Restoration of Rusty Rolex - Water damaged 1996 GMT Master II│ Nicholas Hacko Master Watchmaker

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Master Watchmaker

Master Watchmaker

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RUSTY Rolex Restoration - 1996 GMT Master II

A full 3 weeks of restoration, recording, and editing. The upload to TRshow
itself took almost two days.

You will notice the difference: Michael's videography is simply next level.

A bit of background: this 1996 Rolex GMT Master II suffered badly. Soaked in water, it spent two years in a drawer. The amount of rust was unbelievable. Actually, apart from the case and bracelet, only 8 of close to 100 internal parts were preserved.

But the core challenge was to preserve the mainplate: the very base of the
watch that holds all components together. The main plate bears the Rolex serial number and preserves the very identity of the watch. If the mainplate is replaced, that GMT Master II is no longer the same watch.

Of course, Rolex would not bother with any of the restoration that I
undertook. They would simply replace the entire movement. Even a
half-brained monkey can do that kind of 'restoration'. Instead, I've spent a
whole week soaking the mainplate in vinegar, dissolving and removing the
rust, brushing it off, reaming out broken screws, inserting new jewels and
posts. Finally, the mainplate was rhodium plated and you, the viewer, will
have a hard time believing it is the same component.

Would I and could I do it again? That depends on the availability of Rolex
spare parts. The current state of supply of parts to Australian independent
watchmakers is unchanged since 2013: none, zero, and no chance. My parts box is now almost empty and new replacement parts are now so expensive that any restoration work is next to impossible.

In a way, this video should be simply titled: "The last Rolex restoration".
*** What is RESTORATION?

Before we go any further, let's consult a Cambridge dictionary:

Restoration: the act or process of returning something to its earlier good condition.
Hardly any room for misinterpretation: fixing a broken watch and returning it to an 'earlier good condition' is essentially a restoration. What is not defined as a restoration is regular maintenance: ensuring that a watch which is already in good working order continues to perform for another period of time - until it's due for next scheduled maintenance. We call this kind of work regular servicing.

The recent TRshow video opened a floodgate of comments: "Oh, that video is not a Rolex restoration, it is just a video showing a lots of parts being replaced, not restored." Those comments unfortunately come from ignorant viewers who simply lack the basic understanding of the restoration process.

Was the watch broken at the beginning of the restoration process? Yes. Actually, it was at the point of a total write-off. Has it been returned in working order? Yes. The end of the story.
However, what may confuse some viewers is the misplaced hope that almost all 100 of the rusted out parts will be restored themselves, individually, one by one. Well, if that was the case, the video would be titled: "restoration of winding stem" or "restoration of barrel arbour" and would have taken 6 months.

But the end result of such lengthy 'restoration' would be a total disaster. Finely machined then rusted out watch parts are not designed to be restored. A rusted escape wheel cannot be restored. Ditto to the rest of them. Except for some bridges and in some rare cases, the base plate which holds all components together. We call that part the 'mainplate'. Due to the fact that it is made of brass which is non-ferrous (not containing iron, therefore no rust) metal, the mainplate can be restored. Since the mainplate contains pressed in steel pins, jewels, and internally and externally threaded steel posts, which are not meant to be removed because they are factory set and adjusted, restoration of the mainplate is time consuming and has to be undertaken with great care. This is a very difficult job and could take days - if not weeks.

Restored by Nicholas Hacko, Master Watchmaker
Recorded and edited by Michael Johnston
November 2020.


0:10 Back in a jiffy - Nocturnal Spirits
3:31 Got that feeling - Peter Sandberg
9:30 All the good things - Nocturnal Spirits
13:03 Under a smiling moon - Peter Sandberg
17:25 Thats how i like it - Oakwood station
20:38 Midnight call - Magnus Ringblom quartet
21:42 Whisky on the rocks - The flax
24:54 The prophecy - Dream cave

