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Old 17 October 2009, 12:24 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by MC28REPSOL View Post
Hey Vanessa,

how much would you charge to service a Sub?

your write up really makes me confident in your work not to mention i just want to have it done after reading your post.
She mentioned 400 in her OP........check it out.
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Old 17 October 2009, 12:33 AM   #62
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Eventhough I do not like to pay for the service compared to mechanical things of similar price it is not high cost. Think of your car. If you watch is a dily wear it works more than a car of cab driver. Conmpare the running cost and maintanance.
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Old 19 October 2009, 12:53 AM   #63
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Thanks for the information Vanessa.
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Old 19 October 2009, 09:09 AM   #64
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Thanks Vanessa for sharing your work

When I last serviced my Sub at an RSC, it was running very slow (around an hour) for the first day or so. Then, when I wound it, the crown did not turn smoothly. After that, everything seems to go back to normal.

Do you know the reason for these phenomena?
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Old 19 October 2009, 10:35 AM   #65
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Thanks Vanessa. You explained so well. When my turn comes up, I am going to pay with a smile.
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Old 19 October 2009, 10:50 AM   #66
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Great post Vanessa.
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Old 19 October 2009, 07:19 PM   #67
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does rolex keep tabs on services?

like if i bought a 2nd hand rolex, could i chase up with rolex if it has been serviced or not?
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Old 24 October 2009, 01:35 PM   #68
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Thanks Vanessa. Very interesting.
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Old 24 October 2009, 08:13 PM   #69
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I am always a little 'humbled' when I contemplate the skill and dedication possessed by workers who are rarely recognised for their talent. We put the 'professions' on a pedestal but fail to recognise the people who make the world go round (or in this case , the hands). I hope we don't ever run out of the skilled craftsperson. Hopefully 'supply & demand' will always make it viable for these special people to engage in these areas of work.
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Old 25 October 2009, 12:53 AM   #70
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Thanks Vanessa - greatly appreciate the detailed post!
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Old 3 November 2009, 02:52 PM   #71
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Old 3 November 2009, 11:03 PM   #72
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very interesting vanessa, thanks for sharing.

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Old 4 November 2009, 04:58 AM   #73
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Old 14 November 2009, 03:46 PM   #74
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Thanks from a newbie! A real enlightenment for many of us by a qualified professional! More cheers.
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Old 26 November 2009, 06:44 PM   #75
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OK Van,

You can have my Explorer 2 for a redo.
If you want me the details as to how this can happen.

TIA mia
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Old 28 November 2009, 06:56 AM   #76
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Standard service

Vanessa what is the cost of a standard service for a lady ss datejust. THANKS,


Originally Posted by Vanessa View Post
Some common questions I hear a lot: "What does a service include?" "Why does it cost so much?" "How long does it take to service a Rolex?"
I'm sorry if the answer is a bit long, but this is what, why and how long:

This is what I do when I service a RolexÖ.

I open the case and remove the rotor.
I remove the movement from the case. I continue to take off the hands and remove the dial and date disc. The mainspring gets unwound and at this point the movement goes into the cleaner.

I continue with taking the case apart; removing the bezel, and crystal.
I change into a different lab coat, put on gloves and a face mask to start the refinishing of the case and bracelet.
First I buff the case with a hard wheel and a certain compound which makes the case so hot that the wheel starts smoking. I then clean the case in the ultrasonic cleaner and continue with a different polishing wheel thatís softer. I will high-polish the bezel and case back and the bracelet if applicable.
Once the case back is clean in the ultrasonic, I will now high-polish that one as well.
I will change the polishing wheel once more to a soft wheel and again a different compound and give it the finishing super high polish on the parts needed.
While all those finished parts are in the cleaner, I will brush polish the clasp with a hard wheel, followed by a softer brush wheel.
Then I tape off the polished areas on the bracelet to brush-polish the rest of it. When thatís done I change back to the high-polish wheel to polish the side of the bracelet and clasp.
I steam clean all the parts of the case and put them on a dryer. Once the case is dry, I put the final brush polish to the lugs and case back with a special filing technique.

