Archive for category Watches

Omega Seamaster PRO Chronograph (2599.80.00)

There are a few replicas that are so good that they are termed NWBIG (Not Worth Buying In Genuine) in the replica watch community.

Many Breitlings fall into that category, because apart from the bling, Breitling, until recently, put stock ETA movements inside, which means you can buy a top quality ETA movement and a replica watch, then combine them with very little hassle. If you are really trying to go the extra mile, you can buy the genuine dial and (potentially) hands, making your watch practically indistinguishable from the genuine, for a third of the cost. I am not saying you should – whatever boils your noodle. Buying and owning a replica is illegal in many countries. So, think carefully. Also, replica makers do not invest into research and marketing as swiss makers do. I like to tinker, so for me buying a replica is part of the fun. And that sometimes leads me to make financially unwise decisions. But I still enjoy myself.

Case in point is the Omega Seamaster PRO Chronograph (SMP Chrono for short). I generally like Omega’s. I have genuine ones and plenty of replicas / frankens. I actually also have a SMP chrono with a quartz movement, because I don’t really know how to fix Valjoux 7750 movements and their derivatives. Replica watches with mechanical movements tend to have Asian 7750 (or A7750) inside. Generally, Chinese movements in replicas are not all that bad, but they usually are not lubricated and the assembly is not as meticulous (see this post by excellent watchmaker Christian Dannemann for comparison between Asian and Swiss movements). There are companies, like Tianjin Seagull that have a lot better quality control than some others. Therefore, I tend to buy a replica with a Chinese clone of an ETA movement (an A2836) and then buy a Seagull movement and chuck it in, removing a non lubricated and somewhat shoddy movement originally inside. However, Seagull does not make a 7750 clone. Thus, I so far avoided replicas with A7750 inside.

I was, however, aware that SMP Chronos are considered to be excellent replicas out of the box, basically in NWBIG territory. See the following reviews: here and here. But these replicas were made in 2006 and they stopped making them a few years later. No replica seller has them in stock anymore. Oh well, I decided not to worry – there are some watches that are out of reach, sometimes. But then, someone in a replica-watch forum I frequent posted a sale for a 2006 Noob Seamaster Chrono. Here is one of the photos from the sale:

The seller said that the movement needed servicing, but otherwise the watch works perfectly. I jumped on the opportunity, because this watch is really rare and people just don’t sell them. The price was about 20% of a genuine used one. Either watch would need servicing and a service for a genuine one would cost about 800 EUR if serviced at an Omega boutique, so a better deal. Perhaps there are alternatives? I immediately bought the replica watch, figuring that I would sort everything later.

I then went looking for a movement. My preference would be for a new Swiss 7750 (about 250 EUR), a used one would be also fine (about 150 EUR), but then I would need to have it serviced first (at least 300 EUR). In a pinch I would be willing to buy A7750 (they cost about 80 EUR) and service it (a few hundred EUR if you can find someone who is willing to work on Chinese movements – no Swiss-authorized watchmaker is willing). I got lucky, in a sense, because someone was advertising a NOS (new old stock) Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 on ebay for about 380 EUR. The price seemed steep to me, especially for a generic eta 7750, but I still clicked on the link. What do you know, it is an actual Omega 1155 movement :), which is a direct clone of 7750.

Admittedly, no SMP Chronos ever had the calibre 1155 inside (they were used in some Omega Speedmasters), but as far as I can tell the 1164 that was used in SMP Chrono’s is identical, except for the calibre number. I am willing to pay extra for a suitable Omega movement. Because Omega movements are exquisitely refinished and very well regulated (read on, to see just how well). They are also all chronometer grade, or better, accurate. So I bought it.

While I was at it, I also looked for a genuine dial. The replica one is supposedly fine (only the orange accents are not as orange, but then the genuine one is genuine, after all. After a bit of a search, I found the only genuine dial available was for the first gen of SMP chronos. I bought the second gen replica. Dials are hard to get – the official Omega resellers do not sell dials, cases, and some hands (like GMT) to the regular public. They are impossible to get through official channels. So, you get what you get. It costs a considerable sum, but it has a lot of fine detail and chrono dials tend to be more expensive compared to regular ones. The difference between the rep and the genuine dial I bought is that the genuine dial has a printed logo and is all white, while the rep is of the next generation SMP chrono that has a silver omega logo attached and red “Seamaster” wording. Oh well. I bought the dial too.

While I was at it, I looked for the model number and case reference. The official sellers only sell parts if you have a case reference. It is a bitch to find it – the model is fairly easy to find (in our case it is 2599.80.00), but the case reference is not listed on official channels, because the assumption is that the certified watchmakers and resellers have this information already. After some searching on replica forums, I found the case reference, which is: 178.0514)

With the case reference, I could go to an official watch parts site and find out whether I can get the genuine hands. And I can, but the little chronograph hands cost 15 GBP each! And I need three. Plus hour, minute and sweep seconds hand. Plus, while I am at it, I need the back gasket and the front gasket in case I decide to put in a genuine crystal (a new one is 212 GBP, but I have three spare genuine ones for regular SMP’s. I don’t know if they fit. They should, as the dials are exactly the same size in chrono and regular versions). I might not install the genuine crystal as it does not have anti-reflective coating, but the rep crystal does. It is not exactly correct, bit looks nicer.


I read the reviews and it seems that the most common point of water ingress are the chrono pushers. I still need to test it, but it wouldn’t hurt if I bought genuine ones, for the right price. They are quite expensive, usually costing about 50 EUR a piece. I found a few used ones that were cheaper than that. So I bought those too.


Now the wait began. After a curious set of events that included the watch being returned to the seller, because of “unknown address” it so happened that I received all the parts before the watch itself. But it did finally arrive, well packed and just as it was advertised. I put it on and wore it for a day, but it was losing about three seconds per hour. The movement did need a service. Luckily, I have  a pristine Omega one.

Things to do:

  • Replace movement, dial and hands.
  • Replace pushers.
  • Replace crystal?
  • Regulate
  • Lubricate
  • Test for WR.

I won’t replace pushers this time round, because I cannot be bothered until I know I need to. Unfortunately my WR tester broke during my move. So, I cannot yet test for WR and don’t know whether the watch is water resistant as is. I won’t replace the crystal, because no anti-reflective coating. But I’ll do everything else.

Before we begin:

  • The stems of A7750 and Omega 1155 are compatible. But Omega stem is thicker crown side – does not fit the genuine SMP chrono crown. I was told the crown is gen, but it is hard to tell.
  • The Omega 1155 and 1164 have the same dial spacing (as does the ETA Valjoux 7750).

The start:



First the replacement parts. Here is the movement:

Very nice perlage, immaculate finish. Next, here is the dial, back and front (still in a plastic pouch).

I take it out of the wrapper and put it on the movement in the movement holder. There are no marks on it. The feet were slightly bent, but I have straightened them.

I prepare the hands.

Now, I first set the chronograph hands. First the one at 12.


Then, running seconds at 9. Notice a speck of dust at around 2? I cleaned it afterwards.

Then the last chronograph hand.

Now move onto the main stack. First, the hour hand.

Then, the minute hand.

And finally, the sweep seconds.


Now, set the completed assembly to one side. Note that I haven’t wound the movement yet, that is why the seconds are not moving.



I will now start on the watch. Partially remove the bracelet and put the watch into the holder.

It has an anti-magnetic back. Very cool. Later on, the replica makers stopped bothering with this, but this is still old school. I appreciate it.

Here it is, the A7750. Not as fancy as the Omega, but still functional. Finish is rougher, and if I put it on the timeographer, I am sure I would be horrified :).

