pvd panerai

PVD & DLC Coating: Is this service worth it?

PVD & DLC Coating: Is this service worth it?

I want you to look at your old watch. There lies an old piece of memories and experiences. That Old timer still ticks, but when it comes to complimenting your attire, it is truly lacking. There are scratches and chipped off part of the glass. It would be sad to wear it, as it would be if you tossed it away.

Well, do not fret. There is a current craze among watch enthusiasts. Certain types of modification that coat the steel of the watch making it look sleek and tactical. Reviving what was once pure shelf material into your brand new black, hardened beauty.

The way to do just that is through a process called PVD or Physical Vapor Deposition. Now there are many types of PVD coats, the people’s favorite of which is DLC or Diamond Like Carbon. If you are interested then allow me to explain.

What is PVD?

First, the watch is disassembled, placing all the pieces in different compartments. When the metal pieces are separated, they are ready for the next process. This time they are placed in a vacuum chamber and thin layers of vaporized material are applied on the metal surface of the watch, bonding it with the material, whatever it is (Steel, titanium…).

There are 12 types of PVD coating and most of them serve a specific purpose or a trait that is good in particular fields:

  1. TiN – Mostly decorative coating and good for machining carbon steel.
  2. TiAIN – Good for machining tool steel and has a great wet-machining performance.
  3. AITiCrn – Higher operational temperature range, great wet – dry machining performance and is good for machining steel.
  4. AlTiN – High operational temperature range (800C), great dry machining performance (almost no use of lubricants) and is good for machining steel.
  5. TiAlCN – Excellent for machining Al – alloy.
  6. TiCN – Good for HHS drill and has lower friction then TiN.
  7. TiCrN – Multilayer CrN\TiN coating, excellent in molding high precision parts protection and anti-corrosion.
  8. TiSiN – High operational temperature, high hardness, excellent for stainless steel, excellent in high speed dry cutting and has a high abrasive wear resistance.
  9. AlCrSiN – Excellent in high speed dry cutting, good for machining harder steel, god for machining Ti – alloy
  10. ZrN – Great for machining Al – alloy and is anti-corrosive.
  11. CrN – Anti corrosion, outstanding chemical resistance and high toughness.
  12. DLC – Anti-adhesive diamond like carbon, extremely low friction, good for machining light metal great toughness.

pvd panerai

What is DLC coating?

DLC stands for Diamond Like Carbon, which is a nanocomposite coating that possesses the traits of natural diamond (corrosion resistance, high hardness and low friction). This type of PVD coating is the most requested watch modification currently on the market. The color can be adjusted by your preferences but should be in the gray specter (very light gray to very dark gray).

Now, obviously the quality of the coating varies from manufacturer to manufacturer but they all have a relatively similar pricing, which is from 1700$ to 2000$. I know, it seems like overpricing for a paint job, and it probably is but, there is a catch – The coating is named Diamond Like Carbon because it possesses the common traits of both diamond and carbon.

It is extremely durable, electrically insulated, corrosion resistant and self-lubricating in dry wear conditions. Your watch is basically an alien element at this point.

dlc steinhart


If you wondered, why DLC is the people’s choice when it comes to types of coating, it is because it makes your watch more durable and more aesthetically pleasing. Other types of PVD are really good as well and they all possess different traits. Some are good and some are better, but at the end, they cannot compare with Diamond Like Carbon. With its longevity and ability to sustain its coating in harsh environments.

There is also the question of who does the coating. Some manufacturers offer services of much higher value than others do, meaning that in some places the quality of the PVD may be superior to their DLC coating and vice versa.

Most servicers offer warranty for about a year or two, and if that is not enough, the coating can be reversed with no damage. The process involves different chemicals to remove the substrate finish and the cost varies from 200$ to 300$.

PVD Rolex watches

When it comes to a brand like Rolex and whether you should pay for the PVD treatment, all I can say is – be careful. The market is an uncontrollable force so for a second you have a premium A-grade watch, worth thousands of dollars and you decide to have it PVD’d and now it’s a cheap knock off. Your warranty is no longer valid; it lacks the originality and the mechanical look that Rolex have maintained throughout the years.

Again, it is a personal choice. Some people are willing to pay top dollar for PVD watches, and others want their old timer to have the feel and the looks of stainless steel. I think that this should not stop you from experimenting and showing your creative side. However, when you do, use caution.

Below is an image of a DLC Rolex watch

dlc rolex

FAQ’s on PVD and DLC

  • What is the price for PVD coating?

-The price should be determined by the type of PVD coating you want but should be in the range between 650$ as lowest and 2000$ as high-grade polish and coating.

  • Is the process reversible?

-If you happen to dislike the product there are services that offer the reverse treatment that uses chemicals to remove the coating without damaging the watch. That should cost around 200$-300$.

  • How much does the PVD coat last?

-A PVD coat lasts forever or until you pay to have it removed.

  • What is DLC coating?

– DLC stands for Diamond Like Carbon. It is a type of coating produced by applying vaporized carbon on the surface of a watch.


2 thoughts on “PVD & DLC Coating: Is this service worth it?”

  1. Wow – they sure have their profit margins… From machining tool industry pricing to PVD coat a similar area than a watch body will cost 2-30 USD. The DLC is the most expensive. These prices are from European countries like Germany and also apply to private person in one off quantity as far as I’m familiar with them.

  2. Hi
    Where would someone find a company that provides that PVD service for a watch?
    Thank u

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