1970 Rolex DJ info
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  1. #1
    Member mrs_LA's Avatar
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    1970 Rolex DJ info

    Good morning, F11!

    My mom just arrived to visit me and she has been sporting my dadís very first Rolex, a 1970 datejust with fluted bezel - as this size no longer appeals to him. Iíve known about this watch for quite some time but Iíve known it as a my dadís old watch with a loose jubilee bracelet. To my surprise this time, as my interest in vintage watches has increased, it was one of the first things that I noticed and spoke to my mom about. it looked pristine. Very very beautiful watch.

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    Here is a macro shot that I took with my phone and a loupe. She said she took it to Rolex Service Center in Hong Kong late last year, and to my knowledge when you take old watches to RSC, they polish and clean it like so. She also mentioned they gave her a new jubilee bracelet.

    While the datejust is a very very common model and isnít by any means a huge vintage ďcollectibleĒ model (relative to something like the vintage Daytona or vintage subs) my question is, to what extent did getting it serviced (and thus polished, cleaned, etc the way RSC defines a full service) diminish the value of the watch?

    Iím also keen on knowing the specific reference number if anyone is knowledgeable on this!

    Edit: all lume plots are still there, but they are white instead of an aged color. I have sadly never looked into the watch before to see whether the lume plots have aged in the first place, but given the pearly ďwhiteĒ color of the plots, it looks like RSC replaced them? I believe a 36mm size, since it sits nicely on my wrist without looking too big like a 40mm does.


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    Last edited by mrs_LA; May 5th, 2018 at 17:47.
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  2. #2
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: 1970 Rolex DJ info

    Ref 1601 I guess. Should probably say T SWISS T at the bottom, so it's probably had a dial swap with a superluminova replacement. Most likely the hands are also service replacements. Are they luminous? Is the dial pie-pan or flat?

    The watch has little collectible value given all of the service parts, but it's still quite valuable as a DJ. There are a few special DJ dials that collectors prize (e.g. sigma dials), but other than those, there isn't a huge collectible premium for DJs the way there is for the sport models. If I were going to throw out a really rough number, maybe 20% of the value was lost. If it were a 5513 Submariner, this sort of comprehensive parts replacement (e.g. dial/hands/bezel) would have lost 2/3 of the value.

    Of course, if DJs become increasingly collectible in the future, then people may really regret these replacements.
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  3. #3
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    Re: 1970 Rolex DJ info

    Quote Originally Posted by badbackdan View Post
    Ref 1601 I guess. Should probably say T SWISS T at the bottom, so it's probably had a dial swap with a superluminova replacement. Most likely the hands are also service replacements. Are they luminous? Is the dial pie-pan or flat?

    The watch has little collectible value given all of the service parts, but it's still quite valuable as a DJ. There are a few special DJ dials that collectors prize (e.g. sigma dials), but other than those, there isn't a huge collectible premium for DJs the way there is for the sport models. If I were going to throw out a really rough number, maybe 20% of the value was lost. If it were a 5513 Submariner, this sort of comprehensive parts replacement (e.g. dial/hands/bezel) would have lost 2/3 of the value.

    Of course, if DJs become increasingly collectible in the future, then people may really regret these replacements.
    1601 looks to be correct! Thank you!! Yes, the hands have been replaced and so has the dial. The dial is flat, and it has a sunburst grey-ish color. Here are some more pics in sunlight. Donít mind the incorrect date...

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    Spot on the DJ value loss (or lack of it). That makes sense, and I doubt it would be as collectible as the sports models. With the OP DJ being Rolexís flagship best seller, there are too many out there churned our year after year for it to be a collectible. Granted I donít think I would ever sell anyway, especially since itís my fatherís first Rolex. I understand that thereís not much to cry over (in terms of value lost) but as a vintage enthusiast, some aged lume would have been really nice... it is, after all, almost a 50 year old watch. Unfortunately I started a little too late in vintage watch collections before my parents got this specific DJ in our family serviced. Oh, well!


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  5. #4
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: 1970 Rolex DJ info

    I like the pie-pan dials, that's the main thing I would miss from that model. Here is my 1603 from the same era.

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  6. #5
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    Re: 1970 Rolex DJ info

    Quote Originally Posted by badbackdan View Post
    I like the pie-pan dials, that's the main thing I would miss from that model. Here is my 1603 from the same era.
    I took a closer pic in daylight with the loupe and phone. It has a pie pan dial after all.

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    Dan, looks like we have the exact same watch - yours of course being in its all original state.


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  7. #6
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: 1970 Rolex DJ info

    The only difference is the type of bezel. Mine is steel "engine-turned" (ref 1603) and yours is white gold fluted (ref 1601). Of course, one can always swap bezels out, although then it would be a franken and the case-back reference wouldn't be consistent with the type of bezel. Yours is on a jubilee bracelet, which is really more authentic, but I am usually in the mood for the oyster. I think that the combination of oyster bracelet and engine-turned bezel makes the watch a little less dressy and blingy.

