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Old 24 April 2021, 08:04 AM   #1
lencap
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1981 Ladies DateJust - Jubilee - Service or Trade

Greetings -

I bought a 1981 Rolex DateJust two tone Jubilee for my wife's 30th birthday in 1981. Next month will be her 70th birthday and I would like your thoughts about servicing it or trading it.

The watch has been worn daily for 40 years, serviced by Rolex several times, and for her birthday I'm struggling with servicing it again or buying a new one.

To start her watch has the typical worn Jubilee link issue, and held sideways it sags noticeably. The dial lume (champaign) is almost gone, and in a prior service Rolex mysteriously replaced only one hand - leaving the remaining hand lume slightly different colors. The acrylic crystal is scratched and will need replacement, and likely the winder and stem will need replacing as well.

The local AD showed the watch to their in house expert who suggested that Rolex will likely have a base charge of $750 to service the watch, and if they deem that the bracelet needs replacing that will likely add $2K plus my my wife's current bracelet in exchange. She also thought that if they replace the dial they will also replace the hands, which she expects will add $1K to the service. All in all the service range is from $750 to $4K depending on what they find. She also said that she can request that the original parts remain on the watch, but if Rolex deems that they no longer meet specs they will likely insist on changing them out.

Aside from the financial decision (which doesn't bother me - a 40 year old watch that was bought for a special birthday isn't something that I feel compelled to replace) my wife is petite at 5'1" and not much above 100 pounds. She has arthritis and recently repaired cataracts, so her vision isn't what it was 40 years ago. Her champaign dial/hands don't have great contrast and we're not getting any younger. Changing the dial for legibility isn't a bad plan, but when the AD had her try the white/Roman numeral dial on the current model my wife didn't like it. The new version of her watch is 28mm (I believe her current watch is 24mm, but the AD saleswoman said it's 26mm) and has a larger case (in line with Rolex's move to overall larger cases), which she wasn't sure about one way or the other.

So, what to do? I don't know how to advise her. She rebels at the idea of spending the current price on a new watch, but I reminded her that in relative terms it's just as extravagant (from her perspective) as the original watch was at the time. She also doesn't want to put a lot of money into the older watch if it seems silly to do so. I told her that doesn't bother me, just get what you want.

I question sending it to Rolex with an open checkbook for them to decide what needs to be done. I don't mind paying to keep it in top condition, but I do feel uncomfortable that Rolex will decide what needs to be done and I have little say in the outcome.

Thoughts?
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Old 24 April 2021, 10:11 AM   #2
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Get her a new one.

This is like when your partner says they don't want anything for Valentine's Day. It's a trap.
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Old 24 April 2021, 10:49 AM   #3
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Rolex still makes 28mm DJ, with all the improvements its prolly a better place to spend money.


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Old 24 April 2021, 12:09 PM   #4
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After reading your post carefully, my gut feeling is that a new watch (with a more legible dial) would be a good choice from a practical perspective. However, the fact that she is a bit resistant to it might indicate that she is emotionally attached to her current watch. My wife gets very sentimental about things, and I could see her reacting badly to the idea of replacing something that has been a part of her life for so long. Do you have a sense of that aspect?
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Old 24 April 2021, 01:16 PM   #5
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Not a simple decision! Have you thought of getting an independent to service it? I’m not sure if Roliworks does ladies watches but if so they could restore the bracelet, service the movement and resume the hands and you’d certainly be south of the $4k Rolex will charge...
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Old 24 April 2021, 04:39 PM   #6
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After reading your post carefully, my gut feeling is that a new watch (with a more legible dial) would be a good choice from a practical perspective. However, the fact that she is a bit resistant to it might indicate that she is emotionally attached to her current watch. My wife gets very sentimental about things, and I could see her reacting badly to the idea of replacing something that has been a part of her life for so long. Do you have a sense of that aspect?
But she could keep the old one and have the new one too, right? The OP didn't mention a trade. Best of both worlds.

