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Rolex Commando- an update


alligoat
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I'm sure some of you remember Donerix's post about the Rolex Commando from way back

A few weeks ago I ran across a Commando dial on a website- MoChaCha.org.

I saw this over on RWI and a few of the guys had been buying dials from MoChaCha and were happy with them- mostly vintage Submariner dials, I believe.

Recently a friend built a Commando watch for me

cYAIKH.png

He did the dial himself and installed it in a 36mm Riyi case with lugholes and powered it with a 2824-2 Swiss, installed a plastic crystal and a gen Rolex bezel. The hands came from Ofrei, I believe. 

I've been very happy with the watch and even change out the bracelet/straps from time to time

wqNoy5.png

I realize it's not a 34mm manual wind watch like the original- I guess it's closer to a 1016 build, but the 2824-2 sure is nice.

 

 

 

 

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I like it!   :clap2:

I have never seen one anywhere.  Rare birds.

 

I have a couple replica 34mm tudor cases and thought about making an 'explorer' out of one with a Yuki AK explorer dial and ETA 2824 with the autowind assembly removed to make it manual wind.  Could use an ETA 2801 but already have a 2824.  

I have removed a few a/w assemblies from ETA 28xx and had no problems at all.  The fine teeth on the winding wheels are a bit fragile for hand winding with the a/w assembly attached (a lot of moving parts/friction) but they hold up fine without the a/w assembly as long as you grease the hub on the main plate that the crown wheel turns on.  Wind it about 35 or 40 turns from stopped then 20 to 25 turns every day to keep it running.

Also have some lower beat rate A Schild movements that might fit.

 

https://www.rescapement.com/blog/what-to-know-about-the-rolex-commando

 

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14 hours ago, ceejay said:

Would a gen 5500 case (complete) be a suitable base to start a build?

I think the 5500 case would work well with the MoChaCha dial which is 27.2mm. You could use a 2824-2 with or without the autowind assembly. 

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20 hours ago, alligoat said:

I think the 5500 case would work well with the MoChaCha dial which is 27.2mm. You could use a 2824-2 with or without the autowind assembly. 

 

I'm not familiar with the MoChaCha dials.

Could you point me in the right direction?

 

I have a 2824 auto in the case already so it would be just dial, hands & crystal I presume?

 

Cheers.

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"Would a gen 5500 case (complete) be a suitable base to start a build?"

 

Yes.

I made a 34mm 'explorer' using a 1002 case with a 1570 and it turned out fine with a Yuki dial and aftmkt 55xx hands.  The 1002 and AK are basically the same case and both use 27.0mm dials. 

Be careful of case rot on the case back to case gasket areas and between the lugs.  Many on eBay etc will be shown with the gasket on the case back and cb corrosion will not show. 

 

History...I bought the 1002 in 1996 for $650, it was tutone with gold bez/crown, silver dial, and goldtone markers/hands.  They made 1002 models in all steel, tutone, and 9kt solid gold.  The 9kt examples usually came from England and 14k models were 1003.  Not many gold models around.

 

BTW...any opinions on the MoChaCha '1016' case?  I have everything but a case to put one together, genuine dial etc.

https://www.mochacha.org/shop-1/vintage-rolex-explorer-1016-s-s-watch-case

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Nicely done.  I think the commando is perfect in a 36mm size  

 

Being an explorer aficionado   I had to have a commando in my collection.

 

I had one member on RWI working on a commando decal dial for me but  I think they stalled out on the project or busy with other projects.

 

Cruising Yuki's site one day  I found that they also offer a commando dial .  my impulsive nature took over and I ordered one.

it doesn't come with hands like many of the other dials they offer but I bought hands from Ofrie that are the closest available  

 

My formula. :

 34mm case set with tudor solid back and rolex 5.3mm crown  from Raffles.

- sanded down the tudor engravings on the caseback and gave it a light polish.

yuki domed plexi ( ID of bezel needed to be enlarged to fit the domed plexi .  a few mins work with a dremel 

Yuki dial   

Ofrei hands set 

seconds hand -  datejust handset - ebay / aliexpress - dont recall

clone eta 2824 movement .

raffles 19mm rivet bracelet 

 

I bought the white lume dial and then aged it and the hands with airbrush paint  so that the hands and dial lume would match.

assembly and voila :

 

3b47b94db3473d5d5fcb65d98e2cc487.jpg.bee433a787ebf0ecb1e5d2a510a6cf90.jpg

907441659_FullSizeRender(1).thumb.jpg.26e2c2ac3c66e881842a4748f8aefc5f.jpgIMG_9732.thumb.jpg.a97c9fedf88e8dbc6d20d225b2514ec6.jpgIMG_0031.thumb.jpg.0b2740da70c111c13a08a9e27d39140d.jpg

 

On a 7.5" wrist 

e6f1cc6950a4b4e9c7f077c12af1c9b6.jpg.06590b0cea6ecd75fc74b9b4970c52e0.jpg

 

My sweet spot for watches is 36-38 and I was really apprehensive of trying 34mm watches as I thought it would look like I was wearing a ladies watch...however if you wear it a bit loose it looks fine and feels great!!  light on the wrist and very comfortable , especially in the summer heat.    This piece has been getting alot of wrist time lately and when I do put on my 1016 it almost feels unnecessarily big..... I know , crazy.  right?

 

 

The one thing about the raffles cases is that they are said to be fully functional with an eta 2824 and they are 11.5 | linge  however with the solid caseback  it is too tight to allow the rotor to spin.  Its fine on this build as it is a handwind reference anyway but  I wonder if anyone else out there had been able to get their rotor to spin with this case set.

