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Anti-reflective coating

by Jordan Ficklin

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Omega ConstellationOn occasion I hear someone ask why Rolex doesn’t use anti-reflective coating on their watch crystals. This Ladies Constellation is a good example why not. Click on the image to enlarge it and take a look. The haziness and scratches in the crystal are a result of ordinary wear to the anti-reflective coating on the crystal.

Rolex is a watch designed by individuals who have spent considerable time at the repair bench. Anti-reflective coating is annoying if you repair watches. You cannot touch anti-reflective coating. A crystal with AR coating on it needs to be handled with extreme care; and what do you do if a speck of dust lands on it? You can’t touch it, that’s for sure. When applied to the outside of the crystal normal wear results in considerable scratches. On the inside of the crystal the blame would fall to the watchmaker.

I have one watch with AR coating on it and many without. I personally have not noticed that one is easier to read than another, for me it is all the same. If your watch is reflecting too much light, rotate your wrist slightly.

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  1. Winston
    Posted December 1, 2008 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for the interesting entry. I own a Speedmaster Pro sapphire sandwich and sometimes when I wear it on my wrist for a few hours, a mist-like stain starts to form inside the crystal with particles forming. When I remove the watch, the stain and particles disappear. I suspect its due to the reaction of the AR coating with temperature. Any clues on this?

    cheers, W.

  2. J.Peter
    Posted December 1, 2008 at 8:58 am | Permalink


    I expect this mist is actually water vapor, and has nothing to do with the AR coating. Your body warms the watch enough to turn the moisture to vapor and the cold ambient air on the xtal provides the perfect place for condensation (like frost on your car’s windshield.) You should get it to a watchmaker and have him conduct a water resistance test to ensure your watch is well protected.

  3. Winston
    Posted December 1, 2008 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Wow im impressed by your fast reply! Do you monitor this blog 24/7? Yes I just sent it in at the service center a few hrs ago and a water res test was conducted. It passed 3 consec tests but when I collected it, the second hand of the chronometer did not reset back to the 12 o’clock position! This has never been encountered in the past 1 yr of using the watch. I returned it immediately and am now waiting for their service tech to get back to me. Geez I suspected water vapour too, but why did particles start to form inside the glass?

  4. Winston
    Posted January 28, 2009 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Got my watch back last month and I still have no idea what caused the white tiny particles to intermittently form underneath the saphhire crystal. No explanation from them either. Anyway the local service center changed a tube within the crown and i think they changed the crystal too. The “mist” did not return after more than a month’s usage so I guess they fixed my problem. The second-hand chronometer is now properly at the 12 o’clock position when reset. But I am unhappy with their workmanship. Other than additional scratches and marks on the rim of the watch’s backcase, I found a black mark/dent at the sides of the secondhand chronometer! Looks as if the someone had used his/her tweezers to pinch the secondhand too tightly. Im too fed up with their service and worksmanship to send in my watch again, and would bring my business to a private watch repair shop the next time for servicing.

  5. RBowen
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    I have a Tag link and the anti-reflective coating appears to be receading rom the outside edges. It looks like a blue cloud with brown edges. It is not uniform in shape and so is looking unsightly. Other than remove the coating what can I do

  6. J.Peter
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    You can replace the crystal.

  7. Brian Darby
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    If “it is all the same”, then you haven’t experienced a good antireflective crystal. Seek out a Fortis Cosmonaut’s model – the crystal virtually disappears. If you try to make it reflect, the best you can do is a pale image of what it is reflecting. The coating shows no ill effects after 8 years, so far.

    Oh – and I touch it regularly. Where do you get this crazy notion? I would much rather have an antireflective crystal that I have to replace no and again, than a reflective one. Experience a good example and you will too.

  8. pob
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    I too have a few watches with AR coating and find them all very resilient to cleaning, washing and even scrapes. I had one example of a tarnished coating but had it re-done fairly cheaply.

    The crystal looks far better with it. In fact I have some cheap Seiko and a fashion watch that I had coated and it made the world of difference.

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