And if the OP is 70-ish and has the funds, I say get it spent. You can't take it with you.
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Old 24 April 2021, 10:58 PM   #7
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She does enjoy her watch, but she too is unsure about what to do. Part of her angst is thinking about the financial part of it - which I told her not to be concerned about, but she can't ignore it. When we were married our combined salaries were not much over $15K. She anchors to those prices for everything we do, so $10K for a watch is a stretch.

After looking at a single new watch (two tone Jubilee, white dial) on her wrist it does seem a bit larger than her current watch in all dimensions, especially the case which is also thicker. Somehow the older watch seems more classic and elegant - smaller case suits her petite size, less mass to the case also seems more "ladies rolex" sized and proportioned. Interestingly the saleswoman is very tall, 6' plus, and she wears a 41 DJ TT. To me it looked like a pie plate, but that's the current style. After 50 years the size may be the deciding issue. She's also not sure how comfortable the largerf watch it is after just a brief trial at the AD. These days allocation is so light that comparing models is difficult.

It would be easy to keep the current watch even if she gets a new one, but she's a "one watch" woman. Every day she wears her Rolex regardless of what she's doing. It's been everywhere with us over the years. I suspect that trading the older watch will be the likely outcome if we get a new watch.

The issue, for me, is fit and comfort. If the new watch will fit well and is comfortable that seems like the answer, but it's hard to get confidence with that decision in a 15 minute AD visit.
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Old 25 April 2021, 12:58 AM   #8
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She’s not wrong about the financial investment, by the way. Rolex retail prices have increased more than inflation since 1981. Any increased WAY more than inflation since the ‘70s.
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Old 25 April 2021, 05:43 PM   #9
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How about keeping the old one, but replacing the dial hands (she chooses which design) replace the bracelet and she has in effect a bespoke ‘new’ piece in her possession retaining everything she loves in its size and the fact you bought it for her 40 years ago. Economically it probably makes no sense (although you could sell old parts), but the effort may be worth it.
There’s so many spare parts around for these watches, many NOS. Contact John Buckley (TuscanyRose) or maybe your AD can help.
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Old 25 April 2021, 06:04 PM   #10
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4K for the current watch to be serviced is a lot cheaper than 10k for a new one.

I’d get the current one fully serviced and enjoy it.
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Old 25 April 2021, 10:55 PM   #11
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I would buy her a new one. Maybe 31mm, might be easier to read. Then I would get the old one serviced and pass it down to the next generation.
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Old 26 April 2021, 01:26 AM   #12
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Sorry to break it to you, but you will need to do both.

It's jewelry for women, and they don't discard one piece of jewelry to make room for another, it is a cumulative action.

Get her a new one and she will love it. You will then need to have the old one overhauled because..... well, just because.

(save some money and have the old bracelet rebuilt at Rolliworks in California; Rolex only replaces, they don't fix. )
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Old 26 April 2021, 02:17 AM   #13
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I know your conundrum. Many of the comments are spot on based upon your narrative.

But I differ on the steps.

Platinum jewellery is the traditional 70th birthday gift.

But...
If you have your heart set on getting her a traditional 70th birthday watch then it too should be platinum. But Rolex isn’t making Lady Presidents in platinum now. So that would be a preowned search and $60K+ish...unlikely she’d want that spent on a timepiece methinks.

So back to platinum jewellery.
Maybe earrings, a ring engraved with a lovely message, or a pendant featuring her star sign or inlaid with her birthstone?

For the watch work...
I’d separate the tasks. Remove the bracelet and send it to Rolliworks. Take the head to an AD with a Rolex watchmaker (or send to RSC) for full service + new hands + new crystal. Maybe have your wife decide if a Diamond bezel or a new dial is in her wish list.


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Old 26 April 2021, 06:10 AM   #14
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A new 31 mm and full overhaul of the old one.
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Old 26 April 2021, 06:50 AM   #15
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I can relate. My MIlL got a gold ladies’ President DJ from my FIL in 1979 as a gift. It too has the champagne dial and gold baton hands, and back then the ladies’ Rolexes were 26mm; so, it’s a beautiful classic watch that’s hard to read.