Fantomas 3 aylar önce
How much did you charge for this job?
muffemod 24 gün önce
@Miles Your local Rolex service center could give you an estimate.
Bob Cranberries
Bob Cranberries Aylar önce
@chefgav1 I hear you. Rolex is a luxury item so they deserve to pay luxury prices. It helps the customer feel like his watch is more than it is.
chefgav1 Aylar önce
@Bob Cranberries so do motor mechanics except these guys charge a lot more than a motor mechanic.
Serhiо Aylar önce
You could immediately throw out the old watch and go buy a new one.
Van Bennett
Van Bennett 6 aylar önce
As a Rolex trained horologist myself, I would have done exactly the same. Congratulations on saving the main plate. That, in itself, makes this an epic restoration. Any time a Certified Master Watchmaker pulls out a staking or jewelling tool, many parameters must be met. Generally, people do not understand the tolerances involving end shake and depth of set required Microns! The staking of posts is rather straight forward, simply because posts have shoulders. The same cannot be said of plate jewels. I have replaced plate jewels. It is time consuming and nerve racking. Especially when the repair is for a high end chronograph. By the way, I agree that the silicon crystal sleeve was the cause of the water issue. I believe the severity of the rust issue was caused by someone who simply put off taking the timepiece in for service in a timely manner. Why would one who drives a Rolls Royce fail to have it serviced promptly when a known issue exists? Great work! I subscribed.
Van Bennett
Van Bennett Aylar önce
@Stephen Bachmann Simple analogy mistaken for a statement of fact. I think both are status symbols with baggage.
Stephen Bachmann
Stephen Bachmann Aylar önce
Much as I enjoy Rolexes, a Rolex is not the watch equivalent of a Rolls Royce.
Van Bennett
Van Bennett 2 aylar önce
@Leo Overcoil hairsprings we’re especially fun in school. Vibrating was even MORE fun.
Leo 2 aylar önce
And then i still remember having to make a balance wheel staff from scratch in school, took 2 days and a few tries! And then there was repairing hair springs!!!
Van Bennett
Van Bennett 5 aylar önce
@Andreas Svensson I guess you missed setting new jewels in the main plate to factory specs.
Edgy00 9 aylar önce
I’m wearing that same model watch as I watched this terrific video. It’s good to know serious craftsmen are still out there! (Bought mine new in 2000) and I can only hope that it looks much better inside! I definitely send mine in for maintenance periodically. Preventative maintenance-worth it!
John-Paul Silke
John-Paul Silke 5 aylar önce
Which dial? I absolutely love the Pepsi myself.
MANNY 6 aylar önce
Nice 😎
World Race
World Race 9 aylar önce
Amazing. I would have preferred to hear the sounds of the restoration rather than music but that’s just me
tokekkk Aylar önce
@Little Jackalo watch Red Dead Restoration here on TRshow and you will understand what a watch restoration ASMR is
suavesmithy Aylar önce
Me too , quite annoying !!
Daniel C
Daniel C 2 aylar önce
@Wendy Pattison I'm sure an awful lot of people here don't like the smooth jazz. To be honest I can't stand it and find it very distracting from an otherwise great video. I didn't even like it when it was popular.
Evan G
Evan G 6 aylar önce
It would probably just be a lot of cussing, lol
Richard Okeefe
Richard Okeefe 14 gün önce
As an owner of two Rolex watches I was very glad to see that GMT come back to life. Well done.
Samuel Rosario Resto
Samuel Rosario Resto Yıl önce
It is unbelievable to see how the watchmaker can remember every single piece of the watch to be restored.
sadro 45
sadro 45 Yıl önce
@Dan Brownell Fuzzy yes I totally recommend it, make the job a lot easier, i bought mine searching at a fleamarket and got 7 tweezers for 5 bucks
Dan Brownell Fuzzy
Dan Brownell Fuzzy Yıl önce
@sadro 45 what I want to know is if I should buy those super nice tweezers for removing splinters?
sadro 45
sadro 45 Yıl önce
I fix watches to and also make parts and it's not that complicated to remember witch parts belongs where it is
Michael Dodd
Michael Dodd Yıl önce
No more or less amazing as you typing this out and remembering where the different letters are on a keyboard with little thought would be to someone who has never used one.
Got memes?
Got memes? Yıl önce
