Introduction: Remove and Replace the Bezel on Your Rolex Submariner.

Picture of Remove and Replace the Bezel on Your Rolex Submariner.

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

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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.



josiahw9 (author)2017-08-28

What should I do if I can't get a butter knife under the edge of the bezel?

Yachtmaster00 (author)2016-09-28

hi mcgary - awsome explanation. My wife has lost the bezel, carrier, and spring for her Yachtmaster Rolex, and we have been quoted $2000 to have it repaired here in Sydney. Can you recommend where we can buy the parts and then I'll follow your instructions

Appreciate your help


mcgary911 (author)Yachtmaster002016-09-29

Charles, your wife is lucky to have a yachtmaster which features a platinum bezel and dial. Your wife is less lucky that she has to replace that platinum bezel. That stuff is expensive. You don't have to go to a Rolex dealer to get a legit Rolex repair. A good watch shop that fixes Rolex watches should be able to show you documentation that they have a legit Rolex parts account. That's a good assurance that you're getting the real deal. It'll still be expensive, but may save you a bit. Genuine dials are certainly sold privately, but there are a lot of fakes out there. Unless you have a good amount of knowledge, buy a bezel or watch locally and meet at a watch shop who has agreed to verify authenticity (for a fee). That way you can save a few bucks from a private sale and ensure you're getting the real deal. There's no cheap answer here, but I hope this helps.

ShawnH49 (author)2016-05-08

I was about to give up because I was having a heck of a time getting the bezel insert to snap in. I just couldn't seem to apply enough direct pressure. Then I thought of something I had in my garage that made it immensely easier, so I thought I'd share my solution.

The tool sitting next to my watch is a Spline Tool. The real use of this tool is to install screen material (window screen, pool cages, etc). This is an all plastic and nylon tool and the larger roller was just the right width to apply the last little bit of pressure needed to get my bezel insert to snap back into place. The Nylon roller is highly unlikely to scratch the bezel insert, so I felt it was safe to use.

I got the bezel 90% in by hand and then used the tool to help me with that last 10% that was needed to snap it in place.

So, if you just can't get the bezel insert to snap in, go to the big box store and pick one of these up for $3.00 if you don't already own one.

mcgary911, thank you very much for your informative post!!! You saved yet another person an unnecessary trip to the Rolex dealer.

LeeF23 (author)2016-04-30

Really helpful thanks. I just caught the bezel of my Sea Dweller on the exhaust of my paramotor and it popped off. Luckily it was in the boot of my car at the time so I managed to find the spring, I knew there would be one but I had no idea that it would be so small, I'd say no chance of finding it out on the street. Long story short - thanks to your excellent instructions I had it refitted like new in just a couple of minutes, definitely saved me an expensive trip to my local Rolex dealer.

mcgary911 (author)LeeF232016-05-06

Wow, lucky to find that even in the confines of your trunk. I'll admit,
I had to look to see what a paramotor was. Very cool toy. Glad you're
back in business watch-wise.

Hk1964 (author)2016-02-02

Perfect instructions, exactly what I needed, a big thanks, H

mcgary911 (author)Hk19642016-02-02

HK, glad I can help.

I guess this is a good time to say that this references the older stainless inlaid bezels, NOT the current ceramic ones offered on the Sub and GMT Master II.

DanM31 (author)2015-07-12

This was great. I inherited a 1980's gold submariner from my father in law. My wife got it refurbished 2 1/2 years ago after her father passed and he left it to me. I am distraught that I just lost my bezel. I have no idea where it came off. Where can I get a new one? We went back to the same jeweler and they said it HAD to go back to Rolex. I am still waiting for the quote which I am sure will be quite expensive.

JohnnyS4 (author)2015-03-19

This has been super helpful. I have been wanting to give my grandfather a Rolex as a gift for a while now. I had a Rolex but, I wanted to remove and replace the bezel on it. At first I am a little nervous to try but this has helped a lot, thank you for your help.

F.D.S made it! (author)2015-01-05

Thanks for this. Have a GMT II (16710T) and used these instructions to finally get it right when replacing the bezel. The spring looks slightly different as the bezel is bidirectional, and had to bend it outwards a bit - first time the bezel snapped shut but there was no clicks at all when turned. There was a scary moment when it felt locked up, but turning it counter-clockwise with good force seemed to seat the spring properly. Turns and clicks like butter now

RikerA (author)2014-12-01

Can I replace the bezel of my customized Rolex diamond watch like this?

mcgary911 (author)2014-11-27

This wil work on the sport watches with rotating bezels. You'd likely want to ensure the bezel doesn't flex, as that could stress any cement used to secure the diamonds. I've never removed the bezel from a dress watch. I never had a reason to. Which one do you have? That link has a bunch of different ones. Only one is a sport watch, a GMT master. That similar to he one here, but it has fewer clicks and a straighter spring, as that bezel rotates both ways.

