Rolex may be more famous and admired for its durable and precise mechanical movements. But the Rolex Oysterquartz is a unique collection of the Geneva-based Swiss watchmaking company. Interestingly, Rolex indeed embarked with the quartz craze once upon a time that is referred to as ‘Quartz crisis’ period today.
The fact is that in the early 1970s and 1980s, watch manufacturers were more directed towards making more precise but affordable quartz calibres. However, the Swiss watch manufacturers were hesitant to be a part of the quartz bandwagon. But Rolex was one of the few leading watch brands that launched its quartz timepieces.
Here are five interesting facts about the Rolex Oysterquartz that will ideally surprise you. Have a look!
Rolex began its research and analysis on automatic movements in the 1950s. In 1952, the brand achieved its ever first patent on an automatic movement. However, Rolex supposedly issued nearly 50 patents for their timepieces and 21 of them were explicitly for electronic watches.
The manufacturer issued one patent in the 1970s for a digital watch featuring a LED screen. In 1977, Rolex launched the quartz calibre 5035 for the Datejust and the quartz calibre 5055 movement for the Day-Date Oysterquartz watches. Rolex’s Oysterquartz movements featured a 32 kHz oscillator and 11jewels.
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However, Rolex ideally ameliorated the Calibre 5035 and Calibre 5055 movement in 2001 (the last production year of OysterQuartz timepieces). This resulted in a more precise movement believed to be known as Calibre 5335. Now, this new movement includes 23jewels and sported a perpetual calendar complication.
Before the introduction of OysterQuartz, Rolex and many brands united to create a quartz movement, referred to as the Beta 21. The Rolex Date 5100 limited edition was the first quartz watch of Rolex, run on Beta 21 Calibre movement. The fact is that Rolex collaborated with over 20 Swiss watch manufacturers to form the ‘Centre Electronique Horloger’. The mission was merely to produce watch movements.
The Beta 21 quartz movement was housed in quartz watches of many Swiss watch brands. In fact, Rolex developed the Date 5100 in about 1,000 pieces, and 250 watches out of them were created in white gold and others in yellow gold. However, the Rolex Date 5100 also had a unique design, featuring a special integrated case and trendy bracelet.
Rolex produced the Oysterquartz movements for 25years. During this time, the manufacturer used the movement only in the Day-Date and Datejust models. The Datejust Oysterquartz reference 17000 timepieces were launched in stainless steel, whereas, the reference 17013 watches were offered in yellow gold and Rolesor stainless steel. And, the Rolex reference 17014 was unveiled in white gold and Rolesor stainless steel.
However, Rolex also released some Oysterquartz limited-edition versions featuring jewels and exclusive design components.
Rolex is estimated to create less than 25,000 Oysterquartz watches during its production span of 25years. Although this is a low number in the arena of Rolex watch manufacturing, it made the Oysterquartz indeed a unique Rolex watch. In 2001, the brand applied for COSC certification for its quartz movements for the last time. However, some Oysterquartz models continued to be in Rolex’s catalogue until 2003.
Since its inception in 1905, ‘Rolex’ is a name associated with some of the true innovations in luxury watchmaking. Rolex watches have indeed accompanied many adventurers and achievers across the world, from the peak of the highest mountains to the deepest point of the ocean. The noteworthy Italian explorer, mountaineer and author Reinhold Messner was the first person to ascend the Mount Everest in 1978 without using oxygen cylinder, wearing a Rolex Oysterquartz on his wrist.
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Although Rolex watches with mechanical movements are ideally more popular and coveted, many people indeed love and admire the aesthetics of Rolex Oysterquartz. The Oysterquartz plays a historically significant role not only in Rolex’s history but also in the Swiss luxury watch market. These watches are undoubtedly rare as the brand produced only 25,000 pieces for 25years. The Oysterquartz’s iconic design, rarity, and also affordability make them sought-after among many Rolex aficionados and collectors across the globe.
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