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Old 23 January 2022, 05:25 AM   #1
Stan Cooper
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Early 20th Century Rolex Dials Question

I've purchased a circa 2015 WW1 "Officer's Trench Watch" with a Rebberg 18 jewel movement marked "ROLEX" that appears to be completely original except for the leather strap. It's a beautiful piece with a dial that has lots of patina.

I'd like to wear this, but want to remove and save the original dial, replacing it with a brand new one identical to the original but without the patina.

I know it would be expensive, but are there any manufacturers that can make a new copper dial with fired enamel face and fired enamel silk screened printing that duplicates the original? The original dial will be saved.

The original hands will also need to be restored, but not replaced.
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Old 23 January 2022, 07:22 AM   #2
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Oops!

circa 1915, not 2015. Doh. 79 year old brain fart.
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Old 25 January 2022, 10:21 AM   #3
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Well, the watch came Saturday, so I've had a chance to spend some time with it. The dial and hands need to be refinished and relumed (yes, they were lumed in 1915), so rather than try to have a new dial custom made I found a company in Tucson that specializes in refurbishing older dials and I'll be sending the dial and hands to them. They do amazing work. The sterling silver case is tarnished, so I'll polish it while the movement is out and the dial is in Tucson.

The movement has recently been serviced and is keeping excellent time.



Here's an image I grabbed off the net of an obviously refurbished similar dial and hands. It looks pretty good for being 107 years old.
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Old 25 January 2022, 12:31 PM   #4
Bestdj777
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Stan, this might sound silly but have you looked into a dial swap with another WW1 trench? There are a ton of cheaper watches with the same dial and you might be able to get a swap for less than the cost of restoring this one. I, personally, think your dial looks great as is.
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Old 25 January 2022, 12:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bestdj777 View Post
Stan, this might sound silly but have you looked into a dial swap with another WW1 trench? There are a ton of cheaper watches with the same dial and you might be able to get a swap for less than the cost of restoring this one. I, personally, think your dial looks great as is.
I hadn't considered that. Great idea! Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 25 January 2022, 01:03 PM   #6
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I should add, I know absolutely nothing about the mechanics/watchmaking to know if a swap is even possible, but I would think it would be doable.
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Old 25 January 2022, 02:08 PM   #7
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I should add, I know absolutely nothing about the mechanics/watchmaking to know if a swap is even possible, but I would think it would be doable.
It's very doable and I have all the tools to do it myself. Thanks again for suggesting a swap.
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Old 2 February 2022, 04:57 AM   #8
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Looks good. Please post a pic of your end project once you get it sorted and what you do about the bracelet. Thanks
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Old 2 February 2022, 07:43 AM   #9
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Looks good. Please post a pic of your end project once you get it sorted and what you do about the bracelet. Thanks
Count on it!
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Old 2 February 2022, 01:47 PM   #10
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Iím excited to see it all fixed up. Do you plan on keeping it on the same strap? Iíve got mine on a nearly identical brown one (the screws on mine are facing the other direction) but cannot decide what looks better.
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Old 3 February 2022, 12:51 AM   #11
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Iím excited to see it all fixed up. Do you plan on keeping it on the same strap? Iíve got mine on a nearly identical brown one (the screws on mine are facing the other direction) but cannot decide what looks better.
I'm looking online for a more attractive strap, but finding suitable straps that work well with wire lugs is proving to be more difficult than I thought it would; so until I find something I really like, I'll just keep it on the one that came with it.

Mine has an ornate engraving on the case back that I'd like to have visible without removing the strap, although that might not be possible.

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Old 5 February 2022, 05:42 AM   #12
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I think I've found a strap I like, but the vendor (in the U.K.) has temporarily stopped production. He says it's issues beyond his control, but hopes to resume soon.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Trench Watch Straps.jpg (158.9 KB, 76 views)
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Old 21 February 2022, 02:44 PM   #13
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Well, I decided to have the original dial and hands refurbished by removing the century old radium and having them relumed. I took the "before" photo before sending off the dial and hands. The restorer took the "after" photos. I should have them next week and will then reassemble the watch.



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Old 28 February 2022, 04:09 PM   #14
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Itíll be nice to see that watch back in action.

Were you able to discover any information about the original owner?
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Old 1 March 2022, 12:32 PM   #15
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It’ll be nice to see that watch back in action.

Were you able to discover any information about the original owner?
Sadly, no. There are scores of St. Andrew's Churches, both Catholic and Anglican in the U.K., and with just Mr. Brown's initials I don't think there's much chance of finding out.

My watchmaker now has the dial, hands, movement, and case, and may get it to me next week. I'm anxious to have it back together all spiffed up.
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Old 2 March 2022, 04:09 AM   #16
Stan Cooper
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According to James Dowling, the Rebberg 13"' 18 jewel Extra Prima movement is fairly rare. I didn't know this when I purchased the watch.

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Old 18 March 2022, 11:26 AM   #17
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My watchmaker called to let me know it's finished and is working perfectly. The original hands were badly corroded and cracked when he tried to mount them, so I ordered replacements that are pretty close to the originals in style (cathedral) and length. The original hands were silver, but I ordered both silver and gold hands, and decided to see how the gold hands look. I'm thrilled with the results of the project.

It's pretty neat wearing a 107 year old sterling silver cased Rolex.

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