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How to open a Rolex - Rolex Daytona on a book

How do you safely open a Rolex watch?

When you’ve got your hands on something as valuable and storied as a long-lasting Rolex watch, it’s natural that you want to ensure it keeps ticking. This can mean that if and when something goes awry, you may be eager to take a look yourself and get it working again as soon as possible.

However, this shouldn’t be approached with a ‘figure it out’ attitude. Watches are incredibly delicate devices, Rolex watches especially so. Knowing how to open a Rolex watch, even if only to decide you’d rather not, is essential to avoid disaster.

How to open a Rolex - Rolex taken of with an open clasp

How to take off a Rolex watch

First things first: the watch needs to be free of its wearer.

Rolex watch bracelets have a variety of clasps, some that are rather straightforward to open and some that are a little trickier to figure out.


Older clasps have a small lip at one end of the clasp which you can easily hook a finger beneath and pull. You can also pinch the sides and pull to open. Newer Oysterclasps have a small lever that must be pulled to open the clasp.

Crown clasp:

Found on President and Jubilee bracelets, this clasp is very discrete and can cause some confusion for the uninitiated (or maybe you just haven’t taken it off in a very long time). Luckily, the answer is simple. Look for the small Rolex crown on the bracelet. This crown is a small lever, which will release the clasp when gently pulled.

Oysterlock clasp:

Not to be confused with the similarly named Oysterclasp, this form features a small cover that shields the friction lock seen in Oysterclasp mechanisms. The cover can be opened with very little resistance, revealing the tab to be opened with a fingernail. Watches like the Submariner have a hinge mechanism beneath the cover, which hooks and unhooks to hold the clasp.

Your clasp should come undone with very little force. If something isn’t moving, be careful not to force the wrong part.

Do Rolex watches stop when you take them off?

Not immediately or even soon after, though watches that use an automatic movement to wind themselves will eventually run down if not worn. This is because automatic movements use the natural energy of its wearer’s movements to keep the watch itself powered. Absence of that activity means the movement has nothing to power it.

Taking your watch off overnight won’t present any risks, but if you want an automatic Rolex to keep ticking, it must be worn at least regularly.

How to open a Rolex watch caseback

A set of proper tools is vital to ensuring that any work is performed properly and without causing damage to the watch. This should ideally include:

  • Watchmakers’ screwdrivers
  • A case wrench (specific to Rolex)
  • A bracelet screw remover
  • Jeweller’s light and magnifier
  • Optional: protective gloves

Ensure that you’re working in a clean, dry, dust-free environment as much as is possible. Contaminating the inside of your watch with dust particles, as small as they are, can interrupt the function of highly sensitive parts like the movement.

Once you’ve gently removed the bracelet loop to give you full access to the back of the case, lie the watch face down and make sure you know how the back of your specific watch is attached.

Some casebacks are held down with screws, some are threaded in, others are secured in many other ways. Research your watch using the model reference and gain as much information as you can before opening it up.

Once the back has been taken off, set it aside gently in a clean location and keep track of any screws or parts that came loose with its removal. Everything you’ve undone will need to be redone when rebuilding the watch, so photos, notes, or a good memory will serve you well.

Additionally, Rolex aren’t likely to appreciate attempts at DIY repairs. If your watch takes any damage as a result of opening it up at home, this could affect any future servicing and repairs needed.

How to close a Rolex watch

The best way to close your Rolex watch is the same way you opened it, but in reverse!

If you’re twisting a threaded caseback back into position, make sure it’s as far as it was before loosening. Similarly, don’t overtighten any screws and go slowly to ensure that they’re threading correctly.

Any parts that have been removed for cleaning or replacement will need to be put into the correct places – all of them. Work slowly and carefully, and don’t cram them back in just to get the case back on!

A final word

Although some watch owners will feel confident enough in their abilities to repair their own watch – and capable they may be – it’s highly recommended that you seek the help of an experienced professional for watch repair.

Rolex watch repairs and services aren’t cheap, but they’re still preferable to destroying the insides of your favourite timepiece. If you’ve committed to the investment that buying a Rolex watch represents, it’s wise to protect that investment with proper, correct repairs.

DIY watch repair might seem like an attractive, cost-saving prospect, but a broken watch will be no use to you – and you’ll only need to seek a more extensive repair to undo the damage!

Questions about Rolex repairs? Ask Cheshire Chrono Solutions

Our extensive knowledge and experience with Rolex luxury watches can help. If you want an expert opinion on whether your watch needs a fix, get in touch and we can let you know. We may be able to recommend somebody for the repair, and if you’re looking for a replacement in the meantime, we can source that for you too, or if you would like to buy a Rolex, take a look at our current stock. All at a fair, competitive price.

To find out more about our services, contact us today.

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