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Old 7 November 2011, 02:44 PM   #1
tuonor
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Will the real T19 superdome please stand up?

My pursuit of a T19 superdome for a birth year sub has become a bit of an (unhealthy) obsession. I'm starting this thread to share a few observations based on my mini-hoard of T19s -- with the caveat that I still haven't found a reliable method for precise identification.

Take a look at the picture below. Two crystals are supposed to be legit superdomes, one a regular dome and two are (most definitely) aftermarket. Can anyone identify all 5 correctly? One caveat -- looking at them side-by-side, I'm not sure every crystal was id'd properly by the sellers. Thus, this exercise arguably involves some guesswork (ie, which crystal was represented as what).

To get things rolling, I'll send a new bond patterned zulu with PVD buckles to the first one to answer correctly (I'll cover US postage or reasonable shipping costs abroad).
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Old 7 November 2011, 03:56 PM   #2
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it is hard to tell from the pic your post... but I will say "D" is legit, all experts out there correct me if if I am wrong.

would love to see some close up shots.
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Old 7 November 2011, 07:03 PM   #3
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A and D legit superdomed.
C regular dome.
B and E aftermarket.
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Old 7 November 2011, 10:14 PM   #4
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D and C look like t39
A looks like a service 19
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Old 7 November 2011, 10:49 PM   #5
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I hate to tell you guys but the odds of finding an original 1 are small. IMHO 99% of what is offered as original is aftermarket. If I go down to my watchmaker supply store here and ask for a tropic 19 he will offer me several different from Swiss made to German made to Asian made and they are all dome like above and all different like above. $12-$25.00 is the cost.What I suspect the sellers of ORIGINALS do is buy these put them in an old Rolex envelope and charge 2-$400. IMHO if you want the dome look by an aftermarket crystal for under $25.00 or (2-$400 if you feel better thats its real) and get your watchmaker to pressure test it after install. I have a few dozen originals that I took off of watches that are not useable and next to the aftermarkets I cannot tell.
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Old 7 November 2011, 10:59 PM   #6
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I'll go with B and D.

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Old 8 November 2011, 01:56 AM   #7
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had a superdome aftermarket installed and pressure tested, cost me €40. the old ones are getting brittle. and i like to swimm with the old sub.
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Old 8 November 2011, 02:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuonor View Post
My pursuit of a T19 superdome for a birth year sub has become a bit of an (unhealthy) obsession. I'm starting this thread to share a few observations based on my mini-hoard of T19s -- with the caveat that I still haven't found a reliable method for precise identification.

Take a look at the picture below. Two crystals are supposed to be legit superdomes, one a regular dome and two are (most definitely) aftermarket. Can anyone identify all 5 correctly? One caveat -- looking at them side-by-side, I'm not sure every crystal was id'd properly by the sellers. Thus, this exercise arguably involves some guesswork (ie, which crystal was represented as what).

To get things rolling, I'll send a new bond patterned zulu with PVD buckles to the first one to answer correctly (I'll cover US postage or reasonable shipping costs abroad).
Err Buddy...it won't be easy even to guess...
which of those Plexis could be Original Rolex or not...

IF they come in the original Vintage Rolex packing...
mostly they are good n original...
but then again...most NOS Plexis available in the market these days...
are from service replacement stocks...
especially those that come in sealed n labeled plastic packets...
having the Rolex/Tudor prints on them...
(either in RED or Green depending on different production period)
n the T16/T17/T19 n T39...etc etc. are no longer having the "Dome"...
or "Superdome" profiles...

IF they come in loose form without the original Vintage Rolex packing...
it does NOT mean they could likely be aftermarket either...
This is because in the old days...
the Vintage Plexis did come in bundles form of paper tubes or paper rolls...

Then there are those that come in original Vintage Rolex packing...
in the form of sealed GREEN paper envelopes...(having the Rolex label n stamp).
These are the most expensive n difficult ones to obtain...
NOT sure when Rolex introduced...
or when they ceased to use these GREEN paper envelops to ship the early Vintage Plexis...
especially the so called "Dome" or "Superdome" ones...
such as T12/T16/T17/T19/T20/T21/T22/T38/T39...
NOT sure again here...when Rolex had stopped to produce these Plexis...
with "Dome" or "Superdome" profiles...

