When you have an older watch it’s important to give it a clean. Same goes for something that you bought pre-owned too, as old bits of skin and dirt can be lurking inbetween bracelet links, pins, deployment clasps etc. Not nice.
So I set to with this decent looking Seiko 5 SNKL model I’ve owned for about three years. It was a daily beater when I worked in a watch shop replacing batteries, polishing jewellery and all that jazz and it’s suffered a few scratches to the crystal.
Just for fun I used metal polish and Polywatch on the hardlex to see if it made any difference and the answer is yes, up to a point, as you can see from the photos. But it is a trick of the light, the scratches are still there, just not holding so much dirt after being polished
TAKE IT APART
You can only really clean a watch by taking it apart and I have to own up here, I didn’t separate all the bracelet links. Instead I used an old hard toothbrush to scrub washing up liquid, then hot water, then a cold water rinse into the various nooks and crannies.
I removed the clasp to get at the push button actuator and clean where the pins go in, as you can see dirt under a loupe.
The case itself cleaned up very well using the metal polish, with a little bit of Polywatch to finish. I needed to poke at the dirt by the lugs with a cocktail stick and some petrol-ether to shift years of clag. Lugs just attract it, nasty.
The end result is pretty appealing and I really should buy a replacement crystal for this Seiko as it still looks good for something about 15 years old.
If you look at the before and after pics of the lug shields, you can see how muck creeps in and never gets removed unless you pop the bracelet off and clean it thoroughly. Very satisfying and just like cleaning a car, it makes you glad you bought something nice when it looks its best.
Namoki Mods have solved one of the big problems for a great many novice watch customisers and Modders. Namely, the fear of the cracking crystal in the press!
You see it isn’t easy fitting a crystal, and when you have paid decent money for a sapphire crystal, that can really spoil your day.
Often it’s a lack of experience combined with cheap crystal presses that leads to cracking. Cheaper plastic dies and poorly engineered press arm actuators tend to move slightly under pressure, or can be a micron or three out of alignment – and that causes the crystal to crack.
Always buy expensive – the best you can afford – tools if you are going to attempt to fix, or customise watches. It just makes the job harder using cheap stuff, and confession time, I’ve been there and seen the damaged casebacks when £10 case openers slipped from their tabs or the clamp holding the watch didn’t have four nicely chamfered tabs gripping the movement.
So Namoki now has a 38mm case, 3pm crown position, that comes complete with a crystal fitted. Blue or clear AR coating options too.
We think that’s the right way to go for your first few MOD watch projects, as it lets you tackle jobs like say fitting the hands and dial properly in your time. And you will need time to fit hands correctly, it’s difficult even with the right tools. Don’t forget the dial protector.
Prices start at $128 which includes a sterile crown and a chapter ring pre-fitted too. Great way to rehouse a reliable Seiko or Swiss movement that’s languishing inside a damaged case, where the plating has long since flaked off.
It’s well known that fakers are out there making replicas of prestige watches. Rolex is the most popular, followed closely by Cartier, Patek Phillipe, Audemars and then lesser makes like Breitling and TAG. Really sad characters sometimes fake Michael Kors watches, such is the depth of their despair. So how do you spot a fake Patek Phillipe and why aren’t your local Trading Standards even bothered to go and take them off the market?
It is a baffling mystery, revealed today as I spotted a `Patek Marriage watch’ on Facebook, complete with what appeared to be a Patek Phillipe watch box with it. Now a marriage watch is way of re-casing an old pocket watch movement from the 1880-1930 era in a modern case. Nothing wrong with that and this heap of rubbish may have contained a genuine Patek ladies pocket watch movement – although I doubt it. But the photo of the box revealed it as a fake immediately. Just compare the real Patek typeface with the fake script in the pics below.
The narrow letters, the `bleed’ into the material, and the wrong colour of ink all give it away as a fake – not a decent one at that.
