If you’ve just purchased a nice watch and you’re thinking about getting it engraved, you’ll likely have a lot of questions that need to be answered first. Most watches can be engraved with special messages and information, and one of the most important things to remember is that only an expert should be trusted to do the job. After all, an inexperienced engraver may not produce the look you’re aiming for, and this could be disastrous. You might also be curious about the price of engraving your watch, but before we get to that, let’s take a look at a few other aspects regarding watch engraving.
How Is a Watch Engraved?
Watches can be engraved with a poem, special date, religious references, or a unique message meant only for the recipient. Most engraving companies use either a laser or a specialized machine to engrave your watch, and you’ll have a lot of fonts and sizes to choose from. With a laser engraver, the following materials can be engraved upon:
- Stainless steel
Some engraving lasers may have the capability to engrave on other materials, so if you have a rather unique watch, you can check with the engraver to determine if they can accommodate you. With engraving machines, the following materials can be worked with:
- Stainless steel
Engraving machines usually use some type of gem to do the actual work, which is why diamond engraving machines are so popular. But whether the company uses a state-of-the-art laser or a diamond engraving machine, the actual process usually utilizes the following steps:
- First, the surface of the watch is meticulously cleaned and smoothed out so that the engraving is flawless.
- The engraver works slowly and installs each and every letter or marking with exact precision and spacing. They will check their work after each letter or marking to make sure it is clear and legible.
- The engraving process is a slow one, but this is so each letter and spacing can be continuously checked for accuracy throughout the process.
- When the work is completed, any watch part (e.g., the band or strap) that may have been previously removed is now reattached.
- The engraver cleans the watch and makes sure any dust, debris, or particulates are thoroughly removed so that it is clean and attractive.
In most places, engravers are well-trained and constantly take classes to update and improve their techniques, which means you can trust the engraving to be done with utmost accuracy and precision.
How Much Does It Cost to Have a Watch Engraved?
At one time, all watch engraving was done by hand, and many companies charged by the letter. Both of these things meant that engraving watches was a very expensive process, sometimes costing thousands of dollars. These days, however, lasers and specialized machines are used, so the process is both faster and less expensive. Nevertheless, if you intend to get a watch engraved, you should still be prepared to spend some money on the process, and the average costs depend on several factors.
Many companies charge a basic price for engraving a watch; for instance, $30 or $35, which usually covers up to a certain number of characters. If you’re asking the company to engrave something a little complicated or more than the usual number of letters and symbols, you might be charged more than this. Lasers and machines are now used, so you won’t get charged per letter or symbol. This rule may occasionally apply when you’re using an engraver who does the job by hand, but lasers and engraving machines have made watch-engraving jobs a lot less expensive these days.
You can also find online companies that allow you to simply mail in your watch and let them engrave it for you before sending it back to you. This is very convenient, and most of them will charge roughly $30 to $50 or less. In other words, online engraving is both simple and inexpensive, but regardless of the method you choose to get your watch engraved, always make sure the company you work with provides you with at least an estimate of the price you’ll be paying before you hand your watch to them. This way, there will be no surprises in the end.
How Long Does It Take to Engrave a Watch?
The time it takes to engrave a watch usually isn’t long, but if you bring the watch to a jeweler or send it into a company that advertises online, you have to keep in mind that they have other customers as well. Hand-engraving a watch can take several hundred hours in some cases, but with a laser or engraving machine, it normally takes just a few hours or less. But this doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get your watch back in a day or two. You can check with the company to get an estimate of how long it will be before you get your watch back, but in most cases, you can expect to get it back in one week or less, as long as their workload isn’t too heavy.
Five Factors That Will Affect the Engraving Cost
When you’re curious about how much you’re going to pay to get your watch professionally engraved, you should keep in mind that there are certain things that will affect how much you’re going to pay for the job to get done, some of which you might not be aware of. Below are a few of those things:
1. The location of the engraving
Most people choose to have the back of their watch engraved, but customers have been known to get other areas of their watch engraved as well. This includes the movement, the four corners of the back of the watch, and even the watch band itself. Depending on how difficult it is to work in those areas, it can cost you a little more to get the watch engraved in a certain location.
2. Graphics and images
Though most people are unaware of this, you can get more than just letters and numbers engraved on your watch. That being said, images and graphics often cost a bit extra, in part because they take longer and are more difficult to engrave. In some instances, you’ll have to add an additional $30 or more to the final cost of the engraving.
3. The number of letters and numbers
Most engraving companies or jewelers provide you with a set price that normally includes only a certain number of characters. Most prices they provide cover a certain number of lines and a certain number of characters per line. If you go over that number, you’ll have to pay extra.
4. The fonts you choose
Fonts usually include both Block and Script typefaces, but if you choose a custom font or something that isn’t included on the list of standard fonts, extra maintenance on the part of the engraver will be required. The extra labor alone will add to the cost of the engraving process, but the engraver should be able to give you an estimate of how much extra you’ll have to pay.
5. Anything that is customized or unique
This can include “antiquing” the engraving so that it’s more noticeable and even plating the engraving in certain areas to turn it a rose-gold shade or some other unique color. Naturally, the more unique the request, the more it will cost you in the end.