if you do these things for a living it becomes very obvious where which part goes, same applies for a car mechanic for example the parts are just larger
Knut Knutsen
Knut Knutsen 8 aylar önce
It is painful to see the state of damage to such a magnificent watch. To see how the master watch maker brings it back to life again is really something. So nice that someone is still able to do work like this in a time dominated by battery clocks.
Lopezer04 9 aylar önce
Amazing work regardless if this was a restoration or replacement. This is masterclass!!
Stephen Rudberg
Stephen Rudberg 8 aylar önce
The watch and movement was too badly water damaged and although you did a great job disassembling, cleaning and trying to save as many parts as possible, it looks like most of the movement had to be replaced. Still, that is probably less costly than buying a new GMT. And now it is brand new. Great job!
I will opine 109
I will opine 109 6 aylar önce
Excellent video--- just wondering about the cost---I’ll bet it’s more than the original cost of the watch. A little disappointed that you didn’t open the mainspring housing to let us see the condition of the spring. Anyhow, I will be subscribing, thanks.
YeaaBuddy Yıl önce
i just spent 30 mins of my life watching someone restore a rolex. absolutly beautiful
Gôn đồ chơi
Gôn đồ chơi 10 aylar önce
Im too my friend.
Fahrradfahrer on Acid
Fahrradfahrer on Acid Yıl önce
@S. SESTRIC 😂😂👍🏼
S. SESTRIC Yıl önce
You can watch it at 1.25 speed to save some time.
1337fraggzb00N Yıl önce
Can't go wrong with that.
Krish M
Krish M Yıl önce
30 minutes well spent
Philip Lauzon
Philip Lauzon 9 aylar önce
You are a master at your craft. Truly impressive fine detailed work. It’s always so satisfying to see the balance wheel go in and the gear start turning
Chase Harper
Chase Harper 6 aylar önce
Love these videos! I never would’ve guessed. How much would a restoration like this cost IRL?
GeeBeeMike 11 aylar önce
Incredible work. I love seeing old things restored and thus keeping their original identity whilst gaining a new life. I hope the owner appreciates the time and dedication put into reviving this great watch. I have a number of old GMT’s like this (although not rusted out) and would be delighted for you to service them when the time comes.
Mr. Snow Foam
Mr. Snow Foam 6 aylar önce
Such an epic display of talent, detail and steadiness of hand. I’m so blown away. Bravo!
Andy Ibbitson
Andy Ibbitson Yıl önce
Never in any doubt Nick that you would breathe life into the GMT again. The skill and precision reassembly is awesome as usual, and the music from 24 mins was uplifting too. Having bought 4 watches off you I know I’m in good hands. Highly recommend this guy.
Master Watchmaker
Master Watchmaker Yıl önce
Andy we are proud to have you as our ambassador :-) You are a good man.
RandallsGuaranteedSold 7 aylar önce
I just chanced on this video. Amazing job! You are a true master….. this has to be one of the most tedious, detailed, delicate jobs I have seen. Kudos to you! Question, how long did this take? Can these parts be sourced via your industry channels and finally… what the the approx. value of this watch before and after restoration? Thank you.
theclash181 Aylar önce
Thanks for sharing this experience. This is one of if not my favorite watch restoration channels out there.
BC 556
BC 556 9 aylar önce
Amazing work I am curious. With the amount of parts replaced, wouldn’t it have made more sense financially to just send the watch back to Rolex and have them replace everything themselves? Or would this watch be out of warranty since its a 25 year old watch? Genuine question since I always heard Rolex has a lifetime warranty on al of their watches
maverick cruise
maverick cruise 2 aylar önce
Also I'd imagine that Rolex don't offer a lifetime warranty covering misuse and abuse. Idiots are generally covered only by insurance companies and not by manufacturing warranties.
maverick cruise
maverick cruise 2 aylar önce
In Feb 2022 a used Rolex GMT after a quick Google was in the order of 16 to 17k. I am interested too in the figure involved it would be educational, bear in mind Rolex make every component in-house which today is unique in itself. Also does every BMW or Audi driver go to their brands servicing agents, are there other watchmakers I mean mechanics who can service their vehicles at a substantially lower cost or not so lower but a saving all the same. Cars 🚗 or ⌚️ watches apples 🍎 or 🍊oranges. That aside the cost comparison would be interesting.
