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This tutorial explains how to build a frankenjust (i.e, franken Datejust) from scratch, or at least how I did it. The specific model I built is a reference 16014, but I think the concepts apply to other 16000-model types, too. I geared the level of detail in the steps and descriptions below to novice modders, and to those on the fence about trying their hand. As a result, much of the following will be too simplistic for the more experienced. In the interest of getting it right, please correct and add comments where you see fit. I wrote this guide (1) to pass on some of the information I've picked up from research on several watch forums (see these excellent posts by KBH, LHOOQ, and TxRub779), (2) to build up the confidence of beginners, and (3) to increase the number of Datejusts in the world, since they are such beautiful watches. A Datejust is a great choice for a first franken: they are relatively budget-friendly and their assembly process is straightforward. I had a lot of one-on-one help along the way. Thanks especially to KBH, Preacher, and Tomhorn. If anybody has questions about the following, please PM me, and I will try my best to help. Now, let's build this thing! Step I: Source the parts 1. Case a. midcase b. tube c. crown d. case back e. bezel 2. Plexi crystal (ref# 25-135) 3. Gaskets (tube & crown for 6mm, and case back is a ref# 302-86) 4. Dial (for a 16000 case) 5. Movement (ETA 2836-2) a. Stem for movement b. Dial spacer 6. Hands (Clark white Tudor dress for 2836-2) 7. Movement Ring (Raffletime #2) 8. Case clamps for a 2836-2 9. Bracelet/endlinks/lugbars to fit 20mm lugs. 10. Datewheel overlay I found my 16014 midcase/caseback, crown, bezel, and tube for sale on the forums. But, they go up on eBay & VRF all the time. Make sure you read the fine print; sometimes sellers like to split up the cases and piece them out. My steel is all gen, although it might be possible to substitute rep parts in some places (e.g., a 6mm crown). Source your gaskets from a watch parts outlet--I used Esslinger. The 16000 case takes gaskets that fit a 6mm crown/tube, and a 302-86 case back gasket. See here for a good breakdown of which gaskets match various Rolex case backs, based on the case numbers. Ebay & VRF are also good sources for dials, but you have to be patient. I wanted a silver linen dial (which I am told is technically called a silver "florentine") since it seemed an elegant touch for an elegant watch, but only gold ones kept coming up. As I wear a platinum wedding band, I chose to wait. Or pay $350+, which is what some sellers demand. Crystals are also easily found on eBay. The 16014 uses a 25-135 crystal. I used an aftermarket version, from Clark watch parts. You can find movements from many watch parts suppliers. Ofrei is a good one in the US. Cousins in the UK. I chose to use an ETA 2836-2, since I happened to have a spare. Others have built these watches using 2824-2's, which are a slightly different dimension as far as stem height. I can't speak to their suitability, or what mods (if any) you need to make to fit them in a 16000 case. Nothing prevents you from using a clone of these movements, rather than a Swiss version, for budget purposes. Although perhaps less reliable, they work well enough in my limited experience with them. In most cases, the stem is movement-specific. If you buy a movement from Ofrei or Counsins, it will come with a correct stem. But if you transplant a movement from another watch, the trimmed stem length might not match the correct length for your frankenjust. Both the 2824-2 and the 2836-2 have a stem diameter of 0.9mm, which happily fits right into the gen Rolex crown. The movement also decides the hands, since the hand-hole diameter must fit over the movement pinions. Fortunately, 2824's and 2836's share these specs. I bought silver Tudor dress-style hands from Clark, since they are very close to the hands that Rolex used for vintage Datejusts. You can find ETA case clamps from a supply house or on eBay. The movement ring is a Rafflestime #2. It does a good job. But, I've read excellent things about Stilty's rings. Unfortunately, I couldn't get in touch with him or otherwise find one to purchase. I bought a 20mm rep jubilee bracelet set, but you can find gens on eBay or VRF. The right model for my watch is a 62510H with 555-stamped end links. They run a little pricey. You can find lugbars from the usual sources. Most vintage Datejusts used a Rolex 3035 movement. Because the datewheel on an ETA movement turns in the opposite direction to the 3035, you can't just slap the latter's datewheel in there as an overlay. If you're stuck on gens, you can use a 3135 datewheel, since it spins the same way, although you might have to sand down the back for clearance between the