Photo-essay: a make-over of my Ollech & Wajs Ranger

in the beginning, there was a vision...i like the CWC RN diver, but it's a little too small for my taste. i appreciate that it's an authentic issued piece, but that's not a real draw for me when i just want a beater watch to add to my quiver. i also like the Omega's SM300 ALOT - it's so very handsome, but again it's a (pricey) vintage issued piece and i'm not really into a watch i need to wear with kid-gloves - been there, done that! i'd considered Precista's PRS-14, but given the unfavorable GBP->USD exchange rate, that's too much to spend for another knock-about watch.

the MoD-spec dial has always had a strong aesthetic appeal, along with the classic sword hands. and i like the shape of the CWC RN diver's case, so...i got to thinking...the '70s Heuer diver has a very similar case, but again is a relatively expensive vintage piece - not quite appropriate for another knock-about watch. i saw that Vollmer offers the Kampfschwimmer, which is the same case as the Heuer...but they're hard to find so getting one @ a good price on the secondary market would be tough.

so then i happened upon the Ollech & Wajs Ranger...same case as the Vollmer diver. i found my watch! i ordered one from howard marx...and was pleased to find that the case is slightly beefier than the CWC RN diver in all dimensions (~42mm x ~13mm) ...SCORE! now the game is afoot...and now i want to make this watch something original i can call my own, so read on...

here we start w/ the basic Ranger...quite shiny, no? we'll have to do something about that... and the dial is distinctive, but i'm after the MoD-spec look. but the Ranger has very good "bone structure" ;-)

unfortunately the case has a very large dial aperture, so a "normal" ETA dial will not fit :-(. here is a test-fit using one of Hyunsuk's very handsome MoD dials...note how it slides easily inside the metal dial ring? not good...

i was able to locate an MoD style dial for ETA movts w/ the correct (large) diameter, but it's garbage...the print is off-set to one side (not centered on the dial) and is shiny (and this is supposed to be a mil-style dial?!) and had a low overall quality. keep searching...

so then i start thinking...i like Bill Yao's stuff, but the ETA dials are too small for this project. but what about his seiko dials? i check the specs and they're barely big enough...i have about 0.5mm overlap between the outside of the dial and the metal dial ring. here's one of bill's seiko MoD dials next to Hyunsuk's MoD dial for comparison.

test fit confirms that the dial is just big enough. of course the dial feet are for seiko movts, so i need to figure something dial feet? adhesive dial dots? something else? whatever i do, it needs to be very i dont have much space with which to work!

before i figure out how to fit/mount the dial to the movt, i need to remove the original dial feet...grind away...there's no turning back now!


after much deliberation on MWR, i decided NOT to use replacement dial feet (possible thickness issues w/ the entire stack-height of the dial + movt fitting into the case), nor the adhesive dial dots (seems like a kludgy technique and may also cause thickness/fit issues). instead, i decide to attach the dial spacer ring, which is used on all 2824 movts, to the back of the dial. this will allow me to locate the dial securely on the movt. here's how it will look.

but i still need to figure out how i'll place the ring precisely and avoid getting adhesive all over the place. i decide to use an old spare-parts movt and the movt ring as my jig.

now i clean the back of the dial and movt ring w/ alcohol.

and i make 2 sticks for thick for mixing, one skinny for precise application.

now i get a little epoxy.

and mix it up

and apply very carefully only to the dial spacer ring...look closely

now i (carefully) place the dial on my jig. it looks a little off to the left...better fix before the epoxy sets!

everything looks i find that the jig is too tall for my normal i setup a makeshift dust-cover.

now i'm done for the day...epoxy is slow-cure, so i go get dinner and watch the news.

24 hours later and epoxy has definitely cured...time to check our work.


now we test-fit the dial w/ movt and movt ring in the case...did i place the spacer ring correctly? YES!

i notice that there is some side-to-side play of the movt ring inside the case, so i put some 5-minute epoxy on the side and adjust thickness w/ a file to fit snugly.

now time to fit the hands. i chose Bill Yao's new/larger MoD sword hands. i like them alot!

now i get my hand-setter and piece of pith wood.

hands in place. IMO these new hands are MUCH better made than Bill's old sword hands. they seem to be made w/ tighter tolerances and just higher quality - they are much easier to fit.

and now the finished product...i also applied a brushed finish to the tops of the lugs. sorry, no pics of that!

this view better shows the end-product

a side-benefit of Bill Yao's kit...blazing lume!

now it joins 2 good "mil-watch" friends.