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  1. JwRosenthal Apr 4, 2021

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    So if you are one of those Rolex owners that takes a Pantone chart to lume, turns your nose up as service parts, and measures lugs with a micrometer- you may want to leave now.

    I am a vintage watch guy, I have a few newer pieces in my collection but generally about 80% of my collection is pre 1970. I love acrylic- I love the warmth, the depth, the distortion and the shimmer they give everything under them. Yes, sapphire is a superior material- it’s harder, scratch resistant and can provide a greater depth rating for water resistance (although Bulova had no problem getting to 666ft with acrylic).
    I recently got a 14060 Submariner.
    7A3D5258-8F3C-4017-8B13-1AC225A1F75B.jpeg
    I never really wanted a sub, I have owned my GMT for almost 20 years and felt they were too similar to justify- not to mention the sub is just so....black. But I got it from a fellow member here in a trade deal and I realized that I really like this watch- it is very different from the GMT and I love the simplicity of the dial, the symmetry of no date, and perfect balance on the wrist- it really is the epitome of a classic dive watch.

    But something kept me from loving it- the crystal.
    7945070F-A1B2-4BD1-9D9D-32BC1ADFEEA0.jpeg
    I have one other sapphire crystal Rolex and that’s my 14000 Airking- I love the watch, but looking at it side-by-side with my OPD wearing it’s thick acrylic, it lacks the shimmer, sparkle and 3-dimensional pop that the acrylic gives. I know the dial has the shimmer as I can see it in some light- but the crystal is just so flat, lifeless and sterile.
    329C4488-C6A7-446E-BCD7-EF1C24938820.jpeg BD2A1689-3786-414A-80E1-B20993432D94.jpeg
    So I stumbled upon a vendor on eBay selling aftermarket crystals and parts for obscure dive watches- I’ve seen this seller’s parts before and rather than scoff at “fake parts” as some collectors may, I appreciate him filling the void where the maker is no longer extant (like bezels for Depthomatics) or the company never made the part (like an acrylic crystal for a 14060- which never existed from Rolex).
    9EC32B73-1F27-4DCB-BAB6-D1022255B5EA.png

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/401715054430

    I did my research and surprisingly found nothing on these crystals in the wild. I found several people asking if an acrylic could be fitted to a 14060 and the resounding reply on the forums was “why would you want to- just buy a 5513”. I get that, but not all of us can afford a 5513 and I got lucky to even get my watch, so have to make the best of it.
    I took the plunge and ordered one- I figure at worst I lost $80 and could put the factory crystal back in. I did more reading and watched tutorials on changing the crystal on a sub and all the forums seem to make it seem like some black art- don’t even think about it unless you have factory tools, only have Rolex change that crystal or it will implode! You will void any warranty....umm, warranty has been up for about 30 years.

    Well, I can report that there is no black art, it’s incredibly easy and like all things older Rolex, it was well engineered to be easily serviceable.
    Bezel easily comes off with a case-back tool (be mindful of the click wire)
    5B8C630E-FD38-430F-B876-7F2C839154F5.jpeg
    Carefully work a razor blade around the retainer to slowly pry it up evenly
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    Sapphire pops out with the casket, the acrylic presses right in snugly without need for a gasket- reassemble.
    721E718A-87BC-4B7A-9430-0C9E2BA6C700.jpeg
    Now that’s a dome!
    C669A979-6785-4ECA-B668-BF6589A9BA1B.jpeg F6835C0A-6279-46CB-81B4-A1579631E401.jpeg

    Night shot reflecting street lights in that giant orb 68B6DD36-1A97-42B8-B99D-58A76CAAAE66.jpeg
    sunshine D6C1A58B-97DB-454B-A5FA-F2774A2CB7F8.jpeg
    The only downside is the dome is like a fisheye and makes photos tough without seeing the whole world reflected in it
    3CE20531-6BB8-4468-A3D8-213B049A5049.jpeg
    The acrylic is sensational. The indices pop unlike under the sapphire where they seemed almost flat- you see their applied depth and the black dial appears deeper black. The slight distortion of the dome makes the indices actually appear slightly larger which is something I felt was amiss before- they seemed a little small for the surface area of the dial.

    E1999B43-434E-4AB8-9B90-574359E15487.jpeg
    The most significant visual difference is tough to convey but it’s one of focal point. Like in photography when we use a bit of vignetting or shading to bring the eye into the focal point of the image (yes, we steer you to see what we want you to see), the dome brings the eye into the center- then the eye moves around the dial. With the flat sapphire, the dial seemed like it was just a large expanse to the edges and the eye kind of wandered.

    Unlike cheap domes, this one doesn’t give the fried egg appearance at the edges. Yes, there is edge distortion on axis which is part of the charm, but not looking strait on.
    7B687B25-60D4-452A-AF6A-5F36BB44DF99.jpeg

    I went from liking this watch to loving it. Best part- it’s totally reversible.
     
