The development of the Rolex Oyster case represents a pivotal moment in the history of modern watchmaking. It was invented in 1926 as the world’s first waterproof case for a wristwatch. It contains a patented system that screws down the bezel, caseback, and winding crown against the middle case, which is comprised of a solid block of steel, gold, or platinum. Oyster casebacks also feature distinctive fluting that fits into a special tool issued exclusively to Rolex watchmakers so only they can access the movement.
Just five years later in 1931, the Oyster Perpetual was officially born. Rolex made another new development—a module to fit over the movement that offered automatic winding. This was an important breakthrough in the evolution of waterproof watches because it meant the wearer no longer had to unscrew the crown to wind the watch manually, which exposes a small area of the case.
The Oyster Perpetual is the bread and butter of the Rolex brand. The “Oyster Perpetual” phrase is used in a number of other Rolex models, like the Oyster Perpetual Submariner or the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona. In fact, almost every Rolex watch that’s produced today is technically a part of the Oyster collection. However, the Oyster Perpetual itself is the most straightforward model offered by the brand today and has served as the building block for other models, like the Submariner and Daytona.
The exterior design and aesthetic is the most pared down and streamlined part of the watch. With the Oyster Perpetual, there’s typically a more limited selection of dial colors, straps, and other bells and whistles available. While the style is an important factor, the inner workings of the watch are what really help it to withstand the test of time. Here is where you’ll find the unparalleled Rolex quality.
The line of Oyster Perpetual models contain a simple yet robust in-house made automatic movement, complete with COSC certification. It’s equipped with Rolex’s patented “paramagnetic” blue Parachrom hairspring as well as the manufacturer’s own Paraflex shock absorbers. In other words, the Oyster Perpetual features the same high caliber movement that’s housed in all of the watches in the Rolex family even though the model is more basic in terms of its functions and appearance.
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