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Edge's Guide To Some Rolex Modifications

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A Quick Modification Information Guide

This guide is meant as an informational tool, to help those of you wishing to modify you Submariners or Sea Dwellers. I will talk through some of the processes involved and give some tips along the way.

This is called my “MBW 1680 Guide” because as the name suggests the work has been done on an MBW 1680, BUT this doesn’t meant that it is restricted to said watch, these works can be performed on many watches, in particular the Submariner and Sea Dweller Rolex Models, especially my favoured vintage models, the MBW is merely the best start point, not necessarily the best value for money, that is up to you and your budget, please see my Guide to Watches for more on this topic.

Lets get started.

First off I thought we would start with the crystal, and then move on from there.

Tropic Replacement –

The tropic on the MBW 1680 is pretty good, and definitely liveable with, however I wanted to change out the crystal for a genuine Tropic 127 as the original would have had. The first thing I had to do was disassemble the watch. I did this because I had other works to do, inc dial and hand replacement and suchlike so it wasn’t an issue for me. IF you do not want to go through the hassle of disassembling the watch then it is possible to remove the crystal with the rest of the watch intact it’s just more fiddly and annoying.

Guides on how to disassemble and reassemble your sub/SD are here:

RWI:

Disassembly

Reassembly

RWG:

Disassembly

Reassembly

Anyway back to the crystal. On the Vintage models such as this there is a retaining ring, that keeps the crystal in place, this MUST be removed before the crystal may be changed. Whether you take apart the rest of the watch or not, I’m afraid that you will need to remove the retaining ring. Personally I used a razor blade as this was recommended to me by Ubi. Slip the blade between the case and the ring and lever it until you get a gap, then work your way around until you can work it up a bit at a time. This is a simple process, with some rings being easier to remove than others, BUT I advise using a blade that is attached to the blade holder or Stanley knife or whatever, I used a free blade and it plays hell on your hands, I had to use a cloth to hold it as it was digging into my hands and becoming sore. This is easily avoidable.

Simplistic view of what I am talking about:

109433-24254.jpg

Once you have worked the ring up far enough you will be able to just pull it up and over the crystal. The crystal is then ready for removal. If you have removed the movement then you can simply push through from the back and the tropic will pop off, if not then you need to try and lever it off with a small screwdriver or the razor again. Quite simple and takes seconds.

Now you are ready to replace the old crystal with the new genuine one. You will need a crystal press and a dye or suchlike to fit over the crystal, and down on the retaining ring, I personally used a cap from a Maglite, graciously loaned by Leitztozeiss for this reason.

The Crystal press assembly, including the mag lite cap:

109433-24255.jpg

The other kind of crystal press, which as you can see is much more limited in it's range:

109433-24256.jpg

I recommend the screwdown crystal press as it allows more room to work with.

Once the placement and alignment of the crystal has been finalised, push down the crystal and it pops into place, then put the retaining ring over it and put the assembly into the crystal press, and press. The ring should go TIGHTLY back down to where it was and securely keep the crystal in place.

That’s you done replacing the crystal. Oh and I assumed that you know that you must remove the bezel before attempting this, if you didn’t know that then please don’t try this at home send it to someone to do it for you lol.

Pic of the genuine T127 inserted and affixed into psition:

109433-24257.jpg

Next the lugs….

Lugholes –

Now, this has been a LONG LONG road for me but I have finally got there. I am awaiting some more bits for the drill then I will have a completed set of lugs on my 1680 as well as on another I am working on. First things first what you will need for this.

3 in 1 Oil or Cutting liquid (your choice, oil is fine)

Low Speed Drill up to about 1000 rpm is fine. Mine was a cheap £17 Hand Drill.

109433-24258.jpg

Cobalt bits – 1.3mm for lugs and 2mm for Bracelet

Rouge for polishing when finished

Dremel with felt bit, or use the cheap drill you used earlier doesn’t matter.

That’s it, nothing exiting pretty simple. This process has taken me about 3 months to get to where I am. Not through complication of method or indeed difficulty of task, but through learning and having to acquire the parts and tools necessary for the job. It’s for this reason I tried putting this all together to try and cut down on the time needed to research this topic.

