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Old 25 October 2016, 12:57 AM   #1
philisme
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My dad's 1958 Submariner 5508 restoration

Hi,

The story :
I always knew my dad had a Rolex Submariner. During last Christmas holidays I decided to get it out of the safe and look for more information about it.
After hours of research, I found out it was a 1958 Rolex Submariner 5508. (I also discovered that it's quite a "collectible" item...)
Several days later, I found the bracelet in a desk drawer. It's a 1969 7206 with 80 endlinks.

As my father passed away in 2009, I can't get all the information "at the source", I've to deal with my family's memories.
My mom met my dad in the late 60's and she is pretty sure that he bought the watch from the dealer. She told me he wore it every single day until the 80's. He stopped wearing it daily when my mother offered him a Cartier.
I remember my dad telling us that once he broke the bracelet and had to buy a new one. That should be the reason for the 1969 bracelet.

In the 90's, the watch went to Rolex in Geneva for servicing. I'm sure of that as we drop it off on our way to ski holidays in Italy. During our holidays, Rolex called him saying something like "we can't read the serial number". Several days later, they called him back saying they found all the necessary information. I don't know more about that.
Since then, he did not wear it that much because the bracelet was pretty weak. He was afraid of losing the watch.

I can't find the box and papers yet. And I'm a bit hopeless as he moved more than 5 times since the purchase of the watch.

Pictures :








And the bracelet :
As you can see, he's a bit tired and one endlink is damaged.








The restoration

I know the watch is far from being perfect. It has a late service dial, service hands, the wrong bezel insert, and the crystal need to be replaced.
At the moment the watch is in Brussels for a mechanical-only servicing. I brought them a N.O.S. Tropic 16 too. I specifically asked them to not polish the case.



My goal isn't to have a "catalogue original". But I would like to have only genuine 5508 parts on it, even if it's service parts. The ultimate objective is to have a nice, reliable and "consistent" 5508, not a Frankenstein.

Regarding the bracelet, it think I'll send it to Mr Michael Young. I don't know if he will be able to repair the broken endlink or if I have to provide him with a new one.

This why I'm looking for those parts:
- a 5508 bezel insert;
- 2x 58 endlinks or at least one 80 endlink (but the 58 seems to be to good ones for the 5508);
- 5508 hands;
- 5508 dial (a nice service dial will do the job);


I'm still discovering the amazing world of vintage Rolex. So I'm 100% open to your comments, remarks or advices.


PS : I don't want to sell this watch. It will stay in the familly
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Old 25 October 2016, 03:13 AM   #2
offrdmania
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Great heirloom! Is that paint loss on the dial down where is usually says SWISS?
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Old 25 October 2016, 03:45 AM   #3
philisme
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I don't think so.
It's written "Swiss - T<25" but it's partially hidden by the case (because of the service dial as I have read somewhere).


Last edited by philisme; 25 October 2016 at 03:46 AM.. Reason: adding picture
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Old 25 October 2016, 04:01 AM   #4
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My dad's 1958 Submariner 5508 restoration

Looking forward to seeing her restored back to new!
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Old 25 October 2016, 08:45 AM   #5
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Looks like a fantastic project.. or you could just wear it as is. There's something really wonderful about a wonderful old watch that just keeps on ticking!
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Old 25 October 2016, 10:13 AM   #6
offrdmania
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philisme View Post
I don't think so.
It's written "Swiss - T<25" but it's partially hidden by the case (because of the service dial as I have read somewhere).

I see it now, the first pic didnt zoom in close enough
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Old 11 September 2018, 07:57 PM   #7
philisme
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Here is some news :

I gave the watch to "Artisan du Temps" in Brussels in mai 2016. The goal was to restore it in order to make it "safe to wear".

