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Vintage Rolex Bracelet Restoration

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I have the following genuine bracelets that could all use a little TLC to fix the stretch.  A Google search yields me a handful of options, but some seem sketchy. Anyone have any recommendations?  I am also not opposed to DIY, but I fear the tools & parts are probably out of reach.


C&I 7206 Rivet from '68

6215H from 1973 B-Links

9315 (Late 60's IIRC)

93150 (Early)

and, I forgot the model, but a "Stretchy/Expandro" Genuine 19mm Rivet for a Daytona



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  • Ronin changed the title to Vintage Rolex Bracelet Restoration

Hi Ronin,  I'm afraid there are two paths to follow here.  Aftermarket parts "made to work" and genuine.


There used to be two guys in Seattle that could help... Ron Richards in the Joshua Green building, and George Kajanoff in Ballard.  Richards was upstairs from Tom Nesbit's shop and between the two of them they could fix anything with "Rolex" on it.  Richards' shop is long closed, but Nesbit's is still open.  One of his apprentice watchmakers is my go-to guy here in Alaska.  George Kajanoff died in 2005 so that whole scene is sort of shut down now to DIY repairmen.  Nesbit's shop will probably take your work and can most likely get the parts to do a perfect job.  They're beyond amazing, but you pay for what you get.


The alternative is Michael Young.  He's been restoring vintage bracelets for decades and he does *spectacular* work.  You can reach him here:



I have several 7836 bands on my vintage pieces, dressed up to look like 9315s.  Problem is, my Popeye wrists mean I need to put in 2 links to make them fit.  Mary (on our TD list) has been kind enough to sell me several of her nearly perfect bands, so I picked the best of the bunch as keepers and cannibalized the others for links.  It's an easy task to open the midlinks, separate out links (paying attention to the widths as the widths are all different) and inserting them in the appropriate space on the keeper bands.  Then I put them shiny side down on a padded leather and strike with a mallet and narrow screwdriver to bend the midlinks back together securely.  The results are nearly as good as what Richards used to achieve.  


Bear in mind that genuine vintage watches that got used a lot had worn out bands, and replaced links are nearly always "dimpled" just a little on the outer face in the process.  So any vintage watch without the dimples either was never used much, or it went through a Rolex Service Center to have the links replaced the right (expensive) way.  Here is my 1665 from 1972 with its ridiculously stretched band and two links that Richards replaced.  This look is perfectly acceptable in the vintage world.









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Thanks! Michael Young was the name I remember. 

I’ll post some pics of the stretch. My fear is loosing the Gen watches these service. I understand the stretch comes from the pins wearing thin and ultimately thru. 

Pics tomorrow. 

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"The alternative is Michael Young.  He's been restoring vintage bracelets for decades and he does *spectacular* work."


I sent 4 bracelets to M Young in August 2007 and all I will say is going by remarks about how good his work is in the last 5 or 7 years...the work has greatly improved since I had mine done. 

I could post details but I have no proof.  Let's just say that two out of the four were unwearable when I got them back...one the original swiss jubilee from a 1979 1675 and one from a tutone DJ 6605 made in 1956. 

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I would mirror auto's remarks. Michael Young is capable of doing good (though not Rolex-level) work, but I think his final result depends on what the problem is. The simpler the repair, the better the result.

Rolex had a device that removed folded links and another to close/tighten them. You could not tell anything had been done to them. Unfortunately, I have never seen 1 of these devices for sale & none of the Rolex-certified watchsmiths I used to buy parts through back in the day had 1. I suspect they were relegated to the bin when Rolex ceased production of folded link bracelets.

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Here are some photos.  The 6215 for my Gen 1675 is the most comfortable bracelet I have ever had.  I am fearful it will break.  Thoughts on these?




















I just realized there are more links tucked into the clasp-- as most of these are Micro-Adjusted inwards to shorten them for my 6.8" wrist...


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Looking closely at the stretch, the biggest wear is in the places I circled in green.  The midlinks develop a groove across the inside of the "fold" that deepens over time.  So if you can get the midlinks replaced you'll be good.  The circled red area looks like someone has already replaced a link there.




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The bottom line imho:

"I'm afraid there are two paths to follow here.  Aftermarket parts "made to work" and genuine."  (Nanuq)


As good as some of the replica bracelets are now, I would repair/replace worn out genuine links with replicas and hang on to the originals.  There are not many options for folded oyster repair if you want to wear one.

ST has some very good hollow center link aftmkt DJ-93150 links for $17.50 each...p/n RMOSS-LINK/OP. 


