10 things every Rolex owner should know

DakotaDocMartin

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"They Use An Expensive And Difficult To Machine Steel Because It Looks Better

Many watch lovers are familiar with the fact that Rolex uses a type of steel that no one else uses. Stainless steel is not all the same. Steel comes in various types and grades... and most steel watches are made from a type of stainless steel called 316L. Today, all the steel in Rolex watches is made from 904L steel, and as far as we know, pretty much no one else does. Why?

Rolex used to use the same steel as everyone else, but in around 2003 they moved their entire steel production to 904L steel."

:biggrin: Full article here: http://www.businessinsider.com/10-things-every-rolex-owner-should-know-2015-1
 

sam

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That's an excellent article. I've been a big fan since the late 70s.

One thing I question is "The benefit [of 904L] is obvious once you handle any steel Rolex watch." I don't know anyone who can see or feel a difference between 316L and 904L. I'm sure there's a difference in machining, but in feel?

I've been to Rolex's booth (if you want to call a 2-story building inside a show hall a booth) at Baselworld and they really make a huge presentation, from model-like ladies with trays of champagne and a digital moat with bridge and a giant stingray swimming around. This was to celebrate their new Yachtmaster a few years ago. They are a truly remarkable company.
 

Tim Wells

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IMG_7354.jpg IMG_6040.jpg

I recently restored an older DateJust and it was 316L. After cleaning the case I could accurately see how deep the acidic pitting was in the back gasket seat. I could hide the tip of a 0.7mm pencil lead in the deepest holes. Before I could trust this thing to make a seal, this had to be addressed. I laser welded each hole, pit and blemish and then turned it in my lathe to where it was perfectly level with it's original surface.

I don't know for a fact, but I would assume that Rolex changed to 904 primarily to combat this problem. After seeing this, and by the way, this was the first time I had ever seen pitting on a stainless watch in 20 years of watch repair, I did some research and it was a common problem with certain skin oils. We're not all the same. Some of us can stop a mechanical watch from some inner magnetism in our bodies, while others have sweat so acidic that they can rot a stainless Rolex band right off their wrist.

That comment in the article that Sam referenced was to me just the authors way of flowering up his description for the readers sake. However, if it holds a polish better it would be evidenced over time after wearing it in everyday use. Like you Sam, I'd defy anyone to tell the difference by just picking up two identical watches but both being made out of the two different stainlesses. Once the sides are polished on that hard felt wheel they use, the mirror reflection would look the same.

I have found older Rolex watches to be easy to scratch which makes sense that 316L is a softer formulation of stainless.
 
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DakotaDocMartin

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I've been to Rolex's booth (if you want to call a 2-story building inside a show hall a booth) at Baselworld and they really make a huge presentation, from model-like ladies with trays of champagne...
That almost makes me feel like I "need" a Rolex Cellini Time in 18K Everose even more! :)
 

Phil Coggan

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They might be good watches but the Company itself sucks, why...the mainspring broke in my Submariner, it went off to Rolex, they wouldn't replace another spring unless I had a service, that's ok, but they also wanted to change the glass, the bezel and also the Gold crown, the glass is perfect, the bezel is perfect and not discoloured and the crown is perfect, total price around £1200. I told the shop to tell Rolex what they could do with these extras, they came back with a service and crown or no repair, the thread on the crown was perfect, and the seals come under the service, anyway I had the job done for £850.

That's not all....! Simons pin broke on His Submariner's bracelet, it went off to Rolex, they wanted £3600 for a new bracelet, also they insisted on a service, a new glass and a new bezel, Simon told them where they could go!

For a repitable Company they are the pits for customer relations, also, there are no contact numbers to make a complaint! By the way...I have never engraved one :)

Phil
 

rmgreen

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Not the name recognition/status nor the price but close enough. Omega's and Tag Heuer's have been very fine watches and the companies are jewels to work with the very few times I have had to send one back.
 
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On both sides of my family, the European and the English, they had a thing for Omega watches. When I started my working life I followed suit and put an Omega watch on layby ( anyone remember layby?) Twelve months later I paid it off and took it home.

Twenty years later it stopped and I took it to one of the very few watchmakers in my country who can repair such watches….it was like the doctor telling you that annoying lump under your arm is the Big C……the elderly Austrian gentleman explained that all the guts of the watch had rotted out. When I protested that Mummy and Daddy’s watches, bought in the 20’s were all going strong he replied that the craftsmen who made those watches and ran that company are all dead and buried but the name remains.

