The name Rolex has become synonymous with precise timekeeping and high quality production value, with good reason. The amount of details and though that goes into their design and manufacturing is incredible. For example, they use a difficult to machine stainless steel because it looks better. Not all stainless steel is the same (it comes in varying types and grades), with most steel watches being made from a type called 316L. Rolex uses 904L. It has better resistance to corrosion and rusting but so, most importantly to Rolex, polishes incredibly well.

Rolex also has its own lab for R&D. Every Rolex movement is hand-assembled and tested. All their gold is smelted in house at their own foundry. They have pressurised tanks for the testing of dive watches. Almost everything they use is crafted in house from raw materials and most importantly, it takes nearly a year to make each Rolex. All of this combined has resulted in Rolex being regarded as one of the world’s most prominent Swiss watchmakers. With this, and the price tag, in mind, proper maintenance is key to prevent degradation of a Rolex. Rolex watch servicing should be undertaken by an accredited professional repairman. This ensures that only certified Rolex parts are used in the procedure.

What Happens During a Rolex Service?

Step 1 – Disassembly

The bracelet is detached from the watch case. The case is opened and the movement removed. The case is then disassembled.

Step 2 – Cleaning the Movement

The movement is disassembled. Each component is ultrasonically cleaned in specifically formulated solutions, which helps remove and dissolve dirt and grime.

Step 3 – Replacement of Components

The watchmaker closely examines each individual component of the movement, identifying any component which requires replacement. Only certified Rolex parts are used.

Step 4 – Lubrication and Reassembly

Using only the finest lubricants, each relevant component of the movement is carefully lubricated to minimise friction, preventing degradation of precision and reducing wear on the parts. This is crucial to ensuring the movement of the Rolex continues to perform accurately.

Step 5 – Timing Calibrations

The core of any Rolex watch movement is the balance wheel, which has a frequency of over 690,000 beats per day. To ensure precision in the timekeeping, the watchmaker makes meticulous adjustments to the balance wheel then electronically tests the timing accuracy. The entire Rolex movement is then thoroughly tested and monitored for several days to verify its performance.

Step 6 – Refinishing the Case and the Bracelet

The same level of care goes that goes into the servicing of the movement also goes into servicing its case and bracelet. After the initial cleaning, the case and bracelet are closely examined for any wear or damage, with any necessary replacements being made with certified Rolex parts. The case and bracelet are then finished to an exceptionally high standard.

Step 7 – Full reassembly

The entire watch is then fully reassembled, completing the Rolex watch service.

When Should I Service My Rolex?

When discussing Rolexes, there are three main categories that all timepieces fall under. New, over 5 years old (the extent of a Rolex warranty), and vintage. Depending on which category your Rolex falls under, you will want to take the relevant advice outlined below:

  • New (under 5 years) – Unless you have caused serious damage to your Rolex, a yearly tune up at any good watch repair centre will suffice.
  • Over 5 years old – After 5 years, a yearly full service is advised to keep the Rolex in good working condition. Even if the watch is operating to COSC standards (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, the official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute), keeping a Rolex well lubricated is essential to its longevity.
  • Vintage – Vintage Rolexes should only be serviced if they are running particularly poorly (25% or more below COSC standards). It is incredibly important to keep a vintage Rolex with its original parts. As a result, use a reputable vintage Rolex watch repair service when dealing with a full watch service for a vintage Rolex.

Tips for Maintaining Your Rolex


  • Always rinse your watch under running lukewarm water after contact with being in the ocean (saltwater) or heavily chlorinated water (hot tubs, swimming pools etc.)
  • If you have a leather strap, avoid allowing it into contact with oils, cosmetics, cleaning products or water. Leather is an organic, porous material, so these will discolour and prematurely age the strap.
  • Avoid impacts and vibrations (playing golf/tennis, mountain climbing etc.). The mechanisms inside a Rolex are finely tuned and highly delicate.
  • The crown must be screwed all the way down for water resistance. If you do not have a screw down crown, or if you are uncertain whether you do or not, avoid all contact with water, either washing or full submersion (swimming).

Published by Tom Wishart