Service: Rolex 1601 calibre 1570

IMG_1229There is one watch that will mean the most to you, and that will always stay with you. It’s your father’s watch. This is my father’s Rolex that he bought in 1973, and he wore it constantly for 40 years. Only in the last months of his life did he take it off as he didn’t manage to auto wind it any more.

He was 47 when he bought it, and it was the only extravagant purchase he ever made. Considering that it served him for 40 years, not that extravagant.Only once was the watch serviced, in the mid 80s. I put it on the timegrapher last year, with astonishing results.

The time to service the watch has come too soon, but here it is on my bench.IMG_1230

40 years of constant wear have left their mark, but you can see what a Rolex can take.IMG_1237

Not as good as a year ago, but the watch hasn’t been used for a couple of months. Still amazing for almost 30 years without a service!IMG_1239

There is some dirt, but the general condition is very good.IMG_1242

As far as I know, the crystal was never changed.IMG_1243

The dial is in mint condition. The luminous compound does of course not do its job any more, but I don’t re-lume, unless the compound is coming off.IMG_1244

Yes, this is a Rolex movement, and you can tell. Nice decoration, and great execution. You can tell somebody has been here before, as the left handed nut that holds the date wheel has been mauled badly. I remember my father telling me that it was a local watchmaker, rather than Rolex that serviced the watch.IMG_1247

The top plate with the auto winder removed. The central second arbor/pinion is held in place with a spring, just like on the Omega movements of the same era. Later movements (3035, 3135) have a better construction with a jewelled second hand arbor.IMG_1252

The movement is well “signed” by the chap that serviced it in the 80s. Lots of scratches where he removed the circlips holding the rotor.IMG_1249

And here is the mark of the lad with the sharpened screwdriver 😉IMG_1257Some dirt and solidified grease, as you would expect. No damage through wear and tear, though, apart from the rotor post showing a bit of abrasion, but not to a degree that it needs changing.373-01

Here is the rotor post – still good for a couple of decades.

373-02Some dirt on the balance jewel, and of course no oil left.373-03

I must say I don’t like this careless scratching around. You sometimes see older watchmakers who have gotten a bit “hardened” with time rummaging around a movement as if it were a truck engine. I don’t think it makes you work faster, and I don’t quite get it…IMG_1260

The mainspring shows its age as well, and I will of course put in a new one.IMG_1264

The little jewel on the yoke that presses on the date changer wheel is on the underside of the yoke, so you can’t see it. On later Rolex movements, it’s on the top side. Balance and escape wheel both have capped jewels.IMG_1270

The movement is apart and ready for the cleaning machine.IMG_1282

I start off with a new mainspring, and put the base movement back together. The beat error is adjusted on the balance cock, but the beat rate is adjusted with little screws on the balance wheel.IMG_1283

Not bad for a start, and two days later I have 280 degrees amplitude.IMG_1287

Yes, that nut still bothers me 😉IMG_1288

The hour hand was also slightly damaged before. Must have used a chisel to take it off …IMG_1290

I put in a new crystal, and press the bezel back on.IMG_1293

The movement is cased, and now I only need a new case back gasket.IMG_1295

New mainspring, new crystal, and a good clean. After 4 days, the watch is doing +-0s/day as I put it down dial down during the night to compensate for it losing 2 seconds a day, which it then regains overnight.


20 thoughts on “Service: Rolex 1601 calibre 1570

  1. I noticed you mentioned placing the watch in dial down position to gain seconds in the night. My question is then, in what wrist positions a auto watch gains /looses time ??

  2. Hi Christian, great write up. How do you recommend removing the bezel on the datejust 1601? Which tool do you use? Can you please help with instructions or video. Would kindly appreciate it.

  3. Hello,
    Thank you for this beautiful review.
    How to explain this variation of amplitude (255 to 280) in 2 days please ?
    Best regards.

  4. Dear Christian, I hope this still works cause I have a question regarding a watch problem I have. I bought an old Rolex on a market in England.
    The watch looked good but the person who sold it told me that the case is not to good.

    The caliber is the 1570, the case is the 1500.
    I have been looking for a new case but the original case is hard to find.
    What I did find was a case for the 15000. This case has original the 3035 caliber.

    What I want to know is: does the caliber 1570 fit in the case 15000?
    The size is the same so that won’t be the problem, but is the height of the movement also the same? For my feeling the height is smaller of the 1570 when it’s mounted under the dial. That would mean that the stem is a bit higher then the tube hole where it has to pass through. Is this correct? Or do both movements have the same size and do they fit in the same case?

    hoping to receive an answer.

  5. Hi Christian, Ive recently purchased a Rolex 1603 (1977), its gaining about +1 second a minute. I’m constanly checking it again my iPhone no matter how i position it at night its not loosing time. Also to manually wind it its very, very stiff so much so it hurts.
    What can i do to make any sort of difference before sending it to be serviced?
    Kind regards

  6. Pingback: Rolex Repair Service |

  7. Love these stories that relate the item to the legacy of the owner.

    He must have rinsed it every day. I am amazed in seeing that it has no case corrosion under the case gasket. Never seen this on any other watch of this vintage.
    Thanks for sharing

    • “He must have rinsed it every day. I am amazed in seeing that it has no case corrosion under the case gasket. Never seen this on any other watch of this vintage.”

      I have two watches from this era, both as original purchases, a 1974 1600 Datejust (similar to Christian’s one, but with a black dial and plain bezel) and a 1967 7928/0 Tudor Submariner.

      The Tudor I always showered with on after sailing (in saltwater), the Datejust I never rinsed (mainly because I never sailed with it) and both are still fine, still on original 7206 1960s riveted bracelets and no corrosion evident anywhere (despite the 40-48 years of their life spent in and on the water (and heat and humidity) in Sydney, Australia).

      That said, I’ve seen some other newer examples that appear to have been left in 36 molar sulfuric acid and I just wonder how they got that way …

  8. Thanks for sharing your father’s watch and the service of a beautiful movement; it honours both your Dad and his watch!

  9. My Grandfather and father weren’t particularly watch men so I have no nice watch from my grandfather or watch to inherit from my father! 🙁
    In fact I got my father into watches. He now dons a early 60’s Rado Diastar with an NSA bracelet! 🙂

  10. I really relate to the special nature of a Father’s Watch. I thank you for the great job you did on my dad’s and thank you too for this wonderful blog.

  11. This is a great little article and i love the photos of the watch parts. this will do consumers good to see what goes into servicing a Rolex watch. And these genuine Rolex parts, are getting increasingly more expensive.

  12. It is a classic design, solidly executed and with a strong family connection – I hope you wear it rotation with your 6694!

    Could that grollied nut have been replaced or polished out?

      • Great story Christian on your Father’s Rolex service. I’m sure that botched screw would cost some $$ to replace but you do have some time to hunt one down for a good price :). As a side story my Father’s Omega Constellation Date/Date from the early 70’s was just serviced for the first time. The watchmaker was stunned with its great condition. Keep us posted on your Dad’s watch !!! And that nut ! lol.

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