BC 556
BC 556 8 aylar önce
@Whiteboy14 thank you
Ivanildo Elias Souza
Ivanildo Elias Souza 6 aylar önce
Belíssimo trabalho, parabéns para o profissionalismo
Anders Isacson
Anders Isacson Yıl önce
Absolutley fantastic work. Can't imagine how much experience it takes to do this kind of work. It's very therapeutic to watch how all the parts gets serviced and comes together. If you didn't know what the phrase "works like a Swiss watch" means, you do now. Thanks for a great video!
DevanStar 17 gün önce
Magnificent restoration! A truly masterwork!
Mic Taylor
Mic Taylor 10 aylar önce
Beautiful to watch - such commitment to the art 👌🏻
Angelo C
Angelo C 4 aylar önce
Other than for sentimental reasons, I can’t imagine the repair was cost effective vs. a new watch when considering parts and labor expense. Anyway, beautiful work!
Jason Kelley
Jason Kelley 6 aylar önce
It's refreshing to be able to see someone do highly skilled work with such care.
Chazz Combs
Chazz Combs Yıl önce
That was really cool to watch. The amount of time and effort that went into this one is amazing. I was really curious while watching if all the spare parts were sourced from Rolex directly or if there was a spare parts wholesaler somewhere. Reading the description told me that it was neither. Currently, 3 of my watches have in-house movements and the rest are ETAs or clones. Now I think it might be a better idea to maybe skip the in-house in future purchases. Anyway, thanks for the vid!
S Bultitude-Paull
S Bultitude-Paull 9 aylar önce
My neck is hurting from shaking it so much over how someone treated this watch. Amazing job restoring it - here's hoping it's gone to a better life after showing it the care and love it deserves. One question I had; are parts for these watches still available from Rolex? Or are they needed to be sourced from a third party or from salvaged items?
kodiakfamily 2 aylar önce
Very nice! I would love to know how much money went into the repair compared to the watch value. Beautiful!!
Jon 4 aylar önce
wow, this felt like a complete rebuilding of the rolex. thats incredible that you were able to fix it.
Tammy Sharon Loretta Stafford
Tammy Sharon Loretta Stafford 3 aylar önce
Perfect Saturday viewing.A masterclass in watchmaking by a true watch surgeon!
James Joyce
James Joyce 2 aylar önce
Congratulations for the work! This is one of the best videos i have seen for a while. The video is perfect. Perfect in colors of the work space, perfect in sharpness and definition, perfect in light solution - and one of the best points in my opinion is the background music, a very stylish modern jazz music , which is absolutely in the mood to this work. Classy, fantastic und a big reason, why i gave you my LIKE and why i had to make the abonnement. Thank you for this outstanding work!
The Dom
The Dom 9 aylar önce
The perfect combination of art and engineering. Well done! Aside from the time it took to do this job, could you give an idea of the cost of the parts replaced. No agenda here, just want to know. Beautiful watch.
J Voodoo
J Voodoo 7 aylar önce
Jeweler here, I only do VERY minor repairs on watches, usually battery changes and such like. One thing I do is if I get any watch that has gotten wet, I open up the back right away and place it in a safe dust free warm area to dry out. It astonishes me that a person owning a nice watch like this would just toss it in a drawer for 2 years.
Sergio Kauffman Acosta
Sergio Kauffman Acosta 5 aylar önce
Damaged... a huge understatement; great work bringing it back to life.
John Ghatti
John Ghatti Yıl önce
Very impressive. I’ve worked on electrical motors, small engines, and just about everything in between and this has to be the most tedious and detailed restorations I’ve seen. Thank you for sharing
W&C Watch Collector Club
W&C Watch Collector Club 3 aylar önce
Thank you for sharing this timeless classic and beautiful watch
KSRB 28 gün önce
Amazing work! But I wonder how such an expensive watch can even rust in the first place? Should not all parts be safe from rust? Or they really use cheap parts to safe money?
hector cuadra
hector cuadra 8 aylar önce
Hermoso trabajo!! Tremenda precisión!! Felicitaciones!!
