Watchmakers Putty - The Essential Basic Tools of Watchmaking
Initially, this may seem like a strange tool for a watchmaker, but it's actually one of the most versatile. It's a cross between Silly Putty - if you are old enough to remember that, and the more commonly available Blu Tack, although I would not suggest using either of these due to their high oil content.
There are three types of sticky putty specifically formulated for watchmaking purposes that I'm aware of:
Bergeon Rodico Traditional (6033-1) - This variety is aqua green in colour and seems to be most common, although this may be due to it being around longest.
Bergeon Rodico Premium (7033-1) - This variety is grey in colour and feels drier than the Rodico Traditional. It tends to leave less trace and is seen by some as the improved version of the Traditional variety.
AF Switzerland Rub-Off (18580) - This variety is blue in colour and is probably the driest of all 3 options. It also has a stickier feel.
They each have their own intricacies so you may want to try them all or use a combination that best suits your needs.
Most Common Uses for Watchmakers Putty:
Removing oil and fingerprints from watch parts.
Cleaning movement plates, bridges, dials, balance pivots, jewel holes, train wheel pivots and gear wheels. Particularly useful for rolling the gear wheel in the putty to clean between the teeth.
Removing oil and dirt from tools, although I feel Pith Wood is better suited to this.
Quickly removing dust and debris from a movement.
Easily picking up and manoeuvring small watch parts like jewels and screws.
Removing broken off pieces of Pegwood.
Holding or positioning a watch part or tool, especially useful when removing springs to stop them flying off into oblivion.
Removing dirt and oils from jewellery as well!
Tips For Using Watchmakers Putty:
Use it sparingly. Pull of a small piece to use and keep the rest for future use. A little goes a long way.
Ideally always start with a fresh and clean piece for optimal cleaning.
Use latex finger cots/gloves to avoid your watchmakers putty from getting soiled faster.
The putty will darken in colour as it becomes soiled. Heavily used putty can be re-used for dirtier applications.
Prolong the life of your putty by keeping it wrapped up when not in use. Small polystyrene bags are perfect for this.
Don’t use putty on warm watches, parts, or tools, as the heat will change the putty consistency.
Avoid storing your putty in a warm location for the same reasons as above.
Place on a tip of Pegwood for precision control over your cleaning and placement of parts.
Dab or Wipe Motion? It is generally suggested that a dabbing motion is all you need and will provide you with a residue free cleaning. A rolling or kneading motion may also be used. A wiping or rubbing motion increases the chances of the putty leaving a slight residue behind.
Once your putty gets dirty, simply spread it between your fingers, and it's as good as new. It does last a very long time.
Rough Cost: Bergeon Rodico Traditional (6033-1) = around £3.50
Bergeon Rodico Premium (7033-1) = around £4.50
AF Switzerland Rub-Off (18580) = around £3.00
If you think I've missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.