Author Topic: Reputable and Reliable watchmaker to restore and service vintage rolex  (Read 576 times)

Offline corboylee

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Hi All Sifu & Gurus,

Is there any reputable and reliable watchmaker in KL/PJ that can restore and service a 1601 datejust vintage rolex? I went to Rolex service center (RSC) KL, the quotation and consultation is highly questionable. I don't think i will leave my watch with them. But is there any good Rolex watchmaker out there beside RSC?

Thank you.

Offline ck77

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RSC’s quotation and consultation is questionable??
There is the best place to service your Rolex.


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Offline samuelk

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Please elaborate why is the quotation and consultation from RSC questionable for the benefit of the rest of us here.

Offline corboylee

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here is the long story, i guess RSC couldnt care much abt retaining the original parts for vintage watch and the price is not reasonable at all:

I recently inherited a Dual tone Date Just 1601 but it is not in a tip top condition since the watch is over 40yrs old (based on my own research). The dail and movement still functional and looking good but there are also other visible wear and tear problems eg:

1) dirty and sratches all over the case
2) patina formed on the fluted Bezel and crown
3) crystal is badly scratched
4) jubilee bracelet is loose and dirty
5) crown is loose

So, i wanted to revive this beauty and my friends told me to go straight to our one and only rolex service center in KL. Since i have no clue or do not know any reputable vintage watch service centre, i went there with a hopeful mind.

After the initial quote, discussion, and further consultation with their sales person, i am really lost and in doubt whether i should continue with them to restore my watch. Here are a few things which i find quite rigid and doesn't make sense (to me), not sure any sifus here face the same problem.

1) They claim their basic package includes cleaning, checking, water test, case polishing, crystal and crown replacement, etc. I'm ok with the polishing and crystal replacement but not the crown replacement coz the new crown looks completely different and brand-new. So when i told them im opting out the new crown, apart from not reducing the basic package price nor give me the new crown as spare, they are not willing to polish the watch too because it will compromise the original crown fitting connecting to the tube (doesn't make sense to me even after the explanation but i had to accept because they are the rolex professional right?). So for this basic package, i have no choice but to follow as instructed or they will only replace the crystal and cleaning for a whopping of 2.9k. I even ask, if i accept the new crown, would they return my original crown?... the answer is a BIG NO! coz thats the HQ policy, they will never return replacement parts! I find this really weird, coz i wanted to keep all the original part since this a vintage watch afterall and it has sentimental value. She wont budge at all :(

2) They said the back case is a bit eroded so need replacement. Same problem here, the new replacement has a completely different engraving text. Even the serial number is different and they wont return the old one if they replace it. I can still accept this and not to replace since it cost extra and i just have to live with the risk of non water resistant. Something i need to consider and is a fair option.

3) They said the jubilee bracelet is not genuine and they will not proceed with the servicing if the set (watch + strap) is not genuine unless i get the original strap from them. I had no choice but to opt for the original leather strap they offered coz the new jubilee cost 18k and it probably doesn't match the vintage look of this watch. Again, i have no one to verify but to follow since they are ROLEX!! But they suspect the watch COULD be genuine coz it has all the serial numbers and attributes. So they will only service if i buy the leather strap from them or bring in a genuine set. Now it makes me wonder, why the hell the watch has a genuine face but a fake bracelet. Unfortunately, i will never know coz i inherited it and there was no cert or original box.

4) They also "SUSPECT" there are other parts that need replacement which the total cost come to a whopping of 10k in total. Again this is not something i can decide later, they need me to agree and willing to pay this amount upfront and in the event it needs replacement, they WILL replace and charge without notifying. Basically saying it is thier call to make and you better be prepare to pay this amount.

SO, GURUS AND SIFU, can you shed some light and teach me what to do? Should i pay a rejection fee and go to someone else? or i should proceed with them?

Is there any OTHER REPUTABLE vintage rolex service shop in Klang valley that is abit more flexible and reasonable than our ONE & ONLY ROLEX SERVICE CENTER in KL?

