Repairing a Swiss Rolex Submariner Caliber 3130

Diagnostics and Repair of the Automatic Winding Module Caliber 3130

A worthy patient on the workbench, this watch is familiar and pleasant in all respects. This is a black Rolex Submariner (without a calendar), a member of the endangered species of ‘tool’ watches – reliable, with minimal frilly additions, functional in any situation.

Movement Diagnostics, Rolex Caliber 3130:

The problem here is that although the watch runs accurately, the power reserve isn’t sufficient. The manual winding has a long run of more than 40 hours, but when worn on the hand does not have enough energy to wind the mechanism in a full day. This means that no problems are expected to be encountered in the escapement mechanism, and we must focus our attention to the situation of the self-winding module.

Straight to the point – we remove the automatic winding module and study the state of the mechanism. The mechanics seem to be in excellent condition, everything is clean under the module.

Inspecting the self-winding module.

Red ceramic wheels, a Rolex signature. The teeth are fine – from the top it looks almost perfect.

When highly magnified, some dirt and excess grease residue is visible on the underside of the module.

The main problem is the self-winding rotor strut. The grease around it has dried out, causing corrosion.

A very typical problem for the Rolex 3130 automatic winding mechanism, it can lead to serious damage of the mechanism if not eliminated in time. It is probable that, during the last servicing of the mechanism, not enough attention was paid to the self-winding module. The descent and main mechanism were serviced and greased efficiently, needing no intervention. However, the watchmaker either assumed that the module was reliable (which is generally true) or forgot to disassemble and wash it altogether. Don’t do this – we will rectify the situation.

Servicing and Maintenance

Thankfully, we identified the problem very quickly. If the watch is forced to run for an extended period of time with rust on the axis, the axis will wear out and the self-winding sector will hang out, rattle, and scratch the surrounding parts. After that happens, the repair will be much more expensive and difficult to do.

We disassemble the module and clean it, washing every detail. The corrosion on the pivot is cleaned and polished slightly.

After reassembly, the module is checked under a microscope and on a cyclotest device. Everything is in order.

In general, the movement is a favourite to work with, and one of the most popular in the history of Swiss watchmaking. I hope that someone will find a way to represent the Rolex 3130 movement in a song or film one day – it is, in its own way, a masterpiece of technical thought!

Final Notes

If you notice that your self-winding watch is not winding as well as it used to, it is worth inspecting the automatic (especially if the movement is in order from the manual winding). We will always try to find the simplest, most optimal way when it comes to servicing watches, and a timely service will save a significant amount of money in the long run.

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