Cliff Molz
Cliff Molz 4 aylar önce
Great job! Now for the question everybody wants to know (at least I do)...I'm really curious to know how much a person is looking at to replace all of those rusted parts; not counting labor? Ballpark figure would be greatly appreciated if at all possible. It's just interesting to me how much Rolex would charge for the parts to replace such a superb watch. Cheers!
camaro Carl
camaro Carl 4 aylar önce
@Cliff Molz Not much. At least I can afford my Rolex repair. Have fun wearing a Casio.
Cliff Molz
Cliff Molz 4 aylar önce
@camaro Carl Thank you "Camaro Carl." Apparently, you didn't understand the question. However, with a great name like Camaro Carl, what do I know. 🙂
camaro Carl
camaro Carl 4 aylar önce
If you have to an invicta.
Lambo Yıl önce
Wow, truly wonderful filming and editing and that’s before you even consider the work of the Master Watchmaker. Really rewarding and enjoyable video to watch. One can only marvel at the skill set displayed. I wonder how many people in the World can operate at this level? Thank you and a well deserved subscription from me. 🇬🇧👏👏👏
GOESCH77304 Aylar önce
Wow! Thank you…And the music was impeccable as was the restoration.
Luís Menechino
Luís Menechino 8 aylar önce
Marvelous restoration! Congratulations!
Dr.Thomas Eisele
Dr.Thomas Eisele 8 aylar önce
Beautiful watch! Wonderful restoration!
Bond James Bond
Bond James Bond 27 gün önce
Wow 90 percent of the internal parts were replaced. Must have had senitmental value for the owner, not to mention the cost and labor involved. I really enjoyed your the video!
Jimmy McCubbins
Jimmy McCubbins Yıl önce
I'd love to see a cost analysis on restoring a Rolex from this condition to new vice just buying another one. Sentimental value can always win. Love watching watch restoration videos
John Zoccano
John Zoccano 4 aylar önce
Incredible...can I ask what the replacement parts cost to fix this watch?
I.P. Freely
I.P. Freely 9 aylar önce
Nice work, and thanks for the video. I wonder how much the parts bill was? That repair must of cost thousands.
Mari Bog
Mari Bog 3 aylar önce
omg, such an expensive watch and they let it get to this awful state! good job bringing it back to life!
StrydyRHellZRydyR 3 aylar önce
Wow.. that one gear had a huge gem in it.. that was amazing
Scott H
Scott H Yıl önce
This was one of the more dramatic restorations I have seen. The cost of new Rolex parts must have raised some eyebrows. Execution on this was nothing less than fantastic. Well done!
Edwin Perez
Edwin Perez Yıl önce
Like a brain sergeant
Milo Yıl önce
As he stated the parts came from his parts box, in Australia, you can't get shit.
J burgos
J burgos 6 aylar önce
Esto es "Arte" exelente video 👏👏👏
wilson 28 gün önce
Esse sim é uma verdadeira joia valeu a pena o trabalho de desmontagem e montagem novamente e é lindo.
Haseeb Ahmed
Haseeb Ahmed 3 aylar önce
Absolutely amazing! BTW, does Rolex sells genuine spare parts for their products?
Dong Hai Nguyen Thanh
Dong Hai Nguyen Thanh 5 aylar önce
Very impressed, thanks for sharing your passion.
John Majane
John Majane 10 aylar önce
Amazing work, no idea how many decades of work it took to be get to the skill level you have.
Rose McGrail
Rose McGrail Aylar önce
Beautiful work. You basically had to purchase almost all of the parts for a new watch and put it in a case that was cleaned and polished, that must have cost an arm and a leg, but I bet it was a treat.
Maple-Sizzurp 8 aylar önce
To me, restore means to bring something from not working to working shape or form. You did this perfectly so with this watch. 👍
Ben Cohen
Ben Cohen Aylar önce
Not only one of my favorite Rolex models and color combinations, but you really did an exceptional job restoring it. That black lacquer dial w/ the gold hands looks absolutely wonderful - Even w/ some damage from the water. Nothing better, in my opinion, than a perfectly restored watch inside and out, w/ the exception of the original patina on the dial/markers.
astuxx Yıl önce
this is simply amazing: quality and focus on detail at high level. Difficult to find another channel doing this. wonderful.
Ramesh Sonwal
Ramesh Sonwal 3 aylar önce
Thank you brother for refreshing my 22 years old memories, because 22 years ago I used to repair watches.
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