The movement (letís say a 3135) has finished the pre-cleaning process, and can now be checked and disassembled.
The date parts are first, flowed by the automatic mechanism: I first check the end-shake* on all wheels.
I then take out all (3) screws and put them in the small cleaning baskets. I will check the rotor axle and replace it when necessary. I continue with the disassembling of the movement.
I first check the end-shake on the balance wheel. Then I remove the shock-absorbent jewels. The balance wheel is carefully removed and put aside after I unscrewed the 2 screws that hold the bridge in place. I proceed with the pallet fork. Again I check end-shake and remove 2 screws to take off the bridge and remove the pallet fork. At this point I check the freedom of the train with winding the mainspring just a little bit. Then I check all the gearsí end-shakes and remove the 3 screws that hold the train bridge to remove the escape wheel, second wheel, third wheel and great wheel. I then check every wheel meticulously to check for worn pivots, and replace the one that are not perfect anymore with new ones.
When at any moment the end-shake wasnít satisfactory I then move the jewels up or down to correct the error and reassemble the wheel to check again until it's perfect.
I proceed with removing the screws on the ratchet wheel and bridge to remove the barrel with the mainspring. Now I can open the barrel and remove the mainspring which goes straight into my garbage can.
I proceed with taking the rest of the watch apart, including the winding mechanism. I put the balance back onto the main plate to prevent the hairspring from getting tangled up while itís cleaning.
Now the disassembled movement goes into the cleaner again to get its full cleaning. In the mean time Iíll have a coffee, and I will assemble the case with crystal and bezel.

When the movement is clean I put on some finger cots, and start with putting the reversing wheels, pallet fork and escape wheel into a special liquid lubricant.
I apply grease on the inside of the barrel wall and put a new mainspring in it. I close the barrel and check the end-shake of the arbor to make sure itís free.
I continue with taking the reversing wheels, pallet fork and escape wheel out of the special lubricant and dry them with hot air from a hairdryer. Now I can take the balance back of the main plate and start putting the watch back together. Again the watch has 6 different lubricants and every lube has a very specific role into making the watch run as perfect as possible. When a grease or oil gets applied too much or too little, or at the wrong location within the watch, the amplitude and timing of the watch wonít be as it should.
Once the watch is assembled (and Iím not going to explain every single step as this is already getting way to long) I put it on my timer to check the beat, amplitude and time. Everything gets adjusted accordingly if necessary and I time the watch in 6 different positions to be within -1 to +4.

Once thatís achieved I assemble the dial and hands (when the date jumps at 12) and put the movement in the case. At this time I do the final timing at full wind and half wind, and adjust if necessary.
Then I assemble the automatic mechanism and check for freedom of the rotor.

Once thatís all up to standard, I close the case with new gaskets and put it on a dry pressure test. When it passes (or not) I proceed with the wet test, and make sure the watch doesnít leak.
I can then put the bracelet on, set the time equal to my atomic clock and store it in my safe with the crown left, until the next day.
Then I check the time again compared to the atomic clock and note the amount of seconds itís + or -.
Then I put it on my automatic winder for a day, check again and finally I put it dial up in my safe again to check the next day, and the day thereafter to see when the watch stopped to check the power reserve.
At this time, if everything is within standards I call the customer that his/her watch is ready. If not, I have to find the problem, possibly adjust or start over! This all comes with a 2-year warranty on the work performed.

The tools and materials needed to work on Rolex watches and to keep the account in positive standing are about a $30,000 investment. Plus we have to maintain them and pay rent for the work space. I have gone to a 3-year full-time watchmaking school and undergone many hours of specialized training to do this job.

So now, letís seeÖ hmmm I guess the four hundred-something dollars I charge might not be enough if I think about itÖ

*end-shake: the free longitudinal movement of arbors or the like between bearings.
That means I have to evaluate the amount of movement of a wheel between the jewels. Some can be 0.01mm others 0.02 up to 0.06mm. This can only be determined by the experienced, and louped watchmaker's eye!