robert.anglen (author)2014-09-21

Huge shout out to this instructable. Just saved me $500, not to mention reassured me my stainless/gold Sub was not broke. The bevel caught on my trunk lid and popped off in my driveway; bevel and ring went flying. The spring stayed with the watch. Like others, I saw the spring and thought it was a metal shaving from the break. Luckily, I found this post before I discarded it. I called a repair shop and told me it would be $500 for service and $1K for new (gold) bevel. Instead, I followed the steps here and fixed it in 10 minutes.

mcgary911 (author)robert.anglen2014-10-26

Very cool Robert. I'm glad that some are still finding this instructable useful. As I'd mentioned, it DOES have a limited audience, but when someone falls into that audience, it can save them a bunch of money. Enjoy your watch. I happen to have a 2 tone sub myself (blue dial\bezel). It's the sharpest one I own.

mcgary911 (author)2014-04-17

Wow just saw this (due to the ddhix reply). Rolex does recommend a service every 5 years, and that price is about right. It includes much more than just an oil change. If Laborte is talking about the Ballew's in Sea Girt on Rt 35, I've actually gotten some good service there about 7 years back. They fixed a minor problem and wouldn't accept any money. If Laborte is still around, I'd like to hear how this turned out.

Laborte (author)2011-12-31

My bezel came off the other day (had my rolex sub for 10 years only taken off to go to sleep). My daughter found the bezel in the dryer to my surprise and gave it to me so it was missing / off my watch for about an hour, to my surprise I didn't notice it was missing. my watch worked fine by the way with the exception of the missing bezel. I examined my watch when she gave the bezel to me. I mistook the spring for a metal sheer (when metal on metal sometimes produces a sheer and i very carefully and like an idiot removed it. I popped the bezel back on. Looked great but noticed now it made no click when moved counter clockwise and would also turn clockwise... Now I know why I took the spring out. Well I took it to my authorized Rolex dealer Ballew Jewelers in Seagirt to have them replace the Bezel Click Spring. They told me I was over do for the tune up (every 5 years adding oil???) I asked price they told me 500 dollars which I said for now please just replace the bezel click spring please. .... Well guess what they call me up the other day and tell me that my watch bezel didn't fall off but was knocked off and the shock broke the balance which will cost 300 dollars. I told them that didn't make sense so i told them I needed a second opinion. I just picked it up and wouldn't you know it the watch doesn't work... I'm so made at them I feel like they didn't get the 500 dollars for the tune up and tried to get 300 out of me. When i dropped my watch off it worked... and now it dosen't I am so pissed its not funny. Its new Years eve and Rolex NY is closed til Tuesday the 3rd. I need to complain because i feel like some real funny business is going on. I asked them when i was leaving to please make a copy of the receipts so I can show Rolex when I complain they did hesitantly. I know these guys just closed their Red Bank store so I'm wondering if this is some type of scam because times are tought. I am never one to try to get over on someone or would I ever try to screw someone out of a rolex dist. ship but something is very fishy about this and right now I have a 5,000 dollar paper weight which is killing me.

ddhix (author)Laborte2014-04-16

I'm sorry to hear about your watch problems. But I have to say that it is common for watchmakers and customers to have differences like this.

I am certain that you are telling the truth when you say the watch worked after the trauma. But understand that the balance staff was most likely fractured. In this case, the watch can run for a period of time, until the pivot in the balance finally separates entirely as a result of the severe fracture. What most likely happened on the watchmaker's end, was he noticed the watch was not working, and decided to do an inspection. Upon inspection, he found the broken balance staff.

The every five years adding oil. . . Well, I am definitely on the side of the AWCI and NAWCC when they give the comparison of oiling your car engine. You change the oil in your engine every so many miles, because the oil gets dirty. A watch and clock requires the same care, except on a phenomenally smaller scale.

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with a broken Rolex. Watchmakers, Clockmakers, and customers do have a higher instance of disagreements. The one piece of advice I offer to anyone who is buying an expensive clock (like a Grandfather Clock), or watch (like a Rolex) is to keep in mind that since you are buying a high price, high quality item, then the inevitable repairs on it are going to be high price, and high quality. People are often shocked when I quote them $400 for a full grandfather clock service.

3366carlos (author)2013-02-26

i just saw an antiques show and they were saying that having all those scratches on a rolex add price to it, since the scratches tell a story. i wish i could afford a rolex.

kpfeifferbush (author)2011-08-18

The bezel came off my 11 year old black steel submariner. Gone. Where do i got to replace it?

sbarber3 (author)2011-07-11

Hi, great article. I am sick of paying Rolex like $400 for these stupid repairs so thank you for the info. I did want to mention that my 5513 had an omni-directional rotating bezel and NO spring, so if anyone is confused and has a 5513 (I'm sure other models) don't be surprised if there is no spring and it turns both ways.

