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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So you just got a new but old WatchCo SM300 and you are dismayed at the bezel being misaligned. WTF?!?!?! You think……..Yes you are not alone. Many of us have suffered this problem. You think: "I’ll have it fixed when I get the watch serviced." The only problem is that it’s not like a modern SM 300 where you just pop out the insert and reposition it.

Yes my friend, you can’t do that. These inserts are glued in and if you remove it, you run the risk of breaking it. So how are you to fix this thing?

Well, you have 3 options……..

  1. 1. Sell the watch to me.
  2. 2. Get a new bezel and hope it aligns correctly.
  3. 3. Fix it yourself.

You are more than willing to do #1. I’ll take care of the first person to do this.
Otherwise, #3 would be my suggestion. It really isn’t that hard and the most difficult part will be the actual removal of the bezel. So if you are ready, let’s get started.

When you are done, you will have a properly aligned bezel. Yes I've done it. Here is the WatchCo SM300 I had that had the problem. The photo is after the work was done.



Ideally, you will have a bezel remover of some sort. If you do, there is no need to do this first section and you can move right on to Section 2. If you don't have a remover, read on.

Section 1: Removing the Bezel

First you’ll need some simple tools. They include a knife to remove the bezel with, and.....That's it. Just a pocket knife or some other type of knife.

First you need to identify which side the bezel is misaligned to. Is it off towards the 11 or the 1? Make sure you remember this or take a picture.

Now we move on to the most difficult part. The actual removal. I don’t have a SM300 to show you so I’ll use an extra bezel I have.



First we have to discuss the bezel construction.

These bezels are like their modern decendants in that they have a “lock” hexagonal steel wire that holds them to the case. These all have an opening in them. Unfortunately, you don’t know where this opening is. To properly remove the bezel, you need to start where that opening is. If you don’t, you bend your bezel and in return break the insert.



Now we need to look at the case. Referencing this picture which I got from a WUS thread (posted by Mr. Blond), you can see that the SM300 case has 3 spots that the bezel clicks in.



These are filled with synthetic rubies (though they are missing in this picture). Once you remove the bezel, you need to be VERY careful that you don't loose these jewels. They can fall out if not careful. Don't fret if you do as we can replace them (we'll address that in a bit).

Break the bezel into quadrants of 10 minutes.

  • 0-10
  • 11-20
  • 21-30
  • 31-40
  • 41-50
  • 51-60



This will make it easier to identify where the opening is. Very gently, you need to slowly move around the circumference of your watch slipping the knife between the bezel and the case at the quadrants as identified. On the opposite side of the wire opening, the bezel will hardly move and it will be difficult to slide the knife in. On the side where the opening is, it will move easier. Once you have which half of the bezel the wire opening is, now you need to focus on that half of the bezel since you know the opening is on that side. With a bit more force now, try to remove the bezel. Slide the knife in and twist a little. Do this until you find the most “give.” Once you have identified the sweet spot range which should be between 2 quadrants, you can work back and forth till the bezel pops off. Don't forget those rubies.

Turn the bezel over and pull out that wire. We will reposition it later.

Congrats. The hardest part is done.

Section 2: Adjusting the Bezel

So you have the bezel off. Great job. So what is going through your head is, how in the world do I fix the issue? Now we take a file to the underside of the bezel on your brand new watch and modify three of the teeth.

You will need 2 tools for this step. A needlenose file (preferably a square one) and a fine point marker (such as a sharpie).

Locate the position on the backside of the bezel that the rubies sit in when at the 12 position. As you can see, on this older SM300 case the rubies are at the 6, 24, and 45 mark.



Confirm that your's are the same and if not, locate the correct position. Find the teeth that correspond to these ruby locations on the interior of your bezel and mark the valley with the sharpie.



Now, reference the information you have on which side of the 12 marker your bezel is off on. If it is off on the 11 side, you want to remove material from the teeth on the same side. What this translates into is the OPPOSITE side when looking down at the bezel back. Remember, the bezel is turned over. So, the 11 is actually on the right side and the 1 is on the left side. So, if your bezel sits at the 11:59:50 alignment position you would need to work on the teeth on the RIGHT side of the groove.

I strongly suggest you reread what I just said.

Use your needlenose file and elongate the teeth. If done correctly you will end up with a bit of play in yoru bezel at the 12 position but you will now be able to align it properly. At all other points it will be off but the important one of 12 will be correctable. This step is trial and error. That is why we removed the bezel retaining wire. By removing it, you can easily position the bezel on the watch and make sure your alignment is correct.



Section 3: Reinstalling the Bezel

Almost done.

This is the easiest part. Trust me.

So, first and foremost, you need to reinstall that retaining wire. My suggestion? Put the opening at 12. That way, if you ever have to remove the bezel again, you'll know where to start.

Next, make sure you have all the rubies in place. If you lost one, move to the Appendix for help.

After you have the rubies in place, put the bezel on. Start at the 6 position (opposite side of the opening in the retaining wire). Put the 6 position in place and then the bezel will just snap in place.

Great work.




Appendix: Lost Rubies

So way back in the spring of 2004 I was able to purchase a SM300 No Date. Vintage model.