Then there’s the rubbish steel case, the poor finish on the lugs, crown and folding clasp. It’s a cheap watch.
So I reported it to my local Trading Standards, thinking they might visit the shop, or at least contact the online retailer and examine this so-called Patek. No..of course not! Too busy and anyway all they were bothered about was that the Patek trademark was being used correctly on a watch box, not a T-shirt, some naff trainers or plastic sunglasses.
So our top tip when looking at a bargain Swiss watch online is to examine the box and paperwork very closely. Ideally, you want to see a full set of paperwork and cards with prestige watches. But they can be lost over 30 years of course. If there’s a box, does the logo look correct, arrow straight letters, right font etc? Then if there are serial numbers, or little holograms download the images put them into Google Images to do a match.
You see, faking a dial with Patek Phillipe, Geneve, on it is relatively easy with modern CAD/3D print technology, but faking all the packaging is not as easy. That’s because accurately reproducing the subtle variance in pantones, typography, logoscripts, plus materials used in wooden, or heavy ply card/paper boxes, plus plastic hologrammed card inserts etc all requires a team of outsourced factories. You can’t get one Leonardo level genius to fake it all. Obviously involving other respectable packaging and printing companies in your fake watch scam can be risky, so that’s why the box and paperwork is often the big giveaway with replica Swiss watches. Hope that helps you avoid buying dreadful fakes like this Patek.
If you do get stung, don’t expect much help from Trading Standards, because with public sector enforcement being as weak as this, the watch fakers of the web are having it large.
Thought I would offer some tips on bracelets and the typical problems that tend to crop up, let’s start with sizing issues, which often means removing/adding a link. On some watches that can be fairly easy to do, especially if the links are identical, not tapered so that the ones near the clasp get gradually narrower.
So you need a special link pin pusher tool, which you can get online for about a tenner. It’s good to have a vice, small hammer and a selection of pin-pusher tools so you can tap out some bracelet pins. Before you start look closely through a magnifying glass at the ends of the pins – are they already slotted for a screwdriver blade at one end? Good, don’t hit the pin!
Then they probably have tiny end caps on, which screw out. Don’t lose them, they are extremely small. They are often pins that only go in one way, wheras a cheaper watch might have pins that tap in from either end.
Some Swiss brands like to put pins inside little sleeves that sit inside the central link section. Almost like roller-bearing crankshafts in cars and motorbike engines. You often see this on two-tone or Jubilee type bracelets. As you remove the pin the insert sleeve will drop out – be ready to catch it on your bench or table. These are very difficult to get back in properly but you must fit them, or the pin will fall out when the watch is worn.
Many watches have little arrows next to the four-eight link pins that come out, indicating that they can only be removed in the direction of the arrow. Reverse that rocess when re-fitting the pins. Look closely and you will see one end is slightly bigger than the other and this is why they are a `one way’ fitment.
Adjusting the clasp on watch bracelets can also demand a delicate touch. One type of clasp that goives trouble is the type where a male end pin presses into a hole, and there is a spring loaded actuator mechanism, normally two tiny wings on the clasp, which act as a release.
Dirt can get inside and jam the lever that should grab the pin. Try watch movement cleaner, or a wash in warm water to get the dirt out. Be wary of using too much force in trying the get the gripping lever to slide across, it will need careful manipulation – very easy to damage it.
Some gents watches have a clasp that folds across, then a band goes over. Often the sides of this clasp have two or three holes where the end link can be moved along, thus making the bracelet a fraction smaller. Good in winter when your wrist will be samller in cold weather. You have to prise out one end of the pin in the end link, move it along the clasp to the next hole, then do the same at the other end. Be careful the pin doesn’t ping out as they are spring-loaded. A tiny screwdiver or pin pusher will help put pressure on the end of the pin, or a cocktail stick maybe.
Hope these tips help you, always take your time and buy decent tools.