    It's great that Rolex uses pie-pan style service dials for these older watches. The next generation after our watches (16000 series) had flat dials, so I assumed that Rolex just used flat service dials in the older models as well.
    Last edited by badbackdan; May 6th, 2018 at 06:18. Reason: to fix typo.
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  8. #7
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    Re: 1970 Rolex DJ info

    I guess the dial and hands must have been replaced circa 1999/2000, as the current service dials for Datejusts differ from the original ones considerably, to the extent where having a watch serviced by Rolex themselves is pure madness. Chrono24 is littered with specimens with contemporary service dials, compared to which this service dial is really one of the better service dials out there.
    Not that it wasn't madness for the last twenty years or so, as Rolex has the unfortunate proclivity for having the customers' wishes and instructions deeply up theirs, and thus for devastating the watches with dremels or whatnot, and swapping out just about everything, without returning the original parts to the owner of the watch. Obviously, that's assuming that they won't refuse to service a vintage piece, which is what they usually do. Which is for the better, really, as then the watch owner will go looking for an independent watchmaker, rather than let the troglodytes with dremels and tons of incorrect replacement parts do the job.
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  9. #8
    Member mrs_LA's Avatar
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    Re: 1970 Rolex DJ info

    Quote Originally Posted by badbackdan View Post
    The only difference is the type of bezel. Mine is steel "engine-turned" (ref 1603) and yours is white gold fluted (ref 1601). Of course, one can always swap bezels out, although then it would be a franken and the case-back reference wouldn't be consistent with the type of bezel. Yours is on a jubilee bracelet, which is really more authentic, but I am usually in the mood for the oyster. I think that the combination of oyster bracelet and engine-turned bezel makes the watch a little less dressy and blingy.

    It's great that Rolex uses pie-pan style service dials for these older watches. The next generation after our watches (16000 series) had flat dials, so I assumed that Rolex just used flat service dials in the older models as well.
    Knowing the little details and finding the differences in our two watches.. I'm completely enthralled!

    Quote Originally Posted by mkws View Post
    I guess the dial and hands must have been replaced circa 1999/2000, as the current service dials for Datejusts differ from the original ones considerably, to the extent where having a watch serviced by Rolex themselves is pure madness. Chrono24 is littered with specimens with contemporary service dials, compared to which this service dial is really one of the better service dials out there.
    Not that it wasn't madness for the last twenty years or so, as Rolex has the unfortunate proclivity for having the customers' wishes and instructions deeply up theirs, and thus for devastating the watches with dremels or whatnot, and swapping out just about everything, without returning the original parts to the owner of the watch. Obviously, that's assuming that they won't refuse to service a vintage piece, which is what they usually do. Which is for the better, really, as then the watch owner will go looking for an independent watchmaker, rather than let the troglodytes with dremels and tons of incorrect replacement parts do the job.
    It was taken to service last year. Perhaps some places have more stock than most? This was done in Hong Kong. But for a brand like Rolex I would imagine they would have to keep producing the correct and appropriate age dials (albeit "safer" ones - ie non-Radium; non-Tritium) and not replace dials based on what's just available. I don't understand why a brand like Rolex would allow original watches to just be "frankenstein'd" to customer's request, especially at a service center.

    Unfortunately, my parents are unaware of such things as value retention. I guess they just knew it was time to have the watch serviced after a long time (40+ years!) and went by the recommendations of RSC. Luckily, they had retained the pie-pan dial (I would not have known, if it were not for this thread. Thank you, Dan). If I had known more about vintage watches then, I would have stopped them. It is the first to get with dial and hands replaced, and after this one, I have told them not to ever have their other collection have the dial and hands replaced.

  10. #9
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    Re: 1970 Rolex DJ info

    the watch looks great, you will get yellow lume in years to come :)
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  11. #10
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    Re: 1970 Rolex DJ info

    Quote Originally Posted by mrs_LA View Post
    Knowing the little details and finding the differences in our two watches.. I'm completely enthralled!



    It was taken to service last year. Perhaps some places have more stock than most? This was done in Hong Kong. But for a brand like Rolex I would imagine they would have to keep producing the correct and appropriate age dials (albeit "safer" ones - ie non-Radium; non-Tritium) and not replace dials based on what's just available. I don't understand why a brand like Rolex would allow original watches to just be "frankenstein'd" to customer's request, especially at a service center.

    Unfortunately, my parents are unaware of such things as value retention. I guess they just knew it was time to have the watch serviced after a long time (40+ years!) and went by the recommendations of RSC. Luckily, they had retained the pie-pan dial (I would not have known, if it were not for this thread. Thank you, Dan). If I had known more about vintage watches then, I would have stopped them. It is the first to get with dial and hands replaced, and after this one, I have told them not to ever have their other collection have the dial and hands replaced.
    Quite likely they had a big stash of the more decent sort of replacement dials. I've seen 1601s and 1603s equipped with flat dials with - aaaaarghhhhh!!! - the "railroad" minute track with tiny Roman numerals by the indexes, so I guess that you can consider yourself lucky.
    They don't throw in all the replacement parts at customer's request. Just like most service centres, the Rolex ones do that of their own accord, ignoring the customer's request NOT to do that. Factory service doesn't look from the perspective of collectors - if there are scratches, they polish them out, a patinated dial is a dirty one and needs to be replaced, nicely agee lume they see as non-functioning lume that needs replacing. Obviously, that's a rather appalling point of view, which is exactly why I always discourage having a watch serviced by the manufacturer.
    That said, it's most likely that they would just ignore you if you'd have told them not to replace the dial and hands.
    Omega, Longines, Zenith - they do exactly the same thing. Omega factory service was and is known for complete and utter butcher jobs, like repainting (and thus irreversibly destroying) patinated dials if a replacement was not in stock, or acts of vandalism like throwing a contemporary Speedmaster Pro dial, handset and DNN bezel on a CK 2998.
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