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Old 23 December 2009, 06:56 AM   #77
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Very informative. Thanks, Vanesse. I have the utmost respect for good watchmakers.
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Old 11 January 2010, 01:21 AM   #78
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Great post. I assume this is SOP for all competent watchmakers that service Rolex watches?

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Old 11 January 2010, 01:31 AM   #79
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Wow, awesome post. Thanks so much for posting that. I was unaware of everything that was done to my watch. Now that you mention it, my 400 plus Euros wasn't enough!
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Old 15 January 2010, 04:14 AM   #80
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This is a post that I also posted on another thread on the avg cost of a service. First I must say that from what I read Ms. Vanessa knows her craft and does a quality job. Here it is.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Alan, I am a watchmaker, and this is my first post on the forum. This thread caught my attention enough for me to want to give it my input as well. I work with Michael (Horologier) at We work under Ernest Tope CMW21. Mr. Tope is one of a handful of watchmakers with the CMW21 (21st Century Certified Master Watchmaker) certification and one of the most highly skilled watchmakers I have ever met. Michael and I are lucky to have the privilege of working with him.
To answer the original posting (remember the original posting), the average price of a Rolex service on a modern Rolex is roughly about $350 give or take a hundred bucks. This is for the average jewelry store and not Rolex or a Rolex dealership and assumes that the watch does not need any parts other than gaskets and a mainspring. I believe Rolex is about $700 and they replace the crown and tube as part of the service. I know of watchmakers who will service a Rolex for as little as $75 but I would never recommend them. I know what it takes to do the job properly. Of course, there are a number of issues that affect the price.
Does the watchmaker use genuine Rolex parts or generic ones? Genuine parts cost more and are restricted. Rolex tries very hard to ensure that they make their parts available only to competent watchmakers. Rolex has sent letters to their parts accounts stating that as of the end of the year only AWCI certified watchmakers with the necessary equipment will be eligible for a Rolex parts account.
This brings us to the next issue. Is the watchmaker competent? Like any other profession, not all watchmakers are equal. If the watchmaker is AWCI certified that certification implies a certain skill level. There are many competent watchmakers who are not certified but there are many more uncertified watchmakers who are mediocre or worse. We spend a lot of our time correcting previous slipshod work. Some attorneys charge $100 an hour and some charge $1000 an hour. If you are negotiating a hundred million dollar transaction which one would you chose?
Many times a watchmaker can get away with shoddy work and the customer may never know. He may leave dings and scratches all over the movement and most customers never see the movement at all let alone inside the movement when it is dismantled. The watch works fine but the dings and scratches have devalued it and the owner never knows until the next person to work on it tells them so.
Another issue is what the criteria is used for replacing a marginal part. As an example, I have seen many watches with corrosion inside due to moisture. Often I see a corroded oscillating weight that will function properly but looks just awful. Depending on the customerís expectations I either brush the corrosion off or I replace the part. Would you be willing to pay the extra cost to replace it? Watch manufacturers will not give you a choice; they will replace the part and charge accordingly. We here will also replace the part because we want to produce work we can be proud of. When someone else looks at our work we want it to be seen as first rate.
Accuracy is a big factor. Accuracy can be a matter of diminishing returns. Theoretically, the longer I work on timing a watch, the more accurate I can make it. It costs a lot more to get a race car to go from a ten second machine to a 9.5 second machine than it does to take it from 12 seconds to 11 seconds. Some watches have better capabilities than others but the theory still holds. Once a watch has been cleaned and oiled and any mechanical issues have been resolved, the watch is adjusted and tested. Sometimes the watch is adjusted and tested many times before it is released. This often accounts for the long amount of time needed to service the watch. We like to test the watch for at least a week of good timekeeping before we release it. Often we will put the watch in timing and after a few days of unsatisfactory timekeeping make an adjustment and start the timing process again. We will often repeat this process several times before we are satisfied. What level of accuracy do you expect from the $150 job vs. the $600 job?
Overhead is another factor. State of the art equipment has become very expensive and manufacturers are insisting on some very expensive equipment before they will open a parts account. A major store in a major mall pays a very high rent and manufacturers need to pay for their large facilities and for the executive salaries and bonuses. Fortunately we donít have that situation; the money you spend on your watch goes only to the time we spend on it.
Watchmaking is a difficult profession. It takes a long time to become adept at this profession and like any other profession we deserve to make a decent living. In addition good watchmakers are few in number and the law of supply and demand applies. I donít know of any watchmakers that are getting rich servicing watches. If anyone knows of one I would love to know their formula for success. Considering the time, effort and cost of being a good watchmaker, we are one of the most underpaid and underappreciated professions I know of.
On estimates there are 2 ways to do it. We can charge for the estimate and stick to the price, or we can give a free estimate and call later when we come across a problem and alter the price accordingly. Many times I have taken my car into a repair shop and was quoted a price only to receive a phone call later telling me that the repairman found a problem he had not accounted for and that the price of the repair would be considerably more. The same goes for contractors repairing homes and other buildings. Cost overruns are common even with new construction.
Since we mostly work on older watches we come across hidden problems often, usually from the folks that worked on it before us. Experience has taught us that completely disassembling the watch and charging for the estimate is the only way to go.
We are on this forum because we love our watches. If you love your watch, why would you be more concerned with the price of the repair than the quality of the repair? The bitterness of a poor repair is remembered long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten.
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Old 15 January 2010, 04:00 PM   #81
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Thanks again guys!

