraving monograms on
mens watches, Circle Monogram or Old English are common choices.
watches can present a somewhat different situation when it comes to choosing
a typestyle. Customers purchasing presentation watches will typically
order several watches at one time and the watches usually have a standard
layout and a message which is repeated on each watch. Often, the only
changing copy is the recipients name, years of service to the company
and the year or the retirement date. In these situations, it can be very
time-consuming to layout the message individually for engraving each watch.
custom master template is a real time-saver for engraving presentation
watches. These templates, which contain all of the standard, repetitive
information, are relatively easy to create in-house and can be well worth
the extra effort. Besides saving layout and setup time, a master template
also helps to ensure uniformity and reduce errors.
you have selected the message and the typestyle to be engraved, the next
step is to position the engraving on the watch back. As discussed earlier,
many watch backs contain manufacturer markings which you need to fit the
message around. Figure 1 shows a few layout options to be examined in
the section that follows.
the marks appear in the middle of the watch back, one option is to circular
(arc) engrave (Fig. 1A). Using this technique, the message can be read
from beginning to end without interruption and the overall layout is very
attractive. In fact, many customers might actually prefer this decorative
layout regardless of the space available.
If the manufacturers marks extend from left to right across the
watch back, leaving little room around the edges for arc lettering, the
common practice is to engrave in between the marks (Fig. 1B). For the
most appealing layout, always engrave the message parallel to and in the
same direction as the existing marks, even when they appear diagonally
across the watch back (Fig. 1C).
in engraving any jewelry item lies in appropriate holding techniques.
If you can properly hold a watch in the engraving machine, you should
have no difficulty engraving it. The goal is to hold the watch securely
without applying pressure to the crown or function buttons, denting the
watch case, causing the crystal to break or pop out or otherwise damaging
are typically held from side to side in the engraving machine with the
crown pointing to the left. And, as just mentioned, the engraving should
be aligned with any existing markings on the watch back. The most convenient
and foolproof holding method can be achieved by rotating the work holder
90 degrees (sideways) and locking it in that position. If existing markings
are oriented diagonally on the watch back, you may need to rotate the
work holder slightly more or less than 90 degrees in order to align the
Hermes watch-holding jigs work well for holding a variety of different
watches. These jigs feature a round watch-holding surface and a flat bracelet-holding
surface. The watch side of the jigs contains several notches to accommodate
various crowns and function buttons without placing pressure on them.
This side of the jigs is well suited for holding many styles of mens
watches (Fig. 2) and pendant watches (watches suspended from a chain worn
around the neck).
bracelet side of the jigs has a shallower holding surface and can be used
for holding mens square or rectangular watches and a variety of
womens watches (Fig. 3) that have a relatively flat face. This side
of the jigs can also be used for clamping more unusual watch shapes, e.g.
oblong or hexagonal.
noted at the beginning of this article, watches are available in a variety
of sizes, shapes and styles, some of which may present some tricky holding
situations. Special attention must be given to watches with asymmetrical
or odd shapes, multiple or oddly-placed crowns or function buttons, thick
or faceted crystals, or unusual bezels. You may have noted that a number
of todays popular watches defy safe holding with any of the normal
Hermes multi-purpose holding jigs can be used for many of these
problem watches. These jigs contain a series of brass gripper fingers
which individually adjust to fit the contours of the watch. If you use
these jigs, remember that the metal gripper fingers can scratch the metal
watch case. To avoid damage, try applying several layers of masking tape
to the edges of the watch so that there is no direct metal-to-metal contact.
possible holding solution is to use silhouette holding jigs. These aluminum
jigs contain a series of holes and include a set of positioning pins.