Logical thinking for Orchi is...they were all SERVICE Replacement stocks...
which was perhaps how so many Plexis ended up eventually...,
being circulated in the Grey markets...
n the networks of service dealers(unauthorized by Rolex)...
NOT sure how that could have happened also...
But Orchi's best guess would be...
these Plexis were sold or "distributed"...
from the "Authorised Service Centres" of Rolex themselves...

Having the above said...the aftermarket ones are easily available...
but what sets the different sources of the aftermarket Plexis apart...
would be quality n whether or not...
they were well made to fit well...

In loose form...even the best aftermarket Plexis could be identified...
up close by making comparisons with the Original Rolex Plexis...
side by side...

Simply put...there exist some "microscopic" differences...LOL!
but once they are fitted to the watch...
the visual differences would cease to be recognized...

Scary eh...? But Orchi digresses...LOL!

Oh btw...back to the quiz...
Err...it would even be tough for Orchi...
to tell from those Plexis in the picture...
which n which is Original or Aftermarket...
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Old 8 November 2011, 06:39 PM   #9
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here is what I've learnt
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File Type: jpg TROPIC 19-001.jpg (183.9 KB, 2154 views)
File Type: jpg TROPIC 19-002.jpg (154.0 KB, 2145 views)
File Type: jpg TROPIC 19-003.jpg (94.7 KB, 2137 views)
File Type: jpg t39 and t19.jpg (157.7 KB, 2148 views)
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Old 9 November 2011, 12:33 PM   #10
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So no-one has guessed correctly yet but someone was very close.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skyedog View Post
would love to see some close up shots.
Happy to oblige a bit later this week...from what angle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by greekbum View Post
I hate to tell you guys but the odds of finding an original 1 are small. IMHO 99% of what is offered as original is aftermarket.
I hear you Nikos, perhaps its futile. I've read the threads ringing alarm bells at VRF starting a few years ago and certainly respect your many years of hands-on experience with these things. The 2 superdomes I have weren't actually NOS; one of them I traced back to what I believe is the Tudor it came installed in (love these forums)...owner could be lying but I didn't buy the crystal from him so he had nothing to gain really. Anyway, just trying to establish if there is a reliable "tell".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchi View Post
Simply put...there exist some "microscopic" differences...LOL!
but once they are fitted to the watch...
the visual differences would cease to be recognized...
I have a digital microscope...sounds like you're referring to the hidden "edge". I have found that looking for thin rings (like tree rings as suggested in another TRF post) does not seem to be reliable. Anyway I'll take some 150x scans when I take the angled photos later this week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eparisini View Post
here is what I've learnt
Thanks! That article is what got me originally thinking about T19s.
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Old 9 November 2011, 02:46 PM   #11
tuonor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanuq View Post
Can you post the same photo tilted so we see them from about a 45 degree elevation above the plane they lie on?

Until then, "B" is gen low dome,
"D" and "E" are supposed to be gen superdome but are not,
"A" and "C" are aftermarket.

Here's a comparison I did... genuine service replacement T39 on the left, genuine Superdome T39 in the middle and aftermarket Superdome T39 on the right. The clarity of both Superdomes is very good but I found there's a toroid "ring" effect when viewing the aftermarket at an angle that isn't present on the genuine domed piece. You can see it in the final picture:
See attached picture below (top row to bottom row = steepest to shallowest angle). Seems the angle really impacts how much distortion is perceived. To clarify, did you mean the the middle one in your picture is aftermarket -- that one seems to have the distortion ring but perhaps I'm not understanding what you mean by "toroid ring".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanuq View Post
Those are very nice photos Emanuele. If you have a micrometer, can you measure something for me?

Comparing the T19 and T39, what is the "thickness" of the clear dome, in the middle and at the edge? I do not mean the vertical lip, I mean the part you look through to read the time.
Not exactly what you asked, but for the T19s at least, here are some measurements using a Mitutoyo digital caliper.

