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Old 1 July 2022, 07:32 AM   #1
Jelder
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"Unrepairable" Old Rolex? Advice Needed

Hi All,

I've been a member for a long time, but never posted. Now I have a story to tell and need some advice.

While going through my mother's house recently after her death, I came across an old watch that belonged to my father, but I didn't have much recollection about it. I put it in a zip lock bag and took it home. I wasn't even convinced it was real. In fact, I assumed it was not.

Fast forward to today. I took it to an authorized dealer in my town and asked the gentleman who met me at the counter if they could take a look at it to verify its authenticity, though I told him I was pretty skeptical. He put it in a tray and said he would take to the watchmaker in the back. Five minutes later the watchmaker comes and asks me to tell him about the watch. I told him the story and he said he'd been working on Rolexes for over 20 years, and based on everything he knows and can see, that the watch is the real deal! Doesn't even need to open it up. Awesome.

Here's where things went downhill. It needs work. The crown and pin come out, it won't screw back down, and even though you can wind the movement, you can't set the time or date. He also tried to get the case back off but it's fused and the bezel/lugs or whatever they're called are stripped. He said they would have to cut the case to get it open and then would have to replace it with a new one. He also told me that Rolex won't even work on watches this old because there aren't replacement parts. He even said that recently Rolex denied service on 3 older watches for this reason. So- he basically told me there's nothing that can be done, and I might want to just sell it for spare parts.

This was my father's watch. I'd rather keep it and never get it fixed than sell it for cheap. Do I have any options? Is it truly a lost cause? Help!

Jay
GR Michigan

P.S. From what I can tell based on the serial number, it was made between 1967 and 1969. It also has a sigma dial, but from what I can tell those weren't introduced until later. I asked the watchmaker about this, but he said he didn't know. He did say every indication is that is a genuine dial.
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Old 1 July 2022, 10:19 AM   #2
Tools
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If it means something to you and you want it restored, you need to talk to a restoration professional.

Give Bob Ridley a call at Watchmakers International. He has posted threads on this Forum about stubborn casebacks and has twice the experience as your watchmaker.

I'm sure that there are others too and he could steer you dto them.
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Old 1 July 2022, 11:30 AM   #3
Jelder
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Here's a pic BTW...
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File Type: jpg IMG_0263.JPG (186.4 KB, 393 views)
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Old 2 July 2022, 01:44 AM   #4
Jelder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tools View Post
If it means something to you and you want it restored, you need to talk to a restoration professional.

Give Bob Ridley a call at Watchmakers International. He has posted threads on this Forum about stubborn casebacks and has twice the experience as your watchmaker.

I'm sure that there are others too and he could steer you dto them.
Thanks for the lead. I had a great conversation with Bob this morning and directed him to this post so he could see a picture of the watch. We talked through options, time lines, etc. What a gentleman! I know the repair and restoration process is going to take many months, but I'm looking forward to the journey.

-Jay
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Old 2 July 2022, 01:49 AM   #5
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Looks like a decent, legitimate, watch. Champagne linen, sigma dial

The crown and stem coming out is common and easily fixed, but the caseback needs to come off. Non-engaging wheels and pinions indicates lack of lubrication at key points.

Sigma dials are from early 1970 and ran for a couple of years, so I would say that is more likely your watches "date". Charts are not absolute and made from guesswork so generally only represent a range of years. This one is from an era where the date should be stamped inside the case back.
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Old 3 July 2022, 06:44 AM   #6
dannyp
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I've often wondered: If one sent an "unserviceable" watch to Rolex, but with one or two salvageable components (nice vintage dial/bracelet, for example), would Rolex essentially build you a new watch? Service case, hands, case back, movement... Or would they just decline altogether?
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Old 5 July 2022, 04:10 AM   #7
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If my dad/mom had a nice vintage watch and left it for me I would do whatever it takes to keep it up and running.
Good to hear you are doing that.
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Old 5 July 2022, 07:51 AM   #8
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Stripped back or not, a top end workshop will be able to get the case back off, a decent (and I mean the hideously expensive decent) friction case back press remover will be able to get the back off.
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Old 6 July 2022, 01:23 AM   #9
iLovetheAirking
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As others have said, there are definitely fixes that can be done to get the dial in better standing. Due to its age, it will never be 100% better, but you can certainly improve it.
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Old 8 July 2022, 03:27 AM   #10
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Jelder, great choice on Ridley. Have Dads red sub on the way to Phil for clean/adj and new knob/stem. Stay posted on journey. Mike.
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Old 8 July 2022, 04:04 AM   #11
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Another upvote for Bob, he restored my Tudor 94200 Monte Carlo many years ago. I was reluctant to do certain things (stabilize the lume for example) but Bob respectfully led me in the right direction and kept my watch as original as possible, while making it safe to wear around as intended.
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Old 8 July 2022, 06:44 AM   #12
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That watch is far from a lost cause. It looks like a 1601 model to me with the fairly solid 1570 movement. I have no experience with Bob but if he has good reviews on here and online then you're most likely in good hands.

I've seen my watchmaker struggle with a few stubborn casebacks but it's not the end of the world. The steel caseback screwed on a steel case can cause issues after decades of not being opened. Best case scenario it just needs a bit of cleaning on the threads, 2nd best case scenario the threads on the caseback are bad and you need to replace that (there's some out there). Worst case is when the threads on the case are damaged. This becomes a bit more complicated but there's solutions.

Parts for the 1570 movement are relatively plentiful and as long as whoever you take it to is familiar with it you shouldn't have any issues.

Good luck!
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Old 13 July 2022, 05:12 AM   #13
Jelder
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Thanks all for the feedback. I love the way the watch looks now- in car terms it's called 'patina'. Maybe it's the same here.
All I think I'm going to do is have the crystal replaced and the movement restored to tip-top condition, and then wear it all the time and not worry about cosmetics.
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Old 15 July 2022, 02:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jelder View Post
Thanks all for the feedback. I love the way the watch looks now- in car terms it's called 'patina'. Maybe it's the same here.
All I think I'm going to do is have the crystal replaced and the movement restored to tip-top condition, and then wear it all the time and not worry about cosmetics.

Definitely don't have the case polished. Patina is a term widely used and appreciate in the watch world as well. Just change crystal and have movement serviced and you're good to go for years of enjoyment!
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