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my first Rolex - Lady Datejust cal 2035


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Good morning!

After some back-and-forth and initial reluctance (worries about the cost of spare parts), I've accepted to service my friend's Lady Datejust ref 6917, calibre 2035. 

This is a first post of a potential series in this thread. Today, disassembly and assessment of wear/damage. 

Questions to you are marked in bold letters.

Symptoms that led to service request: 

  • 10 years since last service (but done by the Swiss Rolex Service Center)
  • manual winding clearly extremely heavy with a feeling as if it something was going to break any moment
  • rattling noise when shaking the watch
  • erratic timekeeping (at times minus 60s/day then plus 60s/day)
  • low amplitude (220° at full wind, dial up), high beat error (1.4ms)

I had some real trouble even opening it... the caseback was so tight. I could not open it with the 8-ball nor the wrench+dies (CousinsUK "Value"). So I had to get creative and combined the wrench with my Robur glass press and some good old pliers + plastic protection. It finally worked without scratches. Pheww.

20231124_164535.thumb.jpg.aed7e390e68bae1fa1445e5ca152e942.jpg20231129_140009.thumb.jpg.efd76cbdbeeaf0bf5f9c5ef2c719c6f1.jpg

 

Some overall pictures of the movement (last one is after removing the date disc):

20231129_134842.thumb.jpg.647be8677ecd7c220c7e6811cf201fb8.jpg20231129_165144.thumb.jpg.dec1667d2b8a2ed1870fbeb7226ddf3f.jpg20231129_230308.thumb.jpg.a78a52270ccba1e4722d500cbcc644a1.jpg

 

1. First observation, the rotor is a bit wobbly. I will replace the axle or the entire rotor. I am looking for the specific staking punch for calibre 2030/2035, but I couldn't yet find it in the EU (trying to avoid customs processing fees that would probably at least equal the price of the 20 USD item itself...). Any ideas? As you can see on the pictures, the wear isn't extreme, but enough to cause too much shake, IMHO.

20231129_164928_resized.thumb.jpg.adc566af28f4030370fac7c1a3b45e55.jpg20231129_164928.thumb.jpg.023e6893c488dcf266eeb797317c159e.jpg

 

2. Second observation, after opening, I can see how the automatic wheels are badly struggling when trying to wind manually. At first, I don't see any obvious damage/wear. But after disassembly of the automatic works, I can see that the pivot holes of the reversing wheels are worn. One is kinda ok, the other was bad and I could barely remove the inner wheel. See pictures of the holes below. The more damaged one definitely needs to be replaced. The less damaged one, probably too. What do you think? My feeling is that once the Teflon coating is cracked once, it will continue to break down quickly. Besides the reversing wheels, the jewels are also gummed up and dirty. One had a little fiber in it that probably sucked dry the jewel.

20231129_163753.thumb.jpg.c0ad5991549ef65b74e76e9abda0a4a5.jpg

20231129_222143.thumb.jpg.d288f28ddd18671b6a1a262d36158534.jpg 20231129_222056.thumb.jpg.2fcafa8c15da5bd73b903d1e4cb55190.jpg

20231129_221927.thumb.jpg.6f3c7131117309da59108966cddf439a.jpg

 

3. Third observation, the inside of the barrel looks horrendous! The last service was by Rolex, albeit 10 years ago... but what the f* where they using??? Thankfully, this is easy to clean.

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4. Forth observation. After releasing power from the mainspring, upon removing the pallet fork, the train of wheels was spinning quite a bit more. I was surprised.  The balance fork looks a bit dirty. Maybe some oil/grease travelled to the fork pivot? 

 

20231129_232539.thumb.jpg.6f516929cf0199cadddb8f452fe8b892.jpg

 

Ok, that's it for now. Next is cleaning.

I'd be happy to hear your comments.

Cheers,

CK

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26 minutes ago, Knebo said:

Teflon coating

I always thought it was anodized aluminum but that's just what I thought

It's always interesting what I find lurking in my computer vintage service guide just in case you don't have one. Then you Need to be careful about a standard operating procedure of demagnetizing as there is a magnet found somewhere in this watch. You'll see is a reference to used for the breaking of the sweep second hand.

 

 

2030-2035 rolex tech.pdf

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Thanks @JohnR725.

I might be wrong about the Teflon. I think I heard/read that somewhere but don't recall where.

Either way, would you agree that both reversers are too worn to be reused?