If someone really wanted to make a link separator they could buy a small cheapo table vise and mount a pair of smaller clamps of some sort to the top of the jaws (by bolts/screws) and carefully grind the underside of the clamp jaws to match the contour of oyster links.  Probably mount the link concave side down so the top clamps would need to be hollowed out a little bit.  Close the jaws of the table vise close enough for the clamps to hold the link and unscrew the table vise jaws to separate the links.  It would take a lot of fiddling with but it would work.  Any clamp cuts/reshaping would need to be polished when finished to keep from scratching the links unless a copper etc liner was used. 

I've made quite a few hair-brained tools like this and they all worked after a little trial and error.

Image result for drill press table vise$18.39 at Home Depot

This H-D model looks like it has enough room on top of the jaws to mount simple strap type top clamps.  Just a strip of steel or brass 6mm or so thick bolted to the top of the vise jaws on each end would work.  It would not be hard to drill and tap 5/16 inch or 8mm threads in the jaw tops...6mm or 1/4 inch might be Ok too.

Making the top clamps out of brass would be better because it would not tend to scratch the steel links.  If you wanted to grind the clamps to fit the top contour of the links the clamp material would need to be a little thicker.


You can also line the insides of the vise jaws with brass or copper strips and use the vise to press the links back together.  Copper strips on the vise jaws might be better because it is softer and easy to bend, brass tends to crack.  Copper strips would also work for pads under the links for protection when pulling them apart.  You could use copper strips with holes at each end to match the clamp bolts.

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Thanks gang. So would you guys wear my above with the current stretch levels?  Especially my favorite 6215?  These are all on Gen watches. 


I have to imagine, that even if one of the links wore completely through, it would bind and not necessarily fall off my wrist? I probably shouldn’t drive with my arm out the window though :-).


One more thing, has anyone used heard of rolliworks.com ? They claim to be experts in bracelet restoration. 

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"One more thing, has anyone used heard of rolliworks.com ? They claim to be experts in bracelet restoration."


I've seen good reviews on their work but it was on later model bracelets like 93150 etc.  Do not know if they can restore stretchers and folders. 

I will say M. Young did a good job on a stretch oyster, an old steel C&I jubilee, and a regular rivet oyster.  The other two mentioned before, not so good.

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Just wear it loose so when you bend your wrist you never put strain on it.  And keep it clean, so no abrasive dirt builds up in the folds.  Mine has looked like this since I got it 22+ years ago, I'm trying to keep it all original.


I did find another 9315 on the 'Bay that I put it on half the time, and Mary's 7836 looks right at home there too, but you'll want a fliplock clasp to make it look legit.  That's a good way to get the folded Oyster look, and put the gen bands away for safe keeping.  It's also not out of the realm of possibility that you buy Mary's 7836 for sacrificial parts, to restore your 9315 midlinks.






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It is my understanding that "wear it loose" actually accelerates wear and tear on the pins.  (Seen especially in woman's DJ Jubilee bracelets, who tend to wear watches as loose jewelry).  I think logic goes something like this:


  • The stretch is not really stretch, it a thinning by wear of the pins in the hollow links.  As the pin thins, this creates more space and the impression of stretch. Get the pin thin enough and it will bend making the stretch seem even worse.  Eventually, the pin wears through and snap, the bracelet breaks.
  • Combine loose, with dirt, and the excess movement of a loose watch flopping around on the wrist, and that metal on metal wears through faster.

So, if this is the case, wearing a vintage watch "properly" fitted and snug, should decelerate the wear and tear on the pins that give cause stretch.


Here is a perfect example of the wear on the pins giving the illusion of stretch.  In reality, the links now have more "slack".



Edit to add, you also get wear through on the links.  It is blurry in the photo, but look at the mid-links, you can see those have also lost material.  A double whammy...

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"Here is a perfect example of the wear on the pins giving the illusion of stretch."


Ronin, I noticed that was a tutone bracelet.  I have seen tutone jubilee bracelets with the spring bars worn through the tube into the coil spring and the gold end links would still be in good condition.  Evidently the gold is tougher than it is perceived to be.


Tutone jubilees that are worn loose are prone to wear if they are not washed every week or so.  TT oyster models wear out too but it seems they wear at a slower rate.  I have some TT jubilee bracelets from ST (made in Italy) and the center links are quite a bit thicker where they ride against the steel connecting pins than regular aftmkt bracelet links and they last for a very long time...but they ain't cheap now with $1750 gold.

I have used quite a few of the ST 'made in Italy' bracelets and they are always highest quality.  Many sellers claim their bracelets are 'made in Italy' but are not.  It is fairly easy to tell them apart if you can compare them in hand.

It sure would be nice if tutones came back in style.  I still have TT parts left from the 1990s.  :pimp:


ST...Men's Rolex 14K Gold/Stainless Steel Heavy Link Jubilee Date Replacement Bracelet.  Italian made


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