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Restoration of a Rolex Submariner 5513

March 7 2010 at 8:02 PM
shepcs  (Login shepcs)
from IP address

I don't post here a heck of a lot but I thought VRF would enjoy this too.

Siew is a very good friend of mine in the milwatch collecting world and he over time has taught himself watchmaking. And I've watched him grow to handle pretty much any possible watch out there with ingenuity and OCD to detail only a collector would understand. And he's pretty much become a great watchmaker period. From time to time I talk him into (read: blackmail) a watch or two of my own that needs special attention.

So maybe from my constant Rolex blithering besides military watches or most probably the iconic design of the Rolex Submariner he finally took a foray into vintage (non-military) Rolex. And to me he couldn't have chosen a better example. So I asked him quickly to document his work for everyone to enjoy and see the step by step process. I told him I'd help him source a NOS crystal and whatever part he needed. But he couldn't wait, and did this in two days that he received it. (Its officially nice to be a watchmaker and collector you can restore things whenever you want Lol!)

So here we go together into the restoration of a vintage 1967 "meters first" Rolex Submariner Model 5513 with Siew breaking it down for us as he restores his Submariner himself.

First impression, very nice, not serious issues from the external appearance. Zut Alors is it DIRTY!! Looks like it has been neglected for decades! But something pleasing about finding a watch this watch with dirt in every place possible.

The unpolished case is very nice, 1.7m case number produced in 4th quarter 1967.

Note the original bevelled edge is still excellent condition. Look at that gunk caked between the lugs!

No sign of bracelet wear mark on the lugs, lugs are perfect IMHO. Original twinlock crown still there, further attesting to an unmonkeyed example

Some minor corrosion stain marks along the rim of the caseback

Rolex cal 1520 movement inside. Balance swings freely but the movement wont tick due to very dirty wheels and gummed up jewel holes. Curiously, two rivet pins securing the oscillating weight to the rotor are also missing and need to be sourced.

The dial is in superb condition, just the way Siew (and me) want in a vintage watch, nicely aged lume and matching hands.

The crazed crystal at first glance is beyond redemption or is it?

A sign to what to expect under the bezel, which is locked dead and has to use a fair bit of force to pry it open with a case knife.

This could be from years of accumulated dead skin cells and DNA? Yuck!

Good thing is they shake off very easily after soaking in a warm soapy ultrasonic bath for a while. The minor corrosion spots and stains are brushed and polished off using fibre pen and Autosol.

Cleaned case parts.

The auto wind module removed showing the manual working mechanism underneath.

The Auto-wind module and one of the two missing rivets drops out of the assembly!

The axle, pinion and the click spring held to the auto-wind bridge

The oscillating weight and the riveted axle.

The loose rivet reinstalled using a staking tool and a new metal rivet is fabricated from metal pin to replace the missing one. The new rivet fits well and feel sturdy.

The original superdome crystal looks too badly crazed to safe on first appearance but close examination show that the craze lines are superficial and not through all the way. It will be pity to throw it out without a last ditch effort (and Siew didn't feel like waiting on me to find source one for him Lol!)

Heavy duty polishing pad mounted on an electric power drill set to low speed and Autosol. The thick crystal can take a fair bit grinding/polishing without worry about thinning and wear through.

Few minutes on the machine, the result was a pleasant surprise. All craze lines are gone and left with a nice clear surface. It is then fine polished with Polywatch. (I've seen Siew do this before on a very expensive mil watch and he makes it look so easy! I practiced on a cheapo and mangled the crystal...)

Next is to clean the movement parts, soaked overnight to take out stubborn gums before ultrasonic baths

Cleaned wheel trains.

Jewels holes and wheel pinions are carefully inspected under microscope for any residual dirt.

Cleaned mainspring barrel and arbor.

The cleaned and greased mainspring back inside the barrel.

Begin the wheel train assembly.

The keyless work

The completed movement minus the auto-wind module. Beats and rates are then checked.

Dial and hands mounted.

Lastly, the auto-wind module and the movement back in case.


After, all restored on a US military strap. Need to find a replacement pearl dot for the bezel.

Something old and something not quite as old

Another great job Siew!! And thanks for sharing this.

This message has been edited by rlxDeusIrae from IP address on Aug 1, 2010 6:17 AM

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