How To Remove Scratches From Acrylic Watch Crystal

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Friday, February 8, 2013
Timex acrylic watch crystal polished to remove scratches
Acrylic crystals are used for lower priced watches. They are cheaper than sapphire and mineral crystals and don't break as easily because they are softer. This softness also makes acrylic scratch easier. Over the years acrylic watch glass can develop scratches but it's cheap and easy to restore the acrylic to an almost new state with a little bit of work.

I stole a watch from my mom. Don't worry, it's not because I'm  a meth-head. Using my watch repair kit was fun so I was looking for other watches that I could fix. I knew she had some old watches that had issues.

I ran across this vintage Timex women's manual wind watch. It has a stainless steel back, chrome finished case and a nice silver dial with arabic numerals and a date window.

I don't imagine it was overly expensive but it's very rare to find a simple women's dress watch with a mechanical movement, even an automatic one for that matter. Looking on amazon there only about 50  women's mechanical and automatic watches. There are some that are under $100 but they are gaudy skeleton watches or diver watches. Nothing wrong with skeleton watches but it wouldn't be a good replacement. The watch I think that would be a good replacement is this Revue Thommen Women's 12500.2538 Classic Black Leather Strap Watch which costs over $1,000.

The Timex obviously took a licking but as their slogan goes, it kept on ticking. Replacing the broken band with a new one, probably this Hadley-Roma Women's 12-mm Black Java Lizard Grain Watch Strap, will be easy. Unfortunately the watch crystal is very scratched up. Before ordering the new band I wanted to see if I could fix the scratched crystal.

Over time acrylic scratches. Some scratches are big and noticeable but most are very fine scratches that you don't notice on their own but they give the watch glass a cloudy appearance. Here's a close up of the scratched acrylic watch crystal.

Scratched acrylic watch crystal

I'll get into the details of how I did it shortly but here's what the watch looked like after removing scratches from the acrylic crystal.

Turtle Was Scratch & Swirl remover polished acrylic watch crystal

When I first saw the watch I wasn't even sure it was a silver dial. It sort of looked champagne colored. Polishing the crystal makes it look like a brand new watch. A couple of the deeper scratches are still there. I didn't notice them until I took the photo. A little more polishing got them out too.

They make a product specifically for removing scratches from acrylic watch crystals. It's called Polywatch Plastic Lens Scratch Remover and it costs about $9 for a 5ml tube that can treat about 10 watches. At $53 an oz that seemed a bit pricey to me. Instead I tried using something I already had on hand. Turtle Wax Scratch & Swirl Remover costs about $10.69 for 16 fl oz which is $0.68 per fl oz and is enough for more than 900 watches. A much better deal and it's great for other things like it's intended use, removing scratches from your cars paint.

I'm sure other types of rubbing compounds might work as well but this is the one I had.

Instructions for Removing Scratches From Acrylic Watch Crystal

In addition to the Scratch & Swirl Remover you'll need some cotton balls. You can also use a microfiber cloth. You don't want to use paper towels or anything else that might scratch the acrylic. You may want to remove the band to prevent getting compound in the stitching. I was replacing it so I didn't bother.

1) Start by cleaning any dirt off the watch crystal with a clean cotton ball. Do not use any cleaners, especially not alcohol as it can damage the acrylic, just the dry cotton ball to brush away any loose dust and dirt. 

2) Shake the can of Turtle Wax Scratch & Swirl Remover to mix its contents then apply a small drop onto a clean cotton ball.

3) Rub the cotton ball with scratch remover over the acrylic crystal with firm pressure in a circular motion. Depending on the condition of the acrylic you may need to add more scratch remover and keep rubbing.

4) For deep scratches try rubbing perpendicular to the direction of the scratch. If that still doesn't work you can try some 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper lightly. Followed up with more scratch remover to remove the sanding marks.

5) Once you have satisfactorily removed the scratches, continue to work the cotton ball that is still damp with the scratch remover until almost all the scratch remover has been removed from the watch crystal except for what looks like a greasy film. If the Turtle Wax Scratch & Swirl remover is like other polishes I've used, as you rub it in it becomes finer so at this stage it will help you get an even smoother finish. You'll feel it and hear it squeak as you continue rubbing the compound.

6) When you're done working out the scratches, take a clean cotton ball and buff off any of the residual scratch remover. Make sure you get all of it off the watch.

7) Take another clean cotton ball and repeat to get whatever might still be on the watch. Don't use any liquid but breathing on the watch crystal to fog it will help provide just enough moisture to get it very clean.

Here's one more look at the before and after:

Before and After photo of watch with scratches and polished with Turtle Wax Swirl & Scratch remover


  1. Nice article. I found it on a search for removing paint from acrylic watch crystal. I must have banged the crystal into a doorway to get the old paint imbedded onto the crystal. Trying to scratch off with my fingernail doesn't work. I recall the same problem years ago. Then, I tried acetone (nail polish remover), which ruined the crystal by making it cloudy. Does anyone have suggestions?

  2. The polishing will take the paint off.



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