I had actually already found your document somewhere else in the forum. But thanks for looking for it again!

Yes, I noticed the magnet on the seconds pinion... rather strong! Fortunately, as you can see on page 5 of your document, the magnet is "permanent" and the movement "can be demagnetized without any special precautions".

 

 

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I have a follow up question on the reversing wheels. 

The original pieces NOS that I can find on eBay have an inscription "EPIL" on the packaging. Does this mean they are pre-treated with EPILame and that I shouldn't/needn't re-apply epilame?  Or will these parts be so old that the epilame has degraded by now. 

Thanks for your inputs! 

Screenshot_20231130_143900_eBay.jpg

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11 hours ago, Knebo said:

The original pieces NOS that I can find on eBay have an inscription "EPIL" on the packaging. Does this mean they are pre-treated with EPILame and that I shouldn't/needn't re-apply epilame?  Or will these parts be so old that the epilame has degraded by now.

I'm not 100% sure whether you can interpret that and if you interpreted that incorrectly that wouldn't be good at all. Then I don't actually know if the new parts are treated or not.

Then if you're going to replace them replace both of them just to be on the safe side. It's one of the things that they do in the Rolex service center with servicing the watches anything they don't like they just replace because they're trying to restore the watches back to being new. Which is one of the reasons the service or Rolexes expensive.

 

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On 12/1/2023 at 2:31 AM, JohnR725 said:

I'm not 100% sure whether you can interpret that and if you interpreted that incorrectly that wouldn't be good at all. Then I don't actually know if the new parts are treated or not.

Then if you're going to replace them replace both of them just to be on the safe side. It's one of the things that they do in the Rolex service center with servicing the watches anything they don't like they just replace because they're trying to restore the watches back to being new. Which is one of the reasons the service or Rolexes expensive.

 

Ok thanks. I'll just treat them again to be safe. 

On a different note, I have a question about the mainspring. I inserted the new (Generale Ressorts) one and the center coil is a bit off center. I was able to insert the arbor and close the barrel, but keep thinking about it.

Is it a problem? 

20231202_122939.jpg

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5 hours ago, Knebo said:

Is it a problem? 

one of the problems with aftermarket mainsprings are there not actually made to exacting specifications. Like the center circle should be of the right size but often times it's either too big or small. personally I wouldn't do you believe in what noticed are worried about this at all probably because I've seen so much worse. so I don't think this is enough to be concerned about at all.

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Some updates:

1. Cleaning done. 1 cleaning and 2 rinsing cycles of 8min each in my ultrasonic cleaner. 

20231201_102626.thumb.jpg.6a5ad8c8d66b7de523037723e0b5f862.jpg

 

2. Epilame treatment (new reversers are on order and will be treated when I get them). After soaking in Fixodrop, I put them in a deep jar with some watchmaker paper to absorb the excess liquid and the use a blow-dryer on slow speed and low heat to dry the pieces. When treating the mainplate with individual drops of Fixodrop applied with a syringe, I stick some Rodico around the pallet fork jewels to avoid that epliame gets there (not sure that's excessive precaution, but want the jewels to stay without any residue). For the pallet stones for, I suspend the fork with some Rodico so that it hangs downwards and dip the stones into a drop at the tip of the syringe: 

20231202_115854.thumb.jpg.4427a3fdd00895941bad75b33f8f1f82.jpg

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20231202_121217.thumb.jpg.e48f82aebd380d4485d74fe7ed32dcfe.jpg

 

3. 8217 breaking grease on the barrel wall:

20231202_122653.thumb.jpg.bb3d108118bda1e45693f7e4ce912415.jpg

 

4. The escape wheel has shock setting in the Rolex. Note that you simply need to push (and somehow lift) the single pin, not take out the two holding ones.

20231202_121756.thumb.jpg.8b997254200683e62c017df7d0713828.jpg20231202_121817.thumb.jpg.39ec20c521093db55c24146cbb298353.jpg

 

5. Some work on the case and cleaning out the gaskets (ultrasonic cleaning afterwards).

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20231201_232956.thumb.jpg.aee001f0e504689e38a32fca26d39051.jpg

 

Next is assembly/lubrication, but still waiting for a replacement capstone (that I mysteriously lost...Note: all four capstones are the same). 

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Oh noooo 😭

I should have just stayed away from watchmaking when I was tired last night. I broke one of the shock springs for the escape wheel... 

