Rolex is unlike any other watch manufacturer. In fact, it is a universe of its own: valued, admired, respected, and recognized across the globe. So, we created a step-by-step guide on how to open a Rolex watch.
However, you may need to open its case back to make a minor repair or replace its battery. Recent models do not have a battery but rely on kinetic energy generated by the motion of the wearer’s wrist.
So, remember that opening a Rolex watch without training or experience in watch repair may do more damage. For example, you may need to fix the inner mechanisms of the watch. So, we suggest you call a professional to do it. After all, it’s an expensive watch.
But if you still want to do the job yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn how to open a Rolex watch without damaging it.
4 Easy Steps to Open a Rolex Watch
1. Familiarize yourself with Rolex’s parts and part placements
Before opening a Rolex watch, familiarize yourself with its parts, part placements, and inner workings.
Understand well how each piece works in conjunction with the others. Furthermore, commit such information to your memory. Carefully organize your workstation and tools to start the task at hand.
Remember that you have a lot invested in the watch itself. It’s worth it to learn how it operates so it’s safe to service it, just like you would in a sports car.
2. Have the right tools ready
Next, acquire the necessary tools for the job. A high-quality set of jewelers’ or watchmakers’ screwdrivers should be in order. Precision-made sets are also ideal. These sets have uniform screwdriver blade sizes that can fit on the smallest screws and watch parts.
Invest with surgical steel tweezers as well to hold the tricky watch pieces. Also, buy a pair of watchmaking gloves (not latex, but cloth material) to keep the watch safe if you sweat when working.
A magnifier and a light (or combination lighted lens) will prevent the accidental loss of a screw, a sundry tiny piece, or a dial. The light will keep the watch parts in clear view.
Opening it will be easier when you have all these.
3. Place the watch in a padded work mat
The least you want is for debris to get into the watch. So, work in a dust-free environment. You don’t also want to open your Rolex in a steamy room because it is not good for the inside of your timepiece.
Aside from opening the watch in a clutter-free area and using watchmaking gloves, it’ll be beneficial to have a padded work mat ready. Place it there carefully to keep it and its parts in a clear view. The mat will also safeguard the most fragile pieces.
Once the Rolex watch’s parts are neatly organized, and you have the proper tools, it will be a less intimidating sight to start your work.
Must Read: How Much Does It Cost To Service A Watch?
4. Open or unscrew the case back
For the fourth step, let’s focus on cases. Most Rolex watches are screw-down, even an Oyster case. The few exceptions are very old Rolex watches that have regular closures. You can open or unscrew the modern case back by using different tools, as follows:
Using a rubber ball
The first option is to use a rubber ball, which is about the same size as a tennis ball but is inflatable. You can buy one at local watch stores or online. If you don’t have one, any squishy rubber ball works just fine.
Take the ball, apply pressure against the case back, and rotate it counterclockwise. This technique works on most case backs, including Rolex. When applying pressure against the case back, press it hard enough to create friction between the watch and the ball.
When it does, it’ll grip the ridges of the timepiece and will allow you to turn the ball counterclockwise.
Using a screwdriver
Another option is to use a screwdriver. However, don’t just use a regular one. It will not work with Rolex and may damage the back. Or worse, it may make it difficult to open the case.
Rolex case backs also have to find grooves in their edges. Therefore, it’s best to use Rolex-specific tools to make it safe and stable when you’re working on it.
If you have a screw remover, it’ll also help you to disassemble a watch band for repair, maintenance, or repair. The same tool will allow you to adjust the size of a watch bracelet.
Using a die
A die kit is a watch repair tool that comprises bolts and nuts. However, a specific die kit for Rolex watches often comes with different dies to fit other timepieces. You can buy these from a watch repair shop or online.
If you’re buying dies online, measure across from one ridge edge (found at the back of the watch) to another. Then, try multiple dies until one fits appropriately into the screw setting at the back of your timepiece.
The edge of the watch setting should look like a standard dime. But be careful to apply the die straight. Coming at it from an angle may scratch the timepiece.
Service Vintage Rolex vs. Modern Rolex Watches
Vintage Rolexes get more expensive and harder to service over the years. Therefore, opening them is different from a modern Rolex watch.
In addition, it’s not easy to re-fabricate the vintage parts. Plus, the demand for Rolex’s vintage watch parts outpaced the supply with the Rolex boom. For instance, the Rolex Submariner has a high market value. Therefore, the watch and its components have become hard to find.
The Bottom Line
Opening a Rolex watch is risky, especially a mechanical watch. The act of opening a case may cause irreversible damage if you use incorrect temperament and tools. Therefore, it’s always best to have a professional handle it.
However, if you insist on getting familiar with the process, you have all the steps needed above. Make sure to use the specific tool, familiarize yourself with the parts and their placements, and work in a clean environment.
Opening your Rolex will be easier when you consider all these things.
For the Rolex watches in your collection, don’t adopt the philosophy of “wait until it stops running properly.” Watches serviced regularly or every five years don’t quickly wear out and can last for a long time.
If you like this review, please read our other reviews at EvesWatch.com.
My name is Eve Acosta and I’m the person behind this site. Watches are what get me ticking ;).
No, but seriously, I just love watches, I have over 30 myself. It’s an obsession of mine, which is why my husband recommended me to put my hobby into some good use and build this site – so I did.
My passion for timepieces came from the fact that my parents own a small chain of shops selling timepieces. I’ve worked at the shop since I was 11 and fell in love with the merchandise.