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A novice's first vintage build - Rolex Big Crown (Ref. 653X)

Mbari

Member
7/1/13
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Been a member here for mainly purchasing some sweet reps. Thought it's time I share my first vintage build and possibly contribute to the awesome horology community.

As context, I am not very good with tools, barely know how to open a caseback and change straps. 30 days or so ago, the #buildbug bit me. I am slowly going all gen so donor rep watches were just lying around. I figure, why not give building a go. Then started the devouring of tutorials, eBay tool hunting, Amazon orders..more reading. You know ....the bug.

I'll caveat this by stating that there are many things wrong with this build and I don't intent to wear it in public or post Instagram shots etc. I just wanna enjoy my handiwork and pay tribute to the awesome builders who helped me get there. People like Boneysey, Killowatore, Mymanmatt, Pbdad, Stonep (excuse the typos) ...this list goes on and on.

First the watch, a cheapo cartel dg2813 powered 6538 I think. Bought from a member 5 years ago on a whim. It was possibly the laziest and shoddiest build ever. The crystal came off after 1 week, the dial was just sprayed with some matte spray, nothing aged..a true horor.

What I did:
  • Aged the dial, I mean heavy aged. Colored it, baked it, soaked it and put some lacquer on it. The baking got the flat numbers raised a bit. Next time I'll relume the dial too.
  • Aged the hands as much as I could, the second hand is completely wrong for this reference. I used vinegar, salt and then salt + hydrogen peroxide soak to get some rust on it.
  • Bleached the bezel, you know run the of the mill stuff and then used GS Hypo to pop the crystal back in place. Finally used a bit of polywatch to get the scratches off.
Top lessons learned:

- Less is more when it comes to aging.
- Having the right tools makes life 100x easier
- Wear cots before handing the movement, dial or anything.
-The second hand is more fragile than a teenager's mind
- Document every step, take picture of the setup before disassembling anything.
- Rodico and mini screws are best friends
- Respect the keyless and keep the stem in as much as possible.
- Have a backup dial/hand set and movement of possible.
- Be patient with the process, take breaks and enjoy the mini successes, learn from the failures.


Now that I got one done, I'm off to Yuki and Raffles to get some parts and start building a 1665 DRSD (already messed up a great white dial)
Lastly, thank you to everyone who shared their art in details and to the Tudor Blackbay Rep that was killed during this experiment.

Let's get to the pictures now
 
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Hazing

And So It Begins... Again
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are you using salt to age the dial and hands? interesting. So why is there a datewheel on the movement? just curious.
 

Mbari

Member
7/1/13
461
576
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are you using salt to age the dial and hands? interesting. So why is there a datewheel on the movement? just curious.
Salt was for oxidizing hands to get the rusty effect. Apologies for mixing the pictures between by 1665 build and this..hence the datewheel. I did use salt water to puff up the lume a bit on the submariner.

Lastly, experimenting with salt water and sunlight to age the 1665 dial. I know I won't be successful in getting the tropical effect but the dial is a cheapo so what gives!



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Hazing

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I hear ya. the salt works wonders for a number of things. I experimented on it when trying to age a bronzo at first before I realized that it changes so quickly, it's not really needed. But at first I tried different amoutns with ammonia to very varying degrees of age. It looks good thoguh.
 
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Mbari

Member
7/1/13
461
576
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I hear ya. the salt works wonders for a number of things. I experimented on it when trying to age a bronzo at first before I realized that it changes so quickly, it's not really needed. But at first I tried different amoutns with ammonia to very varying degrees of age. It looks good thoguh.
Ooh tell me more about ammonia, for the hands?

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Mbari

Member
7/1/13
461
576
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Nice work! Thanks for sharing. Excellent pictures too. On to the next...
Truly appreciate the kind words. Next adventure is reluming after aging a dial. Can't wait to get my oilers, binder and drsd dial.

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maxlex

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27/12/15
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The Netherlands
I think you did a great job
But you forgot to mention one of the most important things!
COURAGE!!!
Thats what you need to start working on it
And thats what you have.
Great job Sir


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Mbari

Member
7/1/13
461
576
93
I think you did a great job
But you forgot to mention one of the most important things!
COURAGE!!!
Thats what you need to start working on it
And thats what you have.
Great job Sir


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Aye aye cap'n. Your encouragement is what gets us noobs going.

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
 
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Hazing

And So It Begins... Again
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Ooh tell me more about ammonia, for the hands?

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
It wasn't for the hands but the case. Here's the finished product - most of this natural. When I first got this, I just wanted to take the newness off so you just soak it in salt water and put it in a container with ammonia (not submerged in ammonia but in a tight space with it).

The ammonia and salt react with the brass.
95ce9d9bacc8af4468959d5e8e76c7ae.jpg


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