I will order two new ones (20 USD/EUR each + 20 for shipping 😵). Any advice on installing them without breaking would be much appreciated!

On top of that shock (pun!) last night, I also realised that I somehow lost the intermediate crown wheel. It's still there on my overview picture of all parts. Since then, no idea how it could have been lost. It'll cost me an additional 30 dollars/euros. 

Just a really bad day 😣

20231205_223336.thumb.jpg.334baf048cbe8ce42d7dfc092c0daff2.jpg

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Well, some good news. I found the intermediate crown wheel. It was somehow stuck within another similar wheel. 

But this project remains challenging:

I wanted to "quickly" oil and insert the balance jewels. Normally, this takes me about 15min. This time, I was on it for 60min. I had to do and redo it many many times because the fit between hole jewels and cap jewels is so tight. It really felt as if the cap jewel was too big for the setting (I also tried all combinations of hole jewels and cap jewels; but all jewels are supposed to be the same and have the same part number). See the drawing below.

Normally, I can easily "drop" the hole jewel onto the oiled cap jewel. Here, it just wouldn't fall into its place. When pushing it on, it often moved around and messed up the oil dot (moving it away from the center). To be honest, I'm still not a 100% sure if my oil drops have now remained in the middle.

Has anyone else made this sort of experience with Rolex (or other brands)??

20231206_171609.thumb.jpg.bc3e95d41723c5c0bc7ab871eb404978.jpg

Edited by Knebo
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15 hours ago, Knebo said:

Well, some good news. I found the intermediate crown wheel. It was somehow stuck within another similar wheel. 

But this project remains challenging:

I wanted to "quickly" oil and insert the balance jewels. Normally, this takes me about 15min. This time, I was on it for 60min. I had to do and redo it many many times because the fit between hole jewels and cap jewels is so tight. It really felt as if the cap jewel was too big for the setting (I also tried all combinations of hole jewels and cap jewels; but all jewels are supposed to be the same and have the same part number). See the drawing below.

Normally, I can easily "drop" the hole jewel onto the oiled cap jewel. Here, it just wouldn't fall into its place. When pushing it on, it often moved around and messed up the oil dot (moving it away from the center). To be honest, I'm still not a 100% sure if my oil drops have now remained in the middle.

Has anyone else made this sort of experience with Rolex (or other brands)??

20231206_171609.thumb.jpg.bc3e95d41723c5c0bc7ab871eb404978.jpg

As a follow up to my above post, I tried to take some pictures of the balance jewels to assess if the oil is sufficient and in the right spot. I feel insecure after the difficulties I had putting cap and hile jewel together. (plus, both shock springs came our completely and I had to fiddle a long time to get them in again properly. All while the jewels were in the setting. 

Now, it may be a silly question but where do I see the oil?? Is it the circle that I marked in red or the circle I marked in blue? I think the blue circle is actually the oil cup that is on the other side of the hole jewel, but I'm not certain. 

20231206_173401_resized.thumb.jpg.d83b85602948743bd97cc13fe5cb32de.jpg20231206_175917_resized.thumb.jpg.c73e4a37f56fa5eea32fd5a61088f6be.jpg

Another test I did was to give the balance one strong blow with the blower and it kept moving for 60 sec (tiny tiny movement at the end included; measured until complete standstill). This is less than a Tissot that I did recently, which moved for 90sec. But then, this Rolex balance beats at 28800 bph movement vs 18000 bph for the Tissot. I guess that plays a role, no? 

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what you really need are some practice jewels to practice oiling with. because as you're finding out sometimes it's really hard to see what you're trying to see. then if either have no oil or you flood them with foil you won't see anythingor probably won't see anything because it is nothing to see. Usually when you have the oil in between it changes the reflective index the material and its darker looking.

Then I case you're curious of what or how much Rolex used to give notebooks out to their students they don't do that anymore and this is one of the pages from the notebook

image.png.9638ddc37da95683894d481d5fbb5869.png

25 minutes ago, Knebo said:

Another test I did was to give the balance one strong blow with the blower and it kept moving for 60 sec (tiny tiny movement at the end included; measured until complete standstill). This is less than a Tissot that I did recently, which moved for 90sec. But then, this Rolex balance beats at 28800 bph movement vs 18000 bph for the Tissot. I guess that plays a role, no? 

while tests like this sound nice on paper it's not what Rolex does so probably doesn't mean anything at all. I believe in the service manual it should have the timing specifications if not I have them somewhere else? All Rolex cares about is they have to meet the specifications that they have

 

 

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4 minutes ago, JohnR725 said:

what you really need are some practice jewels to practice oiling with. because as you're finding out sometimes it's really hard to see what you're trying to see. then if either have no oil or you flood them with foil you won't see anythingor probably won't see anything because it is nothing to see. Usually when you have the oil in between it changes the reflective index the material and its darker looking.

