Servicing a vintage Rolex

I’m looking at getting my 1988 Rolex Datejust serviced but after reading the “Your Watch & Naim” thread I can’t decide which way to turn.

I had thought, despite the obvious price premium, an authorised Rolex service centre would be the best option but reading the thread has given me second thoughts. I don’t mind the internals being renewed if required but I don’t want the age related imperfections on the watch removed. It wouldn’t look like my watch without its little battle scars.

A search for independent repairers has given a few options but I’m not entirely happy shipping off my watch to an unknown. One possible option was Luxury Watch Repairs based in Harvey Nichols, Manchester (as well as other retailers). Whilst happy to have a known address Trust Pilot did throw up some less than glowing reviews.

Has anyone here used an independent they would recommend?

Thanks in advance.
Steve O.


Used them happily with my 1963 (?) Tudor Oyster. You won’t get your patina polished out unless you ask for it.



Use official Rolex service centre and ask then to leave the case and bracelet alone.


It’s more that I’ve read that they have replaced dials because, like mine, some of the luminous spots were missing. I’ve been told mine is a rare dial …

Hi Steve, if you were based in the US, I’d recommend Rik E. Dietel at Time Care Inc. Rik is based in Florida and is a certified watchmaker and that has access to a Rolex parts account. Prices much favorable than RSC, Rik is a very nice guy to chat watches with. I will be sending my 114270 to Rik when it needs service and I remember being quoted $600 when I spoke with Rik. On the West Coast, LA WatchWorks ( springs to mind.

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I used Watchguy a couple of years back. The relatively simple service on a Omega came back fine. However, the more complicated Pierce chronograph had two visits too them and was then posted back to me not working at all. I followed up with Watchguy and I was shocked at how I was treated. I definitely won’t be using him again.


Might make sense to become a member of Rolex Forums. Its a global community with very nice UK members who’d steer you in the right path,

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@Richard.Dane might know, he had his vintage Omega Speedmaster serviced recently

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Cheers. Should have stated I’m in the UK.

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As I’m also member of Rolex Forums, I did a search for UK Rolex Independents and Graham Simmonds at Superlative Time in West London comes highly recommended.

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Last year, my mid-60s Oyster Perpetual Datejust (belonged to my father before) took some water in - not sure why. It was still working but had a bit of mist in the middle of the ‘glass’. I took it to Rolex in Paris for repair, and, as a temporary replacement, got my old swatch back, which was dead- presumably flat battery. After dropping the Rolex off, I passed by the Swatch store who had a look and changed the battery, cleaned the watch etc… How much? They said ‘free, the watch is guaranteed for life’. It took 3 months to fix the Rolex and about 1500 euros. I went misty again in the shower … I am now using an iwatch :slight_smile:

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1500 euros? There must have been some other damage involved there, a standard service would be about 700 and that includes new seals etc I broke the crystal on my Millgaus in 2018, messed up the hands and dial and got sapphire dust in the movement, all in all catastrophic, cost to repair £1435

Many years ago I was doing a lift of a 12 ton bronze propeller from about 120ft in a strong tide (there was only 1 minute of slack water) and I screwed up and got my arm caught in a bight on the lifting bag lines. To cut a long story short my Rolex was taken off and clipped onto a caribiner while I sorted my arm out on the way up. I was quite badly hurt so I left the watch there and got into the boat. Another disaster happened when a high wind blew up and a fishing boat got caught up in the lines and ultimately we had to cut it all free and sink the prop. We spent the next 3 months looking for it before we found it. The Rolex was still working, getting moved around in the tide, the case was a mess so it went back to Rolex who loved the story and did the whole job free of charge


That would be my choice too, never had anything but amazing service from them


Not just me then?

Here it is with Rolex. It’s the Rolex way.
Yes, you can have a service anywhere, but if that service throws up the need for parts, there is only one place-Rolex.
I have taken my Rolex GMT Master 2 into Rolex at King’s Hill. Not least as I live in Kent.
Dropped it off and within 2 days they contacted me to tell me what it needed. I could choose to have the watch/bracelet polished or not. They also told me when it was last in a Rolex Service Centre. I was forced to have nothing done. All work was discussed and agreed up front.
5 weeks later it was ready to be picked up. And since dec 2016, it has not missed a beat.
And yes, it was not cheap.
But, to use the word service does the job and injustice. It is a full strip, inspect, report and rebuild. It is an overhaul, not a service.
As I dropped mine off, I was able to talk to the reception lady face to face, albeit through Armalite Glass ( Yes, it is bullet proof).
If you get the chance, go to Kings Hill. Just off J4/M20. It is always worth dropping off an expensive piece and discussing your needs/wants etc.
Yes, you don’t need to send your Naim back to Naim ( or Class A), but if you do, you know what to expect ( great customer service, OEM parts, and yes a handsome bill )
Rolex ( like Omega now) do not sell independents parts. And any parts changed on your watch are on a replacement basis . You do not get the old bits back. Roles do not want these being sold. They have been replaced for good reason.
Rolex is about protecting the brand.


I’ll contact my nearest service centre next week and see if I can specify that they don’t under any circumstance change the dial.
However I broached the subject of service a few years back at a Goldsmiths branch and was told Rolex take the watch and do the work they believe the watch needs so I took that to mean I couldn’t specify to what extent the watch was serviced.
Thanks for the comments so far.

If it’s all Rolex, then they should do just what you ask them to - so you can ask them to service and adjust the mechanism but leave the dial, case and bracelet alone.

However, if it has non-Rolex parts they will insist on changing those.

However - I have heard stories where they have not followed this approach, one which had a happy ending after legal action got it returned to as before condition (old dial and hands replaced) and one where they refused and didn’t seem to have the dial and hands anymore (odd, as they usually return them anyway). So I’d possibly not trust them, and would find an independent. If you’re near Birmingham there are many in the jewellery quarter, otherwise the Rolex forums will help out.

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If you send your Naim whatever to Salisbury with “mods” I’d expect them to 1) Not touch it and return it 2) offer you a price to put it back to factory.( design, recognising that some degradation may suit you)
If you go via Goldsmiths or whoever, you have created a communication barrier. Will they understand your requirements and communicate. What happens if something goes wrong? Yes, your contract is with Goldsmiths not Rolex.
I don’t know where the OP lives, but if the watch means a lot, then schedule in a trip to Kent. But it might be best to wait until we are out of Tier 4

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I’m in North Wales and my nearest Rolex service centre is Mappin & Webb in Chester.
Wales is in total lockdown and Cheshire is now in Tier 4 so a personal visit is not possible just yet and Kent is a non starter, as good as they sound.

Sentimentally the watch doesn’t mean that much to me, it wasn’t a gift or an inheritance, but I’ve yet to see one in the flesh I like more. The only reason I know the dial is rare is because I once nearly sold it.

The dilemma I have is, if I send the watch to Rolex and they change the dial then that likely halves the watches current value. Plus I don’t know how much work the watch needs on top of the service charge.

My other option is I have an offer from one of the watch sites that means I could sell this watch and buy a new Datejust for only a few hundred more (estimating the Rolex service costs at £1K and assuming I can get another one that is).

My Datejust was given to me by late wife in 1993 and I cherish it dearly .
It has been serviced once by Rolex in 2007 , at a cost of £175 .