To use these jigs, you place the watch face down on the jigs and position
the pins in the various holes to surround the watch and hold it securely
(Fig. 4). Here again, its a good idea to cover the crystal and the
sides of the watch with masking tape to avoid scratches.
some cases, the standard pins included with the silhouette jigs may be
too short to securely clamp certain watches. They are also made of steel,
so they tend to mark soft gold cases. To solve this problem, you can make
a set of longer pins using a 1/8" diameter brazing rod.
brazing rod is a type of welding rod but it is made of brass instead of
steel. Brass rod is generally sold by welding equipment suppliers in pre-cut,
36" lengths for around $5 to $6 per pound. Many welding shops, however,
will supply you with a single length for little or no cost. You can then
use a hack saw or bolt cutter to cut the welding rod into lengths which
will accommodate thicker watches.
none of the options mentioned work for holding a particular watch, you
may prefer to remove the back from the watch and hold it separately. (Note:
We do not recommend this technique unless you are well-versed in watch
repair.) Gravograph-New Hermes jewelry-holding jigs often work well
for this purpose. This should eliminate nearly all of the holding problems
associated with some of the new watch styles.
addition to holding different shapes and styles of watches, you might
encounter a few problems with certain styles of watch bands. Some bands
will simply hang over the ends of the work holder and out of the way,
while others will interfere with the graver. Bangles and some bracelet
(metal) bands often will not lay flat enough for the graver to clear.
In these instances, you can remove the bands by depressing one end of
the pin which holds the band to the lugs (the metal appendages extending
from the watch case) until it clears the lug from the inside. You can
then slip the band out. A spring bar tool is available specifically for
this purpose and can be purchased from a jewelers supply company.
watches, where the watch and band form one continuous loop, can also present
holding problems. This type of band can be separated at the clasp by depressing
the adjustment pin with a spring bar tool and slipping the clasp end of
the band out. This will allow each end of the band to hang over the work
holder and out of the way.
watches have an expansion band that can be wrapped around the jigs and
held clear of the graver. If the band is too short or too inflexible,
you can remove one end of the band and let it hang over the opposite end
of the work holder.
Pendant watch chains usually do not pose holding problems, but because
they are quite long, there is the possibility that they can become entangled
in the work holder mechanism. This can be avoided by either draping the
chain around the jigs and out of the way, or by removing the chain entirely.
the watch is held securely in the engraving machine for manual engraving,
the next step is to select an engraving ratio. A visual chart of popular
styles and sizes can be found in most type catalogs and can be a helpful
aid in selecting an appropriate ratio. Simply compare the available engraving
space to the type sizes shown in the chart. This can be accomplished visually
or by using a pair of machinists dividers.
selecting the ratio, position the work holder and double-check the placement
of the engraving. A popular technique for doing this is to use the cellophane
tape method. Cover the watch back with several layers of cellophane tape,
then use the graver to lightly engrave a dot in the tape at the outer
extremities of the message. Make any necessary adjustments and check the
positioning again, if necessary.
proceeding to engrave, double-check the message. Make sure youre
using the proper wording, that the names are spelled correctly and that
the dates are correct. When you are ready to engrave, use light, constant
engraving pressure and make several passes instead of one heavy pass for
the best results.
engraving each line, check for missing letter strokes and uneven engraving
depths and correct any problems before moving the work holder or removing
the watch from the jigs. It is virtually impossible to reposition the
graver, work holder, etc., to re-engrave the watch once any part of the
setup has been changed.
engraving on a watch requires a different approach. To simplify the process,
Gravograph-New Hermes offers a circular engraving fixture for engraving
circular layouts with a pantograph. This fixture fits into the copyslide
and features a two-sided movable dial which has characters positioned
around the perimeter. The characters on one side of the dial are used
for engraving the top half of the message, and the characters on the opposite
side are used for engraving the bottom half.
messages are usually engraved in two parts: one to read clockwise around
the top half of the watch back and one to read counterclockwise around
the bottom half. To engrave the top half of the message, push the dial
release and turn the dial until the first letter to be engraved is in
the proper position. Engrave that character, and then repeat the procedure
until the top half is complete. Engrave the bottom half of the message
following the same procedures, but use the characters on the opposite
side of the dial.
the complete message has been engraved, remove the watch from the jigs
and prepare it for delivery. Remove any tape and adhesive residue, reattach
the band or chain and clean off any fingerprints. A rouge-impregnated
jewelers cloth is handy for wiping and polishing small engraved
items such as watches.
make up a large portion of jewelry sales. They are purchased every day
for a variety of reasons. And, in spite of the occasional problem watch,
they are easy to engrave. Offering this personalization service is one
more way to watch your profits grow!