Engraving Your Watch - a Complete Guide

Engraving Your Watch - a Complete Guide

Engraving of jewelry has been a popular trend for a long time - not to mention on wedding rings. By engraving, you personalize and commemorate, and make the item much more special as it now resembles something important. Naturally, the trend of engraving quickly extended to watches, which isn’t surprising at all considering the fact that a watch can be a perfect gift, but also something that you wear at all times. In addition, it’s also considered a man’s only jewelry.

In this article, we will look closer at watch engravings, what you need to think about when engraving your watch and answer common questions regarding watch engraving.

Why should you engrave a watch?

There are many good reasons to engrave a watch. Most of the time, it is about commemorating something and making the watch more meaningful.

Some of the most common reasons for engraving a watch are:

  • To commemorate an event such as an anniversary
  • To personalize a gift
  • To mark an accomplishment (for example retirement)

When you consider what to engrave on your watch, you want to consider what the reason and purpose for the watch and the engraving is. For example, if you are going to give the watch as an anniversary gift, the purpose of the gift is quite clear, hence it makes sense to engrave a quote, a date, or name. But if it is a birthday gift, it is natural that the engraving is related to the birthday, for example,” To XX on your 60th birthday”. If it is simply a gift, it may be appropriate to only engrave the name. It all depends on what you want to say with your engraving (whether that is to yourself or someone else). Think about the message you want the watch to mediate.

How much does it cost to have a watch engraved?

There are generally two factors that affect how much it costs to have a watch engraved. The first one is where you have it engraved, the second is how many characters you need to have engraved.

If it’s just a few characters, it is often cheaper than if you need to have a lot of characters and a long sentence because more letters mean more work for the engraver. At the same time, it is also important to remember that the more letters you need, the smaller they will be. This in turn will also make the engraving more complicated since it is harder to engrave tiny letters than larger ones since the engraver needs to be more precise.

Summarized, the factors that may affect the price of an engraving is:

  • The number of characters
  • The complexity of the engraving (eg. Photos/images)
  • The font of the engraving
  • The location of the engraving

In general, you can expect that the price for an engraving varies between €20 for the most basic, up to about €300 for the most complex and custom engravings.

What should I engrave on my watch for myself?

It’s common to engrave watches that are meant to be gifts, but it’s also not completely uncommon to engrave your own watch. There are several different good occasions and reasons to engrave your watch. 

Here are some ideas for what to engrave on a watch for yourself:

  • Engrave a specific milestone, for example, a date
  • Engrave an inspiring/motivating quote
  • Engrave your name to make it more personal
  • Engrave a symbol or image (for example a family crest)

We want to elaborate on the symbol because usually, you engrave a text, but many engravers (but not all) also offer the ability to engrave a symbol/image. Engraving a symbol is a great motive to engrave for a watch that you want for yourself to make it more personalized. For example, you may engrave your family crest or similar.

For obvious reasons, you won’t be able to engrave just any type of image due to the complexity it may involve, but it will also likely affect the cost of the engraving unless the symbol is very simple as a star or heart.

How long does it take to get a watch engraved?

Naturally, how long it takes to get a watch engraves depends on where you engrave it and how busy they are. In some cases, it can take 1 day for a watch to be engraved, in others, it can take up to a week. But a good reference point is between 2 and 7 days. If you have a particularly complex and custom request, you may have to expect a longer turnaround time than if you just need a simple and basic engraving.

Can an engraving be removed from a watch?

Yes, it can! An engraving can be removed by either brushing or polishing the surface (depending on the finish of the case back). For a watchmaker, this is a relatively easy fix, but remember that it depends on how deep the engraving is.

Should you engrave your watch?

The answer is that it depends. In general, if you have an expensive or collectible watch, the general guideline is to never make any modifications or changes to the watch as it will negatively affect the value. When you customize a watch with an engraving, not only are you changing its original look, but you are also making customization that is appreciated by you or the receiver and will not be appreciated by anyone else.

However, the good news is that, shall you change your mind or plan to sell the watch in the future, an engraving can be removed most of the time. If it is done on the case back, you could buy a new case back to replace it, or you could polish and remove the engraving. With that said, if you want to engrave your watch, you should. It’s a great way to personalize the watch, give it a deeper meaning, and make it more special for the owner. But think twice is your plan is to sell it.

How Is a Watch Engraved?

There are a few different ways to go about engraving a watch. The most common ways to engrave a watch are:

  • Engraving by hand
  • Rotary engraving
  • Laser engraving

All of these three engraving methods have both pros and cons, and in some cases, you may get the option to choose what to engrave, in others, not. Naturally, laser engraving is the most precise and accurate. With laser engraving, you also have greater opportunities to engrave your watch since the engraving is programmed by a computer.

Hand engraving requires skills and is a more labor-intensive process. The hand engraving needs to be done with utmost precision for a perfect result, but it does give a classic and traditional look that appears much less ”industrialized”.

What font should you engrave with?

In general, most engraves offer one or two fonts to choose from when engraving your watch. However, some also offer the possibility of choosing the font of your engraving. In general, you need to consider that when you customize the choice of font, the price may also be affected. Not all engravers can offer fonts, but if you want something special, make sure you research the possibilities of choosing.

There is no right or wrong here, but in general, it is most common to choose a basic, clean font as it makes it the easiest to read what the engraving says.

Where should you engrave your watch?

The most common place to engrave a watch is the case back since this is usually where there is the most room and it is usually also the flattest area. However, not all watches have room on the case back. In addition, some watches may have see-through case backs on which it is not possible to engrave. Some people choose to place their engraving somewhere else, and this is generally possible, but you also want to consider that it may mean that the engraving becomes more complex and thus increases the cost.

Two other places to engrave a watch are the side of the case or on the backside on one of the lugs.

Don’t make the engraving too complex

You are of course free to make whichever engraving you want, but the general advice is to never make the engraving too complex or with too many characters. A mistake that some people make is that they choose a fancy font, and then have plenty of characters in their engraving. Whilst this may look nice in theory, the issue is that a case back is generally small, and therefore, the result may not be as nice as you envisioned it to be, as it may prove to be difficult to read and may look cluttered.

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