None of these things should make you hesitant to visit a watch engraver, however. While you can pay quite a bit sometimes to get your watch engraved, the fact is that it’s worth it in the end because it makes the watch more personal and more of an heirloom. Most special circumstances don’t cost a lot more, just a bit more, so in the end it is always worth it. Once again, the engraver will be able to give you an estimate of your cost once you explain what it is you want for your watch, so you’ll be prepared for what you’ll end up paying for the job.
Should You Engrave Your Watch? Five Points to Consider
If you’re trying to decide whether you should engrave your watch, there are things to consider before you make your final decision. Very expensive watches such as Rolex and others tend to have a great resale value, but does this mean that engraving those watches is acceptable? Before you rush out with your brand-new watch to visit the engraver or jeweler, there are some things to consider first. Below are some of those things.
1. If you plan to pass your watch down as a family heirloom to future generations, you might want to reconsider having the watch engraved; or at the very least, be extra careful with what you decide to have engraved on the watch. The truth is, if your watch will be passed down to others, you don’t want anything too personal engraved on it. Of course, personalized engraving sometimes makes the watch more enjoyable for future generations, but keeping it less-personal is still a good thing to do.
2. Try to keep the engraving as simple as possible. While it is tempting to include special graphics and fonts on your watch, keeping it simple usually looks much better, especially if you’re celebrating a momentous occasion. An example is putting the date on your watch that symbolizes an event from your relationship. If the relationship turns sour, the details of the engraving won’t mean anything, and you’ll end up regretting putting that information on your watch. In short, simple is always better when it comes to engraving a watch.
3. Consider engraving something other than the back of the watch. While the back of the watch is the most common place to have something engraved, you might want to consider engraving another part of the watch; for example, the links in your watch band. This is a great way to do something a little different than most other people. Others simply won’t expect a watch that has engravings on the links or the face of the watch, and you’ll enjoy knowing that you have a truly unique watch that you’ll love showing off to people.
4. Remember that certain materials may not do well engraved. If your watch has a sapphire case back – that is, one of those cases that you can see through – engraving it is usually not a good idea. It’s not that this is impossible to do, but it has to be done by an expert because it is an intricate responsibility. Engraving this type of watch can be tricky and can normally be done only with a laser. That being said, it is also considerably more expensive than engraving other types of watches. You’ll have to determine if the job is even worth it to you before you make a final decision because of this.
5. Always choose a standard typeface or font. When you review fonts, the first thing you’ll notice is that they can get quite fancy, but a lot of these fancy fonts don’t look great once the watch is engraved. Simply put, the more familiar the font is, the better it will look once the job is complete. It’s easy to get caught up in all of your options and become excited with the fonts that are super fancy or unique, but keep in mind that more basic fonts generally look much better when used to engrave your watch.
Can an Engraving Be Removed From a Watch?
As a general rule, engraving can be removed from a watch, especially if it was done by a laser. Engravings that aren’t too deep can be sanded off and cleaned, and since lasers only etch the surface of the watch, you can usually have the engraving sanded or filed down so that it is clear once again. If the etchings are too deep in the metal, removal may still be possible if the jeweler or engraver has the right tools. In most cases, the etchings or marks can be removed by being sanded or filed down, but the jeweler can inspect your watch and confirm whether you can or cannot have the etchings removed. If you have a watch that has been engraved and you’re interested in getting the marks removed, the jeweler will be able to tell you if the job can be done so that you can decide for yourself what to do next.
Can You Engrave the Back of a Rolex?
Since Rolex watches are so expensive, many people are hesitant to engrave something on the back of the watch. While it is possible to engrave the back of a Rolex, you should consider carefully whether this is something you wish to do. First of all, expensive watches often require that you take it to experts in that particular type of watch, which usually means you’ll be paying a lot more than $30 or $40 for the engraving. You should also consider if you ever plan to sell the watch or hand it down to someone else later on. If you think you might like to sell it some day, the list of potential customers is likely going to be much narrower.
In short, engraving the back of a Rolex is not for everyone, but if this is something you’re interested in, you should definitely consider it from all different angles so that you can feel confident about your decision in the end.
Can You Engrave Watches Made by Seiko, Tag Heuer, and So on?
Expensive watches can usually be engraved, but the smartest thing to do is take it to an expert in that type of watch. You’ll want to do this for two main reasons. First of all, they can inspect the watch first to make certain it can be engraved. If the size or materials don’t make engraving simple, they may have to deny your request. Second, if they tell you the watch can be engraved, they’ll have experts on staff who are experienced in working on that particular type of watch, which means the job will be done to perfection. You certainly don’t want to have a Rolex or TAG watch engraved by an unknown jewelry store that may or may not have the right experience.
Some expensive watches cannot be engraved on the back simply because there is a logo or other such mark there instead. In these cases, you don’t have to worry because more often than not, you can have them engrave the watch in another area. The most important thing to remember is to trust only the experts in that particular brand of watch because if you don’t, you risk the job being done improperly. The next thing you’ll want to be prepared for is that these watches usually cost a lot more than average watches to be engraved. In other words, spending $100 or even more on having a quality watch engraved is not unusual, so this is something you need to be prepared for.