90 YEARS OF PERPETUAL INNOVATION
Rolex is celebrating, in 2016, 90 years of the Oyster, the first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch in the world. It was an innovation that transformed watch design forever. Today, Rolex has reinforced the performance criteria that qualify Oyster watches as Superlative Chronometers, with the introduction of its own, new and more rigorous certification. It establishes a benchmark that exceeds existing watchmaking standards and is applied to all of its watches.
The brand has never ceased to innovate in order to make watches of exceptional performance.
Created in 1926, the Rolex Oyster was a landmark in watchmaking that brought fundamental improvements to the reliability and precision of the wristwatch. The brand has always brought its unique expertise to bear on manufacturing watches of exceptional performance. Since it was founded, Rolex has registered more than 400 patents. Here are eight emblematic Oyster innovations developed and patented by Rolex over the last 90 years.
1926 WATERPROOFNESS MASTERED
The Oyster case, entirely manufactured by Rolex, is waterproof to a minimum depth of 100 metres (330 feet). Its middle case is crafted from a solid block of metal. The fluted case back is hermetically screwed down with a special tool. The winding crown screws down securely against the case offering watertight security akin to a submarine’s hatch and providing the high-precision movement with optimal protection from water, dust, pressure and shocks.
In 1931, Rolex invented and patented a self-winding mechanism with a free rotor, called the Perpetual rotor, based on a principle that would later inspire the whole watchmaking industry. The Perpetual rotor helps to reinforce the Oyster’s waterproofness in that it eliminates the need to regularly unscrew the crown, an operation which exposes the movement to dust and humidity.
TWINLOCK WINDING CROWN
1953 ENHANCED WATERPROOFNESS
The Twinlock system, introduced and patented by Rolex in 1953, ensures that the screw-down winding crown is perfectly waterresistant thanks to two sealed zones. The Twinlock crown is now used on a number of models to provide waterproofness down to a depth of 100 metres.
2000 PRECISION IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE
In 2000, Rolex introduced a patented hairspring in an exclusive alloy: the Parachrom hairspring. This strategic component, entirely manufactured by Rolex, offers major benefits for precision timekeeping: it is insensitive to magnetic fields, provides great stability in the face of temperature variations and remains up to 10 times more accurate than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks.
ABSORBER 2005 INCREASED RELIABILITY
In order to increase the resistance of its movements to shocks, Rolex developed and patented an exclusive shock absorber: Paraflex. Rolex engineers created a system that increases the shock absorber’s efficiency by 50 per cent while preserving the chronometric properties of the balance wheel.
CERACHROM BEZEL INSERT
2005 EXTREME RESISTANCE
Manufactured by Rolex from a particularly hard, corrosion-resistant ceramic, the Cerachrom bezel is virtually impervious to scratches, and its colour is unaffected by ultraviolet rays. Its excellent polishability also ensures an exceptional, long-lasting lustre.
2014 PRECISION IN SMALLER WATCHES
The Syloxi hairspring is the optimal silicon hairspring according to Rolex. The fruit of several years of research and carrying five patents, this new and particularly innovative hairspring makes full use of the potential of silicon technology to bring an exceptional level of precision and reliability to the brand’s women’s watches.
2015 OPTIMIZED ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Rolex engineers devised and patented a new escapement that optimizes the efficiency of the Swiss lever escapement, the standard in Swiss watchmaking. Thanks to extensive research, the new escapement’s geometry improves the efficiency of this key component by 15 per cent.