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Replacing Submariner Crown Tube for Dummies

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OK, I replaced the humongous Sub crown on my cheapo GMT and therefore had a crown and tube left over that I was itchin' to put to use. I recently got another slightly better quality (mostly) cheap sub but it came with a "twin-lock" type seal arrangement which I wasn't real happy with so the light bulb went off. I decided to put the crown and tube I removed from the GMT into the new Sub. I know nothing about this but just approached it from what appeared to me as the logical way to do it.

Here's how I did it:

The first couple of pictures removing the case back and stem didn't turn out for some reason so you'll have to use your imagination as I'm too lazy to tear everything part and rte-shoot them! But, I basically remove one of the link screws and separate the band - I think this is easier than removing a spring-bar but some might prefer to do it that way. This allows unhindered access to the case back which can be removed with the opener of your choice, I use a "sticky-ball". Once the back is removed pull the stem out to the "time set position", depress the "latch", and remove the stem by gently pulling it out of the case. This picture shows the a21j stem retainer release from the reinstall picture as the removal picture didn't turn out:

install%20stem.JPG

Then the stem can then be removed. You will notice that there is no external O-ring on the old tube and that's the reason I am changing it:

stem%20removed.JPG

As with most of the lower priced reps this one has the movement secured by a plastic retainer/spacer (white in this case) which you simply pull up and off:

retainer%20removed.JPG

At this point I usually put a surgical glove (non-powdered) on my left hand, and turn the watch over and let the movement assembly drop into my hand. I have been reminded by The Zigmeister that at this point the movement assembly should be stored in a covered tray, or at least protected in some manner (between layers of watch paper). I'm sorta lazy and and haven't developed all of the god habits I should so I just set the movement aside on a paper towel - which is another no-no:

movement%20removed.JPG

Although I think there is a special wrench to remove genuine Rolex tubes this rep tube didn't look like there were any provisions for any kind of wrench. I snagged a small tapered reamer out of my toolbox (nice to be a machinist sometimes) which I then lightly tapped into the tube. I have read that some use a small E-Z Out and see no reason why that wouldn't work just as good:

reamer%201.JPG

The tube has a standard right-hand thread so it removes with a CCW rotation:

reamer%202.JPG

After a few turns the tube is removed:

reamer%203.JPG

Here you can see the physical difference between the new and old tubes:

new%20and%20old.JPG

I lightly pressed the "new" tube onto the tapered reamer and applied just a bit of blue thread locker (Loc-Tite, Permatex, etc.). Klocklind1 correctly points out further in the thread that I should have removed the internal O-ring before doing this, and I thought about that afterwards, but I appear to have gotten lucky - this time:

loctite.JPG

Install the tube into the case by engaging the threads and rotating it in a CW direction until just snug. You don't want to risk breaking off the tube, stripping it's threads, or "reaming out" the inside of the tube. The thread locker will keep it plenty secure once it cures:

install%20tube.JPG

After the tube is installed clean up the excess thread locker:

clean%20excess%20loctite.JPG

Put the movement assembly back into the case and reinstall the stem. This is the perfect time to apply a bit of silicone grease to the internal O-ring, O-ring up in the crown, and the external O-ring. Reinstalling the crown/stem assembly is basically the opposite of removal - insert the stem through the tube and into it's hole in the movement, then depress the stem release and press the stem inward turning slightly if needed:

install%20stem.JPG

You will feel it sort of click into place and you can then release the latch. Make sure you can wind, set date, and hack and set time. I got lucky on this one as the stem and crown assembly I removed from the other watch just happened to be the correct length so I didn't have to "modify" the stem length. If all is good then screw down the crown:

stem%20installed.JPG

Reinstall the movement retainer (or screws and tabs if yours is a higher quality case):

install%20retainer.JPG

If you are satisfied that the dial is aligned and everything looks good grease the O-ring and reinstall and tighten the case back:

reinstall%20back.JPG

Put the band back together by lining up the link and reinserting the screw:

reinsert%20link%20screw.JPG

Using the proper screwdriver lightly rotate the screw CCW until you just feel a light "click" reverse rotation direction and snug up screw. Not too tight as you don't want to strip the threads:

tighten%20screw.JPG

That's it!