Thanks @JohnR725 for your quick feedback and the image. 

Trust me, I've oiled plenty of jewels and I'm confident about my skills in terms of the quantity applied (to the cap jewel) and careful joining with the setting/hole jewel. But this time, with the Rolex and as shown on my hand-sketch, it was a much more tricky experience. 

6 minutes ago, JohnR725 said:

and its darker looking

Really looking at my pictures, would you then say that the "red" circle is likely to be the oil? 

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1 hour ago, JohnR725 said:

Usually when you have the oil in between it changes the reflective index the material and its darker looking

This is true. And with the level of magnification you got in your photos you should be able to tell 100%. If anything I might add the border of the circle of oil should be sharp and clear. In all of my services I check the lubrication of the balance jewels by taking photos of the jewels one photo after oiled but before final assembly and one after the jewels was fully assembled with the shock spring. I use a very cheap chinese USB microscrope thought I can see the circle even with just my 20x eye loupe. Here are the 2 photos I took from a Seiko I recently did and I don't think I have to mark the circle of oil because you can clearly tell:

IPC_2023-11-22_17_13_20_5240.jpg.48affa98da5cfa58d50774f49a509ca6.jpg

IPC_2023-11-22_17.23_17_2700.jpg.a3fd5af39abceae81eef377b65381306.jpg

1 hour ago, Knebo said:

 

20231206_173401_resized.thumb.jpg.d83b85602948743bd97cc13fe5cb32de.jpg

This photo looks like you've got no oil at all except maybe a tiny bit in the middle of the jewel.

1 hour ago, Knebo said:

20231206_175917_resized.thumb.jpg.c73e4a37f56fa5eea32fd5a61088f6be.jpg

 

This one the blue circle looks indeed like the oil and looks like you got the perfect amount of oil here.

In case you may still be confused, these are the photos I took when I was playing with my automatic oiler. I was adjusting the oiler to get more and more amount of oil into the jewels setting. You can see the circle getting bigger and bigger 🙂 Yes I have a bunch of photos like these in my phone.

1.jpg.c4cb378f16424f3705884a32b7f11519.jpg2.jpg.e2bfe6c760d408313e0a1ecd6ae730f8.jpg3.jpg.50a9646fefad7f6263a9814ae3727398.jpg

 

4.jpg.fc0322c907ae872a9fafaa230006ee22.jpg

 

5.jpg.2a395db5643a03c8ab813f8e57855f69.jpg

Edited by ColdWind
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I'm disgusted at the way you opened the watch. If you do not have the correct tools you should have left it. What the hell would you have done if something went wrong. It would have cost you a packet, I don't expect you have insurance to have covered your work. 

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2 hours ago, oldhippy said:

I'm disgusted at the way you opened the watch. If you do not have the correct tools you should have left it. What the hell would you have done if something went wrong. It would have cost you a packet, I don't expect you have insurance to have covered your work. 

I believe we are currently discussing this kind of thing in another discussion on the group someplace? The assumption here is that as a hobbyist you get your customers to sign off on a contract that I was once told can't exist, in other words a contract with a sign all their rights away to save money to have you service the watch as a hobbyist. That means you don't have insurance either insurance for accidents or insurance if somebody breaks into your house and steals the watch. 

 

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On 12/6/2023 at 7:48 AM, Knebo said:

Oh noooo 😭

I should have just stayed away from watchmaking when I was tired last night. I broke one of the shock springs for the escape wheel... 

I will order two new ones (20 USD/EUR each + 20 for shipping 😵). Any advice on installing them without breaking would be much appreciated!

On top of that shock (pun!) last night, I also realised that I somehow lost the intermediate crown wheel. It's still there on my overview picture of all parts. Since then, no idea how it could have been lost. It'll cost me an additional 30 dollars/euros. 