Diameter / Height from highest part of dome to bottom edge (mm):
A 30.3 / 6.25
B 30.3 / 6.65
C 30.3 / 6.55
D 30.3 / 6.65
E 30.2 / 6.25
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File Type: jpg ToroidEffect.jpg (175.6 KB, 2061 views)
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Old 9 November 2011, 06:49 PM   #12
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B , E are legit

C is the lowdome

A , D are aftermarket
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Old 10 November 2011, 01:33 AM   #13
cdweller
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A and D are original superdomes, C regular dome, B and E are aftermarket. *fingers crossed*!
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Old 10 November 2011, 01:35 AM   #14
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Oops, I got my letters mixxed up, I meant B and E are original superdomes, C regular dome, A and D are aftermarket. And I just saw that MoBe beat me to it, haha! I am interested to hear the correct answer Lots of great info in this thread!!
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Old 10 November 2011, 02:10 AM   #15
MoBe
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A toroid is the same as doughnut.
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Old 10 November 2011, 11:19 AM   #16
tuonor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanuq View Post
Here's a picture of an aftermarket looking at a distant object. See the exaggerated "ring" around the perimeter? As you move the crystal around it takes on the appearance of a toroid.
Will take a look at that. I wonder if its more subtle with T19s b/c its a smaller dome. You certainly don't see any "rings" looking straight on when the background is closer as in your second picture.

Also to clarify, in the picture of the crystals side by side on graph paper, the authentic T39 is the middle one? If that's the standard, then A, D and E seem to exhibit similar optics.
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Old 19 March 2012, 06:09 AM   #17
tuonor
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Dredging up this old thread for a quick epilogue. If you recall my original question, it was perhaps a bit unfair because I was relying on the representations of the sellers. The correct answers (ie identification based on what I thought I was buying) are:

A) T19 superdome (used)
B) aftermarket from Otto Frei
C) T19 superdome (used)
D) T19 dome (NOS)
E) aftermarket from Clark (ebay)

I now believe that the correct classifications are possibly:
A) T19 superdome (well polished)
B) aftermarket from Otto Frei
C) T19 regular dome or polished superdome
D) T19 superdome
E) aftermarket from Clark (ebay)

In January I had the guys at ABC Watchwerks service my 5513 and install crystal "D". It passed a full pressure test (5-bar) and they agree it looks, feels and quacks a superdome. Good enough for me although frankly I'll never really be sure. Which highlights the difficulty in finding the real thing:
  • very very few people seem to be able to reliably ID a real superdome. Lacking an expert, the "tells" I heard about were unreliable (tree rings, toroids, microscopic layering, etc.)
  • the best indicator is probably shape...but then you need a real live superdome to compare. What may seem like a superdome in comparison to pictures may not be when you compare it to a real one side-by-side (that happened to me with "C"). The problem is the perceived profile changes meaningfully based on the angle you are looking at, so pictures can be misleading. The aftermarkets I bought were not accurate in this regard -- but perhaps there are better ones out there
  • the last point is complicated by the fact that legit crystals can be polished, and, over the years can lose their shape. This is likely the case with "A" -- I tracked the crystal through a couple owners to what I believe was the original Tudor it came on. Even if it was once a true superdome, look at it now. If you are buying used, this means you cannot go 100% based on the reference pictures
  • the aftermarket crystals (at least the two I have experience with) do tend to be more optically clear than the originals (note the apparent transparency of "B" in the photo)
  • I tend to agree that the vast majority of T19s sold as superdomes are not genuine (no reflection on the sellers in many cases given how many of these are sold and resold but regardless, be wary!). I would not trust the green paper packets either as its too easy to repackage loose crystals in one...look for one in a sealed plastic bag.

My superdome installed:
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Old 20 March 2012, 12:17 PM   #18
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Great post and thread. I enjoyed reading it. I couldn't find a super dome so had to go with a service crystal. I really miss the super dome look
Thanks!!
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Old 20 March 2012, 11:30 PM   #19
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superdome plexy is so sexy

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Old 20 March 2012, 11:55 PM   #20
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Great thread, I learn something everyday here
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Old 22 March 2012, 01:21 PM   #21
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Very interesting.......

