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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Good morning, F11!

My mom just arrived to visit me and she has been sporting my dad’s very first Rolex, a 1970 datejust with fluted bezel - as this size no longer appeals to him. I’ve known about this watch for quite some time but I’ve known it as a my dad’s old watch with a loose jubilee bracelet. To my surprise this time, as my interest in vintage watches has increased, it was one of the first things that I noticed and spoke to my mom about. it looked pristine. Very very beautiful watch.

IMG_6691.JPG

Here is a macro shot that I took with my phone and a loupe. She said she took it to Rolex Service Center in Hong Kong late last year, and to my knowledge when you take old watches to RSC, they polish and clean it like so. She also mentioned they gave her a new jubilee bracelet.

While the datejust is a very very common model and isn’t by any means a huge vintage “collectible” model (relative to something like the vintage Daytona or vintage subs) my question is, to what extent did getting it serviced (and thus polished, cleaned, etc the way RSC defines a full service) diminish the value of the watch?

I’m also keen on knowing the specific reference number if anyone is knowledgeable on this!

Edit: all lume plots are still there, but they are white instead of an aged color. I have sadly never looked into the watch before to see whether the lume plots have aged in the first place, but given the pearly “white” color of the plots, it looks like RSC replaced them? I believe a 36mm size, since it sits nicely on my wrist without looking too big like a 40mm does.


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Ref 1601 I guess. Should probably say T SWISS T at the bottom, so it's probably had a dial swap with a superluminova replacement. Most likely the hands are also service replacements. Are they luminous? Is the dial pie-pan or flat?

The watch has little collectible value given all of the service parts, but it's still quite valuable as a DJ. There are a few special DJ dials that collectors prize (e.g. sigma dials), but other than those, there isn't a huge collectible premium for DJs the way there is for the sport models. If I were going to throw out a really rough number, maybe 20% of the value was lost. If it were a 5513 Submariner, this sort of comprehensive parts replacement (e.g. dial/hands/bezel) would have lost 2/3 of the value.

Of course, if DJs become increasingly collectible in the future, then people may really regret these replacements.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ref 1601 I guess. Should probably say T SWISS T at the bottom, so it's probably had a dial swap with a superluminova replacement. Most likely the hands are also service replacements. Are they luminous? Is the dial pie-pan or flat?

The watch has little collectible value given all of the service parts, but it's still quite valuable as a DJ. There are a few special DJ dials that collectors prize (e.g. sigma dials), but other than those, there isn't a huge collectible premium for DJs the way there is for the sport models. If I were going to throw out a really rough number, maybe 20% of the value was lost. If it were a 5513 Submariner, this sort of comprehensive parts replacement (e.g. dial/hands/bezel) would have lost 2/3 of the value.

Of course, if DJs become increasingly collectible in the future, then people may really regret these replacements.
1601 looks to be correct! Thank you!! Yes, the hands have been replaced and so has the dial. The dial is flat, and it has a sunburst grey-ish color. Here are some more pics in sunlight. Don’t mind the incorrect date...

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Spot on the DJ value loss (or lack of it). That makes sense, and I doubt it would be as collectible as the sports models. With the OP DJ being Rolex’s flagship best seller, there are too many out there churned our year after year for it to be a collectible. Granted I don’t think I would ever sell anyway, especially since it’s my father’s first Rolex. I understand that there’s not much to cry over (in terms of value lost) but as a vintage enthusiast, some aged lume would have been really nice... it is, after all, almost a 50 year old watch. Unfortunately I started a little too late in vintage watch collections before my parents got this specific DJ in our family serviced. Oh, well!


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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I like the pie-pan dials, that's the main thing I would miss from that model. Here is my 1603 from the same era.
I took a closer pic in daylight with the loupe and phone. It has a pie pan dial after all.

IMG_6695.JPG

Dan, looks like we have the exact same watch - yours of course being in its all original state.


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The only difference is the type of bezel. Mine is steel "engine-turned" (ref 1603) and yours is white gold fluted (ref 1601). Of course, one can always swap bezels out, although then it would be a franken and the case-back reference wouldn't be consistent with the type of bezel. Yours is on a jubilee bracelet, which is really more authentic, but I am usually in the mood for the oyster. I think that the combination of oyster bracelet and engine-turned bezel makes the watch a little less dressy and blingy.

It's great that Rolex uses pie-pan style service dials for these older watches. The next generation after our watches (16000 series) had flat dials, so I assumed that Rolex just used flat service dials in the older models as well.
 

