With the Rolex World Service, there is no limit to how long a Rolex can keep ticking
Former British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill once stated, “My Rolex is a continual pleasure, and works admirably.” This is exactly what Hans Wilsdorf would have wanted to hear as the founder’s philosophy when he created Rolex was one of perpetual excellence.
From the very beginning, Wilsdorf was convinced that every Rolex watch should be reliable and durable — and with that, the Oyster case was born. It is a case that offers optimum protection for the watch movement, a foresight that led him to establish a network of dedicated after-sales service workshops in the countries where the brand was present.
The initiative allowed Rolex to guarantee that each watch would receive the best possible servicing at any time to preserve its performance and impeccable finish. The workshops operated by Rolex World Service fulfil the mission of ensuring the exceptional durability and reliability of Rolex watches and providing high-quality service to the brand’s customers.
Rolex World Service is present on all continents through service centres or watchmaking workshops that are based at official retailers of the brand or the regional affiliates’ offices. These workshops each have one or more Rolex-certified watchmakers, who alone are authorised to carry out after-sales servicing on watches produced by the brand.
Maintenance is carried out according to guidelines and the brand’s requirements — just as in manufacturing, the servicing of a timepiece requires the highest level of expertise. To guarantee service quality, all watchmakers working in the brand’s after-sales service workshops are trained in-house. Rolex watchmakers — at least one in every workshop — regularly follow specific courses allowing them to maintain their level of expertise and to keep abreast of changes to the brand’s products and techniques.
After maintenance, each watch benefits from a two-year international service guarantee covering the parts and labour. As a result, there is no limit to how long a Rolex watch can keep working, being handed down from one generation to the next, and living several lives.
Each after-sales service workshop meets the standards set by Rolex with respect to the quality of its infrastructure and equipment as well as the expertise of its personnel. For maximum efficiency, after-sales service procedures are planned for during product development so that new watches can be serviced easily and with optimal results.
The watch is tested in hyperbaric tanks tanks developed by the brand for its waterproof capabilities
The servicing process
When your Rolex timepiece is sent to a Rolex World Service workshop, you will be offered different types of servicing operations. A full service, for example, involves the complete overhaul of the watch movement, case and bracelet.
Specific operations are also available, such as adjusting the length of the bracelet or refinishing the case. At most Rolex points of sale, watchmakers trained by the brand offer a number of same-day services that can be carried out on site.
The movement, still fitted with its dial and hands, is taken out of the watch case
Each servicing comprises several steps requiring the use of specific tools and instruments that are tested and sometimes even developed by the brand. Once the watch has been received, assessed and the customer has approved the service estimate, the watchmaker begins work by separating the bracelet from the case and delicately removing the movement, still fitted with its dial and hands. From that point on, the movement, case and bracelet follow separate servicing paths.
Next, the dial and the hands are detached from the movement and completely dismantled. Each component is carefully examined to determine whether it still meets Rolex requirements — if this is not the case, it is replaced with a new part from the manufacturer in Bienne, where Rolex movements are produced.
The case is also disassembled, and the parts, whether made from Oystersteel, 18ct gold or 950 platinum, are individually re-polished or satin-finished by hand. These delicate finishing processes, which require great dexterity, restore the case’s sheen and lustre, while removing any marks or scratches. The seals are replaced, then the crystal, bezel and middle case are reassembled.
The bracelet is detached to gain access to the back of the watch and open the case
Even the bracelet is treated with care as each link is painstakingly polished or satin-finished according to its original finish. The bracelet is then thoroughly cleaned. The watchmaker gently puts the movement back into the case and measures its accuracy once again, making any adjustments necessary for it to achieve the expected chronometric performance. This is followed by a precision test lasting a minimum of 24 hours.
Next, the case is pressure-tested in water. With the waterproof test passed and the bracelet refitted, the watch is ready for a final control — its rate and functions are checked, and its aesthetics verified to ensure an impeccable finish.
At the end of the process, the timepiece is placed in a pouch designed to protect it while it is not being worn, or during travel. The watch benefits from a two-year international guarantee covering the parts and labour.
The availability of parts and labour is assured for every watch for at least 35 years following its withdrawal from the catalogue. At the end of this period, if parts are no longer available, they can be recreated by the Restoration Atelier. In 2018, the brand inaugurated the Rolex Training Centre in Geneva. Designed as a place of exchange, the facility offers young apprentices and Rolex employees optimal conditions for learning. Focused on the future, it evolves constantly to take account of the latest
advances in teaching and technology. Rolex provides an 18-month programme — the Rolex Watchmaking Training — at its affiliates. Once this is complete, the watchmaker is able to carry out full servicing on Oyster movements.
If you are holding on to an exceptional historic Rolex timepiece, you can get it restored at the Restoration Atelier in Geneva by master watchmakers. This dedicated group of people is specially trained in collectors’ timepieces.
Part of their daily work combines an in-depth historical research with traditional methods and state-of-the-art techniques. Components that no longer meet Rolex’s quality criteria can be restored or recreated using techniques used during that period.
From control of the inherent risks of working on the timepieces to complete traceability of the work realised, each restoration service is executed according to a set of rigorous principles. The restored watch is returned to its owner in a special presentation box, accompanied by a personalised booklet.
Here are some of the key steps involved in the restoration:
Whenever possible, worn components are restored or recreated using techniques and materials of the period. Here, a damaged jewel is driven out from the barrel bridge
The watchmakers at the Restoration Atelier in Geneva handle old and rare components with absolute focus
Certain operations on watches are performed by a jeweller. Here, a hinge is resoldered on the blade of a clasp.