@pompompurin had suggested to dremel the inside surface of the caseback and sand down the height of the rotor, to which I will be attempting on a ranger build this coming week but I am not using a dial spacer at all and the dial is attached with dial dots.   

 

comparing my build to a gen commando there are a few tells.

 

cornet on yuki dial is slightly off....the base of the crown is not as squared off as the gen , nor is the opening the proper size.   biggest tell .

the ofrei hands appear to be slightly narrower and the hour hand is a bit too long compared to gen

 

All things considered to be able to own such a rare and now quite  expensive watch  for $300 is a bargain as far as i'm concerned 

(gen for comparison) 

.6429.png.d25a00f17df122238b2935725097e929.png

 

 

 

 

 

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I came across this seller and dial on ebay a few weeks back  he had one listed and he also had a commando for auction (6429 with this dial and dj hands) 

850613141_s-l1600(10).thumb.jpg.d518ce86dcd8c7b12276013f0060d1a7.jpg

 

 

It is the closest I have seen of the two options presently available online 

once the dial sold I contacted him to see if he had any more but he said no.  however it is still on the site?  I

 

I think I would upgrade to his dial to have my build one step closer  in accuracy 

 

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Edited by JSebWC
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10 minutes ago, alligoat said:

Is the price $108.75?

Interesting how they refer to them as radiant markers- by 69-72 they were tritium of course. 

 

 

Yup   it was the cheapest rolex offered at that time.....

I think when they say radiant  they are meaning that the markes radiate or glow in the dark  but yes you are correct it was tritium at the time 

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"it was the cheapest rolex offered at that time..."

 

I never have seen a Commando.  If I ever have one it will have to be a project.

 

I did buy one manual winder back then though...paid $115 out the door for a nib rlx 6430 Speed King on a leather strap in 1972 at a local rlx AD.  They did not have any 34mm manual wind models in the store at the time.

Friend of mine bought a new rlx 6466 manual wind date in a US Army exchange for $64 in 1964 or '65 on an oyster bracelet.  He wore it two tours in Vietnam and sold it to me in 1992.  Still have it but the bracelet was worn out when I got it.

 

Seventeen years later prices had jumped up quite a bit for manual wind models...

In 1989 bought a nib rlx 6694 at an AD for $900 + tax.  Probably the list price because I bought it on the 'rolex plan'...one year to pay with no interest.  I wanted it because they were discontinued.  Still have the 6430 and 6694 in nos condition.  I wore a 214 Accutron back then and just never sold or traded them.

 

New automatic no dates...

In 1994 bought a nib AK 5500 from a 'reseller' for $990 and another one later in the year for $900 nib from another reseller.  Iirc they were about $1250 retail.

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  • 1 year later...

 

A brief update :

 

I had the pleasure of building another commando for a forum member next door. 

This time I got to experience the mochacha dial first hand.   

 

GEN PARTS USED:

5500 case set
6mm crown
folded link bracelet / end links
crystal

Other parts:
Clone 2824-2
raffles movement holder - modified
ofrie handset
raffles DJ second hand

 

 

Overall Dial impressions. 

Good quality quite accurate nice lume work and has a nice puffy appearance.

 

jfl2L3.jpg

2 criticisms on the dial
the paint is quite delicate compared to dials offered from yuki or raffles . the very outside edge of the dial chipped quite easily which was a bit of a disappointment It can not be seen when assembled but I expected slightly better for $400 dial

 

the dial plate was slightly smaller and although it fit the case , it just barely did. I had forgot to measure the dial or opening. I was just glad I was able to make it work
overall the dial is the closest there is to a gen example. He is now asking over $500 for the dial which I would say is where I draw the line If you must have one then yes but these doubled in price just over a year later is a bit much . ( I found out about them and this option just after I finished my build and considered ordering it as a replacement) but didnt. and probably wont . wish I did when it was sup $300

 

Here is the finished project .

 

jfpho1.jpg

jfpe5I.jpg

 

jfpqD5.jpg


Overall I am very happy with how this build worked out. It was nice being able to see the mochacha dial first hand and work with it. The service from them was good and fast. Good communication and fast shipping . I would recommend them.
 

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Fine looking watch, a Command Performance!

 

"the paint is quite delicate compared to dials offered from yuki or raffles . the very outside edge of the dial chipped quite easily which was a bit of a disappointment It can not be seen when assembled but I expected slightly better for $400 dial."

 

Maybe this happens when the dial and movement shift a bit in the case when pulling/pushing/screwing the crown down if the movement is not tight in the case.  I have also put a very small amount of paint on the outer edge of a dial (where it will not show from the front) where it chipped to fill in where the paint popped off and smooth it up a little bit.

Maybe the outer edge of the dial seat is a hair too small and chips the paint on the outer edge of the dial (and splinters around to the front) when installing the dial and movement.

 

I've had a few dials do this so I started sanding the dial seat in the case with 1000 sandpaper on the flattened end of a round wooden stick to smooth the mating surface if the dial seat appears to be unusually rough. 

Did it help?  Who knows?  It might even contribute to 'dial slip' and cause more scuffing/chipping. 

Otoh, maybe it lessens the grip on the paint so it will slip rather than scuff/chip.  Maybe.

Maybe the dial plate is too slick or contaminated, maybe the paint just does not stick or is chalky. 

Maybe touching or holding the edge of the dial with bare fingers can get skin oil etc. on the paint and soften it.

 

What causes it?  Who knows for sure?

I have no answer, just a bunch of maybes.

Maybe MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts will study the problem and come up with a solution.  

Maybe not.  

 

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