Got it for a song at the time and one of the problems was that the bezel wouldn't turn. So I had to fix that. Well, one day I'm slowly trying to figure out how to remove the bezel (the sections above) when all of a sudden it popped off. A ton of crap came off the case with it. So I started scrubbing away to clean it up. Got done and it wasn't till then that I realized, I had 3 holes in my case that I assumed something was supposed to go into. What, I had no idea. As I was working at my bench, I pulled out the magnifying glass and started to look. After about 5 minutes, I came across a very tiny ruby. I could only find one. So, naturally I got pissed. Spent about 2 hours on my hands and knees looking for those other 2 with no luck (at the time my work bench was in my garage so you can only imagine where they went).

So I was at a loss. What to do? Did some searching on the internet but no luck until I saw a reference to using the end of a ballpoint pen on an old style message board as a replacement. That might work I thought. So I went to Wal-Mart and bought a bag of BIC ballpoint pens. Pulled out the pliers and started ripping pens apart.

I honestly don't remember if I used the fine point or medium point but let me tell you....use a pair of pliers with no teeth and just twist. Do it in a bag to catch the ball but once you do, it fits perfectly into the hole left by your missing ruby.
 

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That's my watch with the bezel off, bit of a suprise to see it. You can also buy the rubies from Omega, I got mine from STS.

Good guide by the way.
 

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Great tutorial John! Thanks for posting this up.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That's my watch with the bezel off, bit of a suprise to see it. You can also buy the rubies from Omega, I got mine from STS.

Good guide by the way.
Thank you for informing me Mr. Blond. I forgot to see who I had gotten it from. I have edited the post to give you credit.
 

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This is awesome! However, I think your and my concept of an "easy fix" is quite different. Still looks pretty complicated.... Anyhow, thanks for sharing.
Mark
 

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If done correctly you will end up with a bit of play in yoru bezel at the 12 position but you will now be able to align it properly. At all other points it will be off but the important one of 12 will be correctable.

Thanks for all the work to document your repair procedure, it's a ton of work to do. I read the above 2 sentences and wonder if it is worth the effort to solve one problem and cause some even larger problems, at least for me.
I've popped off the bezel on past SM's and carefully pried the insert off. Mine was held on with just a few small drops of adhesive, so it was simple to pry it out with a sharp knife blade. Then the bezel went back on the watch, and I glued the insert back properly aligned, no big deal.
That's my vote for a repair procedure, but without the great pics, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the work to document your repair procedure, it's a ton of work to do. I read the above 2 sentences and wonder if it is worth the effort to solve one problem and cause some even larger problems, at least for me.
I've popped off the bezel on past SM's and carefully pried the insert off. Mine was held on with just a few small drops of adhesive, so it was simple to pry it out with a sharp knife blade. Then the bezel went back on the watch, and I glued the insert back properly aligned, no big deal.
That's my vote for a repair procedure, but without the great pics, lol.
That's awesome you were able to pry yours out. As you can see from the custom insert in my extra bezel I wasn't as lucky.
 

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Thanks for all the work to document your repair procedure, it's a ton of work to do. I read the above 2 sentences and wonder if it is worth the effort to solve one problem and cause some even larger problems, at least for me.
I've popped off the bezel on past SM's and carefully pried the insert off. Mine was held on with just a few small drops of adhesive, so it was simple to pry it out with a sharp knife blade. Then the bezel went back on the watch, and I glued the insert back properly aligned, no big deal.
That's my vote for a repair procedure, but without the great pics, lol.
Does it dent or nick the side of the insert when you use a knife to pry it out?
 

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I've got a SM300 on the way with a 1/2 click bezel misaligned (up front, as per seller).

Pardon my ignorance, but wouldn't it be easier just to remove the rubies and springs altogether, making it a friction bezel?

I have a Murphy bezel on my Vostok and it isn't that bad. From what I've read, the SM300 bezels are bi-directional anyway.

I guess I'll find out for sure when my SM300 arrives.
 

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Update:

On my 166.0324 case, there are no rubies. Looks like there are 3 captured stainless ball bearing cartridges pressed into the case. The steel balls appears to be coated. So... no go with the friction bezel idea.

Thanks John_in_SC for posting this fix. I did it and it worked like a charm.

I also have a slightly different method for removing the bezel. I took some #69 nylon thread (kinda thick so it doesn't break easily, but not too thick and still fits), and just started wrapping it around the bezel inside of the crevice between the bezel and the case. Dental floss would also work. Doing this should also reveal the "correct" area to pry.

Once I build up enough string in the crevice to open a nice wide gap, I'd use a trusty Swiss army knife or Gerber pliers knife wrapped with packaging tape to remove the bezel from the case. Incidentally, the bezel spring opening was @ 12 o'clock, but the gap from the string was at about 9 o'clock. The bezel still popped off just fine.

Hope this is useful, as I imagine I can use this for any bezel with the same design.
 

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Always helpful, John in MA! I thought that I'd jump in and finally acknowledge my debt to you (once again).

When I got my SM300 a few months ago, I found that my bezel was stuck almost exactly in between markers (curse that 60 click bezel!). But this turned out to be something of a blessing. Instead of expanding the gap between teeth, I very carefully filed in a new intermediary gap so that it adds a somewhat softer 61st click that aligns the triangle right at 12. I have to say: removing the bezel isn't for the faint of heart, what with the fragile acrylic inlay. I imagine that any kind of warping of the bezel itself would be bad news.

So, thanks again John! You've really made this watch an order of magnitude more enjoyable for me and my obsessive need for concordance and symmetry.
 
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