Watch Dial Protectors: How to Protect the Watch Dial from Scratches

Written by: Maz P
Updated on:
Movement Dial Protector

There is no doubt that watchmaking is an art form. A sign of a good watchmaker is that the timepiece is left in pristine condition after working on it and there is no evidence that the watchmaker has been there. Watches and their parts are extremely delicate and therefore it is extremely easy to mark, scratch, and cause minor damage.

Whilst the entire watch and its movement should be protected at all times whilst being worked on, it is the dial that is the key part that needs protection. It is the most prominent feature of the watch and one that will be looked at frequently. Therefore, even minor damage can be extremely visible so from a purely cosmetic perspective, the dial needs to take priority when it comes to protection.

One of the riskiest parts of watchmaking is removing the watch hands. This is a tricky, delicate, and intricate task that requires patience and precision. This is where watch dial protectors come to the rescue. A watchmaker can work on the dial with peace of mind that it is protected. Watch dial protectors are an easy addition to your watchmaking toolkit. They are easy to source and highly affordable. This simple and inexpensive tool is a game changer to your watchmaking journey. They ensure that the most delicate parts are well protected and the most intricate tasks can be performed with peace of mind. This is where a watch dial protector comes into its own.

What are Watch Dial Protectors?

Watch dial protectors are essential tools used in watchmaking to safeguard the delicate dial from potential damage during the process of removing or adjusting watch hands. These protectors are typically small, flat pieces of plastic that are shaped to fit underneath the watch hands. They are approximately 0.15mm thick so they can easily fit between the deal and watch hands. Watch dial protectors are also typically gray in color to contrast against watch hands and ensure precision whilst working.

Some watchmakers do use DIY protectors as an alternative. For this, they use a small piece of a transparent polythene plastic bag which performs the same protective job. However, in my experience I wouldn’t recommend this method. For me, it feels like a risky option, particularly when watch dial protectors are so affordable to purchase. I wouldn’t risk it as there is no need to compromise when plastic watch dial protectors are such a great price. Prestigious brands such as Bergeon and Horotec sell watch dial protectors that are incredibly budget-friendly and highly recommended.

What Are Watch Dial Protectors Used For?

The primary purpose of a watch dial protector is to prevent the hand levers from coming into direct contact with the dial. It minimizes the risk of scratching or marking its surface. This is particularly important when working with vintage or highly polished dials that require extra care to maintain their pristine condition.

To use a dial protector, you need to gently slide the lever-shaped end of the protector under the hands ensuring that it is positioned between the hands and the dial. This lifts up the hands and creates a protective barrier that prevents any accidental contact between the sharp edges of the hands and the dial’s surface. It also prevents damage that could be possibly caused by the tools used to remove the hands.

By using a dial protector, you can confidently manipulate the hands without worrying about causing damage to the dial. This tool offers peace of mind and allows for precise adjustments or removal of hands during various watchmaking tasks.

Dial protectors are simple yet indispensable tools that help preserve the integrity and aesthetics of watch dials. They provide an effective and efficient solution for watchmakers to protect the delicate surfaces ensuring that timepieces retain their value and visual appeal throughout the watchmaking process.

Price Guide

There are limited basic options but the ones that are available are roughly the same price as branded options, from $3-5. Alternatively, branded options have only a slightly higher price tag at around $5 for one or $8 for a pack of 3.


I recommend going for a branded option due to the limited price difference. By purchasing a branded watch dial protector, you can rest assured that your tool is from a reputable company and of high quality.

Tips for Using Watch Dial Protectors

When inserting the dial protector, handle it gently to avoid applying excessive pressure. Proper handling will help prevent any unintended damage to the dial or hands. It will also ensure that there is no bending to the watch dial protector which will increase longevity.

When working with the hands, use suitable tools such as hand levers or tweezers designed specifically for watchmaking. This ensures precise control and minimizes the risk of slipping or mishandling that could result in damage to the dial even with a watch dial protector in place.

Watch dial protectors are highly affordable so there is no need to go for DIY options or a cheaper alternative.

Watch dial protectors can be purchased either individually or in packs, typically of around five pieces. In my experience, purchasing in a pack is the best option. This is because it is not only great value for money, it also ensures you always have a spare. Since this tool is small and thin, it can be easily misplaced. The thin plastic design can also be bent easily if not handled with care causing damage to the tool. By having several, prevents any disruption to the task you are performing as you can quickly grab another.

Watch Dial Protectors FAQ

A watch dial is the part of a watch face that displays the time. It can have different styles, colors, shapes, and indicators, such as numerals, markers, or subdials. The watch dial is also called the watch face or the watch plate.

Watch dials are delicate and prone to damage during watchmaking tasks, especially when removing or adjusting watch hands. To protect your watch dial, you need to use a watch dial protector, which is a small piece of plastic that fits between the hands and the dial. This creates a barrier that prevents scratches, marks, or contact with tools.

To use a dial protector, you need to gently slide the lever-shaped end of the protector under the hands, making sure it is positioned between the hands and the dial. This lifts up the hands and allows you to manipulate them without damaging the dial. You can use suitable tools such as hand levers or tweezers to remove or adjust the hands.

Watch dials can be made of any metal, but most commonly they are made of brass, bronze, copper, or fine silver. Some luxury watches may also feature enamel, meteorite, or mother-of-pearl watch dials. Watch dials can have different finishes, such as polished, matte, sunburst, or textured.

Watch dials vary in thickness depending on the material, design, and features of the watch. However, most watch dials are around 0.3mm to 0.5mm thick. Watch dial protectors are typically 0.15mm thick, so they can easily fit between the dial and the hands.

Watch dials are painted with different types of paints, depending on the desired effect and quality. Some common types of paints are lacquer, enamel, varnish, and luminous paint. Watch dials can also be coated with a protective layer to prevent fading, corrosion, or oxidation.

If you think I’ve missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.


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I started WatchmakingTools to share my passion and knowledge with those already bitten by the watchmaking bug. I’ve often spent hours searching online for answers on a specific issue, and even though there is a wealth of information out there, it hasn’t always been very useful, hence why I wanted to share my own findings.

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