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I guess the dial and hands must have been replaced circa 1999/2000, as the current service dials for Datejusts differ from the original ones considerably, to the extent where having a watch serviced by Rolex themselves is pure madness. Chrono24 is littered with specimens with contemporary service dials, compared to which this service dial is really one of the better service dials out there.
Not that it wasn't madness for the last twenty years or so, as Rolex has the unfortunate proclivity for having the customers' wishes and instructions deeply up theirs, and thus for devastating the watches with dremels or whatnot, and swapping out just about everything, without returning the original parts to the owner of the watch. Obviously, that's assuming that they won't refuse to service a vintage piece, which is what they usually do. Which is for the better, really, as then the watch owner will go looking for an independent watchmaker, rather than let the troglodytes with dremels and tons of incorrect replacement parts do the job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The only difference is the type of bezel. Mine is steel "engine-turned" (ref 1603) and yours is white gold fluted (ref 1601). Of course, one can always swap bezels out, although then it would be a franken and the case-back reference wouldn't be consistent with the type of bezel. Yours is on a jubilee bracelet, which is really more authentic, but I am usually in the mood for the oyster. I think that the combination of oyster bracelet and engine-turned bezel makes the watch a little less dressy and blingy.

It's great that Rolex uses pie-pan style service dials for these older watches. The next generation after our watches (16000 series) had flat dials, so I assumed that Rolex just used flat service dials in the older models as well.
Knowing the little details and finding the differences in our two watches.. I'm completely enthralled! :)

I guess the dial and hands must have been replaced circa 1999/2000, as the current service dials for Datejusts differ from the original ones considerably, to the extent where having a watch serviced by Rolex themselves is pure madness. Chrono24 is littered with specimens with contemporary service dials, compared to which this service dial is really one of the better service dials out there.
Not that it wasn't madness for the last twenty years or so, as Rolex has the unfortunate proclivity for having the customers' wishes and instructions deeply up theirs, and thus for devastating the watches with dremels or whatnot, and swapping out just about everything, without returning the original parts to the owner of the watch. Obviously, that's assuming that they won't refuse to service a vintage piece, which is what they usually do. Which is for the better, really, as then the watch owner will go looking for an independent watchmaker, rather than let the troglodytes with dremels and tons of incorrect replacement parts do the job.
It was taken to service last year. Perhaps some places have more stock than most? This was done in Hong Kong. But for a brand like Rolex I would imagine they would have to keep producing the correct and appropriate age dials (albeit "safer" ones - ie non-Radium; non-Tritium) and not replace dials based on what's just available. I don't understand why a brand like Rolex would allow original watches to just be "frankenstein'd" to customer's request, especially at a service center.

Unfortunately, my parents are unaware of such things as value retention. I guess they just knew it was time to have the watch serviced after a long time (40+ years!) and went by the recommendations of RSC. Luckily, they had retained the pie-pan dial (I would not have known, if it were not for this thread. Thank you, Dan). If I had known more about vintage watches then, I would have stopped them. It is the first to get with dial and hands replaced, and after this one, I have told them not to ever have their other collection have the dial and hands replaced.
 

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Knowing the little details and finding the differences in our two watches.. I'm completely enthralled! :)



It was taken to service last year. Perhaps some places have more stock than most? This was done in Hong Kong. But for a brand like Rolex I would imagine they would have to keep producing the correct and appropriate age dials (albeit "safer" ones - ie non-Radium; non-Tritium) and not replace dials based on what's just available. I don't understand why a brand like Rolex would allow original watches to just be "frankenstein'd" to customer's request, especially at a service center.

