Some Vintage Rolex watches enthusiasts find the rattle of a decades-old Rolex Jubilee charming. The rather light steel bracelet winds casually around the wrist develop a life of its own with violent movements.
The problem: “stretch,” as the international collector’s scene calls the vile leaching, comes at some point an inaudible crack and then the clock falls off his arm. The reason is worn steel pins, which connect the individual links inside the bracelet. Dust and other deposits work like fine sandpaper with every movement. The pins of a jubilee worn over decades show proper breaking points during disassembly. Lovers of Rolex Explorer II have to come to grips with the fact that although the watch itself can be a purchase for life, the bracelet is an expensive consumable.
Vintage Rolex watches – Stretch Repair
Now a Rolex Datejust with Jubilee still cost in the 80s about 2,000 DM; The initial cost of a new jubilee was about 450 DM. Today, the original bracelet in unworn condition under 1,000 dollars is hard to get. Even used copies achieve at auctions (eBay partner link) regularly prices over 600- 650 dollars.
While the quality of the steel of the old tapes is beyond all doubt, the functional design of the end pieces and the clasp is spectacular when compared to contemporary tapes. A vintage Rolex Jubilee is not worth the current price.
The more interesting is the possibility to have the stretch repaired. Only a few years ago, this was feared by jewelers and watchmakers as “dirty work” and correspondingly expensive. New techniques, however, have lowered the price considerably.
Stretch Repair: Who does it and what does it cost?
The best-known providers are Classic Watch Repair from Hong Kong and Klokkeland from Norway. Both companies charge for the “stretch repair” a price of about 200 US dollars, about 170 dollars (plus shipping costs). That sounds cheap, sounds like cosmetics. Both companies are replacing every single pen, including its bezel. According to Klokkeland, the quality of the steel used corresponds to the Rolex steel.
Lo and behold: When my Rolex Jubilee band came back from Norway after about two months, it was technically not different from a new one. Stiff, taut, not the trace of stretching. A condition that is fun on the arm. The whole ensemble resembles the famous date-honor of Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming, and other “Rolex icons.”
The downside of Vintage Rolex watches: Who is considering a stretch repair, which needs about 1.5 inches of reserve on his band. The purchase of new band members is expensive (eBay partner link) and should be calculated beforehand. Together with outward and return postage the repair can be economically questionable. So first calculate exactly!