Very interesting thread. I have to say that the 3rd photo posted by "eparisini" shows very clearly what I have discovered after doing a lot of reading on the subject, and that is that the original "Super Dome" has a shorter chimney, or vertical sides than either the dome or service dome.
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Old 23 March 2012, 02:08 AM   #22
tuonor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchi View Post
This is because in the old days...
the Vintage Plexis did come in bundles form of paper tubes or paper rolls...

Then there are those that come in original Vintage Rolex packing...
in the form of sealed GREEN paper envelopes...(having the Rolex label n stamp).
These are the most expensive n difficult ones to obtain...
Here's another question that has come up -- did any of the genuine factory plexis come with a plastic / vinyl sticker over the top of the dome (presumably to protect it if it was stacked in a paper tube with a bunch of other plexis)? I've seen these on aftermarket crystals ("E" in my series), but not sure if it could be considered a "tell".
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Old 2 July 2016, 09:29 AM   #23
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Awesome thread for vintage noobs like myself. Thanks for this!
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Old 2 July 2016, 01:25 PM   #24
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Is the one to the left t19 dome and right service dome?
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Old 6 March 2018, 03:10 AM   #25
peterdavid911
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Hi everyone,
I am looking to buy a Superdome crystal for my 5513 MK1 Maxi dial.
I know that the T19 is used on the 5513 but I want to know if the T39 also fits the 5513 or are they different diameters?
Reason I ask is that the T39 is so much more domed than a T19 and I like the magnified markers on the maxi looking very maxi:)

Thanks
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Old 6 March 2018, 09:49 AM   #26
jsft98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterdavid911 View Post
Hi everyone,
I am looking to buy a Superdome crystal for my 5513 MK1 Maxi dial.
I know that the T19 is used on the 5513 but I want to know if the T39 also fits the 5513 or are they different diameters?
Reason I ask is that the T39 is so much more domed than a T19 and I like the magnified markers on the maxi looking very maxi:)

Thanks
Technically you can install a T39 on a 5513 as they are of the same diameter, but it will be sitting taller than a T19. This is because the T39 is designed for SD which has thicker bezel ring.

No doubt that the side distorsion of the T39 will make the indices look larger, but once you look at the side you'll see that the dome doesn't sit flush to the bezel ring (i.e slightly raised).
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Old 6 March 2018, 07:12 PM   #27
peterdavid911
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Thank you for your reply, that really helps.
So the taller side wall of the T39 crystal will give it a higher vertical edge.
Does anyone here have experience on which is the best aftermarket T19 Superdome for the best magnifying effect of the hour markers? Would be great to see some comparison pics of the different brands.
Thanks.
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Old 6 March 2018, 11:32 PM   #28
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I bought a T19 from Michael Young in HK, my watchmaker sucked his teeth on seeing an aftermarket, but on fitting it to my 5513 he declared himself pleased with the fit and said it was superior to others he'd handled. Of course that watch is with LAWW right now so no pics, sorry! But it's this one - http://www.classicwatchrepair.com/en...-domed-crystal
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Old 7 March 2018, 11:35 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toronto Soup King View Post
I bought a T19 from Michael Young in HK, my watchmaker sucked his teeth on seeing an aftermarket, but on fitting it to my 5513 he declared himself pleased with the fit and said it was superior to others he'd handled. Of course that watch is with LAWW right now so no pics, sorry! But it's this one - http://www.classicwatchrepair.com/en...-domed-crystal
Yes Michael's T19 is very good replacement, but pricy.
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Old 8 March 2018, 01:52 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toronto Soup King View Post
I bought a T19 from Michael Young in HK, my watchmaker sucked his teeth on seeing an aftermarket, but on fitting it to my 5513 he declared himself pleased with the fit and said it was superior to others he'd handled. Of course that watch is with LAWW right now so no pics, sorry! But it's this one - http://www.classicwatchrepair.com/en...-domed-crystal
I must have got a dud then. I installed a Michael Young T-19 and it cracked after a few weeks.
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