Vintage watches, or watches with extra wear and tear in the strap, may begin to look old or even be unwearable. An alternative to replacing the watch altogether is to replate the gold on the strap. Because this process requires special knowledge and equipment, you'll have to find a business that will do the replating for you.
Some jewelers can replate your watch strap for you, but be aware that many jewelry stores do not have the proper equipment, chemicals and processes to apply a thick enough plate of gold to your watch strap.
According to Time Zone, plating shops are your best bet for this process, but make sure the shop can handle something as small as a watch.
Depending on what type of business will refinish your watch, and what kind of watch you have and how much work needs to be done, replating your watch strap could cost anywhere from $50 to $200. The process may also take a business several weeks to complete, depending on how much work needs to be done and the business's work load.
The thickness of the new gold plating is important because it helps determine how hard the new strap is and how resistant to scratches and dents the finish will be. The goal of replating a gold watch strap is to get the finish to look like the original manufacturer specified, and this usually requires a coating of gold that is much thicker than newer gold plated jewelry.
Watches typically need a coating of gold anywhere between seven and 10 microns thick. However, sometimes with finer watches, you may elect to have a plate anywhere from 10 to 20 microns thick.
The first thing the shop does is remove the old gold plating on the watch's strap.
Before applying gold to your watch strap, all scratches or blemishes must be either filled or removed because replating could emphasize these imperfections if they're not fixed.
Next, the shop uses special equipment to pass electric current through a gold solution, depositing a tiny layer of gold onto the watch strap. More layers are applied until the proper surface hardness and correct color are achieved.
When properly done, gold replating should last as long as the original plating, or about 10 years or more.