I held the case firmly in my hand, applied some oil to the lug hole and started the drill. PLEASE! Start the drill before entering the hole as if you don’t you run the risk of breaking the bit, believe me I did it lol. So start the drill on a low speed and start drilling the hole, increasing the speed once you have a bite on the hole. The drilling itself is rather straightforward as the drill follows the path of least resistance which is the existing hole. You can if you wish choose to start with a 1.2mm vit to work the hole up, and then use the 1.3mm but, it’s up to you.

The drill bit and the case get quite hot during this process, so I recommend stopping and not trying to rush it. Take your time and apply more oil, allow everything to cool, and move on. There is no rush, it’s better to take an extra 30 mins or so and not run the risk of melting anything or breaking bits in the lug, as that could be fatal.

Once you have drilled through, you are done with that hole, move on to the next one until you have done all 4.

When you have done all 4 then it’s time to refinish the case by polishing the sides to get a nice even shine and remove the sharp remnants of the drill process.

Take either the drill you used before or a dremel and use a felt bit. Start the drill spinning and then move the drill to the rouge, in my case gris, spin the felt disc on the gris, to get the polishing compound onto the disc. Then start buffing away on the sides of the case. When done you will have a lovely polished well finished case, which is ready to accept genuine springbars.

The Lug holes as they come from MBW:

109433-24259.jpg

Here are the holes drilled through but not yet polsihed and finished off:

109433-24260.jpg

You must drill the endlinks of the bracelet to accept the 2mm girth of the new springbars, by following the process outlined above. The procedure is pretty much the same, just with the bracelet instead of the lugs.

Voila you will be able to take gen springbars.

Next….

Bracelet Inaccuracy –

There is an inaccuracy on the Oyster bracelet that comes with the MBW, the 1680 Oyster bracelet should have a NON grooved fliplock. It doesn’t the fliplock has the 2 vertical grooves, as per the rest of the clasp. This is not accurate the lock itself should be smooth.

This is a simple fix, take the dremel or drill you used earlier and get a grinding stone bit attached to it, and grind down gently the clasp until there are no more grooves, this takes approx 5-10 mins as the grooves really aren’t that deep. You can then polish the lock as outlined earlier, until it is nice and shiny, then put the brushed pattern back on with a brillo pad or such like. I advise reading the below guide to polishing and re-applying the brushed finish before partaking in this endeavour. It really is very simple.

Guide to polishing and Brushing steel – Thanks to by-Tor for finding this!

Polishing/Brushing Guide

The Bracelet once it has been ground down to remove the grooves, I prolly should have cleaned it lol:

109433-24261.jpg

Next….

Oiling and Cleaning Bracelet –

This is a commonly asked for piece of info, as people hear about folks oiling the bracelet’s to give them a better feel. Personally I don’t really FEEL that much difference but hey, each to their own.

It’s a very very simple process, which requires only some 3in1 oil, toothbrush and some soap. Oh and a towel lol.

Take the bracelet in hand and lather on some soap, rub this into all the nooks and cranny’s with the toothbrush giving it a good going over, remembering to get into all the spaces between the links and suchlike. Give it a really good scrub. Then immerse the bracelet in some oil, rub the oil in good, and move all the links and the clasp and such, until it is fully oiled. Leave for ca. 30 mins in the oil, then repeat the process of moving the links and clasp and then dry off with a towel.

Told you it was easy lol.

Dial Vintagizing:-

So by now I’m sure that most of you have seen my attempts at vintagizing a 1680 dial. I am extremely happy with the results and am very happy with the extremely complimentary comments that have come from the member. Due to some demand I have put together this tutorial as a “How To…”

If you haven’t seen the dial, then there are pics of the finished product at the end of this post.

This is a relatively simple and actually reasonably quick process and really doen’t require that much equipment.

The Gear:

Americana Yellow Ochre Acrylic Paint - ~$5 on the bay

109433-24262.jpg

Revell Night Colour - £4.25 from www.modelsforsale.com

109433-24263.jpg

1 set of toothpicks - ~$1 from anywhere lol. Tesco for me.

1 x 1680 Hands and Dial (MBW for me)

1 x something to mix the paint/night colour in. I used the pot that my genuine vintage pearls came in.

