Playing with the Submariner (update)

So, this is a followup from a previous post about the subs I bought. There was some more stuff I wanted to do:

  • Swap the movement for the VR/SA3135, the new version of the Noob 3135 clone. It is getting ever closer to genuine and supposedly does not require service before implementation.
  • Replace the insert (the old insert that came with the watch lost the perl. I replaced it, glued it in, and lost the replacement perl two days later). I bought several more inserts, an ARF (another replica factory) and two Noobs, one with the molotov mod (that modification is done so that the lettering on the insert resembles genuine insert, that is filled with platinum and catches the light in a certain way that regular replica inserts cannot match out of the box).

The movement swap

Let’s start with the movement. The VR/SA3135 is a big deal. A lot has been written about it, for example here (might require registration. I don’t know, I am a member, so I see the post anyway).

I bought two movements from a forum member, waited four days, and the package arives.

Well packed. Origin: Greece. Before that, China :).

Well packed.

Here we go, two VR/SA3135 movements. I regulated both, but for the purposes of this post, I will only focus on the one that I will use in the end.

Out of the box, it is a little slow. 9 seconds per day, and quite a big beat error. I proceed to tweak it a bit (over the next five minutes or so).

This is better. Beat error not ideal, but overall, this should settle a bit with use. Also I like my watches to be a fast, if they have to be anything, because setting the time is quicker, if you just need the world to catch up with your watch, and not the other way around.

Face down is perfect. Still large B.E. but hey, I can live with this.

And so is to the side. The real upscale watches are regulated in five positions, I only do three. The last one here is how the movement sits most of the time when on the wrist. This is ok.

On with the show

I take the watch off my wrist and off we go, to the races :).

The red thing in front is the bezel remover. You put the watch in, and turn the blue wheel. The blades slide underneath the bezel and pop it right off. I would not necessarily need to take the bezel off, but …

… two days ago, I was playing with the bezel, trying different inserts and so on, and I have, by mistake, taken off the crystal and ring. I pushed it back on with the press, and did not check whether the little magnifying window (called the cyclops) is straight. And it is not as you can see. It was not that bad on the wrist, but it is not straight and that bothered me. So I decided I would fix that, when I was changing the movement.

The bezel is off. The new insert is prepared. Without the modification it would look bright white at any angle. See, how dark it is, depending on how the light hits it. That is the modification at work.

The crystal is off. On the left is the gasket. That goes on first. Then the crystal is pushed in. Then the ring comes around it. Note to self: Noob inserts require 3.00mm high gaskets. ARF inserts probably about 2.5mm.

A quick trip to my Rolex parts cache – I need another retaining ring to push the original in place. See the compartment on the right? These are all crystal gaskets of different heights from 2.3mm to 3.0mm. To the left of them are rolex dials. To the left of that are bezel rings and little gaskets that go into them. To the left of that are crystals, then the hands and so on. There are also three spare submariner cases in the botom left corner, and case backs next to them and a bunch of inserts…

I push the ring on, using another ring. If you don’t have another, you are kinda screwed. It is easy to break or scratch the crystal otherwise and this is a genuine one, which costs a pretty penny (about 250 EUR).

The crystal is now securely fastened. Now I need to de-case the movement, close it all down and test for water resistance.

The display back. The old movement is still inside. It is not as nicely decorated and I was just waiting for it to fail – it is two years old, and has never serviced or (probably) lubricated. Chinese factories are not known for sterile conditions.

Stil, the old SA3135, now with the back removed.

I now turn my attention to the stems. They are not the same. The old Noob one is on the right. I will need to cut the new one to size. I don’t get it why this needs to be done at all. Most 3135 Rolex cases are the same size, so surely you do not need to cut the original stem? Well, whatever. I need the crown to put it into the case to test for WR. Off the case goes, to bask in the air pressure, while I do the other stuff.

Here it is. The movement is out. I used a DSSD crown I had lying around to get the hands into position for removal.

Dial without hands. The old movement. Supposedly this dial is very close to genuine (Noob v7 3135). Obviously, the markers are not white gold as they are on the genuine, and they are not soldered, they are glued on to the dial. This is relevant to us. You’ll see why in a few moments.