Originally Posted by RolexPete View Post
Great post. I assume this is SOP for all competent watchmakers that service Rolex watches?
Yes, it should be the norm for all Rolex trained watchmakers around the world.
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Old 20 January 2010, 08:45 PM   #82
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Wow, what a post..I've had my gmt since 2001, and had it serviced 2 times, right now its getting serviced the 2nd time, they want it for 4 weeks, I was wondering why, now I know. I WISH THEY WOULD GIVE ME A LOANER
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Old 20 January 2010, 09:37 PM   #83
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Did you give it to an RSC or and independent watchmaker? I dropped mine off for an overhaul on Monday. It should take about 2-3 weeks. SS Sub Date Y serial, papers dated 11/2003 and due for an overhaul.

Originally Posted by JAGERVEGAS View Post
Wow, what a post..I've had my gmt since 2001, and had it serviced 2 times, right now its getting serviced the 2nd time, they want it for 4 weeks, I was wondering why, now I know. I WISH THEY WOULD GIVE ME A LOANER
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Old 21 January 2010, 04:48 AM   #84
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Good read. My Sub is due for a service, and I've always had questions as to what gets done. This will make it easier to pay the bill. Thanks!
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Old 24 January 2010, 06:29 AM   #85
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excellent write-up Vanessa, sorry if this has been addressed but my AD said it will take 8 weeks for the process and they do it all in-house. Is it common for it to be that long?

BTW, the service will be on a women's datejust ~1990 in mint condition and cost about $590 they quoted.
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Old 31 January 2010, 09:36 AM   #86
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Great thread, very insightful and most reassuring.
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Old 2 February 2010, 11:16 AM   #87
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Vanessa, Thanks for the excellent information! As as result I sent in my old GMT 16750 purchased back in '87 in for service. Anxiously awaiting it's return from it's $1,500 spa visit later this month. New plexi crystal, bezel insert, hands and dial being done. I suspect it will be like getting it back like new. Can't wait!!!!
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Old 6 February 2010, 08:11 AM   #88
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When service necessary/recommended?

So I'll repeat a question that I don't think was answered...If your aren't putting a watch through it's paces...and you aren't beating up the often is it really required to be serviced..

If it sits in a safe deposit box or something and is rarely ever used...wouldn't servicing it every 10, or 20 years be satisfactory?

Not advocating 'bucking the system' but would like to better understand the rationale for a 5 year incremental service would appear to me that usage should dictate the time of service...and not time itself....?

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Old 6 February 2010, 08:50 AM   #89
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Rolex does not say "every 5 years"... they say that they recommend, "depending on usage about every 5 years". Two very different statements.

Vanessa has even said that Rolex is leaning more towards 8 years with the newer movements, oils, and technology..
(Chill ... It's just a watch Forum.....)
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Old 6 February 2010, 10:12 AM   #90
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Thanks Larry!
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