109433-24264.jpg

As with most things I am more than sure that you can use any kind of paint or die with the night colour as long as you mix it to YOUR desired shade/colour it should be fine.

Personally going into this I spoke to the owner of the watch and he really wanted a genuine looking slightly yellow creamy colour which is so often seen on the genuine vintage watches. So I mixed it to that colour, but you can make the tint to any shade you like, make it blue for all I care lol.

Now the procedure:-

Drop a few spots of paint into the pot, the acrylic paint I used was quite think, so I thinned it down with quite a lot of water, but that was merely personal preference and to lighten the colour a little.

Add a reasonable amount of night colour to the other half of the pot (the lid), you won’t need a lot of night colour for this, so just use maybe half a teaspoon of night colour in the pot. I put enough in to give me a light film across the whole of the base of the lid.

Take a toothpick or brush or whatever and add the paint, thinned or not, slowly to the night colour, it will require quite a bit of mixing but that’s cool. Just add as little or a much paint as you want to get your desired colour.

Then comes the time for the application.

What I found most beneficial in doing this was my surprising patience in what I was doing. The temptation is to lather on a full dot worth of the mixture to cover the whole marker then just let it dry. I don’t advise this, as with the paint in the night colour I found that if you use a lot of the mixture, you have very raised and rubbery looking markers, and this was not the look I was going for.

I decided to do it this way…..

Take a toothpick, dip it into the paint twice then gently spot it on a dry surface twice, this gets rid of lots of the excess mixture that you have gathered and leaves you with a little bit on the tip of the toothpick. Then I gently applied this very light film to the marker, covering the whole marker with really small spots of the mixture until it was covered. My mixture was quite light so you could actually barely see the mix on the marker, but once it starts to dry you can really start to see it come up, with the grain and then the glow if you cover it.

I repeated this process for all the markers, due to the circular nature of the hour markers they were relatively easy, however more care need be taken over the 6,9 and 12 markers as the are rectangular and triangular respectively, so have corners.

Because the mixture is quite light in colour the difference between the new tritium look markers and the old white ones isn’t that much so you can get away with missing out a little bit of the markers if you want, as the genuine isn’t perfect by any manner or means.

However I decided to practice and try and get as close to the edge as I could without going over, however the gen’s I have seen have sometimes had tritium almost burst and spill over onto the dial itself so don’t worry too much if you get a little on the dial. It can in fact be removed after it dries, with the toothpick if it bothers you, because the dried mixture is actually still quite malleable.

Anyway, so now you have applied the mix to the dial, which is pretty simple, as you will find out, but now come the hands which are more fiddly.

Hands:-

The hands are quite small and require a bit more finesse. Using the same method as above I tried to apply the mix the first time, and struggled to keep off the metal, but actually found that if you go onto the metal a bit, you can remove it when dried. But again I really wasn’t happy, and decided to remove the whole lot from the hands, so started again, slower and more patiently with very little mix going on at a time, and hey presto much easier and much better results.

So that’s it, just let it dry and there you have it, simple. Put the watch back together and you have completed the vintaging process.

I hope that you find this guide helpful, and please enjoy the few pics of my finished results.

109433-24265.jpg

109433-24266.jpg

109433-24267.jpg

I don’t have pics of the hands, as they are back away in the sealed atmosphere they were being kept in and I can’t be arsed taking them out and taking pics, so make do with the dial lol.

Please feel free to post you comments on the work.

That’s pretty much all I have done so far, so please be patient and I will update this guide with how to change out a crown and tube and rework the CG’s when I have completed these tasks myself.

The aim of this guide is to be an informational tool, and any damage or personal injury incurred while following this advice and using these techniques is at the user’s peril. I accept NO responsibility for any personal injury or damage resulting from following this guide. If followed properly there should be no issues.

I hope that you have found this informational and that it will cut down on the research time required for working on your watches, it is my aim to see more people atking on this kind of work themselves.

Please feel free to ask any questions and also add any comments that you feel I may have missed.

A very special thanks to all those who have helped me out in these procedures, you know who you are, Ubi, Dave, Avit, by-tor, mahler, leitztozeiss, palpatine, Nanuq, and jetsons to name but a few. if i left you out I apologise but I have ad so much help it would need a whole new thread just for the thank you's.