Unfortunately, my parents are unaware of such things as value retention. I guess they just knew it was time to have the watch serviced after a long time (40+ years!) and went by the recommendations of RSC. Luckily, they had retained the pie-pan dial (I would not have known, if it were not for this thread. Thank you, Dan). If I had known more about vintage watches then, I would have stopped them. It is the first to get with dial and hands replaced, and after this one, I have told them not to ever have their other collection have the dial and hands replaced.
Quite likely they had a big stash of the more decent sort of replacement dials. I've seen 1601s and 1603s equipped with flat dials with - aaaaarghhhhh!!! - the "railroad" minute track with tiny Roman numerals by the indexes, so I guess that you can consider yourself lucky.
They don't throw in all the replacement parts at customer's request. Just like most service centres, the Rolex ones do that of their own accord, ignoring the customer's request NOT to do that. Factory service doesn't look from the perspective of collectors - if there are scratches, they polish them out, a patinated dial is a dirty one and needs to be replaced, nicely agee lume they see as non-functioning lume that needs replacing. Obviously, that's a rather appalling point of view, which is exactly why I always discourage having a watch serviced by the manufacturer.
That said, it's most likely that they would just ignore you if you'd have told them not to replace the dial and hands.
Omega, Longines, Zenith - they do exactly the same thing. Omega factory service was and is known for complete and utter butcher jobs, like repainting (and thus irreversibly destroying) patinated dials if a replacement was not in stock, or acts of vandalism like throwing a contemporary Speedmaster Pro dial, handset and DNN bezel on a CK 2998.
 
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But for a brand like Rolex I would imagine they would have to keep producing the correct and appropriate age dials (albeit "safer" ones - ie non-Radium; non-Tritium) and not replace dials based on what's just available.
Not exactly. In fact, very often they refuse to service older watches. They say that they don't have the parts to bring the watch back to Rolex standards and simply decline. As has been mentioned above and many times before on this forum, servicing and restoring vintage watches (and catering to vintage collectors) is really not part of the business model of most manufacturers. They would prefer for us to trade them in and buy new watches. The problem is that compared to many industries where "planned obsolescence" is the norm, they made their product too well. :)

One more thing they will change is the case-back, if they determine that the watch will not pass a pressure test. So you will often find Rolex watches from the 60s and early 70s, where the case-back should be stamped with the production date, but instead with a later generic service case-back. As @mkws mentioned, they will do this without asking. "Just part of the standard service, sir. You're welcome!"
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quite likely they had a big stash of the more decent sort of replacement dials. I've seen 1601s and 1603s equipped with flat dials with - aaaaarghhhhh!!! - the "railroad" minute track with tiny Roman numerals by the indexes, so I guess that you can consider yourself lucky.
They don't throw in all the replacement parts at customer's request. Just like most service centres, the Rolex ones do that of their own accord, ignoring the customer's request NOT to do that. Factory service doesn't look from the perspective of collectors - if there are scratches, they polish them out, a patinated dial is a dirty one and needs to be replaced, nicely agee lume they see as non-functioning lume that needs replacing. Obviously, that's a rather appalling point of view, which is exactly why I always discourage having a watch serviced by the manufacturer.
That said, it's most likely that they would just ignore you if you'd have told them not to replace the dial and hands.
Excellent comparison on RSC vs. vintage collectors perspectives. I guess I am most certainly lucky to have kept the original dial with modern lume! That is good to know, but surely the mistake of taking vintage pieces serviced at RSC will never happen again on my end thanks to you gents. I've passed the lecture on to my parents as well.

Omega, Longines, Zenith - they do exactly the same thing. Omega factory service was and is known for complete and utter butcher jobs, like repainting (and thus irreversibly destroying) patinated dials if a replacement was not in stock, or acts of vandalism like throwing a contemporary Speedmaster Pro dial, handset and DNN bezel on a CK 2998.
I can't believe this is allowed to happen!

Not exactly. In fact, very often they refuse to service older watches. They say that they don't have the parts to bring the watch back to Rolex standards and simply decline. As has been mentioned above and many times before on this forum, servicing and restoring vintage watches (and catering to vintage collectors) is really not part of the business model of most manufacturers. They would prefer for us to trade them in and buy new watches. The problem is that compared to many industries where "planned obsolescence" is the norm, they made their product too well. :)

One more thing they will change is the case-back, if they determine that the watch will not pass a pressure test. So you will often find Rolex watches from the 60s and early 70s, where the case-back should be stamped with the production date, but instead with a later generic service case-back. As @mkws mentioned, they will do this without asking. "Just part of the standard service, sir. You're welcome!"
Argh, now you've brought about another curious matter...! I'll have to look for the receipt to see exactly what was done - although I don't think they list it as such, but I agree that pressure test is part and parcel to the factory service. To my mom's knowledge they paid for "service in watch movement, cleaning, and a new bracelet" Here's hoping the old caseback did pass pressure test, and the service center just cleaned it!

With the price she quoted me, the service had cost 100% of what the watch was in value of 1601s, I believe. At least I will have the watch in good function for years to come. Maybe another 50 years...
 