Job list :

- complete service of the movement;
- cleaning of the case (without polishing);
- replacement of the mass axis (which required more time);
- replacement of the crystel by a NOS Tropic 16, which I bought on my side at chrono-shop and I gave it workshop during the restoration, they agreed to install it. I must say that I appreciated their policy since they said to me: "We do not really have the time to look for such vintage parts, so if you find something, you can bring it to us and we will put in place".

I got my watch back for Christmas 2016 but when I arrived home, I noticed that the Tropic 16 that I had provided wasn't installed..... But the crystal had been polished.

So I gave them the watch back in January for installation of the Tropic 16. They did not charge me anything to apologize and returned the crystal that was on the watch.
I also recovered the parts that were on the watch.
In the end, I am generally satisfied with the work of this work show despite the delay and the little problem with the Tropic 16.

I know the watch has a service dial, service hands and service bezel insert. Maybe I'll try to find better matching hands (for a better match with the light patina of the dial), and a newer insert.

Regarding the 7206 bracelet, I haven't done anything yet. In fact, I'm a little afraid to send it to Hong Kong. It's the shipping that worries me, not Mr. Young (Classic Watch Repair). There is also a Norwegian who seems to do a good job, I will be more reassured by a shipping inside the EU.
I also have to source two 64 endlinks as it seems it's the good reference for this watch.

The last step would be to find an insert in better condition than the current one ...

Meanwhile, I wear the granny on a black "RAF" bracelet (similar to a NATO).

Here are some pictores :







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Old 11 September 2018, 08:29 PM   #8
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Wow nice job ! Your dad would be proud .
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Old 11 September 2018, 09:18 PM   #9
Mick8moses
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Great job love hearing stories of people restoring family timepieces! I refurbished my dad's omega in a similar way a few years back.


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Old 11 September 2018, 09:27 PM   #10
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That’s awesome.
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Old 11 September 2018, 11:04 PM   #11
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Very nice!

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Old 11 September 2018, 11:08 PM   #12
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Very nice!!
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Old 11 September 2018, 11:19 PM   #13
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I think your watch looks great as it is. My understanding from what you have said is that the service parts on the watch were all provided and fitted by the RSC, so I would be inclined to leave as is. If you can get the bracelet fixed then great. Thanks for updating us all on progress.
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Old 12 September 2018, 12:54 AM   #14
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Very cool ... I think it looks killer as it is now ...regarding the 7206, never used MY but I wouldn’t hesitate to send him something if need be, though I understand the concern...as for the insert, period correctness aside, again, I think it looks just fine as is though a correct insert would be pretty sweet, but expensive ...enjoy that beauty, your pops would be happy to see you wearing it I’m sure
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Old 12 September 2018, 01:28 AM   #15
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That is as cool as heirlooms get! I would leave it as it. Has a touch of character and you know that is how you found it for the most part which makes it cool.
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Old 12 September 2018, 01:29 AM   #16
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Wow - very nice! It looks great the way it is, but I'm interested to see how your search for finding correct parts goes. Keep us updated
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Old 12 September 2018, 02:55 AM   #17
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Great story! Beautiful watch! Keep us updated please


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Old 12 September 2018, 03:05 AM   #18
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Thanks for posting. Restoring this watch is such a worthy endeavor. Get it back to the condition you are happy with then wear and enjoy. Perhaps involve your children in the discussion of it's restoration so they can see it's importance to you. That way they will appreciate it and understand it's history when someday it passes on to them. I went through a similar process with my fathers 66 gilt 5513.

Watch has a tritium service dial. Happily it's is a tritium dial and not luminova. From picts hands look like they may be luminova. Have you checked their luminescence with regular or blacklight? If hands aren't tritium then I'd try to source correct tritium hands in a close color. This can be hard. If you can find correct hands even with damaged lume LA watchworks may be helpful to restore the hands. You just need the right hands to start with. Even painted color matched hands are IMO better than ones with an incorrect glow.

