Rolex Submariner 16800

3035 movement servicing

Rolex 16800 Submariner disassembled
Rolex Submariner Ref 16800 from the 1970s, calibre 3035 movement disassembled.

We have the privilege of showcasing a delightful vintage Submariner from the 1970s – a coveted timepiece with a matte dial, original bracelet and original clasp

Rolex 93150 bracelet clasp
93150 code bracelet, original old-type clasp


The Calibre 3035 movement stands out among other mass-produced movements of the 1970s and has the capability to function like new even after 50 years. The main challenges to its performance are rust and operating without proper lubrication. During servicing, it’s crucial to replace dry rubber seals and clean off any dried oils. With fresh lubrication, the Rolex 3035 can operate practically indefinitely.

Servicing a timepiece differs significantly from the more familiar concept of car maintenance. Unlike a car, where individual parts or devices like pumps or coolers can be easily replaced, watches have intricately compacted components. The precision and delicacy of watchmaking mean that addressing issues often requires the careful disassembly of the entire movement for inspection and repair.

The complexity of these tightly packed components underscores the need for a specialized and careful touch during the servicing process to maintain the watch’s optimal performance over time.

Each tiny screw has its place in the movement

Mechanical parts are cleaned using special fluids, brushes and wooden sticks. This will fully remove any dirt using centrifugal force and three different cleaning solutions, guaranteeing no dirt or grime is left on any surface. Each part is checked for worn pivots/holes, worn teeth, worn jewels etc.

After this is complete we then partially assemble the movement to test and oil it. These oils fill the jewels located in the bridges. Without fresh oils, the jewels would be more susceptible to wear and could damage wheel pivots.

Matte Dial vs Glossy Dial

This dial’s matte finish is distinctly unique and has a nice surface pleasant to look at. However, it’s worth noting that the print quality on the dial falls slightly below the standards set by contemporary Rolex designs.

This Dial features the marking ‘SWISS-T<25’ beneath hour six. This marking states that the dial and hands contain an amount of tritium that emits less than 25 mCi or Millicurie; a term used for measuring the amount of emitted Radiation.

Tritium is a mildly radioactive isotope of hydrogen that was used to make dials and hands glow in the dark. This material is no longer in general practice due to health concerns and is now replaced with pigments based on photoluminescent material which, unlike tritium, needs recharging in sunlight but has far fewer health risks.

How We Detect Genuine Rolex Timepieces

Our first go-to method is to open up the case and survey the regulation method for the specific movement as this proves as the easiest and fastest way to tell if the movement is truly Rolex.

Microstella balance of Rolex 3035

Genuine Rolex timepieces use a ‘MICROSTELLA’ balance wheel (See above). These balance wheels use four tiny screws positioned around the balance wheel which can be adjusted to regulate timekeeping.

Commonly, if a Rolex timepiece is not genuine, the movement would include a standard regulator (see an example below) which would be seen in almost every other mechanical wristwatch.

That being said, non-genuine Rolex manufacturers are getting more and more proficient in creating watch cases, movements and bracelets that, at first glance, could be very easily mistaken as a genuine Rolex without any further inspection.

Knowing Microstella is a very effective way of telling if the movement is genuine as we still do not know about any non-genuine movements with this feature.

Our next port of call would be surveying the red wheels featured in Rolex movements. Genuine Rolex movements such as this one include ceramic-coated wheels (See Below) for the self-winding mechanism.

Being ceramic coated, these wheels should always be in relatively good condition as ceramic is a durable material. A good way to see if these parts are not genuine is to see if there is any damage to the coating, if there are scratches revealing the metal beneath, they are most likely fake along with the whole movement. This coating will also be very obviously painted.

After Ultrasonic case and bracelet cleaning and full assembly is complete, this watch is fully serviced and ready to tick for another 5-10 years!

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