Here we go, the dial is off. The old movement goes into storage. I’ll service it when I find the time. I need to completely disassemble it, clean it in a chemical bath, lubricate it and then put it back together. For now, I’ll let it be.

The dial on the new movement. Note to self: you need a very small screwdriver to unscrew the screws that fix the dial.

And then, disaster. I bump the dial and the 12 o’clock marker falls off. This does not happen on genuine dials, because the markers are soldered on. I suppose I am lucky, because that could have happened while I was wearing the watch, and that would suck – the marker plays pinball on the dial, it scratches the hands, wedges between them and then stops the movement… It took me a good fifteen minutes with the microscope and slow positioning of the marker until I could glue it back.

But finally, I am done. While I was at it, I swapped the hands from Noob to ARF, since I had them. Supposedly they are more like genuine, but I don’t see much difference, honestly. I might buy genuine ones. But they cost about 300 EUR. So we’ll see. The genuine dial is about 500 EUR and that is just too rich for me, even if it is made out of brass and white gold.
All this time, the case is under pressure in the WR tester.

Time to see if it is water resistant. And it is. I don’t provide photos of that, but no need. They would just show the case submerged in water.

Time to put the movement back into the case. Note to self: I need to buy more retaining screws. I don’t have any left.

The movement, dial and hands are back inside. I know it does not look like the crystal is aligned, but that is just the angle of the photo. There will be straight on photos, you will see, it is fine. By the way, the date flips at 12:01 :).

The bezel insert

First, I grease the seals and the little springs that provide the clicking action. Then I press the ring on, clean everything and then align and push the insert on. The Noob insert is slightly higher than the ARF insert. Also the bezel and crystal rings are different between ARF and Noob. That is relevant, because you need different height crystal gaskets in order to get the crystal just a bit, just a fraction of a millimetre above the insert, the same as the genuine watch.

Two photos for the end. First.

Second. See – the date window is straight.

UPDATE. I set the watch and did some actual work afterwards. It stopped after about half an hour. I moved the hands around a bit and it started working again. I am keeping a close eye on it, and if it happens again, I’ll open it up and see what I can see :).

UPDATE 2. It is about 20 hours later. The movement hasn’t stopped again and it is amazingly accurate. About 1 second fast after about 22 hours. So, on wrist it works out quite nicely. Things I might still do at some point in time: replace the hands and the dial.

8 thoughts on “Playing with the Submariner (update)”

  1. Great writeup! Your watch looks superb! I have a question as you seem to have had the same experience as me. Whilst popping off the bezel on my noob v7 it also took the crystal/gasket and ring off as one complete unit. Did you just press the whole unit back on? Or did you have to separate the 3 components and do them individually as you did the second time round?. Many thanks. Keep up the good work. Ben.

    1. Hi Ben!

      Thanks for posting. The gen crystal really makes the dial and date pop, I think. Whilst you could put the whole thing back (and I did it once, I think on an ARF. The Noob was too well machined), it was not water tight, as a result. I always test for WR after compromising the integrity of the case. Once you get the feel for it, it is not too hard to separate into components and put back together. If you have the chance to get someone to machine the ring pusher, that makes it a whole lot easier.

      1. Wow really appreciate the reply…I was not expecting that. Thank you for your help. I may have an old bezel as a ring pusher. I will try the whole unit firstly though and test for wr. If that fails I will separate and reassemble with a new gasket. Thank you for your help. Ben.

        1. Happy to help. You can get non-rolex gaskets from eBay quite cheaply (I think I bought them from wso or clarks). Cousins might also sell them. I went and bought 3 of each height (different reps have different heights and the genuine and rep crystals might not be of identical height, as well as bezel inserts. Always better to have many and try them out. I would suggest you first put the gasket with the crystal on without the ring. Put the bezel with the insert over it and see whether it fits. The crystal of the gen ceramic sub is not flush with the insert, but protrudes slightly. Once you are happy with the height, then put the ring on. Also, careful not to lose the little click springs :).

          1. Wow great, I appreciate your advice. I have actually completed the watch now. Replaced the noob ceramic insert with a great platinum looking one from aliexpress. I silicon greased the bezel and where the crystal retaining metal ring meets the case. I am very pleased with how it looks. I have subscribed to your blog and will work my way through your posts…which look great BTW. Much appreciated. Ben.

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