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Old 8 May 2010, 12:15 PM   #1
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The final conclusion: Rolex the Authenticity Experts and Bob Ridley

The final conclusion: Rolex the Authenticity Experts and Bob Ridley of Watchmakers International

The final conclusion: Rolex the Authenticity Experts. Set out on a simple journey to purchase a bracelet for my father’s Rolex submariner 5512 and had the most horrific experience with the Dallas Rolex Service Center (RSC) that has spanned over four months. My father was passionate about his diving sport. He was an amateur paleontologist, cave diver, and open water diver. In his professional career he was the President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of high end computer graphics company which he retired from in the middle eighties. He acquired his submariner 5512 in the early seventies and used it for many years for dive adventures. He retired the watch in the early nineties. He was very proud that his watch was never breached by water over the twenty years he dove. If you are interested, here are two detailed dive adventures that have been documented (For the Rolex enthusiasts there are Rolex sightings):

The Tusk Recovery Trip early 70’s
Florida Diving History of 60's and 70's: Recovering Portuguese Galleon Ship Anchor

5512 on the left and date version on the right.

To get a full understanding of this unfortunate journey, please review part I, II and III shown below:

After I found The Rolex Forums (TRF), I discovered this treatment is common.
Mr. Allen Brill: if you read this experience series, I would like to know how you would feel if your son visited a Rolex USA service center with your watch and was treated in this manner.

After many discussions with a Rolex manager, Rolex decided to work with me and provide me a bezel and bracelet. I deeply appreciate that the Rolex manager provided me the parts. The watch was shipped to Rolex for the fitting of the bezel and bracelet. While the watch was at Rolex, they had a third inspector review the watch and bezel ring. Rolex concluded that Bob and Orchi were deceived by this bezel ring. They would only provide a new bezel assembly if they were allowed to retain the non Rolex bezel ring. I agreed. They allowed me to keep the old insert. I conclude that Rolex now considers my watch one hundred percent genuine Rolex.

Rolex did leave me a parting gift. They engraved the watch’s serial number on the inside of the clasp of the new bracelet. They engrave the watch’s serial number on the bracelet as standard practice for all the watches that come in for servicing. They do this so they can keep track of which bracelet goes with what watch. When they service a watch, the bracelet gets separated from the watch and does not come back together until the end. A different group services the bracelets.

The servicing of the watch with Bob Ridley of Watchmakers International:
All statements about Rolex, services rendered by Rolex, issues linked to Rolex and any general statements about Rolex are the sole statements of me (Cavediver) and are not in any way affiliated with Watchmakers International or Bob Ridley. Bob Ridley provided the service and restoration of the watch and documented the state of parts and issues found with the watch.

I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Ridley and his sons in person at his facility. We briefly discussed his recent training he attended as part of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute (AWCI) Certified Watchmakers 21st century certification. We also discussed his sponsorship of the upcoming for display of Ian Fleming’s personal Rolex 1016 Explorer for the National Watch & Clock Museum exhibit.

He inspected the watch’s exterior and interior to determine the condition of the watch. Before Bob opened the back of the watch, he noticed something was not right with how the movement was mounted to the case. He described it with an analogy to a car’s engine mounts not being secured. Once the case back was opened, he discovered the issue. Fortunately there was no damage, but the movement was not mounted securely in the case from the previous watchmaker. Bob being a professional would not comment on the watchmaker’s workmanship. However, I have no reservations to speaking. Rolex was the last to handle the watch. They serviced the watch in 1995 (Rolex Service Center Dallas confirmed) and Rolex Dallas service center examined the watch at the beginning of this year. No doubt in my mind who performed this improper installation of the movement. He removed and inspected the auto wind which needed replacement. The mainspring, barrel, tube and crown needed replacement. It is fact that my father’s watch went unworn since the last service in 1995, and this was confirmed by two sources. This evidence begs the question as to why the auto wind, barrel, escapement wheel, tube, and crown were not replace in 1995.
Bob spent plenty of time with me explaining in detail the state of the watch and fully answered any questions I had concerning the watch. It was a pleasure and enlightening experience.

Documentation of the watch gathered during the servicing:
In this picture, you can see the scratch a previous watchmaker made to a gear when powering down the mainspring. This is cosmetic damage and does not affect the watch’s performance. There is no way to determine how long ago this occurred. Bob indicated that is a big no-no in watch making.

