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Old 20 May 2009, 07:31 PM   #1
SecretSauce
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What can scratch sapphire crystal?

I have been reading a lot about the hardness of sapphire crystal (9.0 on the Mohs Scale) and the fact that only diamond is harder. However, it seems clear that one can scratch sappire crystal. I know, because I have managed to get a vary faint scratch on the crystal of my U-series SS Sub Date (ahhhrrrgggg!!!).

It has been suggested that only three things you normally encounter can scratch a sapphire crystal:
- another sapphire
- a diamond
- silicon carbide, which is used to make such things as faux stone wall paneling and stone garden furniture.

Is this true?

I am not sure if this has been raised recently, but can anyone shed some light on the issue?? What do I need to sheild my lovely watch from???

Thanks!
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Old 20 May 2009, 07:33 PM   #2
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If you look at a Rolex watch that has been worn for a few years under magnigication, you will notice several scratches all over the sapphire crystal. Just part of the growing up process, its inevitable.
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Old 20 May 2009, 07:37 PM   #3
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I'm no expert by any means, but I believe a lot of things can scratch a sapphire crystal, not just the materials you listed. I reckon a lot depends on the force applied. Sorry to hear about the sratch on your Sub though.
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Old 20 May 2009, 07:58 PM   #4
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Anything can scratch the sapphire crystal if hit the "right" angle.... even diamond can be chipped.... just be more careful... cheers!
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Old 20 May 2009, 07:59 PM   #5
Atomant
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To be honest, I have yet to place a scratch on any sapphire crystal, maybe one day when something drastic.
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Old 20 May 2009, 08:30 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Atomant View Post
To be honest, I have yet to place a scratch on any sapphire crystal, maybe one day when something drastic.
x2.....I personally haven't managed to scratch a saphire crystal yet however I do have a pre-loved DD which has the very faintest scratch accross its crystal......to be honest it's as difficult to actually see as a LEC!!....however, I can agree that they can be chipped on the edge if they are hit against something hard......I assume because of that brittleness we also hear the odd horror story about a shattered crystal.....
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Old 20 May 2009, 08:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SecretSauce View Post
I have been reading a lot about the hardness of sapphire crystal (9.0 on the Mohs Scale) and the fact that only diamond is harder. However, it seems clear that one can scratch Sapphire crystal. I know, because I have managed to get a vary faint scratch on the crystal of my U-series SS Sub Date (ahhhrrrgggg!!!).

It has been suggested that only three things you normally encounter can scratch a sapphire crystal:
- another sapphire
- a diamond
- silicon carbide, which is used to make such things as faux stone wall paneling and stone garden furniture.

Is this true?

I am not sure if this has been raised recently, but can anyone shed some light on the issue?? What do I need to sheild my lovely watch from???

Thanks!
Have been wearing Rolex watches for well over 30 years with acrylic very easy to polish a scratch out.And with watches with Sapphire working as a dive guide and instructor for quite a few years before I retired.Have never encountered a serious scratch on any watch I was using Rolex or others.And my watches were used as tool watches and had quite a hard life.Most Rolex watches today get a very very pampered life and if scratched easily fixed with modern day abrasives like diamond paste.I have in the past used 3 micron to remove the main scratch going across the scratch first,it takes a fair bit of elbow grease.Just a tiny bit on a cloth like a spectacles cloth or similar.Then just a fine polish after with the quarter micron,and scratch will be gone,and good as new. Cost for the two tubes in the UK around £20 expect cheaper out of the UK.And far cheaper than a new crystal takes a bit of time,if scratch is very deep then should replace, sapphire can chip around the edges if struck quite hard..
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Old 20 May 2009, 08:55 PM   #8
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padi56....I'd like to get hold of some of this diamond paste stuff to take the very fine scratch out of my DD...any chance you could either post the details of where to get it or PM me? (I'm a UK resident)

Padi edit PM sent.
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Old 21 May 2009, 01:43 PM   #9
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JJ can scratch his head but I doubt he can scratch any of his crystals...
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Old 21 May 2009, 01:52 PM   #10
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I don't really know if their sapphires are really comparable, but I was walking in a mall one day with my Omega Double Eagle and I walked past one of those stationary garbage cans made of what I can only assume was painted cement and my wrist kind of hit it and then scrapped across the surface of the crystal when I was moving my arms. The damage was not pretty. There was a gash on the crystal and it was so bad I could actually scrap the paint off. Plus the contact did a number on the bezel. I was pissed. Now I'm extra careful with my hands/wrists when I'm wearing anything relatively expensive.
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Old 21 May 2009, 03:50 PM   #11
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Sounds like it could have been that silicon carbide stuff??
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Old 21 May 2009, 03:57 PM   #12
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I believe, although I cannot locate and sources to site, that ceramic will easily scratch sapphire crystal.
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Old 21 May 2009, 04:54 PM   #13
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Well a tile floor can sure do the trick. Actually not sure if shattering counts as a scratch. Anyway, my GMT crystal shattered to bits when I dropped my watch on a tile floor in the bathroom. I've since found out this is a not infrequent source of crystal destruction.

