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How Do I Fix Weak Lume On My Vintage Watch?

Mike B. From Minnesota, USA asks:

My Rolex Submariner is now 12 years old and seems to be losing lume brightness at night. Do you know a way to “fix” that problem?

This would likely be from old, brittle or even water damaged luminous paint. The only solution would be a new set of hands, a new dial or a dial restoration.  New hands are usually covered in a regular service so if the hands are the priority, book it in for a service and you’ll have a regulated, well-oiled movement, with bright new hands. Win win!

Also… There are certainly aftermarket solutions for getting dials re-lumed, but you want to check what’s done in-house. For instance, a place called Motor City Watch Works, for example, only does a few dials in-house, and others are sent out. Perhaps not necessarily a bad thing, but it would definitely add time, plus you’re adding another variable to the mix of having work done on a watch.

With a Rolex, of course, there’s also a balancing game of how “original” you want to keep it. I’m sure there are purists who would state you should leave things be, so that may be something to consider if you want to restore it in the first place. But, it is probably OK if it is restored by Rolex themselves with original parts.

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  • johnthompson8

    Just keep in mind that Rolex won’t be returning the original hands as a matter of policy..

  • DG Cayse

    There are quite a number of shops and individuals offering quite good reluming services.
    Do your searching on various forums.

    Also, to consider, many prefer the “look” of aged lume – especially on Rolex models – over the look of ‘new lume.’
    Something to consider if you want to sell your Submariner.

    Most offering the relume service can accommodate whatever style you would like.

  • KentClark1

    I just bought a vintage watch. It is something that is totally new to me. To be frank, I’m not very used to wearing a watch. It takes some time to get used to. I know that I love wearing the watch. This is good information to know. I’m excited to keep it in great condition.

  • @blackdominoes

    have a 3rd party watchmaker replace the dial and hands with new ones, if the lume bugs you that badly. it will be cheaper than sending it to RSC, and you’ll have the original hands and dial as spares/if you or a future buyer wants to return it to its original state.

    most car modders do this kind of thing as well.