The bracelet was stretched so badly that it couldn’t be worn. Rolex wanted to charge her $10k for a new gold one.

The watch was basically too small to read and too expensive to repair for her, but she didn’t want to part with it (and nor did we).

My husband and I decided to pay to have the bracelet repaired by re-pinning. Then we had her go to a reputable dealer and see what they would pay her for the watch. We then bought it from her for what she would sell it for (because I’m not her only daughter in law, and a watch isn’t worth a family fight). She did not want another Rolex (as she got older she felt uncomfortable wearing an expensive watch) so she wears a new watch that’s much bigger and more legible. I give her the watch to wear on special occasions, which she enjoys. She’s very glad it stayed in the family.

I suggest another DateJust for your wife, larger (31 or 34 mm) perhaps with a white dial for legibility. Try to get your wife’s watch bracelet re-pinned and serviced so she can wear it on special occasions If you have children or grandchildren definitely keep your wife’s watch.

Women do get sentimental about jewelry, to the point where some even go into nursing homes wearing their wedding rings (which, shamefully, get stolen sometimes).

Women’s TT Datejusts are the only thing in my AD’s cases right now!
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Old 27 April 2021, 02:01 AM   #16
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Thanks for the comments. We’ve been chatting about what to do, but no resolution yet. She tried the 28mm white face Roman numerals and doesn’t like it. As mentioned she’s very petite.

One added bit of info - last year she suffered a very severe second degree burn in on her watch hand/wrist and lower arm from being scalded with boiling water in a kitchen accident. The damage was extensive requiring a hospital stay at a specialized burn center. She was lucky to not require skin grafts. The skin has largely regrown, but it is thin and highly sensitive and will likely remain so for the rest of her life. She also has some minor, but permanent, nerve damage in the hand and wrist. As a result she is more sensitive to how the watch feels than she was before the accident. Although she hasn’t specifically mentioned the burn and how it affects her, I can tell that she is concerned about howa larger watch will feel and wear on her wrist. You can’t really tell in a 15 minute AD visit. She also must keep the hand protected from sun at all times - she wears sunscreen every day, rain or shine, warm or cold weather.

As an aside she was wearing her watch when she got burned. The doctors said that the Jubilee band served as a heat sink absorbing some of the heat of the injury. Since the band fully surrounded her wrist it prevented the water from causing complete loss of deeper skin tissue. That in turn prevented the swelling from destroying the blood flow and nerve endings from becoming a situation that would have required skin grafts. 40 years ago I bought that watch to honor her birthday. I never expected that it would save her from permanent disability and a much longer and painful recovery. Given all that our joint preference is that whatever we decide the watch brand will be a Rolex.

Because of this injury the decision is more complicated and I honor whatever she decides to do. Unfortunately the injury was so severe and even after a year she still feels it’s impact daily. I suspect she’ll opt to keep her watch, and maybe consider a dial and hand change for better contrast/visibility.
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Old 27 April 2021, 07:23 AM   #17
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Thanks for the comments. We’ve been chatting about what to do, but no resolution yet. She tried the 28mm white face Roman numerals and doesn’t like it. As mentioned she’s very petite.

One added bit of info - last year she suffered a very severe second degree burn in on her watch hand/wrist and lower arm from being scalded with boiling water in a kitchen accident. The damage was extensive requiring a hospital stay at a specialized burn center. She was lucky to not require skin grafts. The skin has largely regrown, but it is thin and highly sensitive and will likely remain so for the rest of her life. She also has some minor, but permanent, nerve damage in the hand and wrist. As a result she is more sensitive to how the watch feels than she was before the accident. Although she hasn’t specifically mentioned the burn and how it affects her, I can tell that she is concerned about howa larger watch will feel and wear on her wrist. You can’t really tell in a 15 minute AD visit. She also must keep the hand protected from sun at all times - she wears sunscreen every day, rain or shine, warm or cold weather.