This picture shows the movement with the auto wind removed before service:

After Service:

The movement's auto wind is marked 1530. However the movement is a 1560 caliber. Concerned about this finding, I asked Bob about the miss match of the movement. He informed that the "stud support" in this watch is used for the 1560 caliber movement. The "spring for protecting the hairspring" in this movement is also used in the caliber 1560. These facts lead me to believe this is a 1560 caliber. The auto device bridges are structurally the same except for the engraving for 15xx calibers. From a watchmaker’s prospective, Bob informed me that it would be easy to see where the repairman needed to replace this common part yet was unable to obtain the auto bridge with the correct engraving. From the stand point of function, the repairman would be satisfied and move on with that revision. Bob indicated that the auto device bridge in this watch is an older design which appears "period correct" with the production date. I wonder if Rolex shipped watches out of the factory with auto wind bridge marked with a different caliber than they are mounted. Notice the auto wind still has the brass bushings and they are still in very good condition. At some point in the future these brass bushings will need to be replaced with jewels.

I was shocked when I saw the pictures of the movement. The movement looks rough and discolored. I thought it may have had unknown water damage, however Bob stated what we see is not a moisture induced blemish. The discoloration is a combination of age, heat and the reaction to solvents/heat drying throughout the years. The rhodium plating is gradually wearing away revealing more of the brass metal underneath. The aging process at this point should not affect the performance of the watch.
Picture of Movement Parts after Cleaning:

Movement after Cleaning:

The most disturbing finding while servicing the watch was a place in the main plate that was bent. The place that was bent was the recessed well that the barrel sits. Bob concluded that this damaged had occurred when the movement was out of the watch case during a previous service. When I picked up my watch, Bob demonstrated on an old main plate how much this part of the main plate was bent. Bob was able to repair the main plate. The picture below outlines the area that was bent. The area shown was pushed inward a few millimeters. The question remains why the previous watchmaker (Rolex) did not repair this damage or if they caused the damage.

Detailed Pictures from Bob:
Case back before the cleaning: Notice the RTX 1-95. There are other sharpie writings, but they are partially rubbed off and not readable. There are other service engravings from 72 and 83. There might be another but it is not readable in the before service photo of the case back.

In the after cleaning photograph, notice how the RTX 1-95 is now gone. How ironic.

Photograph of dial out of the case with the new twin lock crown installed:

Pictures of the watch’s case (Note that the case was not polished):

You can still see the chamfered. It is more pronounced on the crown side of the case.

Here is a photograph of the watch head complete with new bezel ring (old insert), new twin lock crown and a Rolex service crystal.

Bob provided me a bag full of the old parts:

I set up my camera and tried to take macro photographs of the old parts to show the details of the wear on them. The photographs are not cropped unless noted. I did not have any Rodico handy, so please ignore the dust. If I get a hold of some Ridico, I may retake for cleaner photographs. Here is a picture of the case tube and crown. Notice the wear and corrosion. Also notice how the bottom of the crown looks crimped. The replacement twin lock is different.

Bob took the time and showed me a diagram of the internal workings of the crown. There are several internal moving parts. The small cylinder shown in this photograph is under the tension of a spring. When the crown in pushed in that small shaft is compressed into the crown which disengages the stem from the crown. So, when the crown is screwed down the stem does not rotate. In the same, when the crown is unscrewed from the tube, this spring pushes the cylinder out engaging the stem so the watch can be wound and the time set.

Here are pictures of the new crown and tube. Notice how the new twin lock crown looks like a casing is pressed on which is different from the original twin lock.

The Escapement Wheel:

100% crop to see wear:

Other side of Escapement Wheel sight crop:

The inside shot of the Barrel showing the notches that the mainspring catches. 75% crop:

50% crop:

More pictures of the Barrel and Arbor:
50% crop

50% crop

Arbor 50% crop:

Auto Wind Part showing pivot:
50% Crop

75% Crop

100% Crop

Auto Wind:

In this photograph you can see age cracks in the material.

I got the call from Bob that the watch was ready. I was so excited after five months of waiting for a new bracelet and the watch to be serviced; I went immediately to pick up the watch. I was greeted by Bob’s son and he walked me back to Bob’s desk. Bob was awaiting my arrival and had my watch and bag of parts sitting on his desk. Bob presented the watch in nice Rolex green colored watch box:

We had a nice conversation and I thanked him for his efforts. The watch is now on my wrist and keeping great time. He informed me that the watch was spot on with the dial up and gains two seconds per day with the crown down.

I would like to thank the TRF, collectors, dealers and watchmakers who post on the forum for your help over the last five months.