I’ve been messing with pocket watches for about 6 years now and managed to fix a few. Some defeat me and there’s a simple reason; old age. The watch that is, not me.
You see pocket watches built back in the 1880-1920 period are genuine antiques and frankly, many of them were not built to last over a century. Owners skimp on servicing, the cases are hacked open with kitchen knives and cruder tools and dust, skin and hair sneaks in too. That often results in metal touching metal and the inevitable grinding paste effect that anyone who has stripped a BSA Bantam engine will be familiar with.
I digress. Here are some tips for those who have a vintage Waltham, Elgin, Thomas Russell, Omega or Lancashire Pocket Watch, and wish to keep it going.
Don’t adjust the timekeeping using the A/R lever. It’s tempting to press a screwdriver in and waggle it this way or that to try and compensate for poor running. But the problem is unlilely to be that simple and there is a danger of pulling the hairspring. Bang goes the timekeeping completely and most likely, the watch will stop after a few seconds of running.
Don’t oil or lubricate it, unless you have practised on other watches and use the correct tools and watch oil. Don’t drip lighter fluid in there either. It might help a sticky balance assembly, but it’s no substitute for a proper service.
Try not to wind the watch fully. You’re putting a 100% load on something that might not have been replaced since WW2, which was the last time the mainspring was replaced. It’s possible that it’s still using the original mainspring. So wind it ten turns, maybe eight – be kind to the old girl. When you feel a fair bit of resistance, then stop winding.
Don’t set the correct time by winding the hands backwards. It is just more load on ageing parts. Always advance the hands to set the time.
Does it have a winding key? Then there’s a fusee chain inside, wich if you imagine a mini bicycle chain, wrapped around a walnut whip, gives you a good idea of how it works. It is very delicate and most likely has stretched over 50-100 years. There are no factories in China making fusee chains for British or American pocket watches from the 1890s, so take care when winding it.
Top winders are more durable, as this is late Victorian tech, so made with more precision as machine tool manufacturing advanced. Any excess clicking, resistance or `crunching’ is a bad sign. Don’t wind it, don’t try to fix it with WD40.
If your old Waltham runs for 15-18 hours it’s doing well. Don’t expect it to run for a full day, or kep the right time. Many lost 1-2mins a day when they were new, so losing 5 mins a century later is acceptable. Be kind when you wind!
If you have a pocket watch problem then email me at; email@example.com and maybe I can help. Or it may need the A Team. Estimates and sympathy are free!
The Omega Constellation is one of the most popular ladies watch models out there. Nice combination of diamonds on the dial, two-tone bracelet and longevity make this a winner. Ladies tend to shun automatic or mechanical watches in general, unless of course they are made by Cartier or Rolex. But for around £1000-£1500 you can get a prestige pre-owned, Omega Manhattan quartz, with box and papers etc. It’s all good, as a new one is about £4500.
But after a few years it may need some TLC and a new battery and this can come as a shock to many ladies used to paying £12 at Timpsons on their Michael Kors. Many Omega dealers will ask about £60-£90 for a battery change and it gets sent away to a service centre, often for three to six weeks, to accomplish this fairly simple task;. There is a better way, get an independent watch fettler on the job – like me.
First I remove any excess dirt from around the caseback, this is because when I prise it open some may fall inside and get into the movement. Once that’s done, open using a special caseknife. This Omega features a battery held in place by a very thin metal strip and great care is needed when removing it. You have to turn the tiny screw to loosen it, then push it across – without causing damage.
Use tweezers to remove the old battery, bin it, then screw in the retaining nut again, as you don’t want to lose it. Now inspect and clean up the movement if needed. Obviously you need a magnifying glass or head loupe to see tiny gragments of dust or dirt in there. I use an air puffer as well.
This Omega takes a 321 sized battery and I always use Swiss ones, as it’s a false economy using other makes.