Remove the stem and crown.


Then remove the holder ring and washers that hold it.

I took out the movement with the dial and hands in place. And put in the Omega. See how nicely finished it is?

Put in the ring holder and the stem. Lubricated the pushers beforehand.

Now, I wind it fully and put it into the timegrapher. crystal down, amplitude 301, 0.0 beat error, +5s per day.

Crystal up, it gets better. 0 s/d, 298 amplitude, 0.0 beat error. This is very good!

At this point, I took the watch off the timegrapher, because, what would be the point of looking at other three positions. But then decided to put it back on and see what it does on the side. Again, amazing, +1s/d, 282 degrees amplitude, 0.0 beat error. Someone at Omega really made an effort with this movement.


The only thing that remained was to lubricate the back gasket, put on the anti-magnetic shield and close it up. Once my WR tester is functional again, I’ll test for WR and then replace the pushers if need be. But otherwise, I am done for now. A few on the wrist shots to close this up.




Omega Seamaster PRO GMT (2535.80.00) Revisited (Update #3)

After the first two updates (both in this post), I got along fairly well with the SMP. It got put into my regular rotation and it was fairly accurate (~+2s/d). However, I noticed two things: (1) The GMT hand would sometimes get stuck at 8am. And (2) the GMT wheel did not click from hour to hour when I was quick-setting it.

Another minor issue was, that the crown seemed to be on the way out. It required a deft touch if I wanted to wind the watch, otherwise it would slip.The dealbreaker was the GMT hand.

I figured I would need to open it up again to sort the hand. I did not yet know what the problem was, but I thought that either the hand was loose or that the dial opening was uneven.

While I would have it open I would do some more maintenance – I bought a genuine crown a while ago, but it did not fit the tube in the rep (it has the screw on the inside, not out as is the case here). I also ordered a genuine tube, but I was worried that the opening on the case would not fit. The diameter could be wrong. I recently procured a push-fit crown removal tool, but I did not know whether the crown tube was push-fit or screw-in. Both of them exist in Seamasters. I therefore decided to test this on a backup SMP GMT rep case I have, to see how to do it, before inflicting it on a watch I am actually using. If i then borked the case I use, then I could always use the  backup case. I did not want to immediately use this one, for two reasons:

  1. Because the thread in the back is not sealing perfectly – it is water-resistant to 60m (with the new crown), but still, it bugs me that I cannot screw it tight.
  2. The case-back itself (more on that in a second).

I followed the excellent Archer’s guide on how to remove the crown and everything proceeded without a hitch. I used an aftermarket Clarks crown and tube (I know this is advertised as genuine, but it isn’t really. It is, though, half the price of the genuine crown and tube).

When I got the crown out it became apparent why the backup case was not watertight previously (the crown tube hole was malformed). It was also too big for the tube I had. I used marine epoxy, put a thin film around the crown and pressed it into place. Waited 24 hours, repressed the crystal, lubbed everything, sealed as far as I could and then tested it. It passed! But the only case-back that fits that case does not have a display window. If I borked up the case that I use currently, this one would work, however it would not be ideal. The 2535.80.00 has a display back (as indeed the case I currently use, does).

In the meantime, I also bought a genuine bezel with blue insert. Here is a comparison photo between bad rep, passable rep and genuine.

As you can see the replica and genuine inserts are subtly different, especially at the lume pip. The genuine insert has an additional steel circle around the pip. Note that omega does not sell the bezel and the bezel insert separately, so the ring needs to be replaced too. The replica bezel works on a spring wire, or with a little pip on a spring. The genuine has an insert with a raised piece of metal that works as a clicker. Below you see the three bezel backs. The middle one is genuine, the left and right ones are replicas.


I left this issue to one side for the moment, since I needed to completely disassemble the case anyway.

One suggestion put forward in the guide linked above is to put the case into boiling water in order to loosen the Loctite securing the crown tube in place. In order to do this, you need to remove all the gaskets (the one in the back and the one between the case and crystal). You also need to remove the bezel and insert, and the crown, obviously (because there is a rubber gasket in the crown itself). You also need to remove the bracelet, because the springbars have springs inside and the whole thing will get destroyed by the boiling water.

I proceeded with dissasembly. And removed everything from the midcase.

I boiled it for about 10 minutes, dried it off.

And then pushed the crown tube out without much difficulty. Note to self – the SMP cases, especially the GMT case, need to be put on the machine crystal side in, otherwise, they slip and break the pusher (I have now ordered several spare pushers:) ).


When I put the crown tube in, it did not fit perfectly, there was a bit of space between the case and the tube. Not much, perhaps 0.1mm, and it might be solved with loctite, but I would never be sure about its resistance to water ingress. Therefore, I mixed a bit more marine epoxy and pushed the crown into place. I now had to wait 24 hours for the epoxy to dry.

Therefore I could turn to the movement. I replaced the GMT wheel, so I got the click back. I replaced the datewheel for the hell of it and used a diamond file to smoothen the edges of the dial opening. I also put just a dab of loctite on the GMT hand once I had it perfectly in place.

I reassembled the movement and left it running outside the case, to let Loctite dry (with many of these cemicals and glues, I am worried that the fumes in  a watertight space (like closed watch) will stick around and slowly erode the hands, dial and movement). The other reason I left it outside of the case was that I wanted to see whether there was an issue with the hand clearances (a lot easier to reposition the hands while they are stil outside the case).

While I was at it, I also replaced the stem, because the existing one looks to have been previously damaged by the pliers. Not strictly necessary, but since I had everything out, I might as well do it.

While I was waiting for the tube to dry, I lubbed the gaskets and re-pressed the crystal. Note to self – How happy am I now that I previously bought the crystal gasket replacement(s)? I am very happy :).

I cleaned the crystal and re-visited the bezel issue.

Genuine used insert (before cleaning)

The genuine (After)


I do have the bezel assembly of the genuine case, but the rep case hole is only big enough for the spring wire, not for the little steel pole that might work here. Hmm… will need to sort it out. There are a few options:

  1. Drill a hole in the case and insert the steel pip (like Rolex has them). The hole dimensions are Diameter: 1.6mm, Depth: ~3.3mm.
  2. Buy a genuine disk spring. Does not apply for this particular midcase because it does not have a drilled path for the disc.
  3. Replace the insert only. While I was taking off the genuine bezel to drill a hole ( I had it on, but it was not flush with the crystal, so I removed it again), the bezel insert fell out of the genuine disc. So, 3 it is.

Here are the two solutions rep cases employ, on the left and right there is a hole and a spring wire (above the left watch case). The middle case has a larger hole and the pip and spring.

While I was at it, I realised that the genuine insert is just a bit too tight for the crystal. I needed to uniformly enlarge it, just a tad. So I did.

Once the case is ready and the tube to dry, then I’ll need to lube the bezel assembly and press it into place. Everything else is ready for reassembly as soon as the epoxy in the tube dries (I protect the hole in the tube with rodico/watchmakers putty).

A day passes. I re-visit the GMT.

The movement has cheerfully worked through the night. No need to do anything with it. I oiled the stem with (Moebius Synth 9415 lube).

The tube is firmly epoxied in place and is not movable at all.

I lubbed the back gasket and the crown gasket with silicon lube and tested the closed case for water-resistance. I did the proper test where I left the case under pressure for at least ten minutes and only then submerged it and released the valve.

The case passes without any issues. 60M WR. I would be happy to even go diving with it, but will for sure use it for snorkelling.

I set the bezel, glue the insert into place with a few dabs of gorilla glue (there are some adhesive strips available for bezel inserts, but they often don’t do a god job in my experience).