As an aside she was wearing her watch when she got burned. The doctors said that the Jubilee band served as a heat sink absorbing some of the heat of the injury. Since the band fully surrounded her wrist it prevented the water from causing complete loss of deeper skin tissue. That in turn prevented the swelling from destroying the blood flow and nerve endings from becoming a situation that would have required skin grafts. 40 years ago I bought that watch to honor her birthday. I never expected that it would save her from permanent disability and a much longer and painful recovery. Given all that our joint preference is that whatever we decide the watch brand will be a Rolex.

Because of this injury the decision is more complicated and I honor whatever she decides to do. Unfortunately the injury was so severe and even after a year she still feels it’s impact daily. I suspect she’ll opt to keep her watch, and maybe consider a dial and hand change for better contrast/visibility.
Whatever she chooses she’s very lucky to have you putting all this thought to it. Congratulations to you both.
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Old 27 April 2021, 12:01 PM   #18
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I would think the sentimental value is strong with this particular watch. If it were me, I’d change the dial to black, have it serviced, and have the bracelet refurbished by a reputable company (which there are a few). Then it is ready for many more years of enjoyment and maybe passed on. Best of luck and would love to see pics of before and after if you decide to keep.
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Old 27 April 2021, 12:29 PM   #19
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Yes, please keep us updated and, most importantly, don't forget to post photos.
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Old 27 April 2021, 07:26 PM   #20
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I am definitely a sentimental old fool when it comes to possessions that provoke memories, and that old watch must hold quite a few. I would definitely get it independently serviced and have a bracelet refurb, and I would purchase a pre owned Rolex with 34mm dial. I was in a similar quandary with my wife about 5 years ago on a 'big' birthday, along with her retirement, she had a small dialed quality watch (not Rolex), that had served its purpose, and I got her a 31 mm OP, with the intension of having her old watch refurbished. In hindsight, I wished I had bought a 34mm, as the passage of time has lessened the sharpness of her vision, and a cataract operation is on the horizon.
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Old 28 April 2021, 09:35 AM   #21
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In hindsight, I wished I had bought a 34mm, as the passage of time has lessened the sharpness of her vision, and a cataract operation is on the horizon.
That's a good consideration. The hand size you need is in proportion to your age, as eyesight inevitably deteriorates.
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Old 28 April 2021, 12:41 PM   #22
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That's a good consideration. The hand size you need is in proportion to your age, as eyesight inevitably deteriorates.

Alas, the decision would be easy if practicality was the only factor in a decision like this. Then again, I don’t think anyone frequenting this forum has that top of mind!
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Old 28 April 2021, 11:11 PM   #23
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Thanks again for the comments. The issue isn't only the service on her watch it's the size. She is petite and finds the 26mm size comfortable and manageable. The larger watches, even the current 28 can become uncomfortable when wearing all day, especially so since her injury.
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Old 29 April 2021, 10:20 AM   #24
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Buy her a new one, and then overhaul the old one and pass it on.
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Old 29 April 2021, 12:09 PM   #25
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I'll go out on a limb here.....Send her's to Rolliworks and have it serviced. Use that watch for times when you go to Church or out to dinner. Get her to try on an Apple watch for daily wear. She can see it better, it's super light on the wrist, and she will still have her Rolex in beautiful condition for the rest of your lives. Crazy...I know!
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Old 29 April 2021, 09:32 PM   #26
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I'll go out on a limb here.....Send her's to Rolliworks and have it serviced. Use that watch for times when you go to Church or out to dinner. Get her to try on an Apple watch for daily wear. She can see it better, it's super light on the wrist, and she will still have her Rolex in beautiful condition for the rest of your lives. Crazy...I know!
Good suggestion. Or a Casio or Seiko if she wants something with hands rather than digital.
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Old 4 May 2021, 02:22 PM   #27
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Good luck! Isn’t there a 31mm ladies Datejust? Maybe that with a mother of pearl dial. I agree you need to keep her existing watch.

If she’s sensitive to the weight of a Rolex watch now, maybe check out a ladies’ quartz Cartier Tank watch. It is thinner than a Rolex, and the stainless steel bracelet, I think, is also lighter than the Rolex bracelet. It has a classic design. If you overhaul her Rolex your wife can still wear it.

Please keep us posted.
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