This is what is involved in a Rolex service – no wonder it costs £300+
I open the case and remove the rotor.
I remove the movement from the case.
I continue to take off the hands and remove the dial and date disc.
The mainspring gets unwound and at this point the movement goes into the cleaner.
I continue with taking the case apart; removing the bezel, and crystal.
I change into a different lab coat, put on gloves and a face mask to start the refinishing of the case and bracelet.
First I buff the case with a hard wheel and a certain compound which makes the case so hot that the wheel starts smoking.
I then clean the case in the ultrasonic cleaner and continue with a different polishing wheel that’s softer.
I will high-polish the bezel and case back and the bracelet if applicable.
Once the case back is clean in the ultrasonic, I will now high-polish that one as well.
I will change the polishing wheel once more to a soft wheel and again a different compound and give it the finishing super high polish on the parts needed.
While all those finished parts are in the cleaner, I will brush polish the clasp with a hard wheel, followed by a softer brush wheel.
Then I tape off the polished areas on the bracelet to brush-polish the rest of it. When that’s done I change back to the high-polish wheel to polish the side of the bracelet and clasp.
I steam clean all the parts of the case and put them on a dryer.
Once the case is dry, I put the final brush polish to the lugs and case back with a special filing technique.
The movement (let’s say a 3135) has finished the pre-cleaning process, and can now be checked and disassembled.
The date parts are first, flowed by the automatic mechanism: I first check the end-shake on all wheels.
I then take out all (3) screws and put them in the small cleaning baskets.
I will check the rotor axle and replace it when necessary.
I first check the end-shake on the balance wheel.
Then I remove the shock-absorbent jewels.
The balance wheel is carefully removed and put aside after I unscrewed the 2 screws that hold the bridge in place.
I proceed with the pallet fork.
Again I check end-shake and remove 2 screws to take off the bridge and remove the pallet fork.
At this point I check the freedom of the train with winding the mainspring just a little bit.
Then I check all the gears’ end-shakes and remove the 3 screws that hold the train bridge to remove the escape wheel, second wheel, third wheel and great wheel.
I then check every wheel meticulously to check for worn pivots, and replace the one that are not perfect any more with new ones.
When at any moment the end-shake wasn’t satisfactory I then move the jewels up or down to correct the error and reassemble the wheel to check again until it’s perfect.
I proceed with removing the screws on the ratchet wheel and bridge to remove the barrel with the mainspring.
Now I can open the barrel and remove the mainspring which goes straight into my garbage can.
I proceed with taking the rest of the watch apart, including the winding mechanism. I put the balance back onto the main plate to prevent the hairspring from getting tangled up while it’s cleaning.
Now the disassembled movement goes into the cleaner again to get its full cleaning. In the mean time I’ll have a coffee, and I will assemble the case with crystal and bezel.
When the movement is clean I put on some finger cots, and start with putting the reversing wheels, pallet fork and escape wheel into a special liquid lubricant.
I apply grease on the inside of the barrel wall and put a new mainspring in it.
I close the barrel and check the end-shake of the arbor to make sure it’s free.
I continue with taking the reversing wheels, pallet fork and escape wheel out of the special lubricant and dry them with hot air from a hair dryer.
Now I can take the balance back of the main plate and start putting the watch back together.
The watch has 6 different lubricants and every lube has a very specific role into making the watch run as perfect as possible. When a grease or oil gets applied too much or too little, or at the wrong location within the watch, the amplitude and timing of the watch won’t be as it should.
Once the watch is assembled I put it on my timer to check the beat, amplitude and time.
Everything gets adjusted accordingly if necessary and I time the watch in 6 different positions to be within -1 to +4.
Once that’s achieved I assemble the dial and hands (when the date jumps at 12) and put the movement in the case.
At this time I do the final timing at full wind and half wind, and adjust if necessary.
Then I assemble the automatic mechanism and check for freedom of the rotor.
Once that’s all up to standard, I close the case with new gaskets and put it on a dry pressure test. When it passes (or not) I proceed with the wet test, and make sure the watch doesn’t leak.
I can then put the bracelet on, set the time equal to my atomic clock and store it in my safe with the crown left, until the next day.
Then I check the time again compared to the atomic clock and note the amount of seconds it’s + or -.
Then I put it on my automatic winder for a day, check again and finally I put it dial up in my safe again to check the next day, and the day thereafter to see when the watch stopped to check the power reserve.
At this time, if everything is within standards I call the customer that his/her watch is ready.
If not, I have to find the problem, possibly adjust or start over! This all comes with a 2-year warranty on the work performed.