Inspired by the DIY recently and Nairn's previous thread about changing the bezel, I decided I couldn't put up with this any more:
So with an ordinary dinner knife and a cloth as per Nairn's description, I levered off the bezel. Once you get the first part up, there is a flat rebate at every quarter of the case that allows you to get extra leverage (that is leverage in the sense of a noun ) After working at the second corner it pings off easily. You can see the rebate in later pics.
Under the bezel is a thin steel shim resting on the case as a kind of bearing. The outer lower edge of the bezel must clip over this although in pulling it off I didn't see this at the time.
Taking off the shim, and the tiny spring wire that provides the bezel click, means I could clean the case up a bit:
Replacing the shim and the wire, you can see there is a slot where the spring is held:
Looking at the inside of the bezel, there is some grease applied at the factory. This is where all the dirt collects! If you've an old Rolex diver, this may be a health hazard area!
One thing that surprised me here is the thickness of the bezel insert; it's not a thin sheet of stamped aluminium but a thicker machined disc. I'm surprised Rolex don't charge more for them (oh no - what have I done!)
Pushing hard with the fingers on the inside of the bezel insert and it pops out. The bezel surround then clips back on the case easily. This gives it a faint Breitling appearance - not to my taste
You can see how the wee spring engages in the bezel teeth. It's a pretty low-tech solution. At one point I lost the spring on the desk and there was some anxiety
These show the pearl assembly pushed through the insert, and the machining on the back.
The hardest part is next - after lining up the insert to suit on the bezel, you have to push it in all the way round. The last part takes quite a bit of force, accompanied by a loud Click! I used the knife back, applied through the cloth to do this.
Well that's better. I may not have proper OCD but this made me feel more satisfied
Sorry about the horrid flash lighting but my mind was focused on the watch rather than the aesthetics...
I popped a new insert on this yesterday, and whilst it took literally a couple of minutes (well, 2m 45s, actually) I thought it might be useful to emphasise the difference between modern and vintage insert swaps.
Vintage watches will usually have friction bezels, which means that the bezel will turn in both directions with infinite variation in how it can be positioned. Ratcheted bezels are different - they're unidirectional but also have definite clicks; this means that they have to be positioned very carefully when fitting them if the pearl is to be lined up properly with the 12-hour marker. The easy way to do this is as follows:
1) Mask off the case and then prise off the bezel with a flat blade.
2) Gently push out the insert - thumbs are the best tools for this.
3) Ensuring that the ratchet pin/spring is still positioned properly on the case, push the bezel (without insert fitted) into place. It'll click audibly as it snaps into position.
4) Line up the new insert (first making sure that the bezel isn't "between clicks"), using a loupe if necessary to position it correctly; then push into the recess on the bezel.
5) If necessary, place a soft towel or similar on a table and use it to push down on the insert; sometimes they can be stubborn and need a little pressure all around the circumference.
There - not a difficult job, but a bit fiddly at times. It's certainly something that anyone can try without sending the watch off first.