For over 10 years I have used CorelDRAW® almost daily
to create designs for many products and projects. Being interested
in watches, several years ago I started to do research
and eventually learned to create and install custom dials of my
own design and making. The past few years I have been making
custom dials for watches, and for me it never gets boring. I’m
going to take you through the basic processes I use to design
and create a custom watch dial for a basic quartz watch.
Let me first provide some basic information on watches.
Watches are made using a quartz movement, the kind that
needs a battery to run or a mechanical movement. Mechanical
movement watches at the least are complicated, and for the
purpose of this article I’ll provide the basics for designing and
making a dial for a quartz watch.
Let’s start with the assumption that we’re going to create
a custom dial for a round watch. Watches can use square,
rectangle, oval, and even odd shapes which the same basic
design principles apply to.
First you must determine the size of the actual dial itself.
In order to do this, the dial must be removed from the watch. I
will list a resource for an instructional DVD for the process of
taking apart a quartz watch and the author’s version of designing,
making and installing a custom dial for a quartz watch.
Once the original dial has been removed and measured, we
can start the design process.
The first step is to draw a circle the size of the actual dial.
Next determine the amount of space that is not seen around
the edge of the actual dial when placed in the watchcase.
This will usually be around 1/32” give or take a little. You may
want to draw an additional circle as a guide to show the actual
edge of the design area that will be seen. This circle can later
be removed should you determine it is not needed as a guideline.
Now the fun begins. I usually determine what type of markers
will be desired. You may or may not choose to have markers
for seconds. If you want second markers determine the
width and length. I then place the marker at the top center of
the circle the desired distance from the edge of the dial. Now
you can copy and paste an additional marker and move it to
the bottom center of the dial.
Now to make things easier I group those two markers and
then proceed to copy, paste and rotate to get the 60 second
markers on the dial. Since you need 60 second markers you
rotate each new set of markers 6 degrees. You can also group
the markers once you have 5 pair done and then copy, paste
and rotate accordingly. Using CorelDRAW makes this part of
the process easy and accurate. (See example #1.)
Now you can decide on what style of numbers, color, and
the placement of numbers on the dial. Keep in mind that these
decisions are totally yours to make. You may choose a traditional
motif, military style, or something abstract. There are
unlimited resources of images of watches both new and old
available in books, magazines, and of course in the Internet.
Depending on the overall concept keep in mind the amount,
size and style of numbers and/or markers based on whether
there will be any type of photograph, logo, family crest, military
insignia, or whatever additional element that is part of the
overall dial design.
For example purposes, I’m going to use the eagle with
some numbers. (See example #2.) You may want to print out
your design on plain paper to get a feel for how it will look. You
can also cut it out and place it in the case to get a better idea
of how the finished dial will look. Using CorelDRAW makes
adjusting all aspects of the design quick and easy.
When you plan to incorporate a photograph or any bitmap
image, you will want to consider the size and placement and
keep in mind where the watch hands attach in the center of the