Before we go any further, let's consult a Cambridge dictionary:
Restoration: the act or process of returning something to its earlier good condition.
Hardly any room for misinterpretation: fixing a broken watch and
returning it to an 'earlier good condition' is essentially a
restoration. What is not defined as a restoration is regular
maintenance: ensuring that a watch which is already in good working
order continues to perform for another period of time - until it's due
for next scheduled maintenance. We call this kind of work regular servicing.
The recent YouTube video opened a floodgate of comments: "Oh, that video
is not a Rolex restoration, it is just a video showing a lots of parts
being replaced, not restored." Those comments unfortunately come from
ignorant viewers who simply lack the basic understanding of the
Was the watch broken at the beginning of the restoration process? Yes.
Actually, it was at the point of a total write-off. Has it been returned
in working order? Yes. The end of the story.
However, what may confuse some viewers is the misplaced hope that almost
all 100 of the rusted out parts will be restored themselves,
individually, one by one. Well, if that was the case, the video would be
titled: "restoration of winding stem" or "restoration of barrel arbour"
and would have taken 6 months.
But the end result of such lengthy 'restoration' would be a total disaster. Finely machined then rusted out watch parts are not designed to be restored.
A rusted escape wheel cannot be restored. Ditto to the rest of them.
Except for some bridges and in some rare cases, the base plate which
holds all components together. We call that part the 'mainplate'. Due to
the fact that it is made of brass which is non-ferrous (not containing
iron, therefore no rust) metal, the mainplate can be restored. Since the
mainplate contains pressed in steel pins, jewels, and internally and
externally threaded steel posts, which are not meant to be removed
because they are factory set and adjusted, restoration of the mainplate
is time consuming and has to be undertaken with great care. This is a
very difficult job and could take days - if not weeks.
The mainplate is the only part which has been restored in the video. So
the video should be titled: "Restoration of rusted Rolex and restoration of Rolex 3185 mainplate". Not one, but two restorations.
Read the comments - and you can easily spot the difference between
viewers who clearly get it (and appreciate it) and those who are
unfortunately clueless about watchmaking.
Again, nothing personal, but if we want to call ourselves students of
horology, then we should be able to tell the difference between
restoration and servicing. As well to understand why watch parts like
gears, pallets, springs, and levers could not and should not be restored
- they won't work, the watch won't perform reliably and most likely it
won't keep time at all.
I strongly recommend that you do watch our rusted Rolex restoration
video, especially now knowing what to expect. Yes, almost all parts are
replaced, the main plate is restored, and the delicacy comes from the
fact that the mainplate was restored so precisely that the watch was
returned to it's almost like new working condition, with correct
amplitude, beat error, and daily timekeeping rate. Again, not bad for a
Want to have some fun? For a brief moment, there is a shot of our 'freedom mug'.
The tenth viewer to email us the timestamp of its appearance will
receive our freedom shirt. We will list the first 10 names in the next
The photo of the restored Rolex calibre 3185
mainplate. Made out of brass, finished with perlage and rhodium plated
bearing the Rolex serial number.