Repair + Service: Rolex Oyster Submariner 16610 calibre 3135

IMG_0269Like London busses – this the the 2nd out of 3 Rolex watches with the 3135 movement in my workshop this month. That’s the power of Google – as soon as I do the first one, my ranking for that particular calibre goes up, and so on. Not that I mind; I love the 3135. It’s simply a great movement, and beautifully executed.

This one was sent in by Nici, who must be the dream wife of every watch enthusiast! She arranged everything, and sent in her husband’s watch for a service. That’s got to be love…

IMG_0271The watch hardly moves, and stops regularly, even when fully wound. So something has to be wrong…

IMG_0274As I used to work as a car mechanic, I recognise these marks straight away – they are little pieces of metal emitted when MIG welding, and I used to have these on my glasses 😉 Not sure you should wear a Rolex when welding, but the watch apparently can take it.


No lack of dirt on the case as well.IMG_0276

That will need a bit of cleaning as well 😉IMG_0282

The usual dirt under the bezel.IMG_0283

First look at the lovely bottom plate after removing the dial and hands.IMG_0286

The auto winder assembly. The detail of the execution is stunning.IMG_0290

The top plate without the auto winder.IMG_0295

The gear train.IMG_0301

The great wheel (the one driven by the barrel, and the only wheel still in place) doesn’t want to come out, and there is a reason for that.IMG_0305

I don’t want to force anything, so I remove everything else before trying to get the great wheel out.IMG_0306

Time for the bottom plate.IMG_0308

Again, everything beautifully made.IMG_0320

The date changer lever has a bit of corrosion on it and will need some cleaning up.


The great wheel after pushing it out of the jewel. The bottom pivot is damaged, and had a lot of almost crystallised lubricant on it, which had turned extremely hard, and had worn down the pivot. A new wheel is in order.IMG_0324Off into the cleaning machine.


I start off by applying a thin layer of braking grease to the barrel.IMG_0698

Then the new mainspring goes in.IMG_0700

The barrel bridge in place, and the balance jewels put back in and oiled.


The new great wheel.IMG_0703

The new great wheel turns freely, and I can continue to put the movement back together.IMG_0704

Gear train and pallet fork back in place.IMG_0705

I drop the balance in, and the movement starts beating.IMG_0707

After correcting the beat error, it’s still a bit fast, and I will adjust that after having let the movement beat for a couple of days.IMG_0708

Time for the bottom plate.IMG_0709

Almost there.IMG_0710

The date disk goes in.IMG_0713

And the dial and hands are put back on.IMG_1136

Charles from Watch Glass Cutting has replaced the crystal and polished the case and bracelet.IMG_1137

I case the movement.IMG_1138

And adjust the beat rate to +3s/day in dial down position, which is about as close as I can get to +-0s/day average in all positions.IMG_1140

The new gasket gets some silicone grease.IMG_1141

And the watch is back together.IMG_1142

Charles did a great job polishing, and all the welding marks are gone.IMG_1143Looking great again.

15 thoughts on “Repair + Service: Rolex Oyster Submariner 16610 calibre 3135

  1. These watches ‘were’ tool watches, not luxury investment pieces. Like most kids I wanted a sub because James Bond wore one, but it was when I was in hospital the guy in the next bed to me showed me his beat up sub – he worked on a building site and wore it every day.

    I wore my plexi sub every day, went swimming, worked on the car etc. Then as I noticed the value go up I wore it less and less. Today I wear a 6309 vintage diver, Damasko and Sinn. I wonder if I will start thinking twice about wearing these as beaters?

  2. Pingback: Aftermarket sapphire crystal back for Rolex?

  3. Hi
    I luckily found this site. Great to read and see the procedures and your documentation of both your great work. How much time do you need to service a Rolex Day Date 1803? I’m picking up a Rolex Day Date Oysterquartz 19018 from an auction in London. Do you service Rolex Oysterquartz?

  4. Hi Christian,

    I can never properly oiled the reversing wheels, which can lead to rough hand (manual) winding feel. Do you have any advise on that.

    Many thanks!

  5. That mechanism is simply stunning. Interesting that the balance bridge screws down on both sides, rather than just one as on most watches.

    The submariner is a very nice piece, personally I would love an early GMT-Master II (Same case I believe) but a black one, not a Pepsi or Coke bezelled one. I simply cannot force myself to buy a Rolex (yet, as I am too young and not far enough in my career, if you know what I mean). I have come to the decision that I will gladly wear one if it is given to me as a gift (hopefully my future employers are also WatchGuy followers!).

    As ever, an excellent write-up with gorgeous pictures.

    Thanks Christian.

  6. Stunning watch and one that would be on most collectors wish list I reckon!
    Welding in a 4k watch is an interesting decision! 🙂 I don’t even wear any of my £300 Rado’s in foot clinics coz of the nail dust! 😉

    • I know, but then I have seen mechanics wearing Speedmasters and sewage treatment work operators wearing Breitlings… I guess the thinking is that it they are good enough to go in to space or down to the Marianas trench they will probably survive the experience 🙂

  7. Blue and gold is lovely combo… do we know when this dates from?

    I assume it has been serviced since the factory, but that the wrong grade of grease was used on the great wheel… or would even the correct grease crystallise under some circumstances?

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