I reassemble the watch, and admire it.

Genuine parts:
– Dial
– Hands (except the GMT hand)
– Crown
– Crown tube
– Bezel insert

Rep parts
– crystal
– case and bezel ring (I have the gen ring, just wasn’t able to use it).
– movement and datewheel
– Bracelet and clasp

I add the steel bracelet, set the watch and put it on my wrist, where it is right now.



Omega Seamaster PRO 300 GMT

I am interested in watches. I like tinkering with them. I have a growing pile of parts that I hope to reuse at some distant time in the future. There is this fascination I have with Omega. At first I dismissed them out of hand. I thought they were ugly and pointless, especially the Seamasters. But then they grew on me. They are not particularly blingy (at least not the generation I am interested in) and they do not carry an insane price tag. Genuine Seamasters can be bought for about 2000 EUR, used, but not abused. That does not really break the bank in the world of horology. I have no idea how popular they are in replica form. I know that people are really interested in the bond versions (oh yes James Bond now wears an omega. I think he switched from Rolex in 1995 – Pierce Brosnan was the first Bond to wear exactly the watch we are discussing, in Golden eye). It is not that I am such a huge fan of Bond flicks, but I do like the Seamaster. It has to be blue, though. I have enough black watches.


Through time, I owned four Seamaster divers’ reps. They all broke at some time, or I destroyed them inadvertently. I started with the barebones, Seamaster PRO 300 with a blue wavy dial. It looked like this:

Omega Seamaster PRO 300 (SMP)

It was not horribly expensive and was reasonably like the genuine. The little cap (the Helium Evacuation Valve) on the upper left side is in the right position (above the 10th hour), the crown is long enough and the crown guards are ok. The dial is pretty crap, but you could buy a used genuine dial for not very much. The bezel is duller and the dot is not exactly right. The bezel ring is misaligned – the pointy bits should be aligned with the bezel triangle at 12 and with the crown. The red part on the seconds hand is too short, and for this model, the date wheel should actually be white. But I like it black, so there. Also, the crystal has one-sided anti-reflective coating and the genuine SMP does not have AR.

It was still a nice watch. It broke in three weeks. It would stop suddenly. And if I wound it, it would start again. The problem was not power retention. I changed movements, same shit. I later  realised it was the ring that holds the movement inside the case. It was too tight and it was bending the ebauchement. My initial reaction was to get rid of the ring, and put in a plastic one. That works if you don’t need to wind the watch. There is an ISA (1198) quartz movement that has the same hands dimensions as ETA 28xx / 29xx. So I bought it (it costs about $10) and put it in. IT was working just fine. At that time, I did not have the Water Resistance testing equipment, or the timegrapher. I assumed it was safe to swim with – I greased the seals and thought I was fine. I took it to the swimming pool and it was ok. I then went on a holiday on another continent and the first day wore it in a jacuzzi. The inside of the glass misted over, which means that some moisture came in. When I came back, I changed the quartz movement and sealed the HEV which was not sealed before.

After a year or so, I bought myself a WR tester. A that time I had two SMP’s, one with an ETA clone and one quartz. Both crowns broke. One would free spin unless held in a specific way (which was not too bad for the quartz and the other was eventually destroyed by me – I wanted to shorten the stem so I cut it to the correct length but when I screwed it back into the crown, it broke right where at the point where none of it was left. I read about it online and realised I could use a weak acid solution which would dissolve the stem (iron) but not the crown (steel). This takes about 12 days of constant immersion. What I didn’t realise was that the pusher into which the stem screws was also iron, so I dissolved that too :(. Wah wah. Then the other crown stopped working altogether. I first bought generic crowns that are shorter than the SMP ones. And they don’t have the spring needed to screw-in. They work on the quartz although it is clearly the wrong crown.

So, I figured, I’ll buy another SMP. And this time the GMT version, because I like GMT watches. I found a genuine Omega prototype GMT dial on eBay and won an auction. So, I had the dial. I then asked a dealer to source me a Seamaster GMT. They sent this photo for my approval:

There are issues with this too. The dial is crap (the 12 markers are misaligned, the shade of blue is wrong, and the logo has the so called happy feet) , but I had another, genuine, dial. The GMT hand is wrong, but I thought I could source another. The datewheel is white, which is actually correct, but I wanted to change it to black. The bezel ring is misaligned and the HeV seems to be sticking out a bit. But, generally, I could work with this. It has the correct crown, at least.

When I got the watch, I attempted to wind it and the whole dial started swimming. WTF. Something was rattling inside. Also, the crown did not screw in. DoH! I opened it up and one of the case washers was kicking around inside. The two that were supposed to hold the movement in, were still there. Three washers? it turns out that one was wedged between the ring and the case in order to keep it in place. Now, I had a problem. Regardless of what I would do, this one would not be Water Resistant, probably. I changed the movement and attempted to secure it. IT worked up to a point, but I figured I would rather shave the ring with a dremel and secure it with fasteners as it should be. I proceeded to just slightly distort the ring when I put it into a vise to shave bits of it off. Well ok, I thought, I’ll leave this for later and put in a regular movement, with another (non – GMT) genuine dial I had. I used this for a bit and it was working fine, however it was emphatically not water resistant (I have blown out crystals and broke one of them from the force of ejection). I felt this to be a total letdown – what good is a divers watch that will get destroyed if I took a shower?

So I had three cases, one working crown, two crystals, two destroyed case rings (oh yeah, I tried to modify another one), but I did have two genuine dials and six genuine seconds hands that I procured a year or two ago. I seriously contemplated buying a replica of the new ceramic SMP, which is very very good, but the new ceramic SMP does not have the wavy dial. And I think that that wave dial is actually pretty awesome. And I have a genuine one. Well, I could buy the ceramic one and swap the dial. I was about to do that, when a sale came up on a forum I visit often. It was for a high end SMP GMT rep and the price was reasonable. Because I got burned before, I contacted the seller and asked whether the crown screwed in (IT DID) and what kind of movement was in it (Asian ETA clone with the GMT module). I figured the movement will need replacing (but I have a mint one in my spare parts drawer) anyway. And the GMT hand looked right, so I could reuse that or buy another. I have the dial, already. I went and bought genuine hour and minute hands. The genuine seconds hand, I already have. I knew there would be some work to do, but I might actually end up with a water-resistant divers watch :).

The seller was in UK and delivered the watch in less than 48 hours. Very cool.

Here it is:


It has the correct display case-back.

I figured I would first put it onto a timegrapher, to see how bad it was. IF the amplitude was low and it was very slow or very fast, I would know that it was badly in need of a service. Boy, was I surprised.

Face up, +0 s/d, amplitude 284

crown right, +5 s/d, amplitude 274


Face down, +3 s/d, amplitude 273

crown left, -2 s/d, amplitude 261


WOW. This would pass official Swiss COSC certfication. It is almost as if it was not a clone. Wait. It is not a clone, almost certainly. It has the ETA stamp and the numbers would also support the claim that this is a genuine ETA movement. Cool. Excellent. I am not swapping it. The winding was slightly rough, I’ll clean and oil the winding bridge and the winding mechanism.

I need to work on two bigger things. The (1) the insides and (2) the case

Genuine seconds, minutes and hours hands + genuine dial next to the unsuspecting victim.


(1) The insides

out of the case.


I took the hands and dial off. I replaced the date wheel for the white text on black background. I so don’t care that this is not right for this model. I dislike the the white date wheels on dark dials.

Black DW already on.



Here is a comparison shot of the two dials:

Genuine on the right (on the movement), rep on the left.