Here’s to you Dad .. In remembrance (Circa 1987):

The Journey Begins
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Old 8 May 2010, 12:30 PM   #2
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Excellent post Cavediver.Enjoy the watch and wear it in good health.
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Old 8 May 2010, 12:49 PM   #3
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I really enjoyed that!!!
Excellent pictures and narrative......Rolex service,it makes you wonder!!

Cavediver,enjoy that Sub in good health!!
He who wears a Rolex is always on time, even when late!!

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Old 8 May 2010, 12:50 PM   #4
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Outstanding and illuminating tale of the continued journey of a 5512 kept in the family for generations to come thankfully to your efforts and the expert care of mister Ridley !

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Old 8 May 2010, 01:01 PM   #5
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A gorgeous watch and an amazing story. Great, detailed images. This was an education.
Thanks Cavediver.
Wear the watch in good health.
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Old 8 May 2010, 01:11 PM   #6
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Love the watch and all the pics!

Enjoy the journey
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Old 8 May 2010, 01:15 PM   #7
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Mr. Ridley really is an artist!!
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Old 8 May 2010, 01:17 PM   #8
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That is a great story CaveDiver!

I believe Bob is the place to take a watch for service. Rolex does not have the greatest rep. for service. I have been disappointed in the past for watches that came back with problems they didn't have when sent in for service.

But that was Beverly Hills which is now closed. So far good luck with Dallas.

Now a sentimental piece is in superb condition and another plus for Bob. =) Maverick
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Old 8 May 2010, 02:28 PM   #9
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Absolutely fascinating, thank you for posting this story.....
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Old 8 May 2010, 03:19 PM   #10
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...thanks for a GREAT story and a fine watch...

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Old 8 May 2010, 05:58 PM   #11
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Amazing story and thankfully with a happy ending.

Time to enjoy the watch.


PN 6241, 6239, 6263, 16520, 116509, 116520
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Old 8 May 2010, 06:05 PM   #12
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There are three kinds of people in the world: those who can count, and those who can't.

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Old 8 May 2010, 07:11 PM   #13
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Great story,and amazing pictures!!,enjoy it!!!
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Old 8 May 2010, 08:46 PM   #14
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Great to hear the happy ending . Why anyone would send a watch to RSC is beyond me. . .
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Old 8 May 2010, 08:59 PM   #15
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What a great story!!!!! Thanks a million for sharing!!!

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Old 8 May 2010, 09:00 PM   #16
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What a great post and story
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Old 8 May 2010, 09:08 PM   #17
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What a great story!!!!! Thanks a million for sharing!!!

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Old 8 May 2010, 10:21 PM   #18
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Congrats buddy! What a watch!

My 1680 is almost done (also being handled by Bob). I am pretty excited to get it back.
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Old 8 May 2010, 11:09 PM   #19
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Superb post and wonderful photos, CD!
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Old 8 May 2010, 11:37 PM   #20
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Superb documentation. Disappointing about Rolex -- another corporation that settles for "good enough" instead of reaches for "excellent." The superiority of work of the individual craftsman with his name attached to the product shines forth!
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Old 9 May 2010, 12:56 AM   #21
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Wonderful pictures and a great story. Congratulations!
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Old 9 May 2010, 01:09 AM   #22
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Sounds and looks like a superb end to an arduous ordeal. Glad to hear that your father's timepiece got the treatment it deserved.

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Old 9 May 2010, 01:31 AM   #23
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Just WOW
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Old 9 May 2010, 02:06 AM   #24
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Great story and well written with excellent pics .
Congrats on your 'new' watch which got the attention it deserves.
Fine toast to your Dad. He would be proud.
Thanks for sharing.

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Old 9 May 2010, 11:10 AM   #25
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All watches need a great story such as this. Thanks for taking the time to record and share with us.
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Old 9 May 2010, 11:41 AM   #26
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Fantastic story and post! I'm glad to hear of the conclussion and outcome of your journey/ordeal.

Wear your 5512 in good health!
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Old 9 May 2010, 01:21 PM   #27
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I feel as if I care enough to own this now. Excellent photography and story. Thank you so much!
meteor flying to Earth onto my wrist...

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Old 9 May 2010, 01:24 PM   #28
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Great story, pictures, and watch....

Wear it in the best of health Cavediver.
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Old 9 May 2010, 04:17 PM   #29
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thanks for sharing!
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Old 9 May 2010, 07:58 PM   #30
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Great story and a great account of it!
Would it be worthwhile to try once more to get an explanation of their concerns about the bezel you think? Would be really interesting to know..
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