How to Paint Watch Hands

Updated February 21, 2017

You can add a colourful painted finish to watch hands, if you thoroughly condition the items for adequate adhesion. Unfortunately, if you try to paint directly over the bare watch hands, they'll rapidly shed the finish. Because watch hands are metallic, they don't have very good adhesive qualities. Promote better adhesion by treating the hands with an acidic etching agent. Once you've prepared the hands in the correct manner, you may paint them. Apply a specific type of finish, using the correct application method, or sags may show in the finish coat.

Remove the watch hands from the watch, or you will end up staining the surrounding surface.

Wash the watch hands with a degreasing cleanser, using a sponge. Rinse the hands under a faucet. Place the hands on a dust sheet and wait an hour for each to dry.

Coat the watch hands with a priming agent. Use nothing other than a galvanised metal-etching spray primer, or chipping will result. Use the proper application technique, or the finish will dry flawed: Maintain eight inches between the hand and spray tip. Spray in several short bursts, rather than a steady, saturating stream.

Let the watch hands dry for two hours. Flip them over and prime the other sides. Let the hands dry for three hours.

Paint the watch hands as you primed them. Don't use a thick latex paint: Instead, finish the hands with an oil enamel. Wait three hours before replacing the hands.


Don't paint over bare watch hands, or peeling will follow. Acrylic and latex primers won't bond to a watch hand. Don't use them, or flaking will occur.

Things You'll Need

  • Water-based degreasing soap
  • Nylon sponge
  • Rags
  • Canvas dust sheets
  • Galvanised metal-etching spray primer
  • Oil-based spray enamel
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About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.