Let's delve into the world of Rolex. One of the first things you'll discover when entering the realm of Rolex is the timeless rule that the second hand of a genuine Rolex should move seamlessly, rather than ticking. But is that the whole story? Not quite. While it's a well-known fact that a "regular" Rolex watch should undoubtedly house a mechanical movement, it's worth noting that Rolex itself ventured into the world of quartz technology.We’re talking about the remarkable Oysterquartz series, which, from 1977 to 2001, represented a rare departure from Rolex's traditional approach, introducing some of the most unique and exquisite watches ever crafted by the renowned brand.
Rolex’s First Step Into Quartz
The journey of Rolex into quartz technology began as early as the 1960s when they joined forces with twenty-one other Swiss watchmakers to establish the CEH (Centre Electronique Horloger). The birth of this consortium was driven by the vision of catapulting traditional watchmaking, a mechanical craft, into the future. The era was marked by the space race, which shifted the world's focus toward cutting-edge scientific advancements. In a time where classic watches with escapements and springs seemed "old-school", there was a growing appetite for circuits and microchips. This set the stage for a spirited competition between Switzerland and Japan to be the first to bring quartz wristwatches to the market, marking the dawn of a new horological era.
In 1967, the CEH unveiled its result, the Beta-21 caliber. However, this technological marvel would only be made available to the public in 1970, with its production divided among all the watch manufacturers that participated. Rolex secured just 1000 movements, and due to the substantial size of the mechanism, the new flagship model needed a truly hefty case.The Quartz ref. 5100, affectionately known as the “Texan”, was Rolex's first watch to feature a sapphire crystal and boasted precision levels that set new standards, with an incredible accuracy of +/-0.003 seconds per day, disintegrating the +/- 6 required for COSC certification. This outstanding example belongs to the 1st generation and is among the first 100 pieces produced. It bears the rare and early bracelet with concealed clasp dated 2/71. According to public information only the first 300 examples (in yellow and white gold) were equipped with this 1st Generation bracelet. Check it out on our website.
In-House Revolution: the Oysterquartz Line
After this initial experiment, Rolex decided to take control and develop its first in-house quartz movement. In 1977, they introduced two versions, the cal. 5035 "Datejust" and the cal. 5055 "Day-Date." These innovative calibers breathed life into the newly established Oysterquartz line, representing Rolex's most accurate collection to date.
These state-of-the-art movements were reserved for Rolex's most iconic models, but to mark the special occasion, the maison introduced new cases and integrated bracelets, bearing resemblance to the original designs but with more pronounced edges, ushering in a new aesthetic that would dominate the '80s.Before we assume that these movements can be compared to modern, inexpensive quartz timepieces, it's essential to understand that this technology represented the pinnacle of its time and was held in high regard. Moreover, the Oysterquartz caliber was a splendid hybrid of quartz and mechanical, with the regulator relying on quartz precision while the transmission remained mechanical. It's worth noting that, apart from early 20th-century movements, Oysterquartz calibers are the only ones to feature decorative elements, which is a rarity in the Rolex world.
A Unique Canvas
Rolex is widely recognized for its conservative approach, but the Oysterquartz line offered a blank canvas for creating some of the rarest and most exotic Rolex models ever produced.Alongside the standard production, which predominantly consisted of stainless steel Datejust models and modest gold Day-Dates, Rolex also created a few extremely limited versions with unique features and specific references.Among these rare and highly sought-after models, the ref. 19028 and ref. 19038 undeniably exude an exotic charm. Dubbed "Egyptian" due to their pyramid-inspired decorations, these references were produced in incredibly limited quantities and quickly gained favor among collectors worldwide for their refined extravagance. We've been saying it for a while now: "Make Day-Date Great Again." And finally, it's happening. After all, how can it not when you have timepieces like the ones we're discussing? Take, for instance, this ref. 19028. The gold Day-Date is the ultimate status symbol, aptly nicknamed the "President" for the important figures who have worn it. An heirloom like this can't be taken lightly; it deserves respect. However, this doesn't mean it can't be reinterpreted for everyday wear. The pyramid decoration accomplishes this delicate task, and the consistency between the bracelet, the bezel, and the indices on the dial creates a dynamic effect that stands out without drawing excessive attention.If you're seeking something more daring, this ref.19038 boldly features 12 brilliant-cut diamonds that shine like stars amidst the Giza pyramid decorations on the bezel, guiding us and preventing us from getting lost. Check it out on our website.The modern "Jubilee" dial, with its depth created by the filigree, perfectly complements the applied Arabic numerals, making this piece unparalleled in wearability.Both these two watches stand out not just because they are the quintessential expression of the 70s, but luckily they were forgotten into a time capsule, coming to us in sharp conditions, with well retained cases and box/papers.
Your Own Oysterquartz
Picking an Oysterquartz is no ordinary feat. The audience of the past continued to favor mechanical watches, so sales of Oysterquartz models remained limited, with just a few thousand Datejust and Day-Date units produced, most in standard configurations.Therefore, if unconventional Day-Date models are already rare, it's safe to say that Egyptian references in impeccable condition represent a rarity among rarities. The integrated bracelet leaves no room for error, showing even the slightest signs of polishing, while the pyramidal decorations serve as an indicator of any improper maintenance.While Rolex sport watches, often in stainless steel, gained popularity, we at Momentum took a different path. We invested in curating a collection of the most unique, refined, and rare Day-Dates to offer to our esteemed clients. Our strategy has proven successful in the current market, which is rediscovering the joy of collecting and wearing the King of Rolex watches, the Day-Date. But it's essential to understand that not all Day-Dates are created equal.We invite you to visit our new boutique in the heart of Dubai to explore these exquisite timepieces, and you will undoubtedly join us in saying: "Make Day-Date Great Again!"