Very careful when fitting the new battery not to touch the copper coil near the battery holder. Quartz movements are quite delicate so tweezers and a steady hand is required. Once the thin retaining strip is in place then the nut just needs a turn and a half to secure it in position. Another go with the air puffer and use the special tool to press the caseback on again.
Omegas have a thin silicone seal on the back and this needs inspection for damage – and dirt – before refitting. It’s a tight fit, so again, extra care needed not to damage this sealing ring, as genuine Omega parts are expensive.
Now we begin to clean the bracelet. This one has gold plated sections on the linkage pins and the bezel, so attacking it with a power tool and a selection of polishing mops isn’t a good idea. The plating on modern Swiss watches is generally very thin, say 10 microns, compared to 40 microns 30 years ago. So it doesn’t take much speed or pressure to take the plating off.
I use cocktail stick, with a soft cloth wrapped around the end and dipped in a cleaning solution, to get into those tricky areas, like the sliding clasp mechanism. On this watch there was a build-up of hair and skin in there, plus gunk stuck to the quick release mechanism. Nasty. It takes time, about an hour, to deal with sticky skin based residue, then add some polish as well. But it’s well worth it.
Check out the before and after pics on the clasp.
Final task is using Polywatch on the crystal and bezel area. I tend to use one cloth to apply, use a cross-hatch pattern and then circular motions on watch crytsals, or `the glass’ as some call them.
I’ve experimented in the past using a Dremel and soft mops, plus jewellers rouge, but the heat transfer on mineral or sapphire crystal means that you have just a few seconds before some watches are hot to the touch. That’s bad news. Even worse, you can crack the crystal as the heat makes it try to expand beyond the bezel. That’s my feeling anyway, slow and steady is best.
All done and a great looking watch, ready to wear.
If you have a watch problem, or you’re a trader looking for help with trickier jobs in your jewellers or ebay shop, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is one tweak that almost any watch enthusiast can do which adds value, and enjoyment, to their vintage Swiss watch; get rid of scratched or damaged crystals and fit a new one. It improves the appearance instantly and you’re learning stuff that saves a long wait at most UK jewellers or independent watch repair workshops.
It is relatively easy to do this job – even a novice can do it in 30 mins – although you will need the correct tools, as well as some expertise. I suggest you start with a bit of practice on some old scrap watches that don’t work before graduating to more precious family heirlooms.
If you want to learn watch repairs then I strongly suggest you invest in at least £300 worth of tools and equipment. You can’t do this work with a £5 mini-screwdriver set from a car boot, a case knife from Guandong and some WD40.
So here is what you need;
Workbench or table, good lighting, dust-free white paper or board to place things on.
Bergeon or similar crystal lift, plus base. These cost about £80-£90 on ebay.
Fine tweezers and cocktail sticks for teasing dirt out of the bezel.
Air blower or soft artists type brush
Head loupe or magnifying glass.
Replacement crystals – preferably high-dome acrylic, as these are easy to fit and you can buy job lots on ebay.
Polywatch or similar cleaning product, plus soft jewellers cloth
Here’s how I did this Audax earlier, which had an incorrect crystal glued into position by some heathen, who also managed to trap dust, glue residue and a red cotton thread fragment in there.
Check the lift has gripped the edge of the crystal evenly, so it won’t slip off – then gently lift it away.
Use the blower and brush to clean the dial – DO NOT use solvents to clean the dial, the paint will come off.
Place the new crystal on the old one, do the rims match exactly? Use a micrometer to check your measurements ideally, but if not gently place the new one on the watch and feel how well it sits there. Is it a near perfect, but slightly too large fit? Good.
Place your new crystal onto the sliding metal base plate and lock it securely, then ease the claws of the crystal lift onto the end of the dome, where it meets the rim. Screw in a little bit to compress the crystal – not too much. Check it sits evenly all the way around.
Use the blower to clean the inside of the new crystal and the watch dial face again – you don’t want to lock in hairs or dust.
