- Precision Horology
Saving A Rolex Submariner: Reference 1680 in 18K Gold
Updated: Jan 31
Sometimes I am just left shaking my head. This gold Rolex Submariner 1680 had me doing just that. It had obviously been somewhere else to be serviced relatively recently, but it was a mess! A host of new parts were needed like a mainspring, oscillating weight axle, seconds friction screw and more. Once the service and all the work was complete I was very happy with the after timing results with an average gain of just under 1 second per day, after many hours of balance repair work. Of course, the goal with this piece was absolutely originality so all case components, dial and hands were kept original. We did, however, stabilize the lume on the hands to prevent further degradation.
First, we can see evidence that the oscillating weight has dragged on the movement, this is due to a worn oscillating weight axle. One of the automatic block screws has been replaced, but the person used a regular steel screw instead of a blued screw. It's not really a problem but they decided to colour the screw blue with a Sharpie! A rather inelegant solution for such a special timepiece.
We can see the luminous paint on the hand is starting to deteriorate so we stabilized the luminous compound.
The dial and hands have now been removed.
The movement side of the watch. So far, all appears to look okay...,
The seconds pinion friction spring has worn a dimple into it, so it will require replacing. This is caused by incorrectly installing the seconds hand and inadvertently damaging the spring.
The train wheels exposed.
We assemble our replacement parts - a new mainspring, friction spring and oscillating weight axle. We also have a new, correct, blued screw for the automatic block.
Some of our end-shakes are too large and need adjusting.
As we start to examine the watch more closely we see some big problems. The balance staff has been changed previously, however, it hasn't been riveted properly. It has been left loose so the staff was still independent of the balance. A big problem.
The balance screws were also in different spots, these need to be turned pairs to keep the balance in poise.
The new balance staff was installed and riveted correctly.
We then needed to install timing washers to the balance rim to poise the balance - it must be perfectly weighted all the way around to ensure consistent time-keeping.
To give you an idea of the size.
We also burnished a few train wheel pivots. For more information on this, please see my YouTube channel.
With all the repairs complete and new parts sourced the movement was cleaned, lubricated and put back together.
The movement was cased up and all timing/power reserve checks complete. After all our restoration work the watch was gaining an average of 1 second per day over 6 positions.