Enjoy!

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Very well done, and I have printed this for my reference, as I have not done many of these mods and need the tech info close at hand.

Thanks for this, you sure put in a lot of time getting this all done, and being willing to share your hard work with us, is very much appreciated...

I am glad to see that some of the stuff I was doing, is the same as you are doing, were both on the same track.

Again, thank you for sharing, and mostly for making up a valuable post for those "Do-it-yourself" people here...

RG

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Thanks for that Rob, much appreciated mate. I am glad to be of help.

I mainly just took the advice given to me by some senior members here and collated it into something for reference for the members.

I am glad to see that someone of your skill is doing some of the same things as me. Your skills are what we all aspire to and thanks again for the kind words.

Much appreciated.

Chris

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Guest aclaimsman

Now that we have this info, will someone please give us instructions how to mod crown guards.

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Thanks for the tips! Very nicely done.

Just one question ... did you drill from the inside of the lug or the outside?

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I drilled the holes from the outside in as it's much much easier, and the drill should just follow the path of the existing hole, as the 1680 already has lug holes.

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Okay, thanks!

I used a drill press on my silix sub from the inside out. I had to use a vise to get it in the right position...very difficult. From now on, I am only buying watches with the holes already in them.

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Now updated to include the pictures as promised. I apologise for the dirt on some of the pics, didn't give the watch a wipe before lol.

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Now updated to include the pictures as promised. I apologise for the dirt on some of the pics, didn't give the watch a wipe before lol.

Excellent job edge!! I might even give one of those techniques a try (I can hear my watches whimpering as I type this).

Now all we need is to reveal the great secret of repdom...can someone follow edge's lead and do a phototutorial of crown guard modding? You would instantly become a RWG legend....

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Not hard to see why Chris was our very first PoM winner, what can I add that has yet to be said.........but thanks Chris :thumbsupsmileyanim:

Ken

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Good stuff Chris. Very accurate and thorough info.

However... Might I suggest using a handle for the razor blades when removing the retaining rings?

111655-23769.jpg

Much easier on the hands ;)

Excellent write up!

Best,

R

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Thanks for your excellent advice, Chris. The effort that it takes to pull all this material together, for the benefit of others, is truly appreciated.

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Thanks for that Rob, much appreciated mate. I am glad to be of help.

I mainly just took the advice given to me by some senior members here and collated it into something for reference for the members.

I am glad to see that someone of your skill is doing some of the same things as me. Your skills are what we all aspire to and thanks again for the kind words.

Much appreciated.

Chris

Hey Chris,

by the way you must see the Result of The Zigmeisters work on my ruined Dial...

RG tribal

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Hey Chris,

by the way you must see the Result of The Zigmeisters work on my ruined Dial...

RG tribal

Shoot me some pics via email or PM and lemme see.

Chris

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hello i am a new member!

i have been collecting replicas for about 9 yrs and just found this forum! wow its amazing how much GOOD info is here! i have only been a member a few weeks but i have spent about 30 hours reading all the links in the rolex and breitling sections. Now maybe i am blind but i CANNOT find a link to the website for these 1:1 MBW or WM rolexes. Can someone PM me with the website? I have looked at trustytime and wo-mart but i am looking for the best of the best vintage 1680 sub. I dont know why i cant find the website.

Recent watches (all my watches are all stainless no gold):

Breitling ETA 7750 chrono avenger :thumbsupsmileyanim:

Swiss ETA stainless sub 16610

My next rep watches i want to get are:

perfect 1680 red sub

Sea-dweller with proper thicker case

1990's style daytona with seconds at 9 (reliability reasons)

breitling Navtimer GMT ETA 7750 or 1990's style Navtimer with pilot bracelet.

If anyone can help out the new guy it would be greatly appreciated. Please PM me

Sorry is this is a super-noob question but i just cant find the info

thanks

Lonnie

(no thats not me in my avitar haha)

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Does anyone know if the lost photos, and dead links are cached, or saved anywhere?  Its a shame that these are missing on such an informative guide.  I don't mind hosting photos if they are available?

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Yep... no images really sucks.  But I appreciate that this post was made.

 

There should be a way to permanently host images these days.

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