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That's what I'm talkin' 'bout! You're da mannnnnn! Excellent post! Thanks for taking the time!~

:thumbsupsmileyanim::1a::drinks::good:

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Very well done and documented.

I would suggest that you don't place any parts of the watch on paper towel, paper towel is full of loose fibers and lint that can and will get in the movement and could stop it from working. Under the loupe paper towel looks like a sheet of fur and hair.

The best option is to place the movement in a plastic watch parts tray and put the cover on to protect it (it should always be covered because something will fall on it and scratch the dial). The other option would be to carefully place the movement on watchpaper, and then put a piece of watchpaper over the top to protect it, don't wrap it or you will bend the hands.

Thanks for posting this.

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VERY nice done! :thumbsupsmileyanim:

Remember to take out the o-ring from the tube BEFORE You put that tool ( reamer!)in the tube, otherwise You can damage it!

Also remember to put som grease on the o-rings in the crown/tube/inside the tube ( there are three o-rings that needs to be greased!

Good luck

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Zig, thanks for the suggestions, they make a lot of sense and I'm just starting to learn this stuff. I do have the covered trays and would probably have used them but I figured the whole thing only took about 30 minutes so it wouldn't matter. I need to "make" myself develop good habits like what you mentioned.

Klock, I thought about that AFTER I did it but I appear to have gotten lucky and I did grease all three when assembling it I probably should have mentioned that part. Speaking of O-rings, are they standard metric O-ring sizes or are they some special size? I probably need to lay in a stock of these, and case-back O-rings as well...

I have edited the initial post and incorporated these suggestions/observations.

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Yeah! You got the thumbs up from the 'meister so any further accolades are not necessary....................from the likes of me :thumbsupsmileyanim:

Speaking of he;

lightly rotate the screw CCW until you just feel a light "click" reverse rotation direction and snug up screw.

Rob once mentioned your above technique also a good practice for screwing down crowns. Eliminates the heartbreak of 'cross threading' the crown/tube.

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Probably would be a good idea. I started doing this years ago when I was working with screws going into plastic. It was about the only way I could ensure I didn't get at least one crossed...

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Yeah, that's how much "jumped" onto it just by touching it to the tube! Most of it got wiped off, and it's cheap!

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that was a ton of threadlocker

I'll say.

YEAH! 'Lanikai' 20 posts. 'Demsey' 21. Crap. The time difference. I gonna need some Okole Kona coffee and a load of speed.

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Zig, thanks for the suggestions, they make a lot of sense and I'm just starting to learn this stuff. I do have the covered trays and would probably have used them but I figured the whole thing only took about 30 minutes so it wouldn't matter. I need to "make" myself develop good habits like what you mentioned.

Klock, I thought about that AFTER I did it but I appear to have gotten lucky and I did grease all three when assembling it I probably should have mentioned that part. Speaking of O-rings, are they standard metric O-ring sizes or are they some special size? I probably need to lay in a stock of these, and case-back O-rings as well...

I have edited the initial post and incorporated these suggestions/observations.

I have made just about every mistake, so hopefully I can save you the grief...

Good habits are mandatory, as soon as I try to cut a corner or do a quick fix, I screw something up, everytime, it never fails. If you develop the correct habits and routine, you will find it a lot easier as you progress, it's hard to un-learn the bad stuff.

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...it's hard to un-learn the bad stuff.

Oh yeah, BTDT and got several T-shirts... :-p

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I note your stikkyball says "FUK U OK!" on it?? Charming ;)

Great post ... Im glad to see that you are using those cheapy watches for practice.

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I told anybody that would listen that's what I was buying them for... :angry: As far as the ball, I'd really be curious as to it's origins! It was from an e-Bay seller in Australia...

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I told anybody that would listen that's what I was buying them for... :angry: As far as the ball, I'd really be curious as to it's origins! It was from an e-Bay seller in Australia...

Balls are great opener! I use mine too! :thumbsupsmileyanim:

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