Offline TheHobbit

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End of the day it’s up to you and how much the watch means to you. From my experience.. RSC policy is to return the watch to ‘new’ condition. This means it will pass all the test RSC will put the watch thru especially the water resistant test. You will also get a service warranty after the watch is serviced. To attain that.. from my past experience.. RSC will change the crown and the crown tube and all seals. And if they find that the case or case back is corroded or damaged, they will offer to change those as well. You can opt not to change things.. but RSC will not issue you with a service warranty. It’s your choice. Oh.. you can tell RSC not to change the dial and hands if they have already develop patina and even opt not to polish the case. This option sadly does not reduce the service cost.

As for not returning parts.. well that is part and parcel of owning a Rolex. They do not want original parts to end up in ‘questionable’ places. With regards to the watch and bracelet being original or not.. it’s pretty common to see Rolex with after market bracelets. Not many people would pay for an original bracelet.. more so a two tone bracelet. The gold on the bracelet is real gold and not plating.

If you want.. you can send the watch in minus the bracelet. That way RSC will just service only the watch. RSC will not service a watch with fake parts.. they will change the parts. They will not return a watch serviced with fake parts. They have to maintain a certain standard.

As for servicing outside.. pretty sure others will chime in on where you could send the watch to.

Again.. the most important question is what is the watch to you and the value you place on the watch. Once you decide on this.. then you can move forward on what you want to do with the watch and where you want to send the watch to. Just remember.. it is almost impossible for outside service people from getting original Rolex parts.

Offline corboylee

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Yes, i understand the policies and Rolex reputation but the question here is they are not meeting customer needs and clearly they are not giving me much options and the decision is not easy. This watch means alot, therefore keeping the orignal parts is important. This is the dilemma i have:

1) get the new parts, fix the water resistant but end up with a frankenstien watch (mixed old and new parts). And they are not returing the old parts to me. Even it has sentimental values

2) Keep everything intact, risk water proofing issue, fix and replace internal parts but the price is the same (rather get this done outside at a more reasonable price?). The upside is the original parts they replaced internally, and no service warranty. But the cost is 10k, but if there are reputable service center out there that can do the same, i would like to explore. I guess i need to get over the fact that Rolex means premium regardless what they do.

3) Since the bracelet is questionable, they are not willing to fix my watch UNLESS i purchase the leather strap from them. I can still accept this due to reputation and i kinda of like the idea of a leather strap look.

So yea, havent decided yet.. I might still go with them if i cant find any good watchmaker that can fix this. I researched a few in amcorp mall but hopefully someone here can recommend or give assurance so i dont have to waste time going around town.


Offline TheHobbit

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I guess you don’t have much choice but to go outside to get the serviced. I doubt Rolex will return parts to you. Additionally getting new parts from Rolex does not make your watch a Frankenstein as the parts Rolex use will be correct to your watch.

I am surprised that Rolex asked you to buy the strap just to get your watch serviced. I have sent my Rolex watch without a bracelet and have never been an issue. Perhaps the policies in RSC Malaysia is different.

Anyway I wish you all the best. Only thing I can say is if you choose to go outside, just make sure the parts they use are original Rolex, if not your watch will be a Frankenstein watch.

Offline corboylee

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Ouh.. it does change it to frankenstien. The replacement parts is not an exact match, in fact it looks completely different in terms of color to design. See the attached photo of the crown. Right is the new replacement, left is the original. I can't accept, the differences is too glaring.

Offline TheHobbit

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As said … your only option is to go outside of Rolex Service. All the best.

Offline corboylee

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Anyone that could recommend a good watchmaker to restore?

Offline LostInReality

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Time and motion in publika. You can check their FB. I service my watches there.

Offline dpkong

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You just inherited a piece and know nothing of it's history. The previous owner might have had it fixed/serviced outside before and in those days it's common to just use generic crowns or crystals for replacements. Some even slap on custom bezels and bracelets.

Servicing your watch outside is always risk of franken parts and if they don't replace anything that is broken, what is the use of getting it serviced? A watch this old may not have parts anymore and if available, might be expensive..

