Rolex Oysterquartz – Durable Accuracy
Given that Rolex has been making high quality, innovative and durable timepieces with mechanical movements for more than a century, it might come as a surprise to find that the company not only manufactured wristwatches with quartz movements, but they offered them for sale for more than thirty years.
The Rolex Oysterquartz was designed to help keep the Swiss watchmaking industry alive after the entire world seemed to go crazy for watches with Japanese-made quartz movements in the early 1970s.
The company saw this new technology as an attack on everything they stood for, but they also realized that in order to compete, they were going to have to produce a quartz-based product of their own.
They did, and the Rolex Oysterquartz turned out to be an attractive, well-built, durable model that continues to draw attention from fans and collectors more than a decade after the product was removed from the company’s product line. While the watch is no longer available, the company has managed survive the “quartz crisis” and has now reverted to making high-quality mechanical movements exclusively.
Read on for the full Rolex Oysterquartz watches review.
The build quality was in line with the rest of the company’s products – strong and durable, using cases of stainless steel and gold, along with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. These watches offered water resistance to 100 meters.
The first electronic watch the company offered was actually called the “Rolex Quartz Date”, model 5100 and was introduced in 1970, just a year after the first Japanese models hit the market. This model used a movement that was produced by a consortium of Swiss companies called Beta 21.
Omega also used this movement in some of their models. A few years later, this model was born and used quartz movements that were designed and produced in house. These highly reliable (and attractive, as electronics go) movements were used throughout the rest of the product life and proved to be both accurate and durable.
The development of the Rolex Oysterquartz was years in the making; Rolex received their first patent for electronic timekeeping in 1952. Keeping up with the Japanese was difficult, as Rolex was concerned about price point. The quartz movements from Japan were quickly dropping in price and quality eventually became spotty. The decision was made to produce a high-quality quartz movement in house in order to maintain reliability. Several different versions were made, in order to accommodate
As with most of the company’s products, this model was available in a number of styles. The most common versions were one that displayed time only, the Day-Date, which displayed the day of the week and the date, and the Datejust, which displayed the date in addition to the time.
Cases were available in stainless steel, steel with yellow gold, and all-gold. The timepiece was available with black, white and gold faces, and the usual embellishments such as diamonds were also available.
The watch quickly became popular in both the United States and Japan, where the brand name remained a status symbol, and buyers were able to embrace both the Rolex legend as well as the new quartz craze.
As these are highly reliable and accurate electronically controlled devices, maintenance on the Rolex Oysterquartz should be less cumbersome than for other models in the company’s product line, which do require occasional maintenance for upkeep on the moving parts.
The only thing you’ll need to do is to replace the battery from time to time, and have the watertight seals inspected every few years to ensure that the watch remains water resistant. You should store your watch in a cool, dry place and keep it away from strong magnetic fields, extremes of temperature and caustic chemicals.
The watch was sold with the company’s standard, two year warranty against defects in materials and craftsmanship. This length of warranty is about the industry average, many high-end watchmakers offer two years as their standard warranty. Of course, as these are high quality products that were tested thoroughly at the factory prior to shipping, defects were probably quite rare.
Prices ranged from moderately to extremely expensive, but were not out of line with the remainder of the company’s product line. The last year in which this model was available was 2001; at that time, the prices ranged from $3000 for a model with a stainless steel case and bracelet to $60,000 for a model with an 18k gold case and lots of diamonds.
Most models ran in the $20,000-$25,000 range. Prices now vary widely, as a number of variations were offered during the model’s 30 years of production.
Collectors love this model, partly because it stood out as an unusual product for the company and partly because it’s a relatively rare item, as only 25,000 units were produced over the entire life of the product. Early models, especially the first-year Rolex Quartz Date model, can sell for substantial prices.
As the model has been out of production since 2001, you’ll have trouble finding this particular model for sale, although it does turn up for sale at auction sites from time to time. You won’t find a new one anymore, as they were all spoken for years ago.
On the other hand, the company continues to create lots of innovative and attractive timepieces, and chances are good that you’ll be able to find a Rolex watch that suits you. The company restricts sales to authorized dealers in order to keep pricing stable, but you can buy discount Rolex watches from a few online vendors.
The Rolex Oysterquartz was an innovative timepiece from a company that frequently surprises us with new features. Who’d have thought that a company that built their legendary reputation on highly accurate mechanical movements would suddenly jump in and compete with Japanese watchmakers with a quartz-powered wristwatch?
Rolex did this successfully in the 1970s and they helped bring about the revival of the Swiss watchmaking industry. The Rolex Oysterquartz is still highly sought out by collectors today.