Restoring the Rolex DeepSea Sea Dweller [Updated! 05.jan.2017]

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24 Responses to Restoring the Rolex DeepSea Sea Dweller [Updated! 05.jan.2017]

  1. Tom says:

    Excellent post with fantastic detail and beautiful watch. I have a similar watch that needs a replacement movement. I just ordered a Seagull ST2100 thanks to you. Could you be so kind as to share where you found the date wheel? Thanks again!

    • David Modic says:

      Thank you, Tom for these kind words. In this instance I used the noob DW that was on the A2836 that came with the watch. Generally, with Rolexes, I use the dw’s that come with hangzhou 6460 (A2836 clone with GMT mods). For some reason they sell them with approximate rolex DW’s. I now have about six H6460’s in various states of repair and only two rolexes with GMT function. So, the DW’s are lying around until I need them. Every once in a while, you can also get overlays on rep forums or ebay. The really good overlays are about $15. Here is one link to a h6460:

      The rolex ETA DW’s are slightly harder to install than regular ETA ones. I suggest you look at the following video for hints:

      . It is not impossible, just fiddly. You soon get the hang of it.

      Hope that helps,

    • San says:

      The best step-by-step presentation on a Rolex restoration I have ever seen! I am so impressed with how much details you are sharing us.
      – How exactly did you remove the crystal – did you just push it out from the back?
      – How did you remove the inner ring – did you push it from the top going to the back?
      – What size back opener did you use, Deepsea must be an extra large size.
      – Also do you have this on tube?
      I just bought an authentic and a replica 116660, with the authentic for daily use at work and replica for home use or the beach (don’t care if this gets scratched), but I’m looking at sealing the HEV on the replica like you did – I don’t have any problems yet. Any info is appreciated. Thank you very much!

      • David Modic says:

        Hi San,
        Thank you for your kind words.

        I am sorry, I am currently away on a skiing holiday – I’ll respond s quickly as I can when I return.

        Kind Regards,

      • David Modic says:

        Hi San,
        Now I have more time.
        – I pushed the crystal up in a crystal press, but before removing the bezel, which resulted on me breaking the insert. Either (a) remove the bezel first (be very careful not to lose the springs used for the clicking action), or do what I did later – I used a laser cutter to create plastic washers that were higher than than the bezel and came around it so that there was no pressure on the bezel or insert when I was removing the crystal. I would suggest to use a vertical vise rather than the crystal press, because it gives you a lot more control when you are re-seating the crystal.
        – The inner ring goes through the back, yes. Remove the crystal, use crystal press to push the ring from the front to the back. If you want to keep the exact positioning, then make a series of lines with a sharpie on the back across the case and ring. Then when you put it back in, just align the lines. It is easier to replace if you lubricate it when putting it back.
        – The DSSD has a larger opener size than other rolexes, yes. If memory serves, it is 36.5mm (I just checked, yes it is, number 6 die, 36.50). I think I have mentioned it in the write-up. You can either use the cheap Chinese RLX openers, that can be resized, or buy the die. I initially opened it with the resizable opener, but then I bought the die to tighten it up. I bought an aftermarket one, it was not terribly expensive (like $40 or so).
        – No videos, I am afraid.
        To seal it up, just follow the guide. I use J-B weld marine epoxy. You will need to largely dissasemble the DSSD. Remove the stem, the screws keeping the mechanism in place, the mechanism, the crystal and bezel, push out the ring, and you will have access to the HeV. Then seal it, do the process in reverse, lubricating the crystal, crown and back gaskets, test for WR and then put in the mechanism and seal the back again. It should be fine, it was designed to withstand a lot more water pressure.

        Kind Regards,

        • San says:

          David – Thank you for sharing more details and providing me ideas to do it easier. I have the tools now and will follow the exact sequence and pointers you have mentioned. I will be using a marine epoxy to seal the HEV. Good point when you mentioned about putting a slight lube on the crustal and inner ring to make it easy. I believe by putting ultra-light automotive sealant you can watertight the watch way better than the factory. I look forward to doing this project. It will be an excellent watch for rugged use considering it’s a Rep so that my authentic one stays good. I tested this Rep for power and it stays on for approx 47 hours! Again, Thank You!

