600T BEZEL REPLACEMENT

© Dr. Peter McClean Millar - June 2022


 

Both these SUB 600Ts are approximately the same age. They are almost 20 years old. They have also had very different lives.

 

The Dirk Pitt version looks like it has accompanied Clive Cussler's adventure hero of the same name on numerous adventures and it's bezel has been instrumental in fighting the bad guys and has the scars to prove it. Sadly the reality is somewhat less exciting. The truth is that the previous owner or owners have overly polished the bezel in an attempt to remove the scratches which are part of a DOXA SUB's life. It is possible to very, very lightly polish the bezel, in the areas where there are no numbers, to remove the lighter scratches, but a closer look at the Dirk Pitt bezel shows that it has been polished so much that the edges of the outer numbers, especially the 80, have almost been obliterated by over polishing. It also means that it is virtually impossible to repaint the numbers and expect the paint to adhere or remain in place for any length of time. The obvious answer to the problem is replace the bezel.

However, replacing the bezel is not quite as straightforward as it seems. I did the obvious and contacted DOXA asking if they had a replacement bezel for the 600T. Stephanie at DOXA Customer Service was very quick to respond but the news wasn't good. They no longer had any replacement bezels for the 600T. Bummer! Knowing what I know about DOXA watches and with judicial use of calipers, I considered that there was a very real possibility that the Marei era SUB 1000T, 1200T and newer ICE era 300 and 300T bezels would fit and I just happen to have one of each. But I didn't want to take the risk by removing the bezels as they are very, very, very difficult to remove (more on that later) and there was no guarantee that DOXA would sell me one. Besides who better to know if the bezels are interchangable than DOXA themselves. They didn't offer that information.

I'll pause here in the hope I can get a definitive answer on this. In the past I have been contacted by a number of people, disgruntled because DOXA wouldn't sell Bezels or crowns to their watchmakers who were trying to repair the SUBS. I've always considered that the bezels and crowns are the most vulnerable parts of the DOXA SUB. The crown because you can strip the threads of the crown and tube or the decouple mechanism can fail and the bezel because it is a scratch magnet and the click spring can fail. In reality the failure of these is quite rare but they are a relatively simple fix and any competent watchmaker can do the job in minutes. No need to return the watch to DOXA. But if the word on the street is correct, DOXA won't sell these parts. Which if true, I think is a dis-service to DOXA fans and SUB owners. I contacted Stephanie just prior to publising this to see if they would sell me a replacement bezel and I'll update this when I hear back.

So not being one to give up, I looked at possible other options. Maranez, who have been making SUB clones for a number of years produce what they call the Samui Vintage. Every resemblance to the ICE era SUB 300 is purely intentional. My wife has wanted a red dial DOXA for years. Wasn't going to happen so I contacted Maranez and asked if they would be making a red dial Samui. Turns out they have my DOXA books, like my reviews and said, yes, they were doing a red dial version. Well, they did and I bought one. The calipers told me that dimensionally the Samui Vintage bezel was a contender. It is slightly taller than the SUB 600T bezel and has Metric markings rather than Imperial but that was of no consequence. It was also 120 click as opposed to the 600T 60 click configuration, but, again, more of that later. Time to remove bezels.

 

Most modern dive watch bezels are constructed and operate the same way. They have a "click spring" which engages in a ratchet ring on the underside of the bezel. They are attached to the watch using a retention wire which fits in a grove on the watch case under the crystal and one in the bezel itself. There are a number of ways to remove the bezel. You can use a knife and insert it in the space between the bezel and the case. Probability of denting the bezel, denting the case, chipping the crystal and removing a finger or other body part is high. There are a number of tools to facilitate bezel removal. The best ones are made by Bergeon and are very expensive. I bought this and even with it, removing the 600T bezel was a barsteward. Pete's tip for the top. Remove the original bracelet and replace it with a cheap alternative because you need to be able to hold the watch case with one hand while torquing / pivoting the tool with the other. Not only can you not grip the watch head without the bracelet in place, the shear force you have to apply can tear the springbar and endpiece out. Less likely with a solid endlink but with the non SEL on the 600T, it is a real possibility to shear the springbars and bend the actual endpieces.

 

After removing everything, this is what you will see. Note the small hole at the top of the case. That is where the click spring positioner inserts.

 

Remember I talked about 60 click and 120 click bezels, well here is what the original 600T bezel looks like compared to the Maranez Samui Vintage. Note the teeth size and number

 

This image shows how the design of the click spring has changed. Vintage DOXA SUBs use a piece of spring steel which circumnavigates the circumference of the crystal. One end is bent and inserts into the hole in the case and the other is bent so it interacts with the bezel teeth causing it to only rotate one way and make the audible click. The old style also used the click spring to retain the bezel. The new click spring is actually a disc with raised fingers which interact with the bezel teeth. It means there needs to be a separate retention wire.

 

The clicksprings for the Maranez (left) and 600T (right) are also slightly different. The fingers are longer on the Maranez version and it also has 2 locating pins on the underside.

 

This image shows that the Samui Vintage case actually has 8 click spring location holes. Two sets of four. This allows the click spring to be rotated to a position where the bezel markings will align correctly at the 12 o'clock position. If you ever get a dive watch and the 12 o'clock marking is ever so slightly off, it is because of the click spring rather than having a badly machined bezel. The length / location of the fingers dictate the positioning.

 

Well, it was a case of: ding, ding, jackpot, three cherries. The bezel fit and operated perfectly. There was just that slight difference in height.

 

This shows the side view with the original 600T bezel. The crystal protruded slightly above the top of the bezel.

 

This shows the Maranez bezel. The crystal and bezel heights are almost the same. In many ways this is preferable to me as it offers slightly more protection to the crystal.

 

All that was left was to see if I could get a bezel from Maranez. I sent an email to them asking if it was possible to buy an orange Samui Vintage bezel and a crown. I needed the crown for another project. The answer was yes on both counts. Within a week I had both parts. The bezel came complete with retention wire and click spring.

 

There was just one modification to make. This image shows the original click spring and how it sits with one locating pin.

 

This image shows that the Maranez click spring was never going to seat properly because of the extra locating pin at the botton. I had to remove the bottom one. Using a pair of needle nosed pliers and bending it back and forward a couple of times, it broke off neatly. The click spring located perfectly. Next it was a matter of inserting the locking wire into the bezel groove, positioning the bezel on the watch and pressing and turning until it clicked into place.

 

The result was a spectacular transformation.

 

My Dirk Pitt 600T was looking like new and ready for it's next big adventure. There was now one difference.

 

I knew that if I trashed the bezel, I could replace it.

 


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Dr. Peter McClean Millar