movement and the dial. I found that the few overlays I have in my parts drawer didn't fit properly in the 16014: it's window is a little further to the right so that the text looks left justified. I like the look of the vintage overlay (font with open 6's and 9's), and these are hard to find so I decided to try and print my own. It's getting there, but I haven't quite perfected it yet. Step II: Tools you will need (in no particular order) 1. Precision screwdrivers 2. Watch tweezers 3. Plastic tweezers 4. Hand presser 5. Hand removers (I prefer levers) 6. Pin vice 7. End cutter pliers 8. File/sandpaper 9. Caseback opener (I usually use a sticky ball) 10. Movement holder 11. Dial protector or similar 12. Dial dots 13. G-S hypo cement 14. Silicone grease 15. Xacto knife 16. Loupe (I prefer a headset) 17. Bezel press (or a custom tool to do the same) 18. Movement cups (optional) 19. Dust blower (optional) 20. Movement pad (optional) 21. Watch paper (optional) 22. Rodico (optional) 23. Springbar tool (optional) 24. Caseback knife (optional) 25. Finger cots (optional) Much of what you need can be found in the RWG/Watchbitz toolkit. I highly recommend it as an excellent resource of quality tools for any modder. The tools list is pretty self-explanatory. You can substitute in some places, but you will need/want pretty much everything above. The nice part about buying all these tools is that most are one-time expenses. And once you decide to open up a watch case, you won't be able to stop, as I have discovered. Step III: Make the watch Earlier, I claimed that the DJ assembly is straightforward, but I should qualify that. Truthfully, several frustrating little problems will pop up during rep building. But for me it's a rewarding feeling to solve them and admire your new creation--way better than just buying it. Like KBH says, half of the fun is finding a way to assemble things that were never meant to be put together in the first place. And you will know soooo much more about your watch than the average gen owner. Here's how you do it... 1. Remove the Rolex dial feet Dials come with little metal feet. These feet slip into the movement and, along with the handstack, align the dial correctly when it's seated on the movement. For whatever reason, the feet positions are often movement-specific, even for movements with similar diameters. As a result, porting a dial from one movement to another involves snipping and filing down the original dial feet. So, to fit your gen dial onto a 2836-2, you need to remove those pesky 3035 feet. Whenever you handle a dial, but particularly an expensive one, it's a good idea to either wear gloves or synthetic finger cots. I prefer cots since they allow the rest of your hand to breathe (avoid cotton cots when handling movements, since they will leave tiny bits of lint everywhere). While holding the dial securely, take your pliers and gently press them up against the back of the dial around the foot. Grip the foot and cut it off, then do the same to its twin. You will find a little nub remaining in each spot. To prevent it from interfering with the operation of the datewheel, you need to file or sand it off. I just used some fine sandpaper that I picked up at Home Depot. Although I have one, I didn't use my diamond file, as I found it awkward to handle in this application. Be careful to (1) hold the dial firmly enough so it doesn't slip, but gently enough so that you don't bend it and to (2) sand with precision. Take your time. A slip here and you will mar the dial. Now, blow away the tiny metal fragments from the back of the dial You don't want them wandering around inside your watch case. 2. Attach the movement ring and dial spacer to the dial The movement ring is a metal washer that is used to prevent the movement from sloshing around in the case, side-to-side. It surrounds the movement and gives it a snug fit inside the case, so that when you pull out or push in the crown of the finished watch, the movement sits firmly in place beneath the dial. The Rafflestime #2 ring does a pretty decent job ensuring a snug fit. It leaves a bit of space around the movement, but not enough to really notice when everything is put together. Most movement rings rest above the stem; in fact, they leave a little gap for the stem to fit into the movement. So, it's a smart idea (in the absence of dial feet) to just attach the movement ring to the dial itself. If you align the center of the gap to the 3 o'clock marker, it gives you some confidence that the dial is in the right position when you eventually peer down into the overturned case, and go to tighten the case clamps. You can use a little G-S hypo to join the dial and the movement ring, but be frugal. Too much glue will either wick up the side of the dial and perhaps onto its face, or make a big splotchy mess. Another solution is to use a tiny strip of dial dot. Use an Xacto knife to slice away several small bits of the double sided tape and go to work. I found dial dots easier to handle, and they offered a stronger stick. 