The First to Be Waterproof: the Amazing Facts Behind the Rolex Oyster

Rolex watches are often perceived as largely style over substance. The average “Joe” or “Jane” may think of Rolexes as those fancy watches that bling bling and show that a person has made it. Yes, Rolex is all that. Yes, Rolex is the epidemy of bling. The watches are works of art. The watches are truly beautiful. Rolex does say “you’ve made it,” especially if it’s a genuine Rolex and not some cheap and horrendous fake Rolex. But what many non-watch folk do not know is that Rolex is a technology powerhouse. For this month, let’s zero in on one issue: waterproof and one watch, the Rolex Oyster. The fun fact? That the Rolex Oyster was the first waterproof wristwatch in human history. The first. Ever. It’s a showcase for Rolex’s technological prowess. This happened first in 1926, and then Rolex has built upon this capability with ever-better waterproofing and water resistance. It is one thing to claim a watch is waterproof. It is quite another to prove it. In 1927 a Rolex Oyster crossed the English Channel, worn by a young English swimmer named Mercedes Gleitze. The swim lasted over 10 hours and the watch remained in perfect working order at the end of it.Rolex Watch Repair - New York, NY

According to WatchTime India, “Starting from the top, the Rolex Oyster case is hermetically constructed to guarantee a water resistance of 100 meters (330 feet) to 300 meters (1,000 feet) for the Submariner and Submariner Date timepieces, 1,220 meters (400 feet) for the Sea-Dweller and 3,900 meters (12,800 feet) for the Deepsea collection. It also features a solid middle case that is stamped and machined out of a solid block of Oystersteel, 18k gold or 950 platinum. Forming the backbone of the case itself, the central section is extremely robust and offers a secure fit for the overall case structure. A feature found mostly on the Professional models is the crown guard that is set on the side of the middle block and forms an integral part of the case structure. The sapphire crystal is mounted on a gasket that fits perfectly against the flange of the case, adding to the waterproof and dustproof features of the Oyster case. On the back we can see the screwed down caseback with Rolex fluting that is fitted with a special tool. This is done to allow access only to Rolex watchmakers, which further ensures the safety of the movement from external tampering.”

That brings us to the next innovative period, 1953 and 1970, respectively. This is when Rolex innovated with the Twinlock and Triplock winding crown. These were patented features of the Oyster case that was developed to ensure its high water-resistance. It was this part of the development of the Rolex Oyster case that gave Rolex watches their reputation as having among the most efficient waterproof case structures to date. Thus you get Rolex Oysters that are literally used for deep sea diving.

A secondary innovation and one of the standout feature of the Oyster case is the “Cyclops” lens that is present on the sapphire crystal. The main function of this innovation is to allow the magnification of dates on many Oyster models. This enables the wearer to read the date with much ease. Due to its exclusivity, and to the success the innovation garnered, Rolex has diligently tried to enforce it’s patent. Now, we’re not patent lawyers, but the feature is pretty darn cool.

If you’re lucky enough to have a 1926 Rolex Oyster, or a later model, say from 1953 or 1970, bring it into our shop for a complete inspection. We’re known as the best Rolex repair in New York City and we see a lot of Rolex watches to repair here in our New York City workshop. We love the brand and its history and nothing makes us happier than a restored and renewed Rolex on the wrist of a good-looking New Yorker.