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I can't believe this is allowed to happen!
The Speedmaster101 website has a good example of how Omega has vandalised a CK 2998-3.
Here's how a 2998-3 should look:
1-17762271.jpg

And here's the act of vandalism committed by the Omega service centre in Bienne:
2998-3-177622711.jpg
Note that they didn't stop on swapping out all the good stuff, they have also overpolished the case rather badly.


With the price she quoted me, the service had cost 100% of what the watch was in value of 1601s, I believe. At least I will have the watch in good function for years to come. Maybe another 50 years...
Well, the movement will have to be serviced again in 5-6 years, 7 tops. Just don't let the RSC anywhere near it ;)
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The Speedmaster101 website has a good example of how Omega has vandalised a CK 2998-3.
Here's how a 2998-3 should look:

And here's the act of vandalism committed by the Omega service centre in Bienne:

Note that they didn't stop on swapping out all the good stuff, they have also overpolished the case rather badly.
Yikes! Let me try and give Omega service center the benefit of the doubt. I’m HOPING they informed the customer that they would be butchering the 2998-3 like that, and at least gave them the breakdown. But since you call it an act of vandalism I’m going to also assume the worst...

Well, the movement will have to be serviced again in 5-6 years, 7 tops. Just don't let the RSC anywhere near it ;)

Ha, you know it! Lesson learned!


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The Speedmaster101 website has a good example of how Omega has vandalised a CK 2998-3.
Here's how a 2998-3 should look:
View attachment 13122033

And here's the act of vandalism committed by the Omega service centre in Bienne:
View attachment 13122041
Note that they didn't stop on swapping out all the good stuff, they have also overpolished the case rather badly.



Well, the movement will have to be serviced again in 5-6 years, 7 tops. Just don't let the RSC anywhere near it ;)
I warned many many times never to go with Bienne especially for restoring vintage Omega, yet some people still don't get it.
 
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I'm glad that there are at least a few independents out there who can still get Rolex parts. My 16013 is due for service in a year or two(it's just about the only watch I wear) and I'll be sending it to a friend of mine in New Jersey.

Even though it's really just a daily wear piece for me, I much prefer the look of the older dials to the current "train track" one and am perfectly content to live with dead tritium for the sake of keeping that. I know that 16013s are almost comically common(they seem to be the stereotypical 1980s "I've made it" watch) but it's still mine and was given to me to by my parents to mark a special event(graduate school graduation). It's not a collector's watch, but it's still what I look at 100 times a day and I want it to continue looking like the watch I specifically told them I wanted...not like the modern equivalent that I specifically rejected both for cost and appearance.
 
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My watchmaker maintains an independent Rolex-approved shop. They do surprise inspections on him every few years and he also goes to Dallas (if I recall correctly) now and then to do Rolex training. He was telling me about one of these recent inspections, and the evaluator told him that they are deliberately trying to decrease the number of approved independents. During the inspection, the evaluator looked over his shoulder as he did certain operations, and he also inspected a watch (chosen at random) that my watchmaker had recently completed. Apparently, the entire process took something like 4 hours. My watchmaker (whose father was also a watchmaker) has roughly 40 years of experience, but this visit clearly made him nervous, and he was relieved to to pass inspection. If I'm remembering the numbers correctly, according to the evaluator, at one time there were close to 10,000 Rolex-approved independent watchmakers in the US, and now there are fewer than 500.
 

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Yeah, my friend has told me that he has to REALLY stay on top of stuff to keep his Rolex account alive. Of course, he is diligent and a darn good watchmaker, but among other things he has to make sure he follows service protocols(from the cleaning solutions to lubrication and even tools) to the letter. I commented once about using Rodico for something, and he alluded to the fact that he could lose his account for even having any in the shop.

Even though I have no formal watchmaking education, 25 years ago I probably could have gotten an account since I have a basic set of Rolex specific tools(back wrenches, a Microstella wrench, and a few movement holders) and a clean work area. Of course, I was also 5 years old at the time :) . Now-there's not a chance. That's not to mention the fact that if someone saw me using my Rolex-branded "propeller" wrenches they probably would have thrown off my own bench :). Admittedly the propeller wrenches can cause serious problems if used wrong-I have some home-made case blocks that I put in my vice and then stand over the watch while pressing down evenly on the wrench to make the initial "crack" or "snug down." If I had more than an occasionally need to open one, I'd definitely invest in a case press, but I don't have the space or need for one now.
 
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