Inserts occasionally pop up and you just have to be diligent to catch the right one when it does. I've searched for a lot of parts and they have all become very expensive but the correct parts add to the value of the piece and for me the fact that it was going to my fathers watch made the expense more palatable.

Looking forward to seeing the final product once you finish this journey. It is a worthy one.
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Old 12 September 2018, 03:29 AM   #19
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I can tell you that working with MY is a pleasure. I sent him my 1601 jubilee bracelet on July 27 and last week got an email that it was ready. Paid via paypal and 10 day till it's return from China. No problems, no worries. I would recommend him to anyone.
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Old 12 September 2018, 03:34 AM   #20
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It looks great, that's the most important thing. You will never sell it (I assume) so who cares if it's a service dial etc.
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Old 12 September 2018, 04:01 AM   #21
philisme
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Thanks for you comments

Quote:
Originally Posted by NOPDK View Post
Watch has a tritium service dial. Happily it's is a tritium dial and not luminova. From picts hands look like they may be luminova. Have you checked their luminescence with regular or blacklight? If hands aren't tritium then I'd try to source correct tritium hands in a close color. This can be hard. If you can find correct hands even with damaged lume LA watchworks may be helpful to restore the hands. You just need the right hands to start with. Even painted color matched hands are IMO better than ones with an incorrect glow.

Inserts occasionally pop up and you just have to be diligent to catch the right one when it does. I've searched for a lot of parts and they have all become very expensive but the correct parts add to the value of the piece and for me the fact that it was going to my fathers watch made the expense more palatable.
Finding correct tritium hands seems very tricky...
I sometimes look for another insert but they are really expensive (and I prefer mine compared to a faded fat font).

I just found this new bezel for 1800€, it's more "clean" than mine.
what do you think ?

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Old 12 September 2018, 04:06 AM   #22
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This is a really epic story. Thanks for sharing it all.


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Old 12 September 2018, 04:08 AM   #23
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Awesome.
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Old 12 September 2018, 04:16 AM   #24
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Fantastic. Such a beautiful timepiece.
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Old 12 September 2018, 04:17 AM   #25
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Very nice!!! Thanks for sharing
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Old 12 September 2018, 05:29 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philisme View Post
Thanks for you comments



Finding correct tritium hands seems very tricky...
I sometimes look for another insert but they are really expensive (and I prefer mine compared to a faded fat font).

I just found this new bezel for 1800Ä, it's more "clean" than mine.
what do you think ?

Your bezel ring looks ok to me. What is the discoloring? Wondering if that can be cleaned up by watchmaker but even if not it doesn't bother me. Looks aged which is good IMO.

Finding correct hands is a search and frustrating. You just have to keep your eyes open and be ready when a pair shows up.

For insert if you are happy then leave as is. Some prefer something faded which to me adds a nice vintage appeal. Some prefer crisp and new looking works as well.
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Old 12 September 2018, 06:25 AM   #27
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Lovely heirloom. I sent a vintage bracelet to Michael Young from UK with FedEx and fully insured (£1000). It cost, but was worth it for peace of mind.
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Old 12 September 2018, 06:33 AM   #28
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My dad's 1958 Submariner 5508 restoration

First off, killer watch, awesome story. I am grateful to have my dads DJ and will post a similar thread when I get it back from LAWW. I went for the complete restore because I had some heavy handed watch makers polish in it in the past, and the lugs are pretty thin and round.

I think your bezel is the way it is because you told the watch maker to not go crazy on the buffing, polishing. To me your bezel looks the same, just not buffed like the one in the pic. I have no clue what is correct for your watch and this is just an amateur opinion. Someone else may be-able to give better advice.

If it was me, I would put the money in some tritium hands. I think the service dial looks killer. That is if you donít have tritium hands already. Did the watch maker return the hands back? You could have your existing hands color matched.
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Old 12 September 2018, 06:34 AM   #29
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Looks good, congrats!
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Old 12 September 2018, 06:37 AM   #30
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Love it. Thanks for sharing.
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