Press the new one down firmly onto the bezel. It should pop in, overcoming resistance – you should feel this. Unscrew the lift claws.
Check the new crystal doesn’t rotate or fall out if the watch is turned upside down.
Clean it with Polywatch and a soft jewellers cloth.
That’s it, job done. Looks a whole lot better – now I can read the Swiss Made text at 6 o’clock, where previously a big dollop of glue obscured the view.
The world of watches and motor sport go hand in racing glove. You only have to look at the auction prices being realised for watches owned by movie star drivers like Paul Newman or Steve McQueen at the stratospheric end. But even lower down the millionaire collector market, 60s motorcycle champion Mike Hailwood’s Heuer Carrera Chronograph made £56,000 at auction last year.
But let’s assume you can’t afford a racing driver or bike racer’s original watch. You mightr be tempted by a limited edition motor themed wristwatch, especially one that is produced in association with your fave car manufacturer. If you own a BMW, Merc, Alfa, Bentley, Audi or Maserati then why not buy the factory-approved watch?
Well, the short answer is that some of them are fashion statements, not great watches. If you really want long term investment value, then weigh up all the pros and cons.
The Breitling Bentley is a good example of how an automotive branding exercise adds very little in terms of collector appeal. Bentley commissioned Breitling back in 2002 to create an onboard clock that would enhance the new GT model. Since then there have Bentley themed watches every year, but some enthusists feel the Breitling Bentleys don’t really offer a great deal of interest, given that many have the ETA 2892 movement – or modded variants – inside the cases. I mean, you could just buy a Navitimer right?
The only exceptions I would say are limited edition Bentley models, like the 2019 Premier B01 model pictured, which has a bit of genuine old Bentley Blower dasboard as the dial plate. These MIGHT fetch considerably more money in the future, plus they have the in-house B01 movement inside, so arguably a superior timepiece than a humble ETA powered Bentley watch.
IMHO some motor company watches are very decent value. The Mercedes automatic chronograph in black PVD, featuring a Valjoux 7750 movement costs £1299, which is cheap compared to other Valjoux powered watches like the TAG Monaco, (£4250 approx new) although the Monaco looks fantastic set against the rather utilitarian Merc watch.
The downside with the Mercedes, like any branded watch, is that when it comes to selling it on, your potential market is generally limited to Mercedes owners, or wannabe owners. But still, you should be able to get £500-£700 for any modern era Valjoux automatic with box and papers, even from Cash Converters. In the great scheme of things that isn’t huge depreciation for say 5-10 years of ownership and enjoyment.
A nice alternative to the handsome Gulf Racing stled TAG Monaco, is the Baume & Mercier Clifton, Shelby Cobra edition. OK, it just has an ETA Valjoux 7750 inside and it costs £6500, but it is never going to sell in volume and the stunning looks should attract collectors for decades to come, especially when V8 cars are banned and the Cobra becomes a mythical museum piece.
For me, it is the Peter Brock inspirfed design details, like the Cobra shaped second hand, and the wheel shaped see-through caseback, that set the special edition model apart. It sums up what makes all petrrolheads tick; obsessive attention to originality and detail, improving performance and looks by customising something. Getting envious looks down the Ace Cafe or the local hang-out.
In the end, buy a Swiss watch because you love the way it looks on the wrist, not just the resale value. Otherwise you’re just another trader.
Is it worth servicing older watches made by the lesser known Swiss brands? That is a question that every jeweller, watch trader and antique dealer should ask themselves, because generally the answer is a firm No. Given that a decent watchmaker will charge about £150 as a minimum for a stripdown of a mechanical movement, plus cleaning, oiling and re-assembly then you’re looking at spending three times the resale value of an old Montine, Regency, Lucerne, Hudson, Precimax, Superoma etc.