So I do think that it's tough to just scratch a sapphire crystal, but they can shatter when hit with force. Mine didn't even drop that far, just land smack dab on the cyclops at the right angle.
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Old 21 May 2009, 05:20 PM   #14
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Tungsten Carbide tips will easily scratch a sapphire crystal.

It has a Rockwell C hardness of over 72. Although softer than a diamond it will scratch even a diamond.

The secret is how pointed is the tip that is doing the scratching. The narrower and more pointed the easier it will scratch surfaces.

The scratching happens not just from hardness, but also from the pressure. The smaller the tip the greater the pressure.
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Old 21 May 2009, 07:34 PM   #15
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Well a tile floor can sure do the trick. Actually not sure if shattering counts as a scratch. Anyway, my GMT crystal shattered to bits when I dropped my watch on a tile floor in the bathroom. I've since found out this is a not infrequent source of crystal destruction.

So I do think that it's tough to just scratch a sapphire crystal, but they can shatter when hit with force. Mine didn't even drop that far, just land smack dab on the cyclops at the right angle.
Most watch related accidents are in bathrooms with hard tile floors keep watches out of the bathroom or be extra careful.
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Old 21 May 2009, 10:26 PM   #16
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Surely just because something is harder than another does not mean it can't be scratched.?
Stone is harder than shoe leather and yet you'll still see steps in old buildings with depressions where people have walked.
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Old 21 May 2009, 10:33 PM   #17
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I had heard that only sharks with laser beams on their heads can scratch a sapphy crystal.

Seriously, I think it's easier to scratch the steel or gold on your watch than your crystal so be careful as if you knock our watch hard enough against something to worry you that the crystal is scratched, it will almost certainly mean you'll have a nice gouge or dent in your watch case or bracelet...."Oh Dalton......"

The crystals are susceptible to chipping or shattering if whacked hard enough or dropped (a bit like toughened glass...hardness usually means more brittle).

Bring back the acryllic I say...bit of Colgate, buffs em up a treat!

J
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Old 5 November 2011, 09:51 AM   #18
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Hi all,

As a jeweler, I can tell you that, in theory, very little should be able to scratch a true sapphire crystal. What's more is that sapphire is possessed of a certain toughness with which even diamond cannot compare. I imagine that's why corundum (sapphire) is used for watch crystals in the first place.

There are variables to consider in everyday life, of course. If you strike a sapphire with a hammer, given sufficient force, it will crack or shatter. The iron in the hammer is no where near as hard as corundum, but every natural material obviously has exploitable limits, otherwise we wouldn't even be able to utilize sapphire, tungsten, diamond, or ceramic for the things we do. Nothing is indestructible. What you're buying in a sapphire crystal is a greater degree of crack/shatter/scratch resistance to which other watch crystal materials cannot compare.

In reality, there are FEW things that CANNOT damage your sapphire crystal given the correct circumstances. But if it were so easy that everyone could do it, the price upgrade for a sapphire crystal would be futile. Sapphire crystals offer a much greater resistance to everyday wear and tear. They are not impervious and shouldn't be thought to be so; it's not fair, since nothing meets that criterion. But don't be afraid that the world around you is out to get your watch. Sapphire is a resilient, durable, robust material, and you were wise to go that route. But like any fine jewelry, there are just certain steps to be taken in caring for a Rolex. That's not to say anyone's incompetent; stuff happens.

Hope that helps. -J
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Old 5 November 2011, 10:10 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnswatch View Post
Surely just because something is harder than another does not mean it can't be scratched.?
Stone is harder than shoe leather and yet you'll still see steps in old buildings with depressions where people have walked.
Are you serious?
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Old 5 November 2011, 12:29 PM   #20
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The hospital I worked in (built 1911) had terrazzo floors and marble steps worn down over years from foot steps.

When looking down a hallway lower areas could be seen like paths.
The marble steps had even more obvious wear from foot steps/shoe leather.

Over time flowing water wears down rock. Not strange at all when our sapphire crystals get marked or scratched.
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Old 5 November 2011, 12:29 PM   #21
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A diamond.
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Old 5 November 2011, 12:34 PM   #22
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What surprises me even more are the number of times when I've really wacked or raked my watch against something; looked down at it and there it was -- still smiling back at me without any damage.
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Old 5 November 2011, 12:54 PM   #23
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Sometimes... you'd think that your crystal is scratched but really, it's a residue left over from a plastic, rubber, or something else. If regular soap and hard rubbing won't be able to get it off, get some diamond paste or cape cod polish. Rub only the scratched or marked area for few minutes and it will be gone.
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Old 6 November 2011, 01:40 AM   #24
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Wow, two and a half years of dormancy and suddenly this thread becomes active.
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Old 6 November 2011, 02:07 AM   #25
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behold, the law of entropy
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