Rolex Submariner Home Restoration Guide (Polish & Scratch Removal)
The topic of polishing watches is something that splits opinions. If you ask the most devoted watch enthusiasts, many of them would advise you not to polish your Rolex Submariner. And whilst this article is focused on this particular model, it is applicable to most Rolex watches.
In this article, we will go through how you can polish your Rolex Submariner at home with minimal tools and equipment to restore it to its former shine and remove scratches, whilst also being gentle to the watch.
To polish or not to polish?
This is a question that is constantly discussed in forums and online… The thing with polishing a watch is that when you polish it, you remove material from the case and bracelet. If polished improperly, or too heavily, the watch can, especially over time and after many repeated polishes, risk losing its original shape, lines, and forms. This especially relates to the case of the watch since this, unlike a bracelet, cannot really be replaced. At least not affordably or easily. For a Rolex Submariner, it is particularly true since changing the case is extremely expensive (and difficult), but it also results in a different serial number, thus creating a mismatch that is very unattractive, and incorrect for that matter.
In other words, replacing the case on a Submariner is not really something you do…
With all of this said, with careful and light polishing, and when executed correctly, you minimize the removal of material from the case and can, therefore, polish it many times over without really making a noticeable difference in the case’s thickness and original shape.
With this in mind, in this article, we are going to go through exactly that. How you can do a home restoration by polishing and removing scratches from your Rolex Submariner in a careful manner. Some would argue that you should only have your watch polished by experts, but generally, when they are polished by watchmakers, they are polished with real polishing machines, which tend to remove more of the material than the methods discussed in this article will.
But from what we have observed using this method, the result is quite good. But of course, it is completely up to you what you decide in the end.
Polishing the bracelet
To polish the bracelet (actually, you brush it since it has a brushed finish), you can use a scotch Brite green pad. The Scotch Brite pad will leave a brushed finish on your bracelet when used, but it will do so very gently since it is far less grainy and aggressive than, say sandpaper.
To polish your bracelet, start by wetting the pad. Now, drag with smooth and gentle motions, along the bracelet, ideally in one-directions motions. Start with the clasp as this is naturally the part of the watch that will acquire most scratches over time. Depending on how worn your bracelet is, it may be enough to only polish the clasp to bring it back to its former faulty-free finish.
When using the scotch Brite pad, make sure you pull it against the bracelet in a straight motion. Since the pad does give it a brushed finish, it can leave uneven lines if you don’t do it perfectly.
How much pressure you should apply depends on how badly it is scratched. Note that when you apply more pressure, the graining of the finish will be rougher. Therefore, just before you are done, you can apply less pressure and check the finishing to make sure it is not too light but also not too rough. The goal is of course to get the finish to look just like when new.
Note that if you have a two-tone (gold and steel) Rolex Submariner, you should not brush the polished center. The best to prevent this is to put tape on this part.
Polishing the sides of the case
The best way to polish the sides of your Rolex Submariner case is to use Cape Cod polishing cloths. These cloths are impregnated with a very gentle polishing cream that helps polish the case. The cloths clean, polish and protects the polished surface of your watch, but most importantly work to remove hairlines and scratches.
NOTE: Do not use the polishing cloths for the lugs (brushed parts) of your case. This will remove the brushing and result in a polished finish that is not attractive. If you need to polish the lugs of your case, it is best to leave it to an expert as these delicate areas require more expertise and the correct tools for a perfect result.
To polish, take one of the cloths and gently start to rub against the polished parts for a few minutes. Start carefully one round, wipe off the residue, and see the result. If there are still scratches left, you can apply more pressure and polish for a few more minutes. Deeper scratches require more pressure and more time for polishing. You can take one round of polishing at a time, check the results, and see if you need to polish additionally.
Be careful to not polish on the lugs when using the cloth as this will result in a shiny finish.
These Rolex Submariner polishing tips are meant to be used as a way of looking after your watch. It is difficult to remove deep scratches and dings, especially on the polished parts. If you want to remove these, it is best to have it polished by a professional. If you execute these polish and scratch removal tactics from home, you will be able to remove most, if not all scratches and hairlines without doing damage to it. Good luck!