Crystal replacement

Submitted by Robert Baker on September 20, 2019 - 4:31am

I need replacement Crystal s for a Bulova Snorkel 666ft 11afacd with a m4 date code. 386-1 and a one for a 386 same date code but "Snorkel" is written on the dial.

Robert Baker
Posted September 20, 2019 - 4:38am

In short how too replace the crystals on dive watches. What type is of glass a rule of thumb? Please explain in detail what I need and proper approach to Crystal replacement and not disaster.

Astronaut M2
Posted October 12, 2019 - 6:21pm


Astronaut M2
Posted October 12, 2019 - 6:57pm

The crystal is a 386A-1 "Armored White" and it is a crystal that needs to be installed with a crystal press, It is aleo a good idea to lightly "break the edge" of the crystal to avoid cracking the crystal when pressing it into the case...

Reverend Rob
Posted October 13, 2019 - 12:53pm

If the original part is available, that obviously makes the process easier.

However, if you have to use a generic crystal, you need to know how to measure the opening, and calculate what will work. This includes the height of the dome as well as wall thickness, whether the crystal is Armée or not (most are). Some have additional ridges that may or may not be critical to the seal. Oftentimes the rotating bezel must be removed to do this properly. This is something else that has specific procedures. Bezels can and do bend when stressed improperly. The bezel insert can also be damaged or will pop out under stress. 

Using a crystal press ideally requires hands-on instruction, and the good ones are not cheap. I recommend taking it to a qualified watchmaker at least for the crystal installation if you are at all unsure about this process. Doing it wrong can destroy the crystal and sometimes damage the bezel. Alternately, depending on your location, you may be able to find a class on this offered by either the NAWCC or AWCI here in North America. In Europe, there may be similar types of organisations, but I don't have any info on these. 

In addition, watchmakers or places that do crystal replacement will also test for water resistance, but Bulova divers will not pass unless the crystal, back gasket, and crown gasket(s) are sound. Most Bulova Divers do not have a screw down crown, so ratings should be taken with a grain of salt.

100m is required, with screw down crown, for surface swimming. This is because the test is done statically, and when the watch is in motion, particularly breaking the surface tension of the water while swimming, it undergoes stresses that aren't duplicated in the test. 

I've said this elswhere, but keep in mind we are mostly talking vintage watches here, and my blanket recommendation is to NOT use them for diving, swimming, or ANY kind of hot water use like showers or Hot tubs. Hot water will void the warranty on even a new dive watch, as it shrinks the gaskets. The plain dope, from Breitling:

IF your watch is in regular contact with water or is submerged regularly, regardless of depth, you should replace all gaskets in the watch every two years to maintain the rating and warranty. 

If this sounds like overkill, I will reference the man who brought us an $80,000 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore that he used in a hot tub. It was destroyed, warranty voided. 

Vintage watches are elderly and deserve respect and gentle handling, which I tell all my customers. 

You could watch a YouTube video on the subject, but hands on is better. Describing it in a post like this would not be sufficient to properly show the procedures.