This instructable will guide you through removing and replacing the bezel on your Rolex Submariner. The same general process can be used with a GMT Master II. I used my stainless steel anniversary sub, reference 16610. The same process can be used with the two tone (16613) and solid gold (16618) subs. Just be extra careful on those 2, as the 18k gold is a lot softer than the SS.
**** I'll say it now. Attempt the following steps at your own risk. If you trash your Rolex, I'm not buying you another one! *****
Step 1: Prepping for the POP
For this instructable you'll need:
- Tape (electrical tape works great)
- A thin bladed knife. Not too sharp. Butter knife works great.
- Plastic bag (optional)
- A Rolex Submariner watch.
- 4X Jewelers Loupe (optional)
- Patience. This is my first Instructable, so bear with me.
- A reason to do this. The bezel on my watch was binding up when trying to turn it. I removed mine to clean it. Some people like to change bezels from time to time. You'll note that mine has a green bezel. Most Subs have a black one. If I can source a black one, I'd change it for a new look. Certainly cheaper than buying a whole new watch. Some GMT Master II owners will swap between pepsi, black or the so called coke bezels. Google those terms and you'll see what I mean.
So, first we have to prep the watch to avoid scratches. Some may want to remove the bracelet, but that's unecessary. You'll want to place a piece of tape right on one of the lugs*, ensuring it's right up against the bezel, but NOT covering the very thin gap between the watch case and the bezel.
IF you've never done this before, there's a spring that can fly off in the next step. It's really small, and it'll be a bugger to find if it takes flight. It may not be a bad idea to place the entire watch in a plastic bag to catch the potentially airborne spring. I've done this before and know how to avoid the flying spring. It would be harder to see the pics if i used a plastic bag anyway.
*on a watch, lugs are the "shoulders" that stick out from the case, between which the bracelet or strap is attached.
Step 2: POP time.
Being very careful, press the tip of your knife into the crack between the case and the bezel. You need to insert it just enough for it to grab the bezel. Then pry the bezel straight up, prying against the tape covered lug. It doesn't take a ton of effort.
First pic shows the watch just after the pop, second with the bezel removed.
Step 3: Be very CAREFUL with this spring.
Here's a pic of the spring that allows the bezel to click when you turn the bezel. It's not a coiled spring, but a straight spring. It's shaped like an L with a curve on the long part that has the same curve as arc of the watch face. It's a horrible thing to lose this spring. You'll also see that there is a lower ring still on the watch in the first picture. The second picture shows all the parts separated.
Step 4: Removing the bezel insert.
The bezel is really 2 pieces (first (blurry) pic), the bezel, and the insert (green). The insert is made of anodized aluminum. It's pretty easy to pop out. From the back of the bezel grasp it like I'm doing in picture 2. Apply even force with your 2 fingers until it pops out of the bezel. 3rd pic is of all 4 parts. If you want to take it apart any more, you're on your own.
Step 5: Inspection and cleaning.
Now that it's all apart, you can inspect the bezel for wear and clean out any gunk that built up. A lot of what's in there are skin cells. Pretty nasty. I use a 4x jewelers loupe to inspect the 120 teeth on the bezel. Mine are in great shape. I used an old toothbrush and some Dawn dish detergent to degunkify.
That loupe is a cheapo, about $15 online. You can use a magnifying glass or whatever you have available.
Step 6: Reinstalling the bezel.
To reinstall the bezel, first place the inner ring on the watch. Then carefully insert the spring in the hole in the case and gently tuck the long part of the L into the slot along the raised round part of the watch. I'll reuse a previous picture to show you what I mean. Now take the bezel (insert still removed) and line it up with the case, starting at the spring. You'll then apply even pressure with both of your fingers as you work your way around the bezel (pic 2). Ultimately your fingers will meet opposite the spring, and if you're pressing hard enough you'll hear a distinct click as it snaps back into place. Don't be afraid to use some pressure, that stainless is strong. Gold watches will require the same pressure, but you'll want to be a touch more careful because the gold is pretty soft. Make sure you hear the click. You don't want your bezel popping off and falling through the subway platform on your way to work.
Once it snaps into place, you can rotate it and make sure everything is working properly.
Step 7: Reinstalling the insert.
This is very similar to installing the bezel on the watch. First, make line up the insert so the triangle is EXACTLY lined up with the 12 o'clock position. (This is another reason you may perform this instructable. You'd be surprised how many of these watches are a touch off from the factory with this alignment. Many won't notice. Some will be driven crazy)
Once positioned, do the same 2 finger walk around until the insert clicks into place. In my pic, I'm going to hear the click just when my fingers both reach the place around the 40.
That's it. You're done. Enjoy your watch. This process fixed my buggy bezel rotation. I could have just as easily popped in a black bezel if I had one.
Hope this wasn't too terrible for my first stab at an Instructable.