As you've found out, the basic charge is RM2900 and if they find more defective parts when servicing the movement, the price goes up. I'm quite sure RSC only replaces with parts for your model, not parts from another model. Strange that RSC actually sends you images to show the parts they are using..

Since you just inherited it, you're not someone who appreciates vintage pieces and have services from a real vintage specialist repair which may also not be cheap, I'd go with official RSC.


Offline corboylee

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Yeap, thus i'm seeking for alternative vintage watchmaker that is reputable/ reliable. My concern is not so much on the pricing but the values that comes along with servicing the watch with RSC. RSC Malaysia is probably reputable for servicing modern watches and thier goal is to make sure their watch works perfectly well after the service, not the vintage or sentimental value of the watch. From the interaction, they give me the impression that they pay lesser attention to these values or couldnt care much due to reputatiton and the risk they had to go through. Don't get me wrong, i complete understood where they are coming from and the reputation of rolex they are trying to protect. I've also did some homework regarding vintage rolex that went through RSC in other forums, not many turns out happy with their service.

But is quick for you to pass judgement that i don't appreciate vintage watches. So, enlighten me abit.. if lets say i do want to learn how to appreciate vintage watches and want to retain the original value of the watch. Should i just go ahead and replaced the lumes, watch faces, crown to new parts due the defects (as recommended by RSC)? Or should i go to a real vintage specialist and handle these with care at the same time making sure the watch works well?

I guess thats what i'm seeking from the start.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2022, 12:47:02 PM by corboylee »

Offline dpkong

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Personally I have no interest in vintage but basically vintage ROLEX collectors only see

1. the dial and hands match
2. case must not be over polished to lose it's shape
3. if watch originally came with bracelet, it is period correct ie. roughly around the same age as the watch

4. the crown being an item that is regularly replaced is not really a factor,
5. a movement that gets serviced will obviously have parts replaced.
6. the crystal also need not be original but if it was plexiglass, it should not have been swapped out for a sapphire.

oh.. appreciating vintage and actually being a vintage collector is not the same... people want to keep watches in original condition do it for various reasons.

Option A - if you want to keep the watch in original condition for sentimental reasons, leave it as it is even if it's not in running condition.

Option B - you want to wear it, so need to get it in running condition BUT without changing anything, then find any reliable watchmaker and ask for an opinion. A movement service without parts should probably cost less then RM700 but if there are broken parts then the question is does the watchmaker have access to genuine replacements? And the lume on the dial and hands may come off in daily use and get into the movement.

I think you could try Google watchlim from JB to ask if he would be able to help.. the 1601 is a very common watch and I don't think the "value" in vintage terms will be very high, if any at all.

These watches were very cheap along with 6694 before the ROLEX market went bonkers and they're only going up in price now because people who don't want to pay silly money for a new one is going after them.

Offline dpkong

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if you look at the bezel of your watch in the picture, the gap between the edge of the bezel and edge of the case is a bit large.. so either the bezel has been polished many times or it's not original

and the crown as shown, both types have been seen on a 1601 so not sure which should be the original or if they're the same

« Last Edit: May 05, 2022, 07:11:14 PM by dpkong »

Offline phat7

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I sent my 1957 1601 to Rolliworks in the US. They did a fantastic job and at the same time preserving it. I had them restore the original jubilee bracelet which also I’m very happy with. Hope you get yours sorted to your liking.

Offline pleasuresaurus

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I sent my 1957 1601 to Rolliworks in the US. They did a fantastic job and at the same time preserving it. I had them restore the original jubilee bracelet which also I’m very happy with. Hope you get yours sorted to your liking.

out of curiosity, r u based in the states or did u courier it over to them?

Offline phat7

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I sent The watches over via DHL. No issues. Arrived safely and work was done within 45 days. And sent back with replaced parts included.

Offline DonFlamingo

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I sent my 1957 1601 to Rolliworks in the US. They did a fantastic job and at the same time preserving it. I had them restore the original jubilee bracelet which also I’m very happy with. Hope you get yours sorted to your liking.

Wow, thanks man. My mum has a 30y/o Oyster, been looking for a legit workshop and i think i've found exactly what i need.

Cheers.