The article in the OP was interesting but with my own experience with prestige watches I dismiss as “clapping seal” journalism and all the more so considering Phil’s comments

Steve
 

mitch

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Phil, my friend the anesthesiologist says the term for that sort of customer service in medical circles is doing a "wallet biopsy". they'll run as many tests as you, or your insurance company, can afford. in the fine watch industry, apparently they figure if you can afford to buy a Roller you can afford the ridiculous repair bills.

almost 20 yrs ago my sister-in-law had to replace the crystal on her Lady Datejust(?). it cracked when it was hit by a peanut thrown in a sports bar! cost $700.
 

sam

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They might be good watches but the Company itself sucks, why...the mainspring broke in my Submariner, it went off to Rolex, they wouldn't replace another spring unless I had a service, that's ok, but they also wanted to change the glass, the bezel and also the Gold crown, the glass is perfect, the bezel is perfect and not discoloured and the crown is perfect, total price around £1200. I told the shop to tell Rolex what they could do with these extras, they came back with a service and crown or no repair, the thread on the crown was perfect, and the seals come under the service, anyway I had the job done for £850.

That's not all....! Simons pin broke on His Submariner's bracelet, it went off to Rolex, they wanted £3600 for a new bracelet, also they insisted on a service, a new glass and a new bezel, Simon told them where they could go!

For a repitable Company they are the pits for customer relations, also, there are no contact numbers to make a complaint! By the way...I have never engraved one :)

Phil
That sucks, Phil. Sounds like highway robbery. There are plenty of watchmakers who can do the work, but getting parts can be troublesome. But they're out there if you beat the bushes. As for Simon's bracelet pin breaking, I don't see why the entire bracelet needs replacing. There are certified Rolex watchmakers in different shops, so I would get a second opinion on expensive repairs.

I bought my first GMT in 1978 for a $795. It was crazy expensive then, but I just had to have it!
 

sam

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Not exactly on topic, but the Swiss manufacturers are restricting parts in an effort to drive independent watchmakers out of business. For details from one of the leaders in the fight against the practice see:

http://fleury.com/

Troy
Then there's the Swatch Group which restricted sales of its ETA movements only to companies owned by Swatch. Many companies have been using ETA movements for years and then suddenly found themselves in a bind with no movements. This spawned some ETA clones, some of which are pretty dang good according to what I've read.

The restriction of parts makes it really tough of independent repair shops.
 

Phil Coggan

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Here's another one...my wife has a Patek, a very expensive watch especially as it has a quarts movement, every two years or so the battery needs changing, this involves undoing four screws, a new battery, cost, next to nothing and a new rubber seal 50p, their price, around £130!

The service price is £650, can anyone tell me what is involved in servicing a quarts movement if anything, it must be a lot of work for that price :confused:

Phil
 

SamW

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Several years ago I was at SCI with one of my best customers and we stopped at a jewelers booth. My friend bought a new bezel for his Rolex for something like $1400. When I asked if they had one to fit my Timex I thought I was going to be shot...the look I got was deadly!!
 

sam

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Here's another one...my wife has a Patek, a very expensive watch especially as it has a quarts movement, every two years or so the battery needs changing, this involves undoing four screws, a new battery, cost, next to nothing and a new rubber seal 50p, their price, around £130!

The service price is £650, can anyone tell me what is involved in servicing a quarts movement if anything, it must be a lot of work for that price :confused:

Phil
I was recently at a master Swiss watchmaker's workshop in Vermont (Churchill's neighbor and friend) and he showed me a sophisticated device used for regulating high-end quartz movements. You actually reprogram the movement as there are no mechanical adjustments like you'd would expect. Perhaps Patek uses a similar movement, and if so, that could account for the silly price for service.

I always thought quartz movements would be cheaper to toss and replace as opposed to repair and regulate.
 

GTJC460

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Here's another one...my wife has a Patek, a very expensive watch especially as it has a quarts movement, every two years or so the battery needs changing, this involves undoing four screws, a new battery, cost, next to nothing and a new rubber seal 50p, their price, around £130!

The service price is £650, can anyone tell me what is involved in servicing a quarts movement if anything, it must be a lot of work for that price :confused:

Phil
Its a common philosophy within the jewelry industry for the retail chains to invite repair situations because its an opportunity to sell the client another product. As for the Rolex repair on the band, I don't see why any competent jeweler with a laser (is stainless) or a torch (if gold) couldn't repair the band. Its a pretty simple fix. Sam is absolutely correct on finding an independent watchmaker. They are out there but not easily located. There are many that will work on Rolex but aren't rolex authorized repair centers.
 

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