Updated: Feb 28
If any Rolex timepiece could be considered unpopular, it would be the one-of-a-kind Oysterquartz. Created due to demands for Rolex to create a quartz watch, despite the company having very little desire to do so, a quartz movement was used rather than the standard mechanical movement used in other Rolex wristwatches. Despite this unique feature, the Oysterquartz was not as profitable as planned.
The poor success rate of the Oysterquartz did not reflect on the precision of the timepiece, however. In fact, it was efficient enough for two models to be crafted. The first was the Oysterquartz Datejust, which was available in dazzling stainless steel and a two-tone combination of steel and gold. It featured a 36mm case, an 11-jewel chronometer movement, synthetic sapphire crystal, and an integral bracelet. The consumer could also choose between a polished bezel and a beautiful yellow gold or white gold fluted one. To top off the beauty of the watch, 10 round cut diamonds were set in the dial.
The Rolex Oysterquartz Day Date was the subsequent model and had a few of the same features as the Oysterquartz Datejust, such as the case, movement, and synthetic sapphires. Its own unique features included options for consumer customization. This included choosing between a yellow gold or white gold bezel, a Pyramid bezel with or without 12 round cut diamonds, and a bezel set with 44 round cut diamonds. Dial options included a dial set with diamond string and 10 round cut diamonds, sapphires, or emeralds; a gold “Pave” dial with sapphires or rubies and round cut diamonds; a gold “Pave Extra Large” diamond dial; a dial set with eight round cut diamonds and two baguette diamonds; and an African mahogany or walnut dial. As for bracelet styles, consumers could choose from a Pyramid or Karat integral bracelet with a concealed clasp.
Despite its lack of popularity, the Rolex Oysterquartz still left a mark in history and evolved before it was even an idea. In 1960, Rolex and several other prestige watchmaking companies became members of the Centre Electronic Horologer, which was shortened to C.E.H. Together with C.E.H., the watchmakers all worked to develop a quartz movement. In 1970, C.E.H. launched the Beta 21 at Basel Fair. However, due to their dissatisfaction with the movement, Rolex did not participate in the unveiling of Beta 21; instead, the world renowned company wanted to build a better quartz movement. A few months later, the Rolex Quartz Date was released at the Basel Fair. Unlike the Oysterquartz that would eventually be created, it was quite popular with consumers.
The glory days of the Rolex Quartz Date were unfortunately short-lived, and the timepiece was discontinued in 1972. Five years later, the Oysterquartz was made with production that still continues to this day as improvements, such as a caliber 5055 movement, were added. Though still not as popular as other Rolex models, the Oysterquartz manages to effectively make up at least 2% of overall Rolex production.
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