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6536/1 or 6538 Project


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Hi everyone, I am considering a Vintage Sub project, my plan is to use one of the case sets for a 6542 from eg Pure Time or TS Station, as they appear to be (roughly) the right size and an OK bezel, and a slightly better design than eg Silix offerings. I’m planning on doing my own dial with clear waterslide decals plus some other mods - hands, replacing the crystal (or sanding down the date window if it’s an otherwise good crystal), brassing the bezel if I can get it off safely, etc. 
 

My original thought was to turn it into a 6536/1 (or 5508) as the 6542 case appears to be quite slim. However I am also open to doing a 6538, depending on the actual dimensions. So I’d really appreciate some help/insight from members on the gen dimensions - does anyone know what is the actual thickness of the mid-case for gen 6536/1 and/or 6538?

 

I have done quite a bit of searching for this info but have not found an answer; I did come across a post where someone was saying the thickness of a 6538 - including crystal - was (I think) c 15.7mm - but that size could be significantly influenced by the crystal that is installed. And I do realise, with vintage Rolexes, the answer is likely to be “it depends...” as there is some variation in part sizes depending on the year etc. But if anyone does have a genuine 6536/1 or 6538, or access to one, plus a set of callipers, it would be really interesting to know the gen spec for these watches. 

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Thanks, I know they're not the greatest but I tried to get perpendicular to the side of each case in both pairs of photos so you can see where they differ.

 

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I'm not sure about taking a 6542 and making it into a 6538/6536. 

You might check out a 6538 case from Ruby- rubyswatch.com- password is 666888. It might not be quite as skinny as Nanuq's case but hopefully it would be better than a rep 6542 case and it comes with the correct bezel insert and bezel and it already has a Brevet crown and tube. A Ruby's case, a decent dial and hands and a low beat eta movement would make for a nice dependable beater. Of course the Ruby's case would need some gentile aging. But this is what I'd call a $1K rep- I think the Ruby cases run around $600. But maybe you could do it for less.

 

A cheaper alternative is a Trusty 6538- call it the budget model- a few good features and a slightly too thick case but not a bad place to start.

 https://trustytime.io/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_11&products_id=15561

Andrew also has a 5510 and a 6536. Same thick cases but my theory of reps is you can't go wrong for $250 or so. Frankly, no one will probably notice. And some gentle aging could make it a nice rep.

 

 

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"A cheaper alternative is a Trusty 6538."

Sounds like good advice to save a wad of $$.

 

I will say 65xx are cool today but I never ventured into a 6536/38 project because:

A passable 6536/38 should have a 'spring wire' plated brass bezel and correct size case.  Many replica cases do not fit this recipe. 

The 6536/38 is a little bit smaller than a 5512/13.  Many of the replica 65xx are the same size as a 5512/5513 (maybe they used a 55xx case).

How do I know this ?

I owned a genuine 6538 for a few years before they were famous.

 

What do I think of them?

No offense but the 65xx (to me) looks like a 1016 that has been hit topside with a hammer, then a big crown and rotating bezel stuck on it.  This is why I go for 5512 or 5513 projects...they look like a 'rolex', crown guards and all. 

I feel I can diss the 6538 because I had one and this is the impression I've always had.  Do not get me wrong, I would like to have a shoe box full of them now.

 

If anyone goes down the rabbit hole to put a Frankenstein 65xx together, be warned the cal 1030 movement is relatively fragile, expensive to buy, and expensive to maintain/repair.

How do I know this?

Experience, and I still have three watches with them...two 6605, one 6634.

 

The 6538 is famous because:

It is a classic vintage rolex.

The ficticious James Bond wore a 6538 in a few moviies.  

Otoh James Bond also wore a Seiko.

th?id=OIP.GHs5ev3ZFIg9nn33wY9n1wEXDf&w=200&h=160&rs=1&qlt=80&pid=3.1

 

Steve McQueen wore a 5512 and he was for real.  

No Seikos that I know of. 

He wore a Benrus 3061 in Bullitt, another cool watch imho.

Image result for benrus bullitt watch

A used Benrus 3061 will run from $25 to $125 on average (out in the wild, not on the 'net). 

They are fairly cheap because they are not famous.

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Thanks everyone for your ideas and insights.  I’m probably not going to go the Ruby route, although I know that would be a quality case, as I’m going for more of a budget build (she quoted me US$750 plus delivery for a 6538 case set).  Alligoat the Trusty option is also interesting; I’ve also got a Silix Prime 6538 – I know a lot of the dealers appear to basically have watches from the same sources so I don’t want to repeat that, but I’d be interested in anyone’s experiences with the Trusty versions.

 

Automatico you make an excellent point about the case sizes of the 6538s etc – it does seem that most of the cheaper reps have cases 39 or 40mm diameter (versus genuine of c. 37mm to 37.5mm).  My first foray into this world was with a Silix Prime 6538 – some of theirs are 40mm, I got one with a case not too far from the correct diameter – about 37.8mm.  However… the bezel was clearly designed for the larger cases and is about 39mm in diameter, so it kind of hangs over the edges a bit, nullifying to some extent the smaller size of the case.

 

Sogeha thanks for the suggestion re the thin case from Adrian – that’s Athaya Vintage, right?  I am guessing it’s going to be nearer Ruby’s price point than Trusty’s but will be interested in it anyway (plus to see anyone’s projects when it does come out).  Anyone have any additional info on timing for that?

 

I’ve been inspired by some of the other posts (like Nanuq’s, JoeyB’s) re. their 6204s – so may now go that route – that or the 6536/1… thanks everyone.

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There's also the makings of a VERY good 5508 project here somewhere, it's been for sale for ages.  It will be spendy but it's top notch parts.

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