3. Set and align the date wheel overlay ETA date wheels don't line up with Rolex date windows. You have to place an overlay on the 2836-2's date wheel to get the calendar to show up in the window. And to do it properly is harder than it sounds. At first, I used a date wheel from a donor rep submariner. It's smart to use plastic tweezers in this step, as the overlay is delicate. I often leave my movements on a movement pad (or rest). Before you do this, it's a good idea to remove the rotor to avoid stress on it. A dial spacer sits atop the movement, and forms a seat for the dial so that it clears the date wheel and the overlay. Otherwise, pressure from the dial will--at best--interfere with smooth date change operation. Enough pressure to can even cause something delicate to break. Make sure your dial spacer is thick enough to provide sufficient clearance. The flip side of the clearance problem is that the more space you leave between the dial and the movement, (1) the less space you leave yourself to press the hands down properly and (2) the further down you push the stem slot. Depending on your case (and movement), (2) can be a problem when you finally go to push the crown & stem into the movement. The "fit equation" that must be satisfied is: dial width + dial spacer + stem height = center of tube height from top of the dial ± ε The stem height is the distance from the top of the movement to the center of the stem hole. In the equation above, ε represents the "slop". Things rarely line up bang-on: if you're close, you're probably in business. You just don't want to put so much pressure on the stem that it snaps off in the movement. I had some dial spacer issues at first. This one ended up not working too well, but I found a decent enough version in my parts drawer. Now, attach the spacer to the dial using the same method as you did for the movement ring. That way, when you set the dial down, everything will be in place. And ready for alignment... Ultimately, your overlay alignment can only be as good as your overlay. If the font is off (left justified in my case), then the best you can do it to make everything equally off-center. Knowing that, insert the stem. Gently. You may need to turn it slightly as you do so. As long as your keyless works are in order, and you're using the correct stem, the crown will snap into place. With the dial off, put maybe 10 small dots of G-S hypo cement along the top of the ETA datewheel. G-S has a tendency to string up, so be quick. And don't leave enough so that it seeps down into the movement. Best to practice, first. Set down the dial, and make sure it's lined up with the stem. Fortunately, my linen dial had a convenient market right above the stem hole, making my job a bit easier. To align the wheel, make sure your calendar appears nice and centered in your date window. Do so by lifting the dial and using your plastic tweezers to move things around. Using a magnifier will help. Pull the crown into the quick-set position. Advance the date by 15 or so clicks and look at the date centering. Do your best to line things up. Repeat this process. When things are about equal, advance 7 clicks. Now you're on the other diagonal. Center things up. Advance 15 and do the same. Eventually, you will get things as centered as they can be. Note that things can sometimes look different when the date advances normally, versus the quickset. It's a good idea to check. OK. Now you're getting close. 4. Case the dial & movement With the overlay all set, it's time to pull out the stem. For most watches this isn't the case. You would have to set the hands first, before you case everything. However, the hands and crystal for the 16000 series can easily be set in place after the movement is cased. This is a good thing, since sometimes you need to fudge a little with the hands to make them fit properly under the plexi. I use a movement cup, because it is an easy way to turn the movement over (to press the stem release), without hurting the pinions. With a cup set, you're bound to have one that fits the movement diameter pretty well. Flip the movement onto the cup. Put the crown in the winding position. On a 2836-2, use a min. 1mm screwdriver to depress the stem release button. VERY GENTLY. It won't take too much pressure. At the same time, just slide out the stem. If you press too hard, you can screw up your keyless works. And then you will have to take everything apart to re-set, and go through the entire process of overlay alignment again. Now put the movement pad soft-side down on top of the face-down movement. Flip