Monday, August 19, 2013

Rolex Submariner 1680 Red - restoration, part II

Rolex 1680 The Red Sub

While we are still on the quest for the 'missing puzzle' - Which shop sold Rolex watches on Norfolk Island in 1970s? the owner of the Red Sub was anxious to get his baby back, so I got straight into Red restoration.

Before you see the photos, couple of points on what a true and faithful collectors of vintage Rolex watches regard as the 'honest way' to restore a watch:

- Mechanism: complete overhaul. Worn out or broken parts are to be replaced. For the same reason you would replace a brake pads on 1972 Porsche, you should replace movement components which are essential and responsible for time keeping. Remember: if it doesn't tell the time, it's not a watch!

- case parts: light polish only. This is done by hand, of course. Plexy glass: again, polish only. Original bezel insert should be retained for two reasons: originality and distinctive vintage look.

- bracelet: a worn out bracelet must be replaced! Again, you would not restore a vintage car and drive it around 'preserving' the 50 years old set of tires. Old bracelet should be preserved, but not attached to a newly restored watch.

- case seal: rubber seal should be replace. This is not optional! While vintage watches are no longer expected to be water resistant, seals are meant to be replaced regardless.

- dial and hands: this is actually the most important bit. The dial and hands should NEVER be replaced. Dial replacement is sacrilegious! Not only the new dial would spoil the look but it would significantly devalue the watch.

In other words, a proper restoration means bringing the watch in good working order wile preserving as much of it's character and originality, whenever that is possible. Like with any restoration, the end result should never become irreversible.

Once again, vintage watches should not be worn in water. When worn daily, extra care and attention should be taken. After all, we are just guardians- beautiful pieces will outlive it's custodians and will be passed on to the next generation of careful are respectful owners.

At least we hope so.

Case disassembly

the 'red' dial was manufactured by dial maker Beyeler, Geneve

the mainspring was dry, long overdue for cleaning, polishing and lubrication

movement disassembled, components ready for cleaning

main spring polished and lubricated

balance wheel

movement assembled


hands assembly

checking for clearence

movement assembled !

Plexiglas polishing

by hand :-)

more plexi polishing

"brushing" the lugs - refinishing

case cleaning

not bad :-)

almost there

ready to go!

As you would imagine, this quick 'show and tell' blog entry covers only some of steps involved in restoration which took approximately 6 hours. Holding the camera with one hand and assembling the watch with other is challenge I am yet to master :-)

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