          • David Modic says:

            … or instead of the automotive sealant, why not just use the silicone watch lube? It costs like 10 EUR. I put the seals in the sealant box and use a paintbrush to lube the other parts (crown, ring, crystal gasket).

        • San says:

          Hey Dave,
          – How many feet did you water-test your watch? I know it doesn’t have to be 12.8k ft.
          – I opened mine with the 36.5 mm and I can’t believe it was only hand-tight very loosely but water didn’t penetrate when soaked several times.
          – Looks like my reply to your above answer did make it in this website, but I really appreciate all the additional details you have provided.
          Thank you,

          • David Modic says:

            Hi San,
            I have a WR60 proper tester. This is what I tested it for. I have no doubt it could go a lot deeper. I would not hesitate to dive with the watch. I did snorkel with it numerous times in the sea and wore it to the swimming pool too.

            The previous reply did not make it, because I need to manually approve it πŸ™‚ – there is a lot of spam I get hit with, so no automatic approval. It is there now.

            Kind Regards,

  2. DERHAM PAUL says:

    Why do you take the deepea apart for when I bought mine it hw s a lifetime warranty at Geneva Switzerland they take care of my Deepsea for life

    • David Modic says:

      Ah, I see the problem here :). To put it bluntly, I took the DSSD apart, because Rolex would have destroyed it if they saw it :).

      This is not a genuine Rolex, Paul. I hasten to add that in the UK, it is legal to own a replica, but not to resell it, so I am not breaking the law if I own a fake Rolex only if I try to flog it off.

      I thought I made it clear that this was not a genuine watch. I suppose one could argue about its authenticity (not that I have any interest in doing so. I know it is not a genuine Rolex and I am fine with it). I spent many many hours working on this DSSD, therefore while it is not a genuine Rolex, it carries some intrinsic value for me.

      I own both replicas and genuine watches – both have a place in my collection. I generally do not use an Β£8,000 watch (like one of the genuine Omegas that I own) when I am moving my lawn or when I go to 3rd world Countries. A replica works just fine then.

      Kind Regards,

  3. DERHAM PAUL says:

    I suppose my Rolex will get old when I’m finished with it in 60 years or so if I’m alive and it will be scratched a little bit it will be worn to old and the back and front will be faded I’m say to my kids it’s been used by your father me Derham and hand it on πŸ’‹πŸ‘„

  4. Max says:

    Hi David,
    do you mind to give me some information about the Gen Rolex Crown for DSSD?
    I would like to buy a gen crown for my DSSD but I’m not able to find a reference.

    • David Modic says:

      Hi Max,

      I don’t know the reference number. The simplest solution is to go to a Rolex forum and ask. On rep forums there are sections that list part numbers for specific watches. I could go and find out, but so could you :).

      This is the least of your worries, though. If your DSSD is genuine, then just go to an authorised dealer (AD) and have it replaced. If it is a replica, then you need to trawl the rep forums, until one becomes available (+ tube). If you have a DSSD with A2836, then it might not fit. Certainly the crown does not usually fit the rep tube. You need to check whether the rep tube is push fit or screw fit. The gen is screw fit. Then you need to check whether the opening is correct. You may need to drill a larger hole and you may need to cut in the screw-in groove. The position of the crown is at different heights for A2836 and 3135 reps. Then the crown guards might not fit and you might need to dremel and sand them. IDK.