everything over again and you've got the stemless movement ready to be cased. Carefully, slide the case down over the dial. As you do so, make sure the tube is lined up over the three o'clock marker, and that the rehaut is evenly spaced around the dial. If you're ham-handed, you can scratch the dial. And that would suck. Again, a bigger movement cup forms a really easy rest for the movement/case. Just flip it over. At this point, I like to insert the stem, to make sure everything is lined up right. Just place a finger on top of the movement (being careful to NEVER touch the balance wheel) and slip the stem in. (As long as you adhered to the fit equation, you'll probably be OK.) Putting the stem in this way helps to keep everything (dial and movement) lined up when you screw down the case clamps--especially in situations where you don't have any dial feet. Of course, I didn't think to take pictures showing this little gem... Case clamps keep the movement centered between the dial and the back of the case. They provide pressure, in fact, so that the rotor doesn't scrape against the case back. Use tweezers to transport a clamp over to the movement and line it up. Then, drop in a screw and tighten it just enough so the rotor clears it. Do the same for the other clamp and then tighten everything up. Add the case back here. Well, first place the gasket that you've been soaking all the while in silicone grease . Whenever I screw it down, I like to use my hand at first to turn the case back counter-clockwise against the case threads until I feel/hear a click. Then screw it in, normally, by hand at first. If you encounter no resistance, use your sticky ball or equivalent. This helps you avoid cross-threading (hat-tip, Bonesey). Up to now, you've been using a generic crown and stem, right? Well, take the stem out and use your pin vice to switch crowns. Then, use the pliers and a few stem insertions to get that stem to the right length. It should be long enough so that the winding position is clear of the tube, but short enough so that the crown spring can easily get the crown to the tube for screwing down. Again, I sit the case on a movement cup and test the date wheel form the quick set position, and also by normal time-set advancement. If everything looks good and you don't get any resistance, it's time to move on to the last few steps. 5. Install the hands The 16000 crystal/bezel set affords you the convenience of doing this step after the dial and movement are set in the case. When you've done it a few times, hand setting is no big deal. But you have to tread carefully because it's easy to scratch the dial. So, use a dial protector. My dial has stick markers, which preclude me from using my RWG/Watchbitz-toolkit-sourced-Bergeon. Instead, I "customized" a bit of watch paper to perform the same function. Always use a loupe when installing hands. They are small. Rodico is your friend. Press it down (gently, to avoid bending) onto any hand at the tip. Guide the hand over to the cannon pinion and line up its hole. Then install. Hack the movement. It's not really necessary, but it makes things a little neater since you don't have to worry about the hands moving around while you take your time. For the hour hand, I usually just use a cheap set of plastic tweezers. First, slowly advance the crown in time-set position until the date snaps over. Then press the hour hand home so it points directly at 12. Advance the hand until the next change occurs. If it's off, you can use the plastic tweezers to nudge the side of the hand a bit, to line it up. Keep doing this until you have it straight. You need to use the hand presser when installing the minute and seconds hands. At first, I was really worried about snapping off the seconds pinion when using the pen-type tool, since you are kind of blind once you lower it to make contact with the hand. But if you're gentle, you can actually move the presser slowly around and feel the seconds pinion is inside the hole at the end of the presser. Once you're sure about that, just press down. But not too hard, or you could break a jewel. Make sure to move the hour hand over to point directly at another hour marker before you install the minute hand at 12 (3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock work well). When hour and minute hands are on, use the crown to turn the hands all the way around the dial to make sure they don't hit each other, but also so that the minute hand crosses 12 when the hour hand strikes an hour. If not, go back and use your plastic tweezers to nudge the minute hand into the right position. Advance the hands again and check your work. The seconds pinion it TINY. So if you haven't been using a magnifier, use one now. Again, line up the hole over the center of the cannon pinion using Rodico. The bottom of