A Beginner’s Guide to Watch Case Finishes

A watch case finish is one of the most important factors when buying a watch. Not only does it add value to the watch, but it can also make a big difference when it comes to how the watch performs. In this article, we’ll discuss the various watch case finishes available on the market and help you choose the best one for your next watch. So, if you’re looking to buy the watch and want to know how many case finishes are available, start with this guide!

What is finishing?

Finishing is a surface treatment of a material that makes it look attractive and gives it an extra level of protection.

The benefits of watch case finishing

There are many benefits to finishing a watch case. Some of the benefits include:

– Adding an extra level of protection to the watch

– Giving the watch an extra level of durability

– Adding a unique look to the watch

– Making the watch look more attractive

– Making the watch more comfortable to wear

– Making the watch easier to clean.

Types of Watch Case Finishing

There are many different finishes available on the market, and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Polished Finish:

The polished finish is the most common type of finishing and it’s what you’re likely to see on most watches. It’s a layer of polish that has been applied to the surface of the case, giving it a shinier appearance. One of the benefits of the polished finish is that it’s easy to care for. All you need to do is keep the watchcase clean with a good-quality polishing cloth, and you’ll be able to keep it looking great for years.

A Watch With Polished Silver-Tone Case and Leather Strap
Polished Watch Case

One downside of the polished finish is that it can be a bit sensitive to scratches. If you accidentally hit the watch with something hard, it might be able to scratch the finish.

Matte Finish:

The matte finish is similar to the polished finish in that it’s a layer of polish applied to the surface of the case. However, instead of being shinier, it has a matte look. The matte finish is popular on watches because it looks more natural. It’s also less sensitive to scratches than the polished finish.

A black Watch on Wrist
Matte Finish

One downside of the matte finish is that it can be a bit difficult to keep clean. The polish tends to wear off quickly, so you’ll need to regularly clean the case with polishing cloth if you want it to look good.

Satin or Brushed Finish:

The satin or brushed finish is produced by polishing the metal with a 120–180 grit belt or wheel, then softening with an 80–120 grit greaseless compound or a medium non-woven abrasive belt or pad. It’s usually less shiny than the polished finish, and it has a slightly more antiquated look.

A Brushed Watch Case With Blue Strap
Vertically Brushed Finish

The brushed finish is popular on vintage watches because it gives the watch a more antique look.

Sand & Bead Blasted Finish:

Sandblasting is a process that uses high pressure to blast materials against a surface. This is done to remove any roughness or surface imperfections on the surface. Bead blasting is a process that uses fine glass beads to remove surface deposits. The beads are applied at high pressure, without damaging the surface.

Blasted Finish
Blasted Finish

This type of finish mostly appears on tourbillons and other rotatable parts on watches. It has a very rough appearance and is usually used on watches that are intended to be rugged (such as diver’s watches).

PVD, DLC, & Other Coatings:

Aside from the finishes mentioned above, other types of finishes used on watch cases include PVD (physical vapor deposition), DLC (diamond-like carbon), and other coatings. PVD (physical vapor deposition) coating, also known as thin-film coating, is a process in which a solid material is vaporized (turned into a gas) in a vacuum and then deposited on the surface of another material.

DLC (diamond-like carbon) is a nanocomposite material with diamond-like properties. When applied to a watch case’s surface, it creates a tough, durable finish that is resistant to scratches and corrosion.

Another type of coating that is used on watch cases is the electroplating coating. This involves painting one metal onto another by hydrolysis (the breaking down of an organic compound into smaller molecules) and then using an electric current to create a metal bond. Electroplating is used as a protection against corrosion and to give the desired color.

PVD Coating
A Black DLC Finished Watch
DLC Coating

The different types of finishes used on watch cases can be a bit confusing, but they all have one common goal: to make the case look nicer and more durable.


There are a variety of finishes that are used on watch cases, and each has its own unique benefits. Some of the most common options include polished finish, brushed finish, sand and bead blasted finishes, PVD coating, DLC (diamond-like carbon) coatings, and electroplating coatings. I hope after reading this article you can choose the best finish according to your taste and needs.

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