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fixing an old watch

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by enderz, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. enderz

    enderz Active Member

    Messages:
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    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    santa monica, ca
    So I'm home visiting for the holidays and my Dad notices the Omega watch I'm wearing and tells me a story about this old Rolex he used to have and wear until I at 3 years old took it and kept throwing it at the floor. It seems to have survived the throws onto the carpet, but when i progessed onto cement, the watch didn't survive too well. He kept the clock buried in a drawer and I made him go find it. The watch is at least 40 years old and is an Oyster Perpetual model. In the picture it looks gold due to the lighting, but it is actually silver. [​IMG] The crystal face is gone and it's awfully dirty. Think a watch repair shop can save it? Any idea what it might cost to get it fixed or how much it's worth?
     
  2. kolecho

    kolecho Senior member

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    Of course it can be fixed up. Rolex still makes the same model with minor variations and a revised movement. Your best bet is to take it to the nearest Rolex service centre, which in your case is Rolex Beverly Hills. They can do a free appraisal for you while you wait. The bill will not be cheap for a full restoration, but the watch will look like new if you want the dial, hands to be changed, and case polished. You would probably need a new bracelet as the old one might be too stretched to be comfortable. Some people prefer to have the patina of the old dial and hands intact and the case unpolished (yes, even though it is scratched up) to retain its originality. I am one of them [​IMG] Rolex will ask you to replace the dial and hands for sure, but you have to decide for yourself whether you want a beautiful vintage to look like a vintage or a new watch. The crystal is acrylic and very cheap. Acrylic is better for real sports watches because it does not shatter into small pieces like sapphire and can be polished with Brasso yourself should scratches develop. Besides going back to Rolex, you could send it to an independent watchmaker who has a good track record in restoring Rolex. This route allows you to explore keeping the dial and hands with the watchmaker by getting the dial cleaned up (not redialed). Visit timezone.com , there is a Rolex forum there where you can seek more opinions and recommendations for independent watchmakers in your area. Its value will depend on condition and whether you still have the original box and papers. Don't sell it if you can help it. Fix it up for daily wear, and pass it on to your kid. Good luck, and please post some scans when the job is done.
     
  3. chorse123

    chorse123 Senior member

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    Very interesting. Kolecho, what would you guess a job like this would cost?
     
  4. Roy

    Roy Senior member

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    Wow, if you can fix that up it would be a very nice watch.
     
  5. ROT

    ROT Senior member

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    Sep 29, 2004
    Location:
    Richmond, Virginia USA
    I wear my father's Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust and just had it serviced by Rolex in NYC. It had lots of rust inside, the face and hands were a mess and the bracelet lock was barely hanging on. Looks like new. (I wish now they had asked me if wanted to keep the discolored face and hands, I didn't mind them.) The whole thing took a couple of weeks and I had to package the watch t send it in a plain box with brown paper tape, etc. Ran about $650. But it's back to (nearly) everyday use.
     
  6. kolecho

    kolecho Senior member

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    I am guessing, but with new dial, hands and bracelet at Rolex, it will probably cost $1000 or more? Here are some scans of my vintage Submariner with box and papers. Â Note the yellowish patina on the hour markers and the corrosion on the hands. Â That is what I mean by the vintage look. Â This watch case has also never been polished before. Â [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  7. AlanC

    AlanC Senior member

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    Must have been some of those fancy new parenting methods. I know what would have happened to me 'long about toss #2. [​IMG] Nice watch, and a wonderful heirloom.
     
  8. enderz

    enderz Active Member

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    santa monica, ca
    Thanks for the great response. I couldn't have asked for anything better. Unfortunately any authenticity papers are long gone -- probably burnt by the commies back in Vietnam 1975. Apparently my grandfather had an even nicer watch, but it got stolen right off his wrist while he was stopped at a stoplight in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).

    1k is a lot of money for me right now... I'm not sure if I can take the official Rolex repair route. I'll check out the timezone site, and I also have some relatives heading back to Vietnam that might be able to get the watched fixed over there much, much cheaper -- probably under 50 bucks (the average salary in Vietnam is 30 dollars a month). I'll keep you guys posted.
     
  9. enderz

    enderz Active Member

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    haha. i just re-read my post and pictured christopher walken giving the watch speech in pulp fiction. THREE YEARS I HAD THIS UNCOMFORTABLE HUNK OF METAL UP MY ASS.
     
  10. kolecho

    kolecho Senior member

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    Get it appraised for free first at Rolex BH.  1k is just a wild guess.
     
  11. ernest

    ernest Senior member

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    I think Rolex could change everything form bracelet to movement. I could cost more than the price of the same watch in good trim.
     
  12. armscye

    armscye Senior member

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    The purist route would be to take it to a Rolex warranty station, and pay a heckuva lot of money to have it restored. I notice the band is non original, so that's $400 right there. It's easy to pay more for restoration than the value of the watch. I have a similar manual-wind Oyster Precision, vintage 1960, that's worth about $750 with original bracelet.

    The savvier "two-stage" alternative might be as follows:

    1. Take it to a good jeweler who is NOT affiliated with Rolex. Have them ultrasonically clean and lubricate the movement, do a light soak cleaning of the dial and hands, and reseal to 1 ATM. That should run $150 or so unless the movement is heavily rusted.

    2. Fit a generic acrylic crystal. There is no need to insist on a Rolex crystal, since without a date the crystal will have no cyclops eye. You'll then have a functional, patinated "vintage look" Rolex Air King. Cost: another $40 or so.

    3. That age of Air King takes a 19mm strap. Pick out a moderately priced stitched calf strap, making sure the clasp is silver-colored. Don't bother paying for croc or a Rolex buckle-- the idea is to keep costs down for now. You'll spend another $35.

    4. Wear the watch for a few years. When you're feeling flush, contact one of the many Rolex customizers on the web, and you can gussy the watch up a roman numeral face, a gold bezel, hands, and crown, and a maybe a stainless and gold bracelet. At that point, the watch will be a part of your life, and you'll enjoy the enhancements more.
     
  13. enderz

    enderz Active Member

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    Location:
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    Your two-stage approach sounds great. I'm not really willing to blow the cash on the purist route and for around 200 dollars I can have a great looking watch right now. I think that will be the first thing I do when I get back to LA. Thanks.

    dan
     
  14. truthhurts

    truthhurts Senior member

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    Sep 24, 2004
    It can definitely be saved. I'd take it to a good jeweller and ask them how I could make the watch move while keeping as much of that patina as possible.
     
  15. Fuuma

    Fuuma Senior member

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    Dec 20, 2004
    Good avice to be found here. If you want to get advice from people who are as enthousiastic about watches than people here about clothes go to the this place (there's a rolex forum): Watchuseek forums For some information about rolex watches and things like polishing: Oysterworld Regards
     
  16. STYLESTUDENT

    STYLESTUDENT Senior member

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    SE Michigan (frequent NYC visitor)
    Coincidentally, I've worn a steel Rolex Air-King daily for about 20 years-it looks just like yours. Hard to get used to wearing it (even if the steel band is loose, the watch feels heavy and leaves an imprint on your wrist). You do get used to it in time and the watch has not needed any repairs at all. I checked EBay and a good used one will go for at least $1,700. A new one costs $2,700 or so. I'd keep it.
     
  17. TCN

    TCN Senior member

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    This is sage advice in my opinion. The stories of people sending watches to Rolex USA for simple restoration, and Rolex running up the bill and "demanding" that the watch be made honest are legendary.

    Still, it's a great watch, and if there's sentimental value to it and money is of no concern, Rolex does beautiful restoration work, and the value of the watch bill be less affected.
     

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