Here's how I did it.
:think: Before I go any further, I feel it is appropriate to provide some caveats and 'warnings'- If You Proceed, You do so at Your Own Risk. If you decide to undertake any modifications or do any work on your own watch, You Are Responsible - Not Me. If you poke holes in yourself, or pinch your fingers, or a spring-bar gets loose and shoots across the room, and pokes someone's eye, or ricochets and hits you, I cannot be responsible. If you drop, damage, scratch, or break your watch or any parts or tools, that is on You. Be advised that, depending on what you may choose to do or how far you choose to go, this is probably not a simple bolt-on or drop-in.
You should be aware of your own skill levels, capabilities, and take steps to insure your own protection and safety. Eyes are very easily damaged. You need them.
Wear eye protection.
Spring bars can launch with a fair amount of force and power if the spring is compressed and they get loose. If you choose to undertake this project, a good work space or work area, with good lighting and proper tools are essentials. I have found that I do best when there are be no external distractions.
Now, being only human, I probably overlooked something, or left something out, and you should proceed slowly and carefully and follow through with your own thinking and research. There may be other products or methods available that are better than the ones I will mention. If you find any good alternatives, feel free to mention them for the benefit of all. :-!
This Project started out as an attempt to find a generic Jubilee-type bracelet for my early 1970's vintage, 36mm Datejust. After I had started that, the question came up on the forum about how the forthcoming 'Project GMT' or Key West, would wear with a Jubilee.
I had just recently received a vintage-style Hadley-Roma Jubilee replacement with the 'D'-shaped hollow center links, similar to the Rolex original, I'd guess. So 'what the hay'- I had the bracelet, and the similar and appropriate MKII watch case; How would the two go together?
So I posted up some pictures of that bracelet on the 3-6-9 Nassau (What MKII Are You Wearing? - Page 358) In this particular bracelet, the removable or adjustable links are retained with threaded screw pins. It has a plain sheet-metal fold-over clasp. The sheet metal end links supplied with that bracelet were stamped with the number '455B', and didn't really fit the curve against the watch case in the lug recess of the Nassau. And they didn't really seem to fit my old Datejust either, actually. So...I was on the hunt.
(Note: This particular bracelet does not appear in Hadley-Roma's current line-up. It may be out of production now. There do seem to be some available from sellers on Amazon, prices vary from $17.95 to $24.95. This is the most current PN I can find: MB5696W SE/CE20).
I also looked around on eBay and found other bracelets. One of similar quality to the Hadley-Roma came from eBay seller twente(o) in Australia. It was of acceptable quality for the price and it all seemed to work - the screws all turned out and back in and there were no apparent major issues, and he had additional links that fit it, and all at a very decent price. I bought that and for all practical purposes it seems almost identical to the Hadley-Roma - the finishing on it might just a couple of notches lower in uniformity and quality. There was some variance in the shape at the ends of each link, and the polishing on the hollow center links doesn't seem to have the uniformity of the H-R. It too came with folded stainless sheet metal end-links labeled '455B' - they were different in shape than the H-R's, but still didn't seem to fit my Datejust properly, but they were better in the Nassau case, but the curvature against the watch case was still wrong and with a fair amount of 'gap'- it is pretty darn difficult to add metal when it has already been removed. So....
At this point you should probably decide how far you want to get into this. Take another look at that first set of photos. It may be that the vintage style-Jubilee with the hollow center links is what you are looking for, and you don't mind the rattly end-link or the gap because the radius' don't match well. If that's the case, fine, it has been a 'drop-in' or 'remove-and-replace' to this point. It will take some more of your skills and become a test of patience, not to mention lightening your wallet, if you decide to go further.
I found eBay seller 'wholesaleoutlet990' who lists all kinds and types of generic replacements for submariners, Datejusts and the like. He was showing about four or five different types of end-links for the Datejust and submariner cases, so I picked through those and ordered a selection of different types to try. What I found, eventually, is the ones numbered '555' and listed as "555 end piece for 65210H Jubilee Watch Band Rolex 20mm #8" seem to be the best ones that I have come across.
:rodekaart (Note credit for the first photo following is to 'wholesaleoutlet990' from the auction listing on eBay)
;-) (the remainder are my own....) ;-)
If you install the '555' end links without doing any modifications, this is what you will likely see:
It is possible to get to a place where the gap is closed up. It takes some time and some careful adjusting and fitting to close up the gap. Details to follow....
the eBay store, 'wholesaleoutlet990' has them in a three-pack for a substantial reduction in price - I would suggest purchasing the three-pack, because if you are not careful and slow and patient in bending and fitting and trying again and again, you'll probably find that the first two or three attempts will leave you with one (or more) that has just been bent one-too-many times and it will take a set with the wrong curve or a flat spot that just won't work out - Stainless steel tends to work-harden and stiffen up as you bend and work it, so at some point, it will just not cooperate with you. If you have the three-pair pack and if you ruin a couple in 'practice', you'll have some spares to fall back on. I think it was around $45 US for a three-pair pack vs $29 US for one pair.
See this post (What MKII Are You Wearing? - Page 432)
Now, see this...
See how nice the curve appears on this; the 'Gap' is tight, and edge of the upper surface of the end-link is paralleling the line of the watch case beneath the bezel. This almost as good as you can get this.....
Another view - but a critical eye here - the edge of the end link does not conform or agree with the curvature of the upper surface of the case lug. It appears slightly 'flattened' midway, and if you rotated it and saw the way the light reflects off of this surface, you would agree that it is. This is the result of trying to get 'too much' out of rolling and stretching the metal in the upper surface the end link, to get it to flow up toward the radius next to the case to close up the 'gap' against the case. After doing this, the edges on the ends need to filed or stoned back because the metal has flowed out to towards the ends as well. As far as bending, rolling, and stretching, you can only work the metal so much, and then it work-hardens and won't give anymore. Now, it can be annealed to remove the hardening, but it would then need to be refinished, that is; re-polished and re-brushed. I didn't want to get into that. The tubes on the inside of the link that locate the springbar are probably attached by soldering or brazing. Heating the metal to anneal it runs the risk of those shifting or maybe even coming off. I just didn't want to get that far into it.
While bending, rolling, stretching, and shaping, it is easy to protect the surface finish of the end link. I just apply two or three layers (depending on how aggressive I'm going to get) of adhesive cellophane tape (Scotch Tape). It acts to provide some protection against surface-marring and can be easily removed after.
Here is what resulted when I went too far with trying to stretch and shape the end link metal to close the gap. This is the end link on the twelve o'clock side...
:-( At this point I just couldn't do anything more with it. The more I tried to do anything, it either 'stayed the same' or (mostly) got worse. The stainless had work-hardened enough that it did not want to flow or bend. :-x
Time to order that three-pack of '555' end-links...
More to follow....