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Franken or Unfranken?

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I have been watching rolex 1520, 1560, 1570 no date and date movement and parts prices rise for the past 10 or 12 years.  My conclusion from the rise in prices is a movement alone is now worth more than the value it might add to a 'Frankenstein' 1016, 5512/13, 1680, 1665, 1655/75 etc.

Right or Wrong?

 

For this reason, I am thinking about removing all 15xx movements from Frankensteins and sticking Etas in them or selling the cases/dials/bracelets for parts.  I have a few cases for the movements so I can sell the movements 'naked' or in a case.

Good or Bad idea?

 

I am rapidly coming to the end of the run with these things because I have genuine watches needing attention so I can sell them and do not wear 'steins/replicas very often now.

 

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Here is what I am wondering - my dream project is to build a 5510 using as many genuine parts as humanly possible, and with a Ruby or Phong case.  The original reason why I was attracted to the 5510 instead of the 6538 was because I thought it would be easier to source a 15xx movement instead of a 1030 movement.  I also thought the 15xx movement might be more durable, could hold up longer between servicing, and might offer more replacement service parts than the 1030?  Is this flawed logic?

 

I figured over the course of a few years I could source the movement, case, a beautiful dial on gen plate, gen hands and crown, and a nice insert.  I would wear it on a nice leather band until I could find a gen bracelet for it, or worst case a really nice aftermarket bracelet with gen clasp.

 

I picture this watch being a lifelong treasured piece that I can pass down to my boys.

 

With prices skyrocketing, would you advise skipping the 15xx movement and instead putting an ETA in it?  With what I want to build, and my reasons for doing it, I really feel like I have to go genuine 15xx with this piece or I am shortchanging myself.  What are your thoughts?

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It's funny, I just had this conversation yesterday with someone else.  I've got several gens with 1030 movements and I never wear them anymore.  Parts are too hard to find.  But that look is inescapable.

 

So I built the Big Gonzo 6538 to replace the 6536 that rests now in the safe.  I wanted something with the same strong vintage vibe, perhaps slightly different than the Small Crown, and something I can go swimming with.  These are, after all, tool watches.

 

So I went nuts on expensive parts, and put a low-beat ETA movement inside.  It's robust, parts are readily available, and if I flood it in the briny deep, who cares?  The Big Gonzo is a tool watch too.

 

sunset.jpg

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@Nanuq I have lusted over the Big Gonzo for years here on the forum, and if it were as much a sin to covet thy neighbor's watch as it is to covet thy neighbor's wife, I would already be in hell!  LOL  In fact, I'm afraid there's a seat at the table already warmed up and waiting for me, no pun intended.😈

 

This really is the million dollar question I am looking at, and Automatico's post sums it up perfectly.  With complete movement prices so high AND replacement parts so rare to find and expensive when you do find them, do I make the decision to embark on a build with an ETA in mind?  One could posit that if you are starting from scratch with an ETA in mind, now you would not be limited to only a 5510.  I could also look at a 6538.  From what Automatico has shared, now the genuine 15xx movements are in that same category as the 1030 movements were 10 years ago.  It's almost foolish/reckless to use them, unless it is going to sit in a safe, because once they break it's game over.  That means you would not be able to wear and enjoy the piece on even a weekly basis, and that is what I am truly after - a masterpiece that I can actually enjoy, not just admire on a watch stand when I take it out.

 

I could then base my journey around finding the right dial - whether that is a 5510 or a 6538, and then go from there.  Without question, I will be contacting you, Automatico, cc33, Dbane, and others here who are absolute Jedi Masters when it comes to these sophisticated gen projects.

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1 hour ago, Mendota Explorer said:

From what Automatico has shared, now the genuine 15xx movements are in that same category as the 1030 movements were 10 years ago.

 

Exactly right.  I used to wear my 6536 every day, it went everywhere and did everything for decades.  Then on its last service with Ziggy he sent me traces from his timing machine and some scary photos.  Then he said he was able to clean up the autowind gears and they work fine, but they're nearly used up.  And there are no more available.

 

That settled it, and I put it away.  I still wear it on special occasions, and I miss it.  So now the Big Gonzo wears the mantle.

 

9.jpg

 

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Interesting insight here. The one thing that always bothers me is that I might have difficulty getting my rep with an ETA movement serviced by a good watchmaker. I know I could always just take the movement out and have them tackle the movement by itself, but that doesn't work if I want to pass the watch on to someone. 