LA.Boi.93 (author)2011-02-25

my god! i love you! (not really, but u know what im saying) my ss black sub from 1992 was getting really gunky, and i cleaned it all, (except internals, that i sent it in for) but they didnt do under the bezel and it was stiff, so i follwed this and now its how it was wayyyyyyyy back when i got it... :)

mcgary911 (author)LA.Boi.932011-02-25

LAB, Glad to see this dusty old instructable is still getting some mileage and glad your watch is working better now. Enjoy those nice smooth clicks.

andrewjuguete (author)2010-11-29

awesome instructable, really helped me out
i had two orients with misaligned bezels, drove me crazy

owenstokes (author)2010-06-06

hey guys i know this is 2 years old but im so glad i found it as its saved me a small fortune after droppinjg my sub the bezel poped right off found the bezel but no spring -gutted- however now i still have the watch with bezel it just spins freely though any help onj finding a spring outside of rolex would be a great help as i was quoted over $1245 here in uk for service and repair to bezel cheers everyone

leegaff (author)2010-05-01

I have a Rolex Submariner that I just had a main spring replaced.  When I picked the watch up from the repair shop I noted that the black insert between the bezel and crystal had most of the black color removed and the numbers and index marks also.  I did not notice the damage until I drove away and observed the watch in lighter conditions.  By the time I got back to the shop it was closed.  Since the repair guy did not bring the damage to my attention I assume he will claim it was like that when I turned the watch in for repair.    I assume a new black number ring can be installed to replace the damaged one.   What is suggestion re this problem. 

mikeyumi (author)2010-03-27

I did this with a Stainlees and Gold Submariner today. Made me a bit nervous, but it worked great. Rolex is about 15 years old. Heaps of grime between the bexel and frame. (It was a Bit*&%7 to turn bezel. Cleaned it up and put it back together. It's like new and all for free! Well Done and Thanks.

Kobinger (author)2010-03-02

I have a submariner (genuine) and I cannot for the life of me rotate the bezel.  I don't want to take a pair of channel locks to it, in fear of marring the metal beyond repair. 

And prying the bezel off of a non-rotating bezel would be risky because the "spring or something else" might be (bent, broken, repositioned...) . 

Is this correct?  Does anyone have an opinion on the matter.

Should I go forth and "pop" the bezel off?

Taank eeou


mcgary911 (author)Kobinger2010-03-03

First thing, your Submariner only rotates counter clockwise. So start with the simple stuff, make sure you're turning it the proper way. A GMT Master will turn both ways.

You can try removing the bezel to see what's up, just use the plastic bag trick. If you're uncomfortable with that, or feel you're having to use too much pressure, pack it up, and find a decent jeweler. It shouldn't be much money to have them take a look.

Good luck..

Drillmn300 (author)2009-09-05

A Rolex will only be worn by those that can afford them, too heavy or too bulky are comments made by people that can not afford to spend that much on a watch or have the money but choose not to spend that much on a watch. It took me a long time to save up for a 2 tone Submariner and can never see getting rid of it, once you have worn one they are hard to get away from.

Brennn10 (author)2009-07-28

I picked up a $3 Faux Rolex at a yard sale. I like to look rich for less.

blakeaasgaard (author)2009-05-22

I knocked the bezel off my SS sub with a lucky strike to my wrist, and somehow found the ringed components and then surmised a spring of that general shape should be found on my carpeted floor. I found it, again, somehow (It's non-ferous) and then had no idea if assembly by hand was asking for irreperable damage. After 6 minutes on your pages, I'm back in business and better for it! I don't remember being this amazed for many years. Thank you so much. -Blake Aasgaard

mcgary911 (author)blakeaasgaard2009-06-27

Hey Blake, glad this helped you. As some others alluded to, yeah, it's kind of geared to a limited audience. Cool that someone found some help here. As for limited audience...yeah, you may not have a Rolex sub. I don't have a lot of the stuff involved in the instructables i read, but I love to find out how stuff works. I love to find out you can fix some things that you wouldn't even attempt without some guidance found in places like this. BTW, you never know when long lost cousin Clem will pass away, and leave you a nice Rolex, right?

pdub77 (author)2009-03-04

because everyone has one of these. ; )

theRIAA (author)2008-05-07

rolexes weight too much. along with most mens watches in production today. they don't have to be so big, i want a razor thin watch, is that too much to ask?

i do respect that you would rather clean the watch yourself.

$15?? i have one of these, works great:

beerboyone (author)theRIAA2008-05-08

I agree, too heavy. The last watch I had was aluminum. It was still big but it was half the weight of most mens watches. The only problem is that the aluminum didn't hold up so well.

Derin (author)beerboyone2008-11-21

Stainless watch now,plastic watch before.

Derin (author)theRIAA2008-10-03

my swatch felt heavy at first,because my old watch was plastic and thus lighter,but i got used to the extra weith,i dont feel the weight nor the watch anymore

MrBungle (author)2008-05-08

The perfect watches for people that don't like the bulk: Skagen

Also Skagen on Amazon

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