The lume is uncomparable, the dots are different, even the GMT color is brighter on the gen. I then attempted to fit the hands and encountered a snag. The dial hole is not big enough for the rep GMT hand. And for some reason, I we are not allowed to buy the genuine hand. I mean this one looks identical to the genuine anyway. Well. Luckily I have a dremel and a dremel rig.



After several incremental drillings, the GMT hand finally fit. Then I attempted to fit the genuine hands and was totally unable to get the minute hand on. I suppose it is possible that I inadvertently bought the wrong set (but it is very unlikely as the hour would not fit either then. The eta dimensions for quartz are 120/70/20 for mechanical 150/90/25). Well, whatever. I put the rep minutes hand in and the genuine seconds. If I can be bothered at some time, I’ll fix that. For now, it’s fine.

The movement has hands on.

I left the movement outside of the case overnight, to see whether everything is fine and started focusing on the case.

I mixed marine epoxy to epoxy the HeV shut.




I left the epoxy to dry overnight and proceeded next morning.

Next morning, I took the clasp off and prepared the case for WR testing (greased the seals and gaskets). The movement was working fine, by the way, so it is ready to be put into the case.

First attempt










DAMN. The crsytal blows. But not the front. The back. The front is fine.


I add silicone grease, and try again. No luck, it blows again. I glue the crystal into place. Wait for an hour, and re-do. I know that I could have used the sapphire crystal glue (which I have), but gorilla glue dries more slowly and gives you some time to adjust everything before it sets.

Third attempt at WR.










Yep! Passed this time. 6ATM. I then spent about an hour removing the excess glue from the back crystal. I used pegwood.

I dried off the case, and put the movement back in. Now, only the last bit remains. Cleaning the winding mechanism and oiling the winding parts. I won’t do the whole service, because there is so much I could screw up and I don’t have the cleaning machinery, so I would need to clean by hand and while I’ve done it before, it is long and painful and the watch does not seem to need it yet.

Movement cased.

About to clean and oil


And the last few shots of the watch.


Addendum 09/10/2017

There are always things that bug you about reps. Some are solvable, some not so much. Once I’ve done everything I had to do, the watch worked fine for a few days and then I noticed that the GMT hand would get stuck every once in a while. I attributed that to the uneven hole in the dial and resolved that I would fix it. I had an additional pet peeve, because the seconds hand was a rep one, although I have four genuine ones stashed away in my watch drawer. I couldn’t use the genuine ones, because the seconds wheel pillar was too low, or the seconds hand tube was to short, take your pick. Since I would be opening the watch up, I would try to solve this, I figured. The rep seconds hand is too stocky, the back is too long and the red part in front is too short, compared to gen.

Once I opened the watch up, I took the hands off, and managed to break the tube of the rep seconds hand. Doh. So, now I needed another solution. I had a Planet ocean seconds hand, with long enough tube to fit, but that hand does not have a dot but an arrow at the end. It would work temporarily. I could not find any rep seconds hands for an Omega, and gen ones would be useless. I figured I could buy a rep silver Rolex submariner hand, with an extra long tube and then paint the end red. The back in the rolex has a dot and in the Omega it has a square, but still better than an arrow instead of the dot in front. I ordered the hand and the correct enamel paint.

Planet Ocean seconds hand

In the meantime, I enlarged the hole in the dial, but it seems that I borked the GMT hand that now just spun on the GMT wheel without traction (for obvious reasons – it got stuck on the dial, but the wheel was still turning, which meant that the GMT hand was enlarged just enough to lose traction on the wheel). OK, I thought. Since this is the old version of the GMT wheel, where it does not click by an hour every time you set it, posing difficulties if you are not setting the GMT hand on the hour, I figured I could try and replace this one for the GMT wheels I have in my spares drawer. This worked, because the movement is the same in both cases (modified ETA 2836). I replaced the four pieces that need replacing (the calendar wheel, the calendar cover, the day wheel and the GMT wheel – this has been extensively documented here, and here for example). And then I found something else out – the old GMT wheel has a 2 millimetre diameter, and the usual ETA dimensions are 1.8mm. So, this is why the dial did not fit initially. Also the GMT hand is now absolutely too big, I’ll need to replace it. Also, I now have a hole in the dial, that is too big. Not unsolvable, the hand covers it, but I can now push it too far in, which means the outer diameter would now get stuck in the dial opening. So a bit of tenderness is required. I don’t have any Seamaster PRO GMT hands. I have any number of other GMT hands but they all look distinctly different from the original. The closest one I have is the rose gold Omega Aqua Terra GMT hand. Which is roughly the right dimensions and correct shape, but is not completely red as the genuine. I fitted that and I like it enough that I’ll keep it for now. I could always repaint it if I wanted since I have ordered the red enamel paint in the first place (for the seconds hand). I had to also replace the hour and minute wheels, because the original GMT wheel was a different height (lower) than the ones I have, which meant that replacing the GMT wheel necessitated replacing the hour wheel, otherwise the hour hand had no purchase. Which necessitated changing the minute wheel because now the minute hand had no purchase (and the seconds pillar was deep in the movement anyway…). That also meant that I could not use the genuine minutes hand, as it has to much of a lip and would not stay on, or would, but would immediately fall off, when I attempted to press the seconds hand into position. So I put in a rep minutes hand (which has the wrong colour lume, but hey, best I could do).



I set everything up, aligned the hands, put in the Omega Planet Ocean seconds hand, and wore the watch like that for a while, but the solution kept nagging me (I would always know that the seconds hand is not correct even when I switched it for the Rolex one. I kept thinking about this and it occurred to me that it is possible to buy a higher seconds central wheel with pillar (ETA part number 2801). Apparently the one I had had H1 (height 1: 4.80 mm) and there are six more heights to go (all the way to H6: 6.05mm). That could work – I could use the genuine seconds hand! I ordered two H6 and two H5 seconds wheels and waited for arrival. I know how this is replaced, it is incredibly fiddly if you do not have a microscope – you need to catch four little spindles in the correct jewel openings on the brige and all of them are eminently breakable. If you screw in the bridge without proper alignment, you will break them off, only later realising you did this, because the movement would not work. I have screwed at least three escape wheels this way. However, the good thing is that you do not need to touch the calendar side at all, except for removing the seconds hand, of course). When the seconds wheels arrived, I first test replaced one of them in another movement, just to get my hand in and when this worked, I went to the Seamaster and manged to replace the wheel in question without screwing up the movement. I did need to re-seat the bridge a few times, but I did not bend or break anything. One note for budding watchsmiths – you absolutely need to remove the winding wheel on the barrel, because the seconds wheel goes under it! It is also smart to remove the whole winding bridge with the barrel, plus if you are up for it, the balance too. If you remove the escapement lever, it makes it even easier, but I have managed to screw this up a few times, with the lever never again seating correctly (lack of a microscope FTW), so I tend to avoid this. You do not need to do any of this (except removing the barrel winding wheel), but it makes it a lot easier to set the drive train. Also, while you are at it, you could oil everything up, and clean it too, if there is a need. You have everything out on the top side of the movement, anyway.

H1 on the left, H6 on the right (sorry for the bad closeup – it’s iPhone’s fault)

So, I replaced the H6 pillar for the H1 pillar without issue and put in the genuine seconds hand. Yay!

This is the whole process (I took photos of different movements I have lying around. I hope you don’t mind me not opening up the movement that is currently beating in the SMP GMT. They are all ETA 2836 derivatives. Before you start you need to unwind, or (if you don’t know how to unwind) let the power go out of the spring. If you don’t do that you will be breaking the teeth off some of the wheels and the rest will go flying around once you remove bridges.

