With the Oyster Perpetual in the far 1931 Hans Wilsdorf founder of Rolex manages to materialize his vision of wristwatch
1931 – First Rolex Oyster Perpetual
What is it that everyone claims from a watch? That it is precise, durable and that we can forget about it. Today, many offer this performance, but when no one knew how to make a real wristwatch, Rolex Oyster Perpetual had been supplying it for some time. With a design that has remained almost the same for almost ninety years those two words are the true essence of the brand with the crown.
When Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex took his first steps in the field like him, the wristwatch was yet to emerge. Thanks to his simple but futuristic vision in 1926 the Maison presented the famous Oyster case. The following year he skilfully introduced the world to his incredible impermeability with the crossing of the swimming sleeve of Mercedes Gleize.
1927 Mercedes Gleize
In 1931 another historic patent arrives that will make the fortune of Rolex: the Perpetual a reliable rotor that allowed to forget to recharge the watch. In the beginning this device is mostly identified in the Ovetto, an iconic Oyster so nicknamed for its very rounded shapes. The philosophy of the founder that a timepiece should have been able to remain on the wrist even while you were showering materializes thanks to the eponymous three-row steel bracelet.
At the time it was invented, the watertight case of Rolex was what everyone was waiting for a wristwatch. Why is it called Oyster? During a presentation in 1927 Wilsdorf said: “The oyster is a” model “hostess and does not tolerate the slightest presence of dust or other impurities. […] Well, gentlemen, we have borrowed his qualities and his name. Here is a specimen of the Rolex Oyster, so called because it lives in water and excludes any impurities “. (source Rolex SA).
Rolex Oyster 1926 replica
1926 Rolex Oyster
Influenced by art deco, a style that reigned in Europe between 1919 and 1930, the first Oyster of 1926 had an octagonal design. Even today, its constructive scheme provides as a minimum a screwed bezel, caseback and crown. A few years later in 1931 the first Oyster Perpetual showed a much more slender shape only slightly tonneau. It is curious but with the exception of the Prince the design of the round boxes is still the same today for all the Rolex models and this also applies to the winding crowns. Since 1959 most of the cases in the Professional line have been distinguished by the presence of crown protecting shoulders, whose shape has evolved separately.
The Oyster Perpetual is coming
The first waterproof case had as obvious a great repercussion even within the watch world. The innovative Oyster patent had forced the whole sector to adapt and the manufacture of the elements that together had to achieve a high resistance to dust and water obliged us to also review all the machinery to manufacture them.
Rolex Perpetual Movement
1931 – Perpetual Movement
But instead of sleeping on his laurels four years later in 1931, Rolex presented the Perpetual automatic winding rotor, the step that was missing to be able to wear a watch and completely forget about him. The Maison proudly reiterates this by showing the word “SELF WINDING” on the dial of the first Oyster Perpetual, now generally used to highlight a movement that can only be loaded automatically.
In 1945, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Rolex brand, he launched the Datejust at the Basel Motor Show, a luxurious model with a 5-row gold case and bracelet called jubilé. This Oyster Perpetual was the first to show at 3 o’clock a practical date with red figures on a white background. The Datejust also marks an important evolution of the forms that become more circular and earns the nickname of Ovettone.
First Rolex Datejust 1945 replica watch
1945 First watch Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust (chronometer certificate)
From that moment on all Rolex replica timepieces are divided into two macro categories: simple and elegant style watches such as the Oyster Perpetual Datejust with date and the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date with day of the week and date and Professional watches, first tool-watch with features designed to operate and be of help in different situations, be they work or sports. The pioneer of this last great family is the Oyster Perpetual Explorer used in 1953 by the New Zealander Edmund Hillary who along with the sherpa Tenzing Norgay first reached the summit of Everest.
Here are the ones that for me are the 7 most representative models of today.