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Rolex Submariner 6538: Servicing THE Dive Watch

Updated: May 18

There isn't much to say about this one other than holy tropical! The 6538 Rolex Submariner is iconic and one of the most sought after watches in the vintage Rolex community, if not the entire watch collecting community. This particular example has a patina heave tropical dial and handset. The winding was a little crunchy when it came in and that needed rectifying, as well as general service. This watch is collector owned so it has been well taken care of over the last few years. We needed to install a new mainspring, adjust the balance spring a little and do use work to the automatic reverser wheels to smooth out the winding. Obviously, absolute originality was of utmost importance here, with all the case, dial and hand components staying untouched in the condition it came in. A truly special watch to work on.



The Rolex calibre 1030 is an iconic movement, but not one without it's problems. These early Rolex automatic winding systems are not the most robust or efficient.


With the watch removed from the case, we can see a truly tropical dial! That is the definition of 'patina' right there.


The movement itself appeared to be in relatively good condition, it has been well taken care of. We some some evidence on the barrel bridge of wear in the arbor hole, but that is a previous problem and has already been rectified.


The coils of the balance spring appear to be slightly out of centre. It is of paramount importance that balance springs are flat and centred, so that the time-keeping performance of the watch is as its optimum.


We make all the needed balance spring adjustments.


The dial side of the movement ready to be disassembled.


Once all our repairs are made, the movement is cleaned using a 4 stage cleaning machine whilst it is completely disassembled.


Certain components such as the escapement and reversing wheels are surface coated with epilame - a product designed to keep lubricants where they are supposed to be. It creates a barrier on the parts to the oil or grease doesn't 'creep' to where it shouldn't be.


With our new mainspring installed in the barrel, we get to work on assembling the movement and lubricating it as we go.


Mostly together now.


The base movement is now completely assembled.


We can get to work assembling and lubricating the automatic block.


The movement is now complete. The watch will be tested for timing and power reserve, the dial and hands will be installed, the whole thing put in the case and then tested over a period of several days to ensure accuracy.


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