      I have never bought a genuine Rolex crown, as the price is really prohibitive – we are talking several hundred $, certainly about the price of the whole mid-tier replica. It might be cheaper at an AD, but not many AD’s will sell it to you under the table, as Rolex is really controlling about their parts – they check the amounts of sold parts year per year at each dealer and if there is a sudden spike, they come to investigate. If they suspect that the AD is selling Rolex parts on the grey market, they will revoke the AD’s license. In many cases they also require the defective part that needed replacing to be sent back to Rolex. So genuine parts for Rolex watches are fairly thin on the ground. It is not impossible, of course, but if memory serves, the last time I was looking at the genuine crown with the tube for a 116660 on a rep forum the price was $599. Now you need to ask yourself, is this worth it? If I was you, I would replace many other parts first, before replacing a crown on a rep Rolex. I would go for a 3135 first, genuine, if possible (about $2000), then dial ($1500), then hands (~$500), then crystal ($1500), then bezel insert (~$800-$1000), then crown. But for that kind of money, you might as well buy a used gen. Currently, I can find used gens on Chrono24 for about $8500 which is not much less than what you would pay for all of the parts and a high quality rep. It won’t cost you much more if at all, and you will never have the hassle of getting someone to service it. Up to you, of course.

      Kind Regards,

  5. Prince says:

    Hi David …remarkable details on your post … you have Realy opened my eyes to the extent on Replicas! I’m looking at mine differently now ?!!

    But any way .. were can I get a ceramic Bezel insert for a 51mm deap sea challenger please? Or it’s Replica? Do they have after market ceramic inserts or are the non Rolex parts not ceramic ??

    • David Modic says:

      You can get a rep ceramic bezel by:
      (a) going to AliExpress or eBay and ordering one. They will be about $40.
      (b) going to replica dealers and ask them whether they can get one for you. I have no idea what the price would be.
      (c) going to replica watch forums and wait for a bezel to be listed. Pay whatever is asked.

      You can get a gen ceramic bezel by going to
      (a)rep watch forums and wait for one to be listed. Expect to pay $1000+
      (b)going to rolex forums and wait for one to be listed. Expect to pay about the same amount.

      Rep and gen bezels are both ceramic. The letters in the gen are platinum. On rep, not platinum :). I do not know whether you need to get the gen bezel too. I suppose it depends on your replica.

      Hope this helps. Sorry for the late reply – I was on holidays.

  6. Max says:

    Hi David, all… sorry for my late (very late) reply.
    So, after a long research I have bought all that I need. My base is an ARF DSSD with SH3135, already have gen dial, gen hands and gen datewheel. Then I found from a local jeweller a gen bezel insert. To be honest the ARF bezel is fantastic, you can see differences only compared side by side to the gen.
    Last month I have found a gen crown and a gen crystal from USA seller, hope in this way I will have a very good franken.
    Thanks for your help

  7. Kurt says:

    Mate, fantastic write up!

    I need to realign the OGEV inner bezel on my V6 DSSD, as the ‘E’ in Escape and ‘K’ of Lock are supposed to align perfectly with the 12 and 6 markers.. it’s one of the very few external tells on these great reps.. and your pics and tear down is really useful.

    • David Modic says:

      Hi Kurt,
      Glad it helped. The DSSD is, I think, the only Rolex where you can turn the inner ring and thus the rehaut. That comes in quite handy for alignment :).

      Kind Regards,

  8. Khairyl Hashim says:

    Hi David, awesome post! I know this is an old post but so relevant nonetheless. I was wondering if you do touch ups or repairs on a dssd? I.e. replacing and correcting bezel inserts or changing the dial closer to a gen? Thank you

    • David Modic says:

      Hi dude,
      Sorry, I don’t do work on other people’s watches :(. Too many things can go wrong.
      Kind Regards,

      • Khairyl Hashim says:

        Hi David thanks for the reply. May i ask for the link where you bought the bezel insert please? Yours seems perfect (with thr pip position and all). Unless there’s a way I can reposition mine without breaking the brittle ceramic insert.I’m currently following your steps in assembling a broken 116660(noob) from scratch. Much thanks again!

        • David Modic says:

          Hi mate,
          The 116660 insert I bought from eBay. Ali Express ones are really bad. It was quite expensive IIRC, about 50 GBP. Of course gen is about 1000 pounds.
          The 116610LN and LV, I bought M2M on various forums and I bought a few from Yuki and Raffles, for the pip, mainly. The M2M ones had molotov mods or similar. One I did myself too.

          Kind Regards,

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