Just a really bad day 😣

20231205_223336.thumb.jpg.334baf048cbe8ce42d7dfc092c0daff2.jpg

Never work on watches when you are tired,  irritable, frustrated,  excited, grumpy, confused, cranky, gittery, hyper, annoyed, upset, fiery.  I need to now question why i took up this hobby, I've just listed 99 % of my finest emotional qualities.

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1 minute ago, Neverenoughwatches said:

Never work on watches when you are tired,  irritable, frustrated,  excited, grumpy, confused, cranky, gittery, hyper, annoyed, upset, fiery.  I need to now question why i took up this hobby, I've just listed 99 % of my finest emotional qualities.

Hahaha, true!

Summary: just never work on watches. 🙄

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22 hours ago, Knebo said:

Well, some good news. I found the intermediate crown wheel. It was somehow stuck within another similar wheel. 

But this project remains challenging:

I wanted to "quickly" oil and insert the balance jewels. Normally, this takes me about 15min. This time, I was on it for 60min. I had to do and redo it many many times because the fit between hole jewels and cap jewels is so tight. It really felt as if the cap jewel was too big for the setting (I also tried all combinations of hole jewels and cap jewels; but all jewels are supposed to be the same and have the same part number). See the drawing below.

Normally, I can easily "drop" the hole jewel onto the oiled cap jewel. Here, it just wouldn't fall into its place. When pushing it on, it often moved around and messed up the oil dot (moving it away from the center). To be honest, I'm still not a 100% sure if my oil drops have now remained in the middle.

Has anyone else made this sort of experience with Rolex (or other brands)??

20231206_171609.thumb.jpg.bc3e95d41723c5c0bc7ab871eb404978.jpg

I dont know if you saw a post i made yesterday of how watchmakers would remember where seemingly identical parts go. If they are ok when they are removed then its fair to say they should go back in the same place. Even with good magnification a couple of 1/100  you may not distinguish the difference,  keep them separate anyway its just good practice .

7 hours ago, Knebo said:

As a follow up to my above post, I tried to take some pictures of the balance jewels to assess if the oil is sufficient and in the right spot. I feel insecure after the difficulties I had putting cap and hile jewel together. (plus, both shock springs came our completely and I had to fiddle a long time to get them in again properly. All while the jewels were in the setting. 

Now, it may be a silly question but where do I see the oil?? Is it the circle that I marked in red or the circle I marked in blue? I think the blue circle is actually the oil cup that is on the other side of the hole jewel, but I'm not certain. 

20231206_173401_resized.thumb.jpg.d83b85602948743bd97cc13fe5cb32de.jpg20231206_175917_resized.thumb.jpg.c73e4a37f56fa5eea32fd5a61088f6be.jpg

Another test I did was to give the balance one strong blow with the blower and it kept moving for 60 sec (tiny tiny movement at the end included; measured until complete standstill). This is less than a Tissot that I did recently, which moved for 90sec. But then, this Rolex balance beats at 28800 bph movement vs 18000 bph for the Tissot. I guess that plays a role, no? 

I stopped doing this strong blow thing to test the balance oscillations you can have a tendency to try and get as much oscillation time as possible. Generating very high amplitude for the first couple of oscillations the impulse pin might be on the receiving end of a good belt from the outside of a fork horn. Nev's technique of holding back and setting the balance free from a predetermined point is a much safer and more consistent method.

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22 minutes ago, Neverenoughwatches said:

dont know if you saw a post i made yesterday of how watchmakers would remember where seemingly identical parts go. If they are ok when they are removed then its fair to say they should go back in the same place. Even with good magnification a couple of 1/100  you may not distinguish the difference,  keep them separate anyway its just good practice

Yes, I actually tend to do that anyways. But this time I was blinded by the fact that the 4 cap stones (2 for balance and 2 for escape wheel) are the same Rolex part reference; and the 2 setting/hole jewels are also the same part reference. But you are right, even Rolex may have slight differences in the actual parts.

 

20 minutes ago, Neverenoughwatches said:

I stopped doing this strong blow thing to test the balance oscillations you can have a tendency to try and get as much oscillation time as possible. Generating very high amplitude for the first couple of oscillations the impulse pin might be on the receiving end of a good belt from the outside of a fork horn. Nev's technique of holding back and setting the balance free from a predetermined point is a much safer and more consistent method.

That's a good point! It would be great if we could all agree on a particular number of degrees (e.g. 180°) and then be able to compare. But that's me dreaming, I guess 🙂.

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