Rolex makes some of the most robust workhorse movements on the planet, but (with some exceptions) “Rolex” and “complication” are rarely words found in a single sentence. That is what makes the cheap replica Rolex Tru-Beat and the restoration of it so awesome. I got the chance to work on an incredibly rare and uncharacteristic Rolex movement and loved every dead second of it.
While many readers here know this, for the sake of the new, the Tru-Beat has a dead-second complication, meaning the second hand “ticks” rather than flows. Made in the ’60s, this was a mechanical novelty that was relegated to near obscurity because of its unfortunate likeness to a dreaded cheap quartz watch. The complication serves no practical purpose, and while arguably most complications serve no practical purpose, Rolex has almost never ventured into the world of complications. They don’t make tourbillons, repeaters, perpetual calendars, etc., yet for a brief period of time they made a dead-second movement. It makes no sense in the best way possible.
While of no utility, the complication itself is very interesting in principle. What it does is reduce the standard sweep second into far fewer distinct segments. In essence it is an horological optical illusion. While the watch is actually running at a frequency of 18,000 bph, we only perceive 3,600 bph (one tick per second) by looking at the dial-side alone. It achieves this by using two gears attached to the seconds pinion with a spring in between them. These gears are locked and unlocked by a small pallet fork that reduces the 5 small sweeps to one big spring-loaded jump per second. While some complications are only appreciable once every four years, the dead second is constant. The merits of any complication can be debated hotly, but I find this particular one enchanting in its constancy.
Rolex produced these for a very short time and it was the only caliber to use this complication, making its rarity a treat for any collectors who want something more eccentric than a particular bezel or dial on their top fake Rolex watches UK. Unfortunately with its rarity comes a double-edged sword. Because the Caliber 1040 is based on the 1030, there, many examples have been destroyed during service as their rare bits were substituted for the more common parts of the 1030. I have never experienced this first-hand, but internet hearsay (take it for what it’s worth) seems to indicate that there are some instances of Rolex themselves swapping out the 1040 dead-second module for a 1030 module during service. This helps to explain why an immaculate recent example fetched 37,500 CHF at the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: One.
My friend who brought this great piece to me first wanted to make sure it was a real Rolex because in the little running it did at the time, it ticked like a quartz, and to his knowledge Rolex didn’t make quartz. In a great departure from my normal spiel (involving me telling someone their heirloom is not worth much on the market), I finally got to give someone great news!
After a thorough cleaning and inspection I found the things that were in dire need of replacement. Years of sitting in a box as well as running without oil undoubtedly caused wear. There were two clear and catastrophic failures and one other necessary replacement. Firstly, the mainspring was broken. This is a relatively common issue with older mainsprings that is far less common in modern watches. The second problem I found was that all of the wheels for the automatic mechanism were terribly worn and required replacement in order to function properly. They were so worn that they easily moved in their jewels (side and end shake) and jammed. Something many people don’t consider with automatic watches is that even if the watch doesn’t run, the rotor still moves (and wears) with motion. Also, given how much the automatic mechanism moves, and how the manual winding mechanism is configured it can be very susceptible to wear in general. Finally, because of clearly having run for a prolonged period without oil, the pivots of the escape wheel were worn enough to necessitate replacement. In the end I needed a new mainspring, escape wheel, and the whole automatic gear train (reversing wheel and both intermediate wheels). Best replica Rolex watches UK.
Although extensive replacements were needed, I was lucky that the impossible-to-replace dead-second components were totally fine and functional. Because the 1040 is an addition to the much more common Caliber 1030, getting most of the needed parts was not a problem. The one exception was the 2nd intermediate wheel (the part that connects the automatic mechanism to the main movement) because it was made a bit longer in the 1040 to accommodate for the additional height of the dead second complication. Fortunately after a few weeks of searching I was able to find one on the secondary market. Once I secured all of the parts I needed, I was able to re-assemble and oil the movement. Once it was running strong and accurate, I installed a new crystal.
Back together, the “tick” of the dead second is incredible to see. It was a pleasure to work on and while I continue to be amazed by the phenomenal variety of pieces people bring to me and that I get to work on, this one was Tru-ly special.