Fully assembled movement. Auto-winder module needs to be removed. Two black screws there.


Auto-winder needs to be removed pretty much always. Note. When you wind your watch and hear a whirring sound as if your winder weight is freely spinning, that means that this bridge is broken. Once you have removed the auto-winder module, the bridges and the balance are exposed.

You need to remove the winding wheel! See how the seconds wheel is underneath it? If you remove the hand-wind wheel, be aware of two things: (a) it unscrews clockwise! and (b) there is a spring underneath which is prone to go flying at high speed. They cost 6 pounds a pop. Just saying. You will notice in the next picture that I removed it, but for this you do not need to. I removed it from a non-working movement, because I needed the spring that flew somewhere on a working one.


The bridge removed, but barrel still in place.


You could remove the balance wheel before or after you remove the drive train bridge. Or leave it in place. Up to you.


Once you’ve lifted up the seconds wheel, put the other in place and follow the same steps in reverse. Balance goes in last. Be careful to seat the the four spindles into their respective sockets. If you have removed the escapement lever (under the balance) then once you have seated the wheels and reattached the train bridge, they should all spin, if you move the seconds wheel. If you haven’t removed the escapement lever, then they should all move together. If there is resistance, you need to see which wheel isn’t sitting right. That is why it is smart, although not required, to remove the barrel at least, so you can check whether the wheels are seated correctly. If you don’t remove the barrel, then you need to reassemble everything, wind it up and if the balance doesn’t spin, unwind, and remove the winding and train bridges and re-seat. Repeat until it works.

While I was working on the movement, I removed excess oil (it was swimming in it. I do not know who works on these watches when they are preparing them, but they should seriously cut down on the amount of oiling. There seem to be only two extremes available in reps – (1) bone dry, no oil whatsoever or (2) over-oiling everything, to the point where wheels are literally covered with oil. Literally. Seriously dudes, get a grip. both (1) and (2) are bad for the movement long term – one results in excessive wear and the other in gumming up the works once it starts degrading. The correct amount of oil is invisible to the naked eye.

There were still two or three things bothering me.

  • The crown is slightly wonky. It winds, but it will go at some point in time. Omega rep crowns really suck. I sourced a genuine crown, but it does not fit the rep tube. I have yet to find a tube that fits (I’ve tried several). Also, on most Omega reps, the crown tube is pushed into the case, but on this one, it seems to be screwed in. I bought the genuine tube for this model, which is also screw in, but it does not seem to work with the genuine crown I have. I know, this is all confusing. Simply put, the crown will go at some point and then, I’ll have a problem :). It won’t be unsolvable – I have another SMP GMT case available, that has a crown that does not screw in, which makes it not watertight at all. However, I have recently acquired a crown press and I have a rep crown that screws onto the tube, but does not screw into the case. This might work as a replacement case if the one I have fails. I would need to swap the bezel insert (because the current one is a lot more accurate than the other one) and I would have to see whether the display case-back fits (on the genuine and the case I am using there is a display back) on the other case, there isn’t. I also have another SMP case, but there is one distinct difference between the GMT and non-GMT cases – the crown guards.
  • The GMT hand is not correct, but I kind of like it, anyway. So, I might let this stay as it is, or repaint it at some point. For now, I am fine.
  • I am worried about waterproofing – the dodgy crown, etc. So, I took the movement out and retested it, this time properly – left the case under 6 atm of pressure for at least ten minutes, before lowering it into the water. It passed! So now, at least I am reasonably sure that there won’t be an issue there (I started marking the insides of the case when and what pressure they pass the WR test. Otherwise I keep forgetting which watches I can swim with, and which ones, I cannot).

Well, everything back to normal. The movement oiled, the hands seated correctly and waterproofing done. The date flips between 00:00 and 00:01. Here are two more  wrist shots:








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

img_3570_zpscnertoegRolex DeepSea Sea Dweller is an iconic watch. Until it was superseeded by Deepsea Challenge it was the most water-resistant mechanical watch in the world.  It is certified to 3.9km depth! One of the DeepSea Sea Dwellers has actually been on the bottom of the Marianna’s trench, on the outside of the submersible and lived to tell the tale.The construction is amazing. There is a back bowl of the watch made out of Titanium and the front crystal is 4mm thick. They both attach to an inner ring and when the pressure increases the seal between the crystal, the ring and the back-plate pushes them together to make an ever tighter fit.

Here is an exploded diagram of the DSSD (image downloaded from

Even the bezel is looser than usually on the diver’s watches since the water pressure pushes it into the case and makes it operational at deeper depths.

It is a thick and heavy watch, but an iconic one. Rolex has since also made a DeepSea Challenge, certified to 12km depths, but that, arguably, is just overkill (as if the DSSD is not, I know 🙂 ).

A few weeks ago, I came across a listing of a replica Rolex DSSD on a forum. The seller specified that the watch was dead – it did not wind, but they said that probably the keyless works need seeing to. This was a 2014 Noob factory version. There are essentially two replica factories making diver’s Rolexes plus a handful of people (BK, TC and others) who make what is already a very good replica even better. The factories are called Noob and BP.

The name Noob comes from the abbreviation for Noobmariner (an entry level or “newbie” submariner with a 21j Chinese movement) and it was initially just a handful of people from China and Taiwan who started making boutique versions of Rolex replicas. They have since disbanded but a few of the people involved in the initial Noob production runs have started a mass operation, keeping the name. The operational characteristics of these replica makers are fascinating, but they are outside of the scope of this post. The interested parties can always check replica forums and find the in-depth “insights from the industry” there.

Noob Rolexes are pretty darn accurate and their characteristic is that they are pretty close to the genuine as far as the dimensions are concerned, meaning that those who are fanatical enough can swap replica parts for genuine without much (or any) machining to do. That carries its own problems with it – genuine parts are expensive. For example, the ceramic insert on the bezel (just a disc with numbers and pip at 12 o’clock is currently being sold on eBay for 500 pounds! Admittedly, the paint contains platinum, but still… The genuine crown just went for a little less than 100 pounds).

So, anyway, I came across this listing and after a brief exchange with the seller, I bought the watch for a very small amount of money. Ridiculously small. I haggled a bit too, just for the hell of it, as I was not planning on buying it in the first place and would do so only if the price was so low that it was a steal. So I had nothing to lose and thus haggled accordingly.

There were two disclosed issues with the watch:

  • It did not wind.
  • The insert pip fell out of the bezel and was lost (see photo at the top of this post).

There were also two undisclosed issues with the watch (which I did not complain about afterwards, because of the ludicrously low price):

  • The lettering on the back was almost completely faded.
  • The watch was insanely dirty. It looked like someone washed the watch in machine oil and then rolled it around in earwax.

I figured that this was what I had to do:

  • Replace the pip on the bezel insert.
  • Repair the movement or replace it, if it was beyond saving.
  • Clean it up.
  • Grease the seals.
  • (Optionally) paint the back case with enamel paint.

Then once this was done:

  • Regulate the movement.
  • Check for water resistance.

All my divers and dress watches are swimming friendly as I want to be able to swim with them without a second thought. What is the point of a watch that is supposedly resistant to 4000m but dies if I splash water over it?

Anyway. Three days later the watch arrives. Until two years ago, I had one watch, that I wore at all times much to the changrin of my wife. I slept with it, showered with it, swam in the sea and in the pool with it. It has now been in my possession for about 25 years. It died last year and I restored it (the post is here). So, the watch was on my wrist 24/7 for 23 years. And it is not even close when it comes to shabbiness compared to the DSSD.