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  2. Darlinboy Pratts! Will I B******S!!! Apr 4, 2021

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    It's your watch, mod away! :thumbsup:
     
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  3. jaguar11 Apr 4, 2021

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    Looks like a 5513! Interesting mod, pleasing to the eye and an interesting read to boot. Totally reversible as you say so enjoy in good heath!!
     
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  4. JwRosenthal Apr 4, 2021

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    I was reluctant at first because I am typically an originality freak, but the fact that it does no harm to the watch made it an easy prospect.
     
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  5. JwRosenthal Apr 4, 2021

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    I should note to anyone contemplating doing this:
    I have not had the watch pressure tested yet. I am wearing it assuming it currently has no water resistance. Once I get it pressure tested by my watchmaker, I will report back.
     
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  6. Scarecrow Boat 5000 Candles in the Wind Apr 4, 2021

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    Last year I had seen that @photo500 sold a 14060M with a domed crystal on eBay and I fell in love with it. The dome had a different profile than yours and looked pretty similar to TrueDome. I even reached out to Greg at TrueDome to see if they had anything that would fit. They said that they get a lot of requests for domed crystals for the 14060 but don’t have anything in the works. As I can’t afford a 5513, I wanted to fit a domed crystal to mine, but as you know, that never came to be. So, it’s pretty cool to see that it happened!
     
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  7. vibe Apr 4, 2021

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    Likewise, I decided a while back that I hate the look of a flat sapphire, so all of my watches are acrylic except for a couple with dome sapphire. So odd that Rolex doesn’t even do a slight dome, which would make them looks so much better.
     
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  8. JwRosenthal Apr 4, 2021

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    I looked at the truedome’s offerings and they don’t seem to do acrylic for watches that didn’t come with it- which is understandable as it’s not factory spec. As this was the only option that was marketed specifically for this case, I took the plunge. I’m sure if I really went to town with the calipers and compared against dozens of Clark crystals, I could have probably found one that worked- but this was a plug and play.
     
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  9. Meyrin Apr 4, 2021

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    Thank you, this was incredibly interesting! I've always loved the old acrylic Subs, and wasn't aware you could do this! I love the look of your 14060 with the acrylic crystal. I too have a 14060, my daily watch for more than 25 years now, but I'm too much of a scaredy-cat to try anything like this! You're braver than I am, sir! And I would be interested to hear how an eventual pressure testing goes! Cheers!
     
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  10. JwRosenthal Apr 4, 2021

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    The gasket on the sapphire allows the pressure fit of the crystal as sapphire has no flex (it would shatter if pressed into metal). The acrylic went in just like the vintage ones do as it has the ability to flex- hence no need for the gasket.
    If you brought one of these to your independent watchmaker (do not even hint at it with an authorized Rolex service provider), it would be an easy swap -no special tools needed, just a press with the correct sized dies. Then just store your sapphire with gasket in the tin like I did.
     
  11. mzinski Apr 4, 2021

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    Terrific conversion! Similar to you I love the character of acrylic. Glad you did what you wanted with the watch - it is yours after all.
     
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  12. vitriol Apr 4, 2021

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    En face looks great much better than Rolex sapphire, side profile I am not so sure. Good job anyway:thumbsup:
     
  13. JwRosenthal Apr 4, 2021

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    It is a higher dome than the truedome, and is rounder as opposed to the wider shoulder on the Truedome.

    EDB685CB-DB97-49DB-80AB-1CDAD6800DBF.jpeg F1DAEB3F-72B8-46A9-9135-61CF29A90CFF.jpeg

    But considering there is no alternative for the 14060 that I could find, I think it’s a good start.
     
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  14. JwRosenthal Apr 4, 2021

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    Don’t remember getting this effect with sapphire
    7FE6C233-7C13-4059-8A8C-558D3234DC3F.jpeg
     
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  15. airansun Seasons will pass you by Apr 4, 2021

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    Well, you got me with that last photo! Nothing like a dome over a glossy black dial.

    Now, if you can remove the white gold rings from around the markers, I’m interested.

    (I’m not sure which I dislike more, sapphire crystals or white gold surrounds.)
     
  16. JwRosenthal Apr 4, 2021

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    I actually mind them less with this crystal. In fact I feel like it makes them pop more which is a good thing as it adds relief to the surface of the dial. If they’re there, might as well lean into it.
     
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  17. speedamatuer Apr 4, 2021

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    Amazing result, now you've got me researching whether there's a similar option for a 14270...
     
  18. JwRosenthal Apr 4, 2021

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    If you don’t see it under his listings, reach out to him and ask. He has a few others listed when I bought mine that aren’t there anymore (I assume he just needs to put up a new listing), so worth the ask.
    I did ask him via PM if he had one for my 14000 and he said he had never tried it. He did have one listed for the 5500 which may or may not be the same fit as the 14000 (next generation 34mm case). I’m tempted to try the one for the 5500 on my
    14000, but it would be an $80 gamble since he hasn’t tried it himself.
     
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  19. vibe Apr 4, 2021

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    There are plenty of aftermarket dome 5500 crystals available out there.
     
  20. JwRosenthal Apr 4, 2021

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    Yes, but will they fit a 14000?