Guest Interview: Kevin Paul, Watch Case Restoration Specialist


Staff member
What do you do when you have a battered old watch case? A lot of people will answer “nothing.” There is a common misconception that watch case restoration is always a mistake—that it will change the shape of the case, reducing its character and value. But a truly talented watch case restoration specialist can do an impressive job restoring a case. Watch polishing techniques have evolved considerably over the years, and sometimes, restoring a case can bring new life to a classic watch while preserving its authenticity.

I recently had the pleasure of working with watch case restoration expert Kevin Paul, who lives in Vienna, Austria. As you can see, he did an amazing job restoring the case of my Seiko 7019-6050.

This is how the watch looked before:

Seiko 7019-6050 Seiko 7019-6050 Seiko 7019-6050 Seiko 7019-6050

And this is what I received when Kevin finished working on the watch:

Seiko 7019-6050 Seiko 7019-6050 Seiko 7019-6050 Seiko 7019-6050

Impressive, isn’t it?

After admiring Kevin’s work, I became interested in learning more about what he does, and realized this is something that a lot of our readers would get into as well. In the interview below, you can learn more about how Kevin got into restoring watch cases, the challenges that go with performing these restorations, and more.

Q: What service do you provide, and what tools and materials do you work with?

I myself only offer work on watch cases, be it small repairs or big restorations or also help with design and/or finissage techniques. On special occasions, I also offer to help repairing dials and movement parts with welding jobs.

Seiko 7019-6050 Case Restoration

I fulfill most of my work with an old lapping machine, but I also use newish belt grinders and a micro-wig-welding system from Lambert called PUK. Besides that, I obviously use a polishing machine, most important here is that you have a continuous speed adjustment. I also do a lot of work just by hand and file.

Q: How did you get into watch case restoration?

Haha – Two things: first, I always loved to work more freely, and even if you have to follow the lines of the original design from the case, it’s up to you how you reach that goal. Besides that, I just love to work with my bare hands on metal.

Second thing is, while I was still in my apprenticeship, I had some troubles with one of the workers in the workshop. Since he was the older one and the more “important” one, there was no other chance to avoid him than to pack my things and move to the polishing room, where I still am after over 10 years.

Q: What was the most challenging restoration you ever completed, and how did you overcome those challenges?

That was most likely my first titanium AP. No one knew how to properly polish titanium back then, and there was no source to look it up, even not on the internet. All I found was a guide to make it quite shiny again. But the real challenge was to keep all the fine angles sharp and crisp.

I had to do 2 days of trial and error before I found myself a quite good solution. By now, a titanium or even a tantalum watch doesn’t scare me at all. All you need is a lot of time and patience, and a bit of old school technique combined with a steady hand – haha.

Q: Are there any common watch case restoration tools or techniques you do not like using? Why?

Seiko 7019-6050 Case Restoration Well, to me nothing is common or uncommon. As long as you achieve the right finish without damaging the original form and shape of the case, every way is the right one. But what I don’t like is if people only do it in a hurry, just a quick touch with the buff-wheel so it’s shiny-shiny again and good to go – this, I really don’t like because that causes soooo much damage to the cases.

Q: How do you adjust your work to meet the differing preferences of the customers with regard to final output ( i.e. how “old” or “new” they want the watch to look)?

99% of the customers just want their watch to look like new or at least better then before. I also had already a young lad that didn’t want a welding dot removed from his watch because it was the working watch from his grandfather, who was a welder. So, it’s like never a problem to respect certain spots like the bespoken dot or an engraving. To me, it’s important that you still see the story a watch has to tell, because special watches are full of daily stories and memories from their owners. And these are also important to keep.

Seiko 7019-6050 Case Restoration

Q: How do you respond to people who believe watch case restoration is always a bad idea?

To be fair, not that long time ago I would have totally agreed with them if they had shown me what some guys did to the watches, but now the whole polishing thing has evolved and become more professional. If you are a collector, you always want your watches to be as original as possible, so I’m also not a fan of polishing watches just for the sake of making them shiny again. If all the lines and angles are still sharp and in their original state, I always recommend to keep it. Again: it’s important to keep the stories that a watch has to tell!

Thanks again, Kevin, for the beautiful work you did on my watch, and for participating in this interview. I am sure I will be sending more watch cases your way in the future.

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