I first took off the bracelet and dunked it in 99% proof alcohol for 24 hours. There was black gunk oozing from it afterwards. At first I couldn’t even access the bars attaching the bracelet to the movement because there was so much gunk covering them.

I also opened up the case and checked the keyless works. The keyless works are the little cogs that go around the stem and allow the different positions of the crown to fulfil its designated functions (usually: 1st position – winding, 2nd position date set, 3rd position – time setting).

Here is a screenshot of the ETA 2836 / 2824 keyless works:



The keyless works are very fiddly. I have now rebuilt them several dozen times and it is always frustrating to do so. The cogs jump out of alignment and you either have to almost completely disassemble the back (which in watchmakers terms is called the top), or remove the hands, the dial, the calendar wheel and a plate that holds everything in place to get to them at the front. Not fun and every time you do it it is a lottery whether you will be able to reassemble the calendar side without scratching the dial or bending the hands. And then you need to reinsert the movement back into the case which means that the stem needs to be removed and re-inserted and the reinsertion and removal is usually the cause for problems in the first place. So, you reassemble everything, put the movement in the case and when you reinsert the stem, the keyless breaks again and you can spend another two hours redoing what you just did. It happens to me a lot. Too much, in fact. I just don’t get it how people manage to remove the stem and slide the movement into the case without dropping the movement. You need three hands for this. One to hold the movement with the dials pointing downwards, one to pull the stem out and one to push the button. I usually use my mouth to pull the stem out, but since I do not see the keyless works button, I tend to press it too hard. And I am screwed again.

UPDATE: I have now come up with a pretty good method. I screw the movement into the movement holder really tightly, turn it around and place it over the watch case. I then press the stem release gently (the black coded bergeon screwdriver is perfect fit for ETA 28xx movements) and tug the stem out, gently. If the movement is dislodged from the holder it slides into place in the watch anyway, so no harm done. If it doesn’t dislodge, I just do it the proper way – remove the movement, place it on a cushion and put the case over it, then turn. 

The movement was fairly dirty and there was fine ruby dust on one of the bridges. That does not bode well. I also attempted to wind the watch and realised that it would actually wind but that the crown was slipping. Still, I replaced the barrel and the winding bridge, checked the keyless works which were fine, re-tightened the crown and wound the watch (which did work if I gripped the crown in a certain way). I then put it on a regulator and it was just horrific. It showed the accuracy at -489s per day and the amplitude could not even be detected when it was fully wound. The balance was stopping and starting. It was lethargic. This movement needs to be completely re-hauled. The dirt is interfering with the balance wheel and other wheels. I decided to just replace it, because the balance wheel is very hard to accurately re-seat without a microscope, which I do not have handily available.

I realised I would also probably need a new crown, preferably for a Noob 2014 edition, because I did not want to remove the crown tube if at all possible. So I corresponded with a boutique replica watchmaker and bought a new Noob DSSD crown from them. It is generally very hard to get branded parts for replica watches, as even in China these are illegal to produce.

So, I removed the movement and the hands, the dial, and the date wheel; and ordered a new movement – a clone of ETA 2836 – a Seagull ST2100. These Seagulls are brilliant. They are fairly inexpensive but come well oiled and regulated and the performance is on par with new ETA at a fraction of the cost. They are clones of ETA 2836, to the point where almost all parts are interchangeable. The ETA’s are now even more problematic because the factory is a part of the SWATCH group and in early 2016 the whole group stopped selling their movements to anyone but their authorised dealers (screwing the independent watchmakers too, not just the replica makers), which makes the available movements very expensive or in need of a service and very expensive, which does not help my situation. If I wanted to spend time on servicing the movement, I could service the one that came with the DSSD.

While I was waiting for the movement to arrive, I inspected the case. These cases have the helium release valve also called HEV (Helium Evacuation Valve). On the genuine watch this makes perfect sense, even though it is overkill (there are not many people in the world who would dive to depths requiring the HEV). The HEV is an automatic valve that releases the Helium that builds up in a watch when you dive to ridiculous depths and spend long periods under a diving bell. If there was no valve, the Helium would expand inside the case when returning to the surface and blow out the front crystal. Thus the HEV automatically engages and relieves the pressure (patented by Rolex and Doxa).

On a replica this is just pointless. No one in their right mind would go and actually dive with a replica, much less to ridiculous depths. These valves also need to be calibrated and lubricated. Replica makers usually don’t even lubricate the back gaskets, much less the HEV, and this makes the HEV the premiere point where the water rushes in when swimming. Therefore, what you do, in case you wanted to swim with a replica is to epoxy shut the valve. I tend to do this on all replicas that have the valve and the HEV is not purely cosmetic (sometimes the seating for the valve is not drilled all the way through the case. This is the case with many Breitling SuperOcean SteelFish replicas (at least in the one I have).

When I looked at the DSSD case when the movement was removed, it seemed to me that the HEV did not come completely through the case.

I attempted to remove the inner ring, but it seemed to be part of the case. I looked online and there were competing statements to that effect. Some people claimed it was machined as part of the case, some people claimed it was separate. Some Noob versions apparently had the ring removable, some not. Same thing with BP versions.


Well. I can start painting the back. I use enamel model paint. You need to cover the lettering, let it dry completely and then remove the excess paint with pegwood.

Here is what it looked like, when I got it:


I applied the paint:




I let it dry for a day and then used pegwood to remove the excess paint. The result is much improved, but not perfect (notice that the ‘=’ sign is not painted and that a few letter are not completely painted).


I repainted the problematic areas and will leave them to dry.


Back to the HEV issue.

Everyone agreed though, that even if the ring was removable, you need to get the crystal out first. And possibly the bezel. This is some work and you are prone to screw something up. You can break the crystal (well perhaps not in this case – it is half a centimeter thick), scratch the inner ring, break the insert, bend the bezel, incorrectly re-seat something etc. I figured I would see what can be done and if the movement still hasn’t arrived by then, I might attempt it. I would need to remove the crystal to get to the insert anyway and I would need to get to the insert in order to glue in a pip I ordered. So, the crystal will need to come out in any case probably, unless I am satisfied with gluing the pip in from the front, which might be problematic as I would then superglue the insert on the bezel ring and that may lead to all sorts of problems later (probably rending the bezel ring unmovable, depending on how the bezel is constructed. People were also saying that removing the bezel on the Noob is very hard.

I decided to first test the watch for water resistance as is, to see whether I need to epoxy the HEV shut at all. I also asked the seller whether he swam with the watch and he confirmed, so I was reasonably confident that it was not leaking. But I still tested it and it passed. See? No bubbles.


So I could just leave everything be. But that would bug me. I would know that HEV is an accident waiting to happen and would not be confident swimming with the watch, knowing that it might implode at any time. Also the movement was out already and I knew I would not be arsed later to do all this work once the watch was reassembled. And also the movement was very dirty and in need of a service. It was less than two years old (which is too short a period for that amount of dirt to accumulate), so it is possible that there was water ingress there previously and that destroyed the movement. Later, I looked at the stem and it seemed corroded, adding weight to this theory. If the water getting into the watch is not seawater, then the movement does not corrode, the oil just degrades more quickly and that might have led to the destruction of the rubies in the spindle seats, because they were not lubricated properly anymore (if they were lubricated in the first place).

OK, so it is settled. I will disassemble the case and seal the HEV shut.

I start by pushing out the crystal. I take great care to not touch the insert and use a plastic die size that grips the bezel, not the insert.


Remove the crystal (with the crystal press). Sides of the crystal are a bit dirty.