 

Other than that downside, the advantages of using ETA are immense, the biggest one being you can actually use your watch as it was intended.

 

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Will a eta 2824 fit in a 1570 case with a case ring? Is that what you would use as a replacement?

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6 hours ago, Nanuq said:

 

Exactly right.  I used to wear my 6536 every day, it went everywhere and did everything for decades.  Then on its last service with The Zigmeister he sent me traces from his timing machine and some scary photos.  Then he said he was able to clean up the autowind gears and they work fine, but they're nearly used up.  And there are no more available.

 

That settled it, and I put it away.  I still wear it on special occasions, and I miss it.  So now the Big Gonzo wears the mantle.

 

That is indeed scary. I remember the story of how you acquired the 6536, as well, so there is a lot of sentimental value to it and it would be a shame if the movement died. Let's pretend you did not own the 6536 and you were starting from scratch. If you could do it all over again and start building the Big Gonzo today - would you use a genuine movement or would you go ETA?  Again, knowing what you know now and assuming you didn't already own the Little Gonzo.

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If I was to do that I'd get a good Phong case and have Dbane work it over. Then a Dark Lord dial and ETA movement, maybe a 2783. Gen hands and gen everything else. That would be a good looking workhorse I could wear every day for the rest of my life.

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17 minutes ago, Nanuq said:

If I was to do that I'd get a good Phong case and have Dbane work it over. Then a Dark Lord dial and ETA movement, maybe a 2783. Gen hands and gen everything else. That would be a good looking workhorse I could wear every day for the rest of my life.

Thank you so much for your insights!  That really fits in with what I have been thinking over the last year and it seals the deal for me.  This has been such a great thread.  I can't believe the timing of it, too.  I took a year off from the watch world and now that I am back, Automatico brings up the exact issue that has been nagging me!  I love this place!

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RWG is such a fine place for gentlemen to hang out, it seems like good things always happen here.  

 

Watching James Bond movies, you see him with his 6538 and when the bad guys jump in the ocean he leaps in after them without a thought to the watch he's wearing.  Contemporary VRF denizens would shriek in horror at the thought of a precious 6538 getting wet, much less flying into the ocean.  This is remarkable to me, because the big crowns were produced as an upgrade to the small crowns, with increased water resistance.  Read the dial... it says "SUBMARINER" not "DESKMARINER". 

 

These were made to be worn in the water, down to horrific depths like 330 feet and beyond and were expected to keep time and not leak.  They were tools to make a diver's work safer.  Now, because of their scarcity, we treat them as My Precious and polish and coddle them.

 

I can't think of the last time I polished and coddled my tools in the garage.  Their purpose is to keep my Land Rovers running.  When my micrometer torque wrench screws up, guess what?  I'll buy another.  It makes me a safer mechanic.  When I was a commercial diver my tools made me a safer diver.  Strip away the mystique and that's all these watches are.

 

There's a certain thrill to taking a Big Crown out into the ocean, and USING IT like it was intended.  It's in its natural environment and we can taste the reality of what the nostalgia promises.  Down at moderate depths, there's nothing quite like looking at a Big Crown on your wrist doing its job.  Throwing caution to the wind, scoffing at the fears of weaker men, and just enjoying the beastie in its natural environment.  Like it's supposed to be there.

 

And if it floods?  If you're running an ETA, no harm done.  Fix it and go diving again.  If you're running a 1030 or 15xx?  Welcome to misery.  IMHO life is too short for misery.

 

 

swimming1.jpg

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20 hours ago, Nanuq said:

RWG is such a fine place for gentlemen to hang out, it seems like good things always happen here

Awesome post, awesome watch. I am planning to grab an action shot or two like this this summer.

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On 4/3/2019 at 11:27 AM, automatico said:

I have been watching rolex 1520, 1560, 1570 no date and date movement and parts prices rise for the past 10 or 12 years.  My conclusion from the rise in prices is a movement alone is now worth more than the value it might add to a 'Frankenstein' 1016, 5512/13, 1680, 1665, 1655/75 etc.

Right or Wrong?

For this reason, I am thinking about removing all 15xx movements from Frankensteins and sticking Etas in them or selling the cases/dials/bracelets for parts.  I have a few cases for the movements so I can sell the movements 'naked' or in a case.

Good or Bad idea?

