The brainchild of its founder, Hans Wilsdorf, Rolex took an innovative leap in 1926, with the development of the “Oyster Perpetual” - the world's first waterproof and dust-proof wristwatch. Termed as the Oyster, the hermetically sealed case timepiece was destined to become an everyday necessity – for men and women alike – with its precision accentuating the robust reliability of the instrument.
Regarded as one of the most important inventions of recent years at the time, the Oyster has, over time, become the primary choice for explorers and pioneers of all types, thereby reinforcing the performance criteria which qualify the watch as Superlative Chronometers – the new standard of excellence for mechanical watches conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories, complementing the official COSC certification of movements.
Since its inception in 1926, the journey of the Oyster has been one of great historical inspiration. When the timepiece successfully crossed the English Channel, whilst dangling from the neck of the young English swimmer Mercedes Gleitze, in ten freezing hours, it was regarded as the “greatest triumph in watchmaking”, by the Daily Mail.
Since then, the Rolex Oyster never looked back. Achieving one feat after another, the timepiece has many accolades to its name, along with a long line of watches which were developed in the coming years. Read on to find out some of the major milestones in the lifetime of the Rolex Oyster:
1945: The introduction of the new Date-Just – the pillar of the Oyster collection today. The Date-Just was the first self-winding wrist chronometer to indicate the date in a window on the dial.
1953: One of the biggest achievements known to mankind. The year when Sir John Hunts expedition with Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay reached the Mount Everest Summit. They were equipped with the Oyster Perpetual Watches. This feat was celebrated with the creation of the Oyster Perpetual Explorer – an iconic timepiece till today.
1956: The Oyster Perpetual Day-Date – the first wristwatch to display the date and day of the week, spelt out in full, in a window on the dial. It came on the President bracelet, with its semi-circular three piece links. Worn by some of the most influential world leaders, thereby giving it the name of “The Presidents Watch”.
1967: The Oyster Perpetual Sea Dweller – A waterproof timepiece to 610 meters, developed especially for the deep sea divers.
1971: Oyster Perpetual Explorer 2 – made exclusively for polar explorers, speleologists etc and comes with a distinctive 24 hour hand.
2007: The Oyster Perpetual Yacht Master 2 – How was it different from the first Yacht Master developed in 1992? It was the first watch in the world with a programmable countdown with a mechanical memory, leading to an innovative system of interaction between the movement and the case.
2012: The Oyster Perpetual Deep Sea Challenge, certified the watch as water proof up to 12,000 meters, thereby making a record for the deepest diving watch in the world.
2017: Baselworld 2017 saw the launch of the Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41 - available for the first time in 904L steel or with an 18 CT white gold fluted bezel.
2017: Commemorating 50 years of the Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller, Rolex launched the new timepiece at Baselworld 2017. The timepiece is bolder than ever in a 43mm case.
The aesthetics of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual models set them apart as symbols of universal and classic style. They embody timeless form and function, firmly rooted in the pioneering origins of Rolex. Stay tuned for more exclusive updates from Baselworld 2017!