View Full Version : Need Help With Old Gold Plated Pocket Watch I Found

12-21-2010, 05:17 PM
I found this Pocket Watch earlier this year and decided to pry off the back hinged cover. This revealed a second cover called a cuvette. My understanding is that this would be a common place for an engraving. The case was in surprisingly good shaped with gold plate still intact. Problem is there is a coating of green buildup. Some of it chipped off to reveal the gold plating underneath once again in very good shape. I think there might be an engraving underneath the crust of gook. The question is, how do I get this stuff removed enough to see the engraving? Thanks in advance for your help.




12-21-2010, 05:58 PM
It must be my computer, but I can't get them pictures to open :ticked: I hate my computer :smitten:.... :hammer: :hammer: I am guessing that the green would be removed just like Del's method for cleaning buttons that are gold and silver plated. We use CLR (calcium, lime, rust remover) available at a lot of home improvement places. I use a 20% mix with the other 80% water. I think Del uses a 50/50 mix? :confused: We just brush it on (soft toothbrush) and rinse. Then baking soda and water to neutralize the acids. Also JohnM has used Aluminum Jelly (not Naval Jelly) with similar results. Hope this helps.

12-21-2010, 08:52 PM
Photobucket is having some issues tonight. Sorry about the pics. It's not your PC. lol Thanks for the cleaning information Coinnut. I will give it a shot tomorrow.

12-21-2010, 10:38 PM
Try it in a small section Jack, just in case it doesn't sit well with the watch.

12-22-2010, 03:46 AM
hey Jack most pocket watches are plated over copper and the clr will clean just about any staining on the plating but is not to friendly with the copper underneath so a very low mixture in parts like George said would be the better and take your time with it . dip the toothbrush in the solution and brush on until it foams a little and discolors , rinse and then repeat until you think its the best you can do with it.

12-27-2010, 09:41 AM
Here is one that I used electrolysis on that I found in January of this year, I was very surprised at how nicely it cleaned up too.

12-27-2010, 02:53 PM
:shocked04: :shocked04: wow what a difference Larry , very impressive results :clapping: :clapping: thumbsup01 is it a very low voltage unit , wouldn't mine seeing your setup sir.

12-27-2010, 02:54 PM
Wow, that is really nice Larry! :shocked04: :yes:

12-27-2010, 09:52 PM
That is some very nice results. Please share your setup with us Larry!

12-27-2010, 10:57 PM
I made it from a 250ma 12 volt DC supply that plugs in the wall. I soldered good alligator clips on both of the power supply leads. I've been using the same power supply I started out with but after some use the wires will need replacing, which I've done several times. I use a ceramic bowl with the positive attached to a spoon that I found metal detecting, stainless seems to work the best, then fill the bowl with water and sprinkle a few tablespoons of baking soda in it, attach the negative terminal to whatever it is you're cleaning, put the item in the bowl without touching the spoon cause it will ruin the power supply if it's touching long enough. Plug it in and let it bubble. I use to use salt but it's too hard core and will eat up the spoons in a hurry, it does work faster with salt but it's really messy and you'll get a lot of nasty stuff in the water in a hurry. I even tried laundry detergent once because of the large amount of sodium in it but it's too hard core also. When I did the watch I kept a close eye on it just making sure it wasn't going to fall apart, they're pretty tuff, anyway the green stuff just bubble away and I was finally able to open the watch up and get a better look inside. When you take whatever it is you're electrolysising out of the water spring baking soda on it, it will melt right into the crud that's still there and then use a toothbrush and when you're finally satisfied with the way it looks a toothbrush and dishsoap will neutralize and rinse away the residue.

01-01-2011, 09:42 PM
Good luck with the cleaning Cyber! Great find!!

Hey Lar - wow/nite/day difference!! beauty :clapping:

01-01-2011, 10:52 PM
:shocked04: Wow great job cleaning it up! Thanks for the tips. Have you worked on yours lately Jack?

01-02-2011, 01:12 PM
If that watch cleans up like the one Larry posted you will have a real nice looking find.

01-05-2011, 08:20 PM
Best of luck thumbsup01 thumbsup01

01-06-2011, 10:00 PM
I am going to get started on the cleaning this weekend. I hope there is an engraving, that would be fun. I will share the results of the cleaning.


Salty Dog
01-08-2011, 10:03 AM
Larry's method works wonders,I did an old axe head,I used Lemon juice and water in mine though,but cleaned up real nice...You can tell if you have it hooked up right by which piece bubbles,hopefully the one needing cleaned :beerbuddy:,show us the after pics...

01-08-2011, 08:42 PM
Electrolysis is very cool. I setup a crude electrolysis system and experimented. The crud flew off! So far this is the only clues I have found. I was eager to see the writing so I scrubbed to hard. Look at all the scratches I left. Oh well, it's a learning experience.


I am going to construct a nicer electrolysis unit and will share the finished product. When the pocket watch is all done I will post pics of the after results. If you have any information about the above stamping, please share it here. Thanks for all your help.


EDIT: I am thinking it is an Elgin brand. I have learned that this is a case serial number. Unfortunately this is not any relationship to the actual serial number and is not tracked buy Elgin. It does tell me the watch is from around 1886. Here is a link for looking up Elgin Movement serial numbers...


Salty Dog
01-12-2011, 05:37 PM
It is for sure an Elgin pocket watch,If you can open it up and see the works you can run the works number and tell what year it was made,Hope this helps :beerbuddy: ,Dave

01-12-2011, 07:25 PM
I did get the number off the works. It was made in 1906. Unfortunately there was no engravings. Still a fun find.

01-12-2011, 08:34 PM
Elgin's are neat old watches Jack here's one that I found in the exact same woods as the other one that I showed, I found this one about 5 years ago about 6 or 7 inches deep. I figured when it was made back then but forget now, I stuck it back in electrolysis again to see if the guts will clean up any better, this one didn't have any of the covers and I searched but couldn't find anything else to the watch.

01-14-2011, 03:46 PM
Good job on clearing it off... I wonder if it lasted the guaranteed 20 yrs way back when :) Amazing to know it's prob been in the ground over 100 yrs...