 

I do not think either question can be answered objectively, since perspectives and priorities vary. So I will simply offer this anecdote - Two years ago, a friend and I were perusing a local jewelry store. Another customer glimpsed my DRSD franken and called me out on it. To make a long story short, the store's watchmaker "cracked" the watch open for us and, low & behold, there sat a nice, genuine Rolex 1575 beating away inside the case, right next to its HeV.
In my case, since gen Rolex parts will always increase in value, why cash-out if you do not have to? Or, at least, that is my conclusion. Your mileage may vary. 2034073038_IMG_00172__-2_tonemapped1.thumb.jpg.77bb9616b9f3f78b6c8b0ffba7c62b1d.jpg

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57 minutes ago, freddy333 said:

 

I do not think either question can be answered objectively, since perspectives and priorities vary. So I will simply offer this anecdote - Two years ago, a friend and I were perusing a local jewelry store. Another customer glimpsed my DRSD franken and called me out on it. To make a long story short, the store's watchmaker "cracked" the watch open for us and, low & behold, there sat a nice, genuine Rolex 1575 beating away inside the case, right next to its HeV.
In my case, since gen Rolex parts will always increase in value, why cash-out if you do not have to? Or, at least, that is my conclusion. Your mileage may vary. 2034073038_IMG_00172__-2_tonemapped1.thumb.jpg.77bb9616b9f3f78b6c8b0ffba7c62b1d.jpg

 

I agree. What a great story about a gorgeous piece.  After very careful consideration, I feel that I personally would benefit from using genuine movements in my treasured, gen parts franken builds.  There are only 2-3 pieces on this list for me, and I would be short changing myself and defeating the purpose if I did not use as many gen parts as physically possible.  The movement is part of that.  For other pieces, which are more for fun, then I am absolutely willing to use ETA movements in those.  They serve a different purpose.

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"In my case, since gen Rolex parts will always increase in value, why cash-out if you do not have to?  Or, at least, that is my conclusion.  Your mileage may vary."

 

I appreciate the replies.

f333:  You are right about this.  Other than an Eta or other non original type movement, many Frankensteins can not be identified by anyone other than an 'expert' and my guess is many will fool the experts. 

In my particular case, one big factor is my age and it is the main reason for the change in my attitude about Frankensteins.  There are quite a few RWG members who are no longer 'spring chickens' and with age comes knowledge (maybe not so much) but changes in attitudes for sure...just ask Jimmy Buffett.  :animal_rooster:

 

MeEx:  "For other pieces, which are more for fun, then I am absolutely willing to use ETA movements in those."

I agree.  Etas are ideal daily wear movements...low cost and reliable.

 

As of now I have not removed any of the 15xx movements from my small 'Fleet of 'Frankensteins'...(5512, 5513, 1680) but I am planning to finish c/o the 1520 in the 5513, it's been apart for a year or so.  Once in a while I will put one of the 15xx powered F-stein watches on and wear it for a few days because they seem to be very efficient auto winders and a few hours of wearing one will keep it running where the average Eta, A/S etc will often stop overnight. 

I must admit I am mostly a quartz watch guy (Accutron II now) and much earlier an Accutron 214/218 guy starting in 1971.  Before that it was 'dollar biscuit' one jewel pocket watches and Timex.

 

I have not put the 15xx movements in expensive cases, the 5512 and 5513 are MBK cases and the 1680 is a DW case.  I have some supposedly 'higher grade' cases (Yuki 5512 and 5513, Phong 1655, IG44 1680) but have not put movements in them.  The 1655 case is slightly used and since I finally have all the GMT parts for it, I may stick it together because I do not have anywhere else to go with the movement other than selling it.

 

Jimmy Buffett - Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Apu3HRjSpu4

 

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I have built all of my frankens using ETA movements. Never felt the need to use gen movements where they couldn't be seen. The cost didn't seem to be a value add for me. Total cost would make selling the watch more difficult on the back end as well. A lot fewer buyers once you cross the four figure threshold.

 

I'm also in a position where I don't have anyone to leave the watches to when I am no longer of this world, so now I'm even contemplating selling them off and picking up a gen or two instead. At least a gen would be easy for my estate to dispose of when the time comes.

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I agree with Nanug, the 2783 is a workhorse. I have one in stock and it seems very powerful. Just won't die. It's very old but has good readings on the machine .  Not a bad choice for any build.

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Good discussion! 

 

@Nanuq please don’t let your 6536 fall into the hands of someone like PS at RPR. Find it a good home when the time comes. 