So what is the solution when you buy a 60s/70s watch on ebay, Gumtree or at a watch fair and then find it starts/stops, or simply runs for a few seconds and then freezes? Well quite often all that watch needs is a basic clean, bit of an overnight soak for the movement perhaps and some TLC with an oiler to get it running again. It may not run a full 30 hours and keep time to within 1 minute, but you will have a running watch to wear and enjoy. Or sell on/swap if you’re a budget level collector.
OK then, here’s a little run through the typical problems with this non-ticking, fully wound-up, Regency watch, and how I got it running again;
First off, remove the dreadful, dirt-encrusted expander bracelet and bin it. Don’t think you can pick the skin and filth out from the links, or toothbrush it. Just not worth it. Buy a basic leather strap from ebay for £5 instead.
Two, remove most of the dirt around the caseback before opening the case. You don’t want more crud falling in. Note that there is hair around the winding crown and stem by the way.
Depress the release button and carefully remove the stem. Get this in a chemical bath to loosen the decades of grime.
Having taken some movement photos, I image matched the pics on google to find out which movement with the ETA1080 being the most similar looking. Good news. Next step, use the crystal grabber to remove the scratched glass, then tease off the hands using the correct tools and the dial protector.
Store the hands carefully in a plastic tray, and add the two movement holding screws in another compartment. Prise off the bezel and pop the movement forward like a pocket watch. This was a difficult job, as dirt had seized the bezel on tight. I used some ether and a brush to loosen it – protecting the dial from the excess ether by the way – then dribbled some watch oil onto a super thin screwdriver to work my way into the tiny gap.
Next remove the balance cock and hairspring, and put this delicate part in a separate chemical bath away from the main movement. Why you ask? The reason I do that is my watch repair tutor, Ernie, told me years ago that when you bathe the entire movement bits of crud go all over the show and some can stick to the hairspring. If the hairspring’s coils stick together then there’s a good chance the watch will not run properly, so it is worth cleaning it separately.
Be ultra careful with the hairspring, so easy to twist or break it free from the screw-in pin, and while the balance bridge is out clean the bottom jewel with a blower, once it has had a nice overnight soak in the bath.
Now add a tiny smidge of oil to the pallet stones, and to the end jewel on the base plate before putting the balance back in. If you can reach in to place a little oil between the hour wheel and the back of the dial, plus lube any exposed, non jewel staffs, then it is worth doing. Don’t go mad with oil, less is more.
Use the blower gently on the hairspring before re-assembly. Inspect all the parts and the movement carefully with your magnifying glass or loupe. Take your time, it is easy to damage these parts and as this is where the watch has the LEAST power, and so it is where it requires the most attention to ensure all is clean, dust-free, lightly lubed and in perfect symmetry.
Clean the stem and crown and place a dab of oil on the stem, before sliding that back in. Now check the movement winds before doing anything else. Does the hairspring move side-to-side with a nice beat? If there’s a problem, it’s time to strip it right down, or bin the watch in the parts drawer. Assuming all feels fine, remove the stem again, put the movement back in the watch case and screw down the two retaining screws. Clamp the movement securely while you do all this.
OK, refit the bezel, now that it’s been cleaned up. Should press on, you may need a polybag and a caseback press to align it and press it on properly. Take your time to make sure all is 100% straight before screwing down the caseback press and applying pressure. The polythene bag protects the dial a bit if the thing slips. Sometimes.
Now you can fit the hands again. Generally the hour hand needs the most pressure, but you’ll know everything is sitting well if the second hand goes on the cannon pinion nicely. Turn the movement upside down to make sure the hands stay on OK. If not, keep trying. Then test the hands clear each other by pulling the crown out and setting the time.
Use the blower on the dial, maybe a soft brush to get rid of dust. Don’t try to clean the dial using any solvents. It will strip the paint. Replace the caseback and measure your old crystal. This Regency had a 308 fitted and I didn’t have one in my spares stock, but I used extra pressure on a 320 and made it fit on. Occasionally that causes a crack and goodbye crystal, but this Regency, like many 60s/70s watches has shallow bezel, so an oversized crystal stays in under extra tension. I went for a high dome too – may as well with low value watches. Just my preference.