I then mark the ring position before removing it as I want to be able to align it easily when I am returning it (in the inside of the inner ring there is ROLEX ROLEX ROLEX engraving and I want it to align correctly – the Rolex crown at 12 and R at 3 and 9). I do not even touch the insert when removing the ring. Still I hear a crack. The insert shatters. I read on the forums how brittle they are, but this is ridiculous. No matter, at least I won’t have a problem with re-seating the pip. I’ll just buy a new after-market ceramic insert. I order one. It is a lot cheaper than the genuine one, but it still costs me as much as the whole watch did. Oh well.


Notice the hairs stuck in the bezel glue and the dirt? The hairs are not mine. Bleurgh.


I push the ring out and the bezel pops out with it too. I make sure not to lose any of the four spindles that provide the clicking motion.


I mix marine epoxy and fill the HEV hole. Once it is completely dry, I will sand it down further. It needs to be left alone for at least a day.




Here is the case completely disassembled.


In the meantime, I get the movement (an hour after disassembly and epoxying). Nice timing.

Here is the movement.




Nice Perlage. I can now start assembling.

First thing I need to do, is remove the winding disc as it otherwise interferes with the the position in the movement holder. You may be too lazy to do this. I certainly was once or twice, but that led to some difficulties later on – the movement does not sit nicely on the movement holder etc. It is one screw and if you neglect to remove it, you may bend the disc, destroy the fitting or similar.


Then remove the hands, day and date wheels. And fit a Rolex-like one. Here is a photo of a wheel I that came with the watch (right), and one that I sourced from elsewhere (left). They are roughly the same, but the left one is more nicely done. I think I’ll use that one.




This is fairly fiddly business, but not to hard in the end. Here are youtube (video by rick914) pointers on how to do it.Takes about 20 minutes, but here it is, new date wheel fitted:



Then I need to check whether the alignment is ok. And it is just fine – the photo is at an angle, that is why this looks misaligned. I put on a dial.20161021_125719459_ios


Now the hour, minute and seconds markers:


Wind and let it rest. I will return to it, after I’ve seen to the case. I notice that I cannot set time anymore. I trace the problem back to a bent plate covering the keyless works (my fault entirely. I repair it and reassemble).

It is now two days later. The epoxy is dry and I need to first brush off the larger imperfections and then cover everything in silicone grease which will make the inner ring easier to slide in.


Now, insert the inner ring and align with my  markers (I am using a crystal press for this).


Here it is from the front.


You see the four little holes? Springs and spindles go into those. And silicon grease. But first I need to grease the seal between the crystal and the white gasket. I decide against gluing the crystal in, as I might need to take it out at some point in the future. Grease should do fine. I put the crystal in (by hand, as there is a titanium ring that goes around it, locking it into place.


Then I put the silicone grease into the holes and add springs and spindles. There is one spindle on the bottom right that is of slightly different shape. Be sure to put it into the correct place and to align it correctly.


Now put on the titanium ring and the bezel. It is slightly fiddly, but I managed to get everything sitting correctly in the end. The bezel is in place but not too firmly. At first I pushed it too close to the case, which impeded it’s movement. I re-attached everything a few times and ended up with a secured, rolling bezel. There is a bit of silicone grease now on the rehaut, but I am not too bothered about it. Of course, it would be possible to remove it, but then I would have to go through the whole fiddly business again. And I cannot be bothered. Perhaps next time I will need to service the DSSD.



Since I have broken the ceramic bezel and am still waiting for the new one to arrive, I am pretty much done, for now with the front of of the case. So, let’s go back to the back side of the case.


Notice that I do not have the right crown installed, yet? That is because the crown that came with the movement was slipping and I needed to source a new one. I’ll set everything up with the old one, but then replace it, once it arrives.

So now the movement is back in the case. It is attached by a holder ring and then by washers. Before putting back the stem, I’ll need to slide in the holder ring.

20161024_094752011_ios 20161024_095041272_ios 20161024_095552623_ios

Ok, now attach the automatic rotor and grease the back of the case. A plastic washer goes into between the back and the case.


Then for the fun of it close it up. First the case back.


Then the screw down part.



Then clean off the excess paint and end up with a fairly nice case back. The number 8 still needs to be retouched, I may do that at some point in time.


And here is the DSSD from the front:


Once I get the bezel and the crown, I’ll revisit it and update this post.


Got the insert today. First thing that is needed is to press in the inner bezel ring.


Then add adhesive.


Then, press in. And align. I notice that on the photos it looks like the insert is higher than the crystal. That is not actually the case. The insert is flush with the crystal.



Now I only need the crown and then I can regulate and wear. I’ll update then.


The Crown is in transit from the Airport now, but it seems it won’t arrive today. Well, I can still do some things.

  • I’ve noticed that the date wheel does not want to jump all the way through on a date change.
  • I also noticed a spec of of dust on the underside of the crystal
  • Another thing is that the date now flips over at about 0:15 that is about 10 minutes longer than I like.
  • I also need to test for water resistance now that I’ve completely disassembled the watch. I want to know whether I’ve put everything back correctly (the crystal seems to be a lot lower than it was originally).
  • I need to regulate the movement (it is about 20s/d fast out of the box).
  • And I still need to replace the crown.

So, I open up the DSSD again. This time it is fairly easy as I have received the correct size die (36.5mm) a few days ago. Because I have successfully ruined a few watches in the past by having their crystal blow out and the movement got soaked and parts subsequently rusted, I have now decided to remove the movement out of the case, and test without the movement. This is btw, the correct procedure anyway. It is a pain to remove the movement, but it is an even bigger pain to have to remove it afterwards and order new parts. So, since I need to remove the hands and dial to get to the calendar wheel and since I need to clean the underside of the crystal, I really have no choice.

I put the watch into the tester and it passes nicely. I realize I will need to retest with the new crown, but it is very unlikely that a properly lubricated crown would leak. See? No Bubbles. WR to 60m and probably a lot more, but I can certainly go swimming with it.


I then focus on the movement. I figure that the date wheel is bad. It could happen. So, I remove the hands and the dial and replace the date wheel. I have plenty of spare ones, because the Huanzghou 6460 GMT movement comes with a replica Rolex datewheel and I have about 6 of these movements merrily ticking away in several of my watches. The wheels are left over, as I, until recently, had no interest in Rolex replicas. So, I replace the wheel and also the ring that comes between the movement in the dial. I test (by putting the dial and the hour hand back on) and it is still sticking. Sigh. The new date does not show completely in the date window. I remove the hour hand again and release the levers holding the dial in place and the date jumps forward, perfectly aligned. Cool. That means that I only need a bit more clearance between the dial and the calendar. I test this several times, replace the washer that comes between the dial and the movement and voila. The date is now perfectly centered and advances correctly.

I also re-seat the hands and now the date flips over at 23:57. Good enough. I am not usually awake for this (or not awake in order to watch my watch flip dates), so it is a moot point anyway. But, I do that too. I then thoroughly clean the insides of the case with optical paper and lens cleaner. I lightly brush the dial with a lens brush. And re-seat the movement. Perfect. No dust anywhere. Now the only two things remaining are to regulate the movement and to replace the crown. I’ll do the crown when I get it. Probably not today. But I can certainly regulate.





Very good, overall. The amplitude is nothing to write home about, but the positional variation is not too bad. I am now almost done. Only the crown remains.




Update 2.

The crown arrived today. So, just the last stretch. Here is the package:


And here is the crown. A stem was attached to it, but while it was a 2824 stem, the Seagull ST2100 has a slightly different one.