 

My short education in the watch world has lead me to the conclusion the the dial, insert, midcase, and movement are the essence of any watch. But even in saying that I think there are exceptions and I don’t know that I fully agree with myself. I recently acquired a very badly damaged gen tudor 7016 dial - to the point of more than 50% of it had flaked off. It’s currently being refinished by a legit professional with some of the original artwork. So, sure it’s a gen dial, but is it? What is it to be authentic? If we can refinish a gen dial, why not any dial? And why stop with the dial, why not any part? 

 

This is lead me to the movement. This still seems like the element that isn’t clone-able. I found myself quickly moving from budget Asian builds, to gen Swiss movements, to gen branded movements. I’ve found the gen movements to be nothing but a pleasure to work on compared with clones. Things just fit/work. 

 

I stand by the movement being the essence of the watch. I think there is great value in using a gen movement in any watch project. 

 

I only wish wish I had gotten into this hobby 4-8 years ago. Gen Rolex movements have soared out of my price range. So I’ve turned to the next brand in line, Tudor. The movements are still affordable and very robust. I’ve also come to really like the aesthetic of the brand. So win-win I suppose. 

 

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1 hour ago, mzinski said:

 

@Nanuq please don’t let your 6536 fall into the hands of someone like PS at RPR. Find it a good home when the time comes. 

 

When the time comes?  What time?  You mean I'm not going to live forever?!   :bangin:

 

This brings up a good question.  Many years ago Land Rover bought the rights to the Buick Fireball V8 engine.  My 1963 Land Rover still has the original cast iron engine, but what if I transplanted the "Buick" V8 into the old Rover?  Is it still a Rover, even though I've replaced its heart?  What if I dropped a small block Ford V8 in there?

 

In my mind, it's still a Rover.  I could take the V8 back out and nobody would ever know I'd done it.  I guess it all comes down to being honest about our creations?
 

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2 minutes ago, Nanuq said:

When the time comes?  What time?  You mean I'm not going to live forever?!   :bangin:

I was thinking noon today, obviously. The time you pack it up and mail to me. ;) 

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But..... how am I going to get my Land Rover in an envelope?   :huh:

 

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11 minutes ago, Nanuq said:

But..... how am I going to get my Land Rover in an envelope?   :huh:

VnTMIa.jpg

The festive wrapping would be a delight but I'd be okay if you just use white or brown paper. 

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On 4/22/2019 at 2:01 PM, Nanuq said:

This brings up a good question.  Many years ago Land Rover bought the rights to the Buick Fireball V8 engine.  My 1963 Land Rover still has the original cast iron engine, but what if I transplanted the "Buick" V8 into the old Rover?  Is it still a Rover, even though I've replaced its heart?  What if I dropped a small block Ford V8 in there?In my mind, it's still a Rover.  I could take the V8 back out and nobody would ever know I'd done it.  I guess it all comes down to being honest about our creations?

 

In your mind it may still be a 'Rover, but in the mind of a buyer looking for a 'Rover, it's probably a 'Rover with a Ford motor.
Did you know, too, that that Buick V8 was also offered to Triumph for use in their Stag, but Triumph chose, instead, to weld two of their crappy four-cylinder lumps together, which produced one of the most unreliable engines in British automotive history.

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"...Triumph chose, instead, to weld two of their crappy four-cylinder lumps together, which produced one of the most unreliable engines in British automotive history."

 

Never owned a British car but I rode/pushed Norton and Triumph motorcycles in the 1960s/early 1970s.  Reliability was nonexistent.  You could rev one up and watch stuff fall off and oil drip on the ground while the electronics flickered on and off (sometimes accompanied by a veil of black smoke).  Toward the end of my Brit bike phase I gave a Triumph TR6 Trophy MC to a kid down the street just to get rid of it.

Then I bought a 1948 HD Panhead 'chopper' with hand shift, 'suicide' foot clutch, and no front brake.  Had a guy wanted to buy it but he had to test ride it first but was afraid to start it after I told him "You kick it, it kicks you".  It got away from him and dug up a neighbor's yard while he did a great Bronco Billy imitation.  No sale, he was scared half to death.  I told him "No Guts, No Glory".

 

Sold it to a guy who paid for it and took off on it, said he could 'ride and fix anything'.  He called back about 15 minutes later from a pay phone and said it backfired and blew the carburetor off.  He was Ok with that but was upset because the heavy brass Linkert carb flew around (attached to the gas cable) and knocked a dent in the gas tank.  I said "All sales final" and went for a ride on my new Ducati.

The carb was attached to a home made manifold by a rubber hose/hose clamp and stuck out from the original location.  It blew off all the time.

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