Rolex

Nine Decades with the Vision of Excellence

Rolex
In 1910, when Rolex was the first wristwatch manufacturer to achieve the certificate of chronometric accuracy, the main reservations of conservatively-oriented watchmakers were primarily linked to the sensitivity of these tiny mechanisms and, henceforth, with their demanding maintenance, while they were also concerned about the negative influence of moisture which could penetrate the case.

Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of what is today the leading brand in the watchmaking industry, set himself a new goal: to ensure the accuracy of timepieces with a case that would prevent the occurrence of damage due to dust, condensation, heat, and frost. A few years later, when the Oyster case was presented, he was proud to pronounce: “We make the best wristwatches in the world.”

Development of the Oyster Case


Wilsdorf’s vision about the development of the Oyster case was that his wristwatches would never have to be taken off when washing your hands or working in a dusty workshop; but he achieved so much more. In 1926, a hermetically closed case with a patented system of screw-down bezel was presented and it significantly contributed to the lasting accuracy of movements.

Wilsdorf promised: “You just keep your Oyster on your wrist whatever happens and it will never fail you.” Thus, Rolex wristwatches were adopted by various pioneers who conquered the highest peaks or researched the deepest and furthest parts of the world, wrote history in the evolution of aviation, or reached at that point unimaginable speeds in cars.

Rolex on Mount Everest, 1953
The Oyster Perpetual wristwatch was born which completely changed the watchmaking world and especially the manner of timepiece production due to its accuracy and durability.

Waterproofness


To ensure the total waterproofness of the Oyster case, Rolex primarily had to eliminate the possibility of potential water invasion when winding the wristwatch. Namely, to do so, one had to first cut the sealed connection between the winding crown and the case, which enabled moisture to enter. Self-winding movements in pocket watches were already used in the 18th century, and by 1920 they had been adopted by some of the wristwatch manufacturers.

Wilsdorf devoted his full attention to this detail and in 1931, he acquired a series of patents for a movement which was wound by the rotation of a weighted rotor within the case. It was called “Perpetual”, and since it was self-winding during wear it significantly contributed to the accuracy of the movement which is the best in the upper quarter of the power reserve. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual wristwatch was born which completely changed the watchmaking world and especially the manner of timepiece production due to its accuracy and durability.

The Oyster Case

A Synonym for Quality


Despite all this success, the watchmaking industry remained sceptical since many people at the time could not recognise waterproofness as the main attribute for ensuring accuracy. In less than two decades, the waterproof Oyster watch became a synonym for quality on all five continents and between 1926 and 1945 Rolex exported about a billion francs worth of wristwatches, which equals approximately 6.7 billion euros today.

Such success encouraged many to join in with the idea of the waterproof watch, but they first had to replace their out-of-date equipment for the production of the case with modern tools, precise enough for the delicate shaping of waterproof cases. This new standard in case production in Switzerland re-established itself just in time when the industrialised competition started threatening from other parts of the world.

In less than two decades, the waterproof Oyster watch became a synonym for quality on all five continents and between 1926 and 1945 Rolex exported about a billion francs worth of wristwatches, which equals approximately 6.7 billion euros today.

The Twinlock Winding Crown


The waterproofness of the case and the efficient self-winding system of the movement are two extremely important milestones for the Swiss watchmaking industry, but Rolex did not stop at that. Until today, they have registered several hundred patents which improve the accuracy of their movements, waterproofness, resistance to blows, magnetism, and similar.

The waterproofness of the Rolex Oyster case was upgraded with the Twinlock winding crown, which due to two sealed zones ensures perfect waterproofness even if the crown is not appropriately wound onto the case; the movement's resilience to blows was ensured with Paraflex absorbers, the legibility and durability of the bezel with the ceramic Cerachrom insert, and the movement accuracy with Parachrom and Syloxi technologies for the hairspring and Chronergy escapement.

Rolex Twinlock Winding Crown
Rolex Paraflex
Rolex Syloxi Hairspring

Certifications


The clear vision of development and manufacture of the most accurate and reliable movements has been proven by Rolex from its very beginnings through their own certification as well as with accuracy certificates awarded by independent institutes. From the late twenties, all of their timepieces were marked by a red stamp including the inscription Officially Certified Chronometer, while they differed from other manufacturers in the fact that Rolex timepieces achieved above-average grades “avec mention” on tests and thus justified the mark “Superlative Chronometer”. 

When the official Swiss test centre COSC was established, such certificates became obsolete, while at Rolex their affinity with excellence continued to be proven by additional tests simulating the use of the wristwatch in real life and are so demanding that they cannot be performed other than inside their own production facilities.

Rolex Superlative Chronometer Designation

The Green Stamp of Excellence


Today Rolex equips all its timepieces with the green stamp of excellence, which symbolises the top of chronometer precision. This stamp certifies that the wristwatch has gone through a series of specific tests within the Rolex laboratories and meets their specific standards despite the fact that the movement was previously awarded the COSC certificate.

This unique testing of chronometer precision, case waterproofness, self-winding and escapement places the name Rolex as the criterion for exceptionality for mechanical timepieces, while the green stamp symbolises a five-year warranty of all models of their wristwatches.

Rolex Superlative Chronometer Seal