I removed the one that came with the crown and inserted the one I trimmed already. They were the same length, but just different enough that the 2824 one wouldn’t seat correctly. I replaced the stems, inserted into the movement, greased the seals, screwed the back back on and attempted to wind. It works! We are finally done. One perfectly working DSSD 2014 Noob that is about 1 second fast every 3 days. 20161031_123957916_ios




The Restoration of Sector STE200 part 2

This post is about my efforts to restore my Sector STE200 watch that died because of water ingress. Here is the first part of the post.

So. The parts arrived. Several times. And then the correct parts. And then some more correct parts. This is what I have done:

  • I searched everywhere for a used STE200. I found one listing in Brasil. Hmm… I then found an Italian seller who was selling a Sector movement only. For Sector 155 chrono. It seemedSTE155 similar enough. The diameter was about the same (the difference was 0.2mm). The height seemed ok. So I ordered it. It is an ETA G10.711. Ok. The face and the hands are atrocious, but I figured I would buy another set. Then I read the reviews for G10.711. And they are not favourable. Really, as far as possible away from favourable. The most positive thing people could say about this movement is that ETA managed to cut costs extremely well and still charge through the nose for it.
  • Never mind. I looked up specifics for G10.711. Hand sizes are here and dimensions are here.
  • I went to cousinsuk and ordered the correct hands. Cost me 10 pounds. That is fine. The original hands were beyond repair anyway.
  • I then looked more closely at the G10 movement and look, there is no way to attach the old dial to it. I mean there might be, but not the same as in the previous movement. You can see here  how the dial was attached previously (they even helpfully provided little orange boxes around the important bits). Oh, but then I realised that the previous movement was ETA too. Specifically ETA 251.272 (it says so in the back of the ruined movement). I wonder if I can get ETA 251.272 anywhere… I can! At cousinsuk. And it is not too expensive. about as much as the G10.711 cost. But the 251 is better quality by far. Cool. I don’t want to rush too much though – perhaps the G10 can still be adapted. I mean, it is not like I was planning on using the watch. I just wanted to repair it and put it into the display case. So, it does not much matter what kind of movement is in it, I won’t be using it anyway. I figure I’ll wait and see.
  • I get the movement and I immediately have two issues. (a) The dial is glued to the movement, so I would have to keep the white and beige atrocity. (b) The movement does not fit into the case. Oh well. I buy an ETA 251.272 from cousins the same day but I have another issue. The large chrono hand is not available. So I order everything else (hour and minute hands). I figure I would reuse the seconds hand and the small dial hands. The movement and hands arrive the next day.

Here is the movement.


I put the dial on and realize that the date wheel is not properly aligned. The numbers are not slanted and they are too big. See? Pay no attention to how crappy the dials and the lume looks. I am cleaning that up after I fixed the date.


I replace the date wheel with the old one. I know it was sensible not to throw it away. The way to replace the date wheel is to unscrew the three little screws next to the subdial pinions and then remove the little half discs that hold the wheel in place (it then just falls out). Here is the end product. Old wheel, new movement.


It now looks a lot better. The date. Not everything, yet.


Adding the hour hand and re-luming.



Adding the minute hand and realizing I have a problem.IMG_4460

The minute hand hits the lume and spreads it around. DOh! I re-lume again, and align the hands. This is fiddly. You need to do it several times. The first time the problem was that the date changed at 4am, which I did not like. So I set it to start changing at 24:00 and completely flip at 1:00am. But then I realised that the minute hand and hour hand were not perfectly in sync. When the minute hand is at 12, the hour hand should point exactly to a specific hour not between the markers. So I did that and had to reset it a few times.  But when satisfied, I added the little hands too.


The thing is, I screwed up badly. I have no idea where the hands from the old watch are. The chronograph seconds would be very useful right now. I cannot buy it – can’t get it. And the one from G10 does not fit. So I left the one that came with the movement on, but will be changing it as soon as I can. Now I need to replace the stem crown. The old stem is rusted. Note. I need to thoroughly clean the stem tunnel. First, remove the crown from the old stem.


Then remove the plastic crown from the new stem and replace. Voila.



Put the movement in the case. Screw it in (two half-moon screws), put in the stem, put in the battery.


Put silicone grease on the gasket, put the gasket on the back cover and close it. Turn the watch around and … We have Lift-off!!



I put the bracelet back on. And have it pose for a picture.


I hardly need to point out that the object of the exercise was not to have a perfectly restored watch, but rather to not give up on an object that has been with me for a long time. It works. And they said it could not be done. Sure, it could be made prettier and restored better. But hey, I did it on my own for me. And that is quite cool.

Things still to do:

  • Clean the stem tunnel better.
  • Replace the seconds hand
  • Align the chrono hands
  • Change the battery




Waterproofing replicas part 2

IMG_4379In the previous post, I waterproofed Planet Ocean GMT with DG2813 movement. The ETA2836-2 PO GMT Replica Waterproofing is the next step.

Before I start, a few general comments – I looked in the forums on how to spot an Asian ETA movement. This is a comprehensive, fairly recent post. Either the Chinese have gotten a whole lot better in replicating the ETA’s, or this is the ‘real’ thing. How do I know? The ETA seal on the ebauche is legible. The + and – signs in the micro adjuster are etched and not stamped. The finish on the wheels is not shiny. Hmm… Well, whatever, this is still a replica one way or another. It certainly is not a coaxial movement, it does not have a silicon wheel or main spring (as the Omega 8500 calibre and its variations have). It is an exceedingly nice replica, though, and a lot better than the cheaper one I got. Still not as nice as the genuine Omega and the watch has certainly been assembled in a dirter environment, compared to the gen, but it is still very nice.

I need to do pretty much what I did with the DG2813. The only difference is that now I know how to get the movement out, so I will be sealing the front crystal too. I start by organising the workbench.


I open up the watch with the Jaxa wrench. The gasket is dry as in the DG2813.


I take the gasket out and put it into a silicone bath.


Close the lid.


I remove the three screws that hold the movement in place (with little washers) and the rotor.


I then remove the stem and get the movement out (turn the watch around and tip it gently into my gloved hand). I want to make it clear that while it is true that the movement is face-down, it is (a) on a very soft cushion and (b) the movement is not running, so the seconds hand is not moving and is thus not under strain.


I then apply G-S glue to the front crystal.


I use pegwood and rodico to remove any residual G-S glue.


I then notice (see the pic above) that there is absolutely no opening for the HeV. That is brilliant, because I do not need a Helium release Valve anyway and now I do not even need to close it down with marine epoxy. I now do not need the movement to be outside the case any more. While I am here, I am going to grease everything.

Prepare the silicon grease.


I use the silicon grease and a fine brush to grease the stem tunnel, the crown and the gasket groove.


Before I put the movement in and attach it, I notice that there is a grey smudge on the rotor edge. It was not me! I used cotton gloves and I was handling the rotor with tweezers. I use rodico, pegwood, watchmans brushes and soft cloth to remove the smudge. I was not completely successful, but it is a lot better than it was.


Everything is greased now.


I then put the movement in and re-attach the rotor and the washers.


And the stem, of course.


Before I am done, I need to apply G-S glue to the display window in the back. I do exactly the same thing as I did with the previous watch.


I close the watch down, remove the wrapping … and realise there is a smudge on the inside of the front Sapphire glass. Doh! I know that I must fix this now, otherwise I will never fix it and it will drive me insane. OCD FTW. I open everything up, remove the stem, the washers, the movement and clean the glass. I then reverse the whole procedure and re-grease the gasket. I close the watch up and now the smudge is gone. I need to take the watch into town and have it tested.


UPDATE. Had the watch tested. Water-resistant to 100m! Woohoo!