the seconds hand has a tiny female part that caps the male pinion. It really only fits one way. When you think you've got it right, press down very gently with the presser. If you pull away the presser and the second hand is still sitting up there, you're almost done. Just press down with the presser using a little more force--that should seat it. Unhack the movement. If the seconds hand starts to move, you're nearly done. Now pick up the watch and turn it around and upside down. Check different positions. If the seconds hand slips around the dial, it's not on firmly enough. Press down gently again and check. If you need to remove the hands at any time, a piece of advice... I much prefer the hand-lever style removers to the presto ones. With the levers, you are in complete control of the amount of force applied. While using your dial protector, just place the tips of the levers against the base of the cannon pinion (levers at 45-degree angle) and gently press the held ends of the levers toward the dial. The hands will pop off. Use Rodico to pick them up. 6. Seat the crystal and press down the bezel The DJ crystal is plexi. It fits over the watch really easily, and serves as its own gasket when the bezel is pressed down. Once you've set the hands in place, you should test fit the crystal to make sure it doesn't interfere with the hands at all. In my case, it did. I only realized it when the movement stopped after I pressed down the bezel--the curvature of the plexi caused the arrow-straight second hand to jam. So I had to pop everything off again, and make the fix. Since you're smarter than me, you will remember to check first. If the hands are a problem, just remove them, bend them a little, and repeat step 5! Once the crystal is on and everything is working OK, make sure the cyclops is properly aligned over the date window. I don't know if this method is correct, but here's how I do it... Using a magnifier, I place myself directly above the cannon pinion and twist the crystal into place. Then, I lower my sight line until I'm just opposite the crown, and the handstack is lined up with the 9 o'clock marker. Checking that the cyclops edges are parallel, I go back and repeat. Cyclops alignment is a little more difficult than it seems, at first, because it can play optical tricks on you. When you're satisfied, it's time to press down the bezel. I have a caseback press, by my dies are too shallow. Instead, I found out that a PVC t-joint worked wonders. Just make sure that you use a little frog tape or something to soften the plastic edges and protect your shiny bezel. Place the bezel around the crystal, line up the PVC joint and press it down. Shouldn't take more than a couple tries to make sure everything is in place. If for some reason you need to remove the bezel, I've found that the best way is to use an Xacto knife to pry it up in one location. A case back knife does the rest. Just be careful to tape up any lugs if you want to use them as leverage. 7. Epilogue That's it. You've got your franken. A couple parting tips: if you scratch your crystal at any point, know that it buffs out pretty well with Meguiar's PlastX (found in an auto parts shops) or Polywatch. Various metal polishes can be used to get scratches out of the case itself. But scratces can add character, too, so whether you leave them is really up to your preference. Getting my 16014 together was just an awesome experience. I love it. It was my grail watch and now I have it. Joy. What's more: my serial number dates my watch to 1983. So, I feel like I'm bringing a little vintage back when I wear it. Which is like every day right now. I hope this guide helped you at least a little. I'm sure I've forgotten some important steps somewhere. But I'm tired of writing, so I'll just stop. In fact, I'm feeling like it's time to grab a drink. I'm just going to throw on my Member's Only jacket and hop in the DeLorean. If you're up for it, let's meet up. I'll be at the Mutiny, wearing this:
I don't often build up a two-tone watch as they really aren't "me" but I found a couple gen Tudor Prince Oysterdate dials in an obscure corner of the parts box so decided they looked awfully lonely. One was a "plain" gold dial while the other was a linen texture and I decided the "linen" would be my first victim. It is so enjoyable building Tudors like this - no feet to clip or dials to glue on, no DW overlay to jack with! Build Sheet: NOS Gen Tudor Prince Oysterdate gold linen textured dial. Rep 34mm Two-Tone Prince Date case. Borel spring-bars. Rado signed non-hacking Swiss ETA 2836-2 movement. Rep Two-Tone 19mm Prince Date style Tudor signed bracelet. Rep gold tone Prince Date hand set Sapphire crystal Trying to decide if I'll keep this one, maybe I'll make a decision after building the other one but here's some pics...