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6204 Rolex guidance and rep parts


Toothdok
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I apologize for my ignorance but I am not a watch enthusiast but I have been researching online to educate myself. I inherited a 1953 submariner 6204 that is in rough shape. It is missing the bezel, hour and second hands are incorrect and the dial was horribly relumed at some point.  I am trying to get advice on how to go about making it whole again. What I have found out from enthusiasts on Rolex forums is that this was a one year model and because of this parts are impossible to find and if you do find them they are crazy $. During my searching I stumbled across the incredible reproductions. I want the watch to look original and hopefully can locate correct rep parts that will fit my case and movement. Does anyone have any advice or direction for me. Thanks in advance. 

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Okay, get comfortable ... this is going to take awhile.  The project will take some time, but in the end it will be worth it.  I have a little over 20 years into my 6535/1 project and it was (is) worth it.  

 

Let me start with some photos:

 

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In the first photo look at the profile to the bezel teeth.  2nd photo, look at the ring that holds the crystal on, onto which the bezel snaps.  3rd picture shows what's possible ... there's my original dial and crap hands, and a better aftermarket dial with another set of crap hands.  I have since found a REALLY good set of aftermarket hands (no photo).  4th picture is approximately what it should look like finished.  Mine is all handmade one-off aftermarket from perhaps 50 years ago, and really doesn't deserve to be on the same page as yours.  But it's the only reference I've held in my hands.

 

You have a rare one there.  Your case is superb, the crown and bezel retaining ring look original, as does the crystal.  The dial looks original too, but damaged, and poorly lumed.  The seconds hand looks genuine, it's the very rare dauphine piece.  You can find one like it from 1953 on the Rolex Passion Report.  The minutes and hours hands are ...... wrong.  It's one hell of a good starting point.

 

Where do you start?  First, a huge thank-you to the person that gave it to you.  That was incredibly generous.  Second, don't do ANYTHING to it for awhile.  Well, you might get the movement serviced.  It should have the A260 movement and there are a few people here that can do that for you.  I wouldn't hesitate to send them any of my vintage pieces for a service.

 

Now you start the search.  The bezel from a 6536 will fit, but not a 6538.  There are several tooth profiles available, so hunt around for one that best matches pic #1.  It should be silver plated over yellowish metal.  Make sure the seller assures you a red triangle bezel insert from a 37mm case will fit.  It should snap onto your bezel retaining ring snugly, if it doesn't we have a guy here that can machine you the ring and it will all go together beautifully.

 

The crystal appears to be original tropic-16.  If it was me I'd keep it, and start polishing the hell out of it with a t-shirt to smooth out the gouges.  It's cracked but you're not going diving.  If you want a replacement, GS or Sternkreuz have pieces that fit.  You must make this decision before you attempt the bezel/ring/crystal fit to the case.  The crystals have different wall thicknesses.  See above.

 

Okay bezel, insert, ring, crystal and case all go together.  Now the hands.  There's a guy on eBay that sells sets once in a blue moon and they're perfect.  They're made in Rolex 1030 or ETA 2838/Miyota 9125 sizes.  I'll try to hunt around and find where I got mine.  Either size can be made to work, given a motivated watch smith.  I did my 6538 like that ... the hard way.

 

The dial.  Holy smokes the dial.  Pretty sure that's a poor aftermarket dial, so really that's a good thing.  If it was gen you'd have a bunch of bigger problems.  Hunt around for a good aftermarket dial, you'd be surprised what's available with the reverse gilt just like genuine.  It will take a lot of "radium dust" aging.  This is a "Tonnywatch" dial from when he was in business.  Other aftermarket sources are out there, like Phong and MQ.  They make good stuff (most of the time) but they're pricey.

 

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All the pieces are done, now find someone to put it together.  We have lots of those guys here too.  It will be a matter if "fitting" the parts together, not unlike working on old British cars.  You'll want an artist, not just a mechanic.  While he's doing that, find a nice black leather alligator strap for it, or a Yuki 7206 rivet oyster band.  

 

Then take lots of photos and show us how she turned out.  Congratulations in advance!  :tu:

 

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Wow! Thanks for running it down for me. Any contact info / links you could give me to help with the quest would be great. It has been difficult for me as a watch neophyte to know where to find the pieces, tell if they are decent quality and figure out if they fit. Then comes the maybe even harder part of finding / trusting someone to help put it all together. I appreciate your time and knowledge and any help you can provide. 

It is funny you mentioned British cars. This is something that I am very versed in. I can assure you that the Rolex movement is much less finicky than this British movement.

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It is funny you mentioned British cars. This is something that I am very versed in. I can assure you that the Rolex movement is much less finicky than this British movement.

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Ahhhhhhh see now we know that's just a photo of a car model, where's all the oil leaks?  This is what a British engine is supposed to look like!

 

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Yep, it seems when they were assembling these things they grabbed from the parts bin and usually got this kind of part, but once in awhile they'd put something else on and .... "hey look, that looks pretty good!" and away it went.

 

Like that dauphine seconds hand ... almost all of them have the ball on the off end from the pointer.  Some have the "long" hours hand, for who knows what reason.  This is what makes Rolex vintage collectors lose sleep at night... that elusive one of a kind piece.  

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Alright gents I went back through the frozen archives and found them.  These hands are *spectacular* and yet somehow never appear in this guy's search listings.  He has two sets left.... if you're doing a 6204 buy them.

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/162853809858

 

 

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They’re for an ETA 2836 movement I’m pretty sure, but that’s not a show stopper for a good watch smith. Now check Phong and MQ for bezels, and look at the tooth profiles.

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Then there’s the inserts, with and without red triangles, skinny fonts, fat fonts, long 3s, hook 5s, service, kissing 40 ... that’s a whole chapter in itself.

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  • 7 months later...

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