Now clean the holes in the lugs with a cocktail stick, then fit new pins plus a strap. Voila, you have a half decent vintage watch, which when fully wound, ran for 26 hours on the bench. Result. On the down side, this all took about two hours of work, plus overnight chemical baths. It is a fair bit of work for something that still might NOT cure all the ills within a 50 year old watch, but altogether more affordable.
So, total parts budget? £5 strap and a £1 crystal – only because I bought a joblot of 50 crystals for £45 a few years back. Labour costs? Well if I was charging a trade price that would be £30 for 2 hours. That’s still a total of £36, which is roughly the resale value of the watch at an antique fair, so like many things classic and vintage, you do this work for love, not money!
In my trade I get to see plenty of watches, including a few Rolex models, arguably the most faked watch brand in the world. Here are some typical differences between the real deal and a very nice replica.
Don’t start by examining the dial because dials are easy to manufacture by comparison to expensive bracelets. The metal should feel ultra smooth, polished and flawless – no rough edges anywhere. The crown should feel solid, beautifully finished too.
Feel your way around the links; are they loose, do any pins fail to sit totally flush in the links? How does the Rolex swirl look in the folding clasp? Dead straight and evenly etched, or just a bit off somehow?
Older Rolex models from about 16-17 years ago or prior to that weren’t assembled with Uber precision as regards bracelet links, plus you have two decades or more of owner wear. So expect sideways ‘play’ on 1990s Rolex watch links. Modern models are taut, even, incredibly flush fitting by comparison.
Test the clasp, put it on. Does the clasp click shut perfectly? On gold bracelets it’s worth looking closely with a loupe because you may see gold plating or rolled gold wearing off.
Dial and Crystal
On more recent Rolex models the sapphire crystal has the crown emblem etched in, very faint, but visible with a loupe. Some fakes have this laser printed on as well, so be careful, plus older Rolex watches pre 2001 don’t have the crown crystal.
Now check the dial, assuming the bracelet has passed the feel n shut test of course. Shake the watch gently a few times and the automatic movement should begin to move the second hand. Don’t assume a smooth second hand sweep indicates a genuine Rolex because a Miyota auto inside an Accurist looks just as smooth frankly.
Look closely at the numbers or baton markers on the dial. Are the edges crisp, clean, symmetrical? If there’s a magnification window over the date is that 100 percent true and square?
Use the loupe to read the script on the dial, all of it. You’re searching for a thing typographers used to call ‘bleed’ in the days of hot metal printing, a slightly fuzzy edge to a letter for example.
Run your fingertip over the bezel around the dial and if it’s a dive watch click it around gently. Listen, I mean really listen; gauge the slickness, the precision – Rolex don’t let anything out that isn’t close to perfect in its operation.
Ditto winding crown, although it’s fair to say owners can cause problems with screw down crowns and strip the thread.
Finally, get a professional to open the case and check the movement number. Plus check it’s working perfectly: steady beat, adjusted correctly, no swapped parts – it can happen.
There’s no substitute for this. No assuming that the genuine case and bracelet has the correct Calibre movement. People lie, owners wreck a movement and then get a watchmaker to do a swap, especially on older Rolexes, so always get a look inside before spending thousands.
Box and Paperwork
Easier to fake than the watch. Typical flaws include an incorrect numeral 1 on the warranty cards, flimsy fake tags or spelling/grammar errors within the owners manual.
You should be able to detect a fake from the quality of the bracelet, the dial in detail, plus the winding action, clasp closure etc. Then you had the watch opened by a watchmaker right? But if you aren’t quite sure about the watch then a little giveaway in the paperwork can be the prompt you need to walk away from the deal.