Unless you are a die-hard watch aficionado, you probably only know bits and pieces about the luxury watch players that you want to wear or collect. This series will teach you everything you need to know about all the various luxury watch lines, and we are going to start with our favorite, Rolex.
There is a ton of information when you decide you are ready to dive into purchasing your first Rolex, or even your second. This can make it hard to choose, as well as intimidating. After all, Rolex has 941 references and 16 different models.
We are going to lay out everything you need to know about Rolex and more in an easy-to-understand way so you will be able to make your decision with knowledge!
Patented Rolex Terminology
One thing about Rolex is that they have their own terminology. If you know this, you are off to a great start.
Oyster: Rolex’s founder, Hans Wilsdorf, named the earliest waterproof watches from the 1920s., Oyster. Oyster shows up in several phrases, model names, and neologisms.
Cyclops: Cyclops is the magnifying device that makes the date appear larger and easy to read. The Cyclops was patented by Rolex in the early 1950s. Cyclops was originally part of the crystal on early plexiglass models, and it later became an added piece of glass on sapphire crystal-equipped models that was glued to the main crystal.
Helium Escape Valve (HEV): The HEV or Helium Escape Valve was co-developed by Rolex and Doxa, and is a small, spring-loaded one-way valve that is integrated into a watch case. The HEV allows helium and others gasses to escape the watch as a SCUBA diver ascends from a deep dive.
Paraflex: Rolex’s proprietary anti-shock system for their automatic watch movements. Paraflex is a spring-loaded mounting system for the jewel bearings that support the balance wheel. Anti-shock devices help protect the balance wheel’s pivots from damage in the event of dropping the watch or hitting it against something hard.
What Are Rolex Watches Made of?
Rolex formulates and produces most of its materials in-house. Nearly all Rolex watches are made from just nine materials.
Oystersteel: Oystersteel can achieve the corrosion resistance and high polish of precious metals and is part of the 904L family of steel.
Everose Gold 18k: Rolex achieves its uniquely warm rose gold by adding copper and silver to its formula.
Yellow Gold 18k: This alloy is proprietary and has an iconic hue.
White Gold 18k: Rolex’s white gold radiates light.
Platinum: When Rolex uses 950 platinum, they use it sparingly. 950 is a high-concentration alloy that includes ruthenium for strength and shine.
Rolesor: Rolesor is a patented method of combining Oystersteel and gold in its many two-tone models.
Cerachrom: Cerachrom is the proprietary ceramic that is scratch-proof, impervious to UV rays, and is the current standard for the bezel inserts on Rolex’s sport watches.
Precious Stones: Although diamonds are the most common, Rolex used all kinds of precious stones.
Chromalight: Chromalight is Rolex’s lume that is blue by night, bright white by day.
Everything You Need to Know About Rolex Clasps & Clasp Expanders
Crownclasp/Crownlock: The dressy and sophisticated bracelet-locking mechanism that virtually disappears once secured.
Oysterclasp/Oysterlock: This is what Rolex calls its most popular and most secure deployant clasp. It includes a secondary locking mechanism that folds over the main clasp.
Easylink: This simple mechanism allow you to expand a bracelet by 5mm, handy when swelling occurs on an airplane or, perhaps, after a big meal.
Glidelock: Rolex’s patented bracelet extension mechanism that allows for up to 20mm of adjustment in 2mm increments for use over wet suits.
The truth is, there are no unattractive Rolex bracelets. It’s really just a matter of taste!
Jubilee Bracelet: The Jubilee is a staple for Rolex sport watches, but can also have a dressy look with the five-piece. Offered in the various metals plus the three Rolesor combinations, the Jubilee can be fitted with either an Oysterlock or a Crownlock clasp.
Oyster Bracelet: The larger three-piece links make for a simpler, sportier look. Oyster bracelets only ship with Oysterlock clasps.
President Bracelet: The President uses elegantly rounded three-piece links and only comes with a Crownlock clasp.
Pearlmaster Bracelet: The refined five-piece links make the Pearlmaster Rolex’s most elegant bracelet and comes with a Crownlock clasp only.
The Rolex Leather Bracelet: Offered in a variety of colors and hides, Rolex’s in-house leather straps are fitted with Oysterlock clasps or a simple pin buckle.
Oysterflex Rubber Bracelet: Few rubber straps will blow your mind, but the Oysterflex just might. The attention to detail and innovative design give it suppleness, comfort, and style. Oysterflex bracelets are fitted with Oysterlock clasps.
Everything You Need to Know about Rolex Bezels
Plain Bezels: As basic as you’ll find on a Rolex, plain bezels can be seen on a number of models in steel and in precious metals.
Fluted Precious Metal Bezels: Iconic and hard to miss, today’s fluted bezels are offered in precious metals only.
Engraved Fixed Bezels: Found only on the Explorer II and the Daytona Cosmograph, demarcations are engraved into either Oystersteel or Ceracrom.
Rotating Bezels with Inserts: For the Professional watches, scratch-proof Ceracrom inserts are the norm.
Rotating Precious Metal Bezels: Exclusive to the Yachtmasters, these deeply engraved bezels achieve a compelling balance of sportiness and elegance.
Bejeweled Bezels: Rolex has encrusted just about every bezel with precious stones at some point.
Modern Rolex Movements
This is where everything you need to know about Rolex watches can get tricky. First, you can get by only knowing about Rolex’s 3000-series auto-winding mechanical movements and a few smaller 2000-series versions. Other relevant movements only include Sky Dweller’s Ref. 9001 and the Daytona’s Ref. 4130.
3255: Introduced in 2015, the 3255 will likely become the basis for most of Rolex’s movements. Rolex claims that the 3255 doubles the accuracy of +6/-4 secs/day set out by Switzerland’s official accuracy testing program, COSC.
3135: With only small changes since 1988, the 3135 is still the basis of most modern Rolex movements. It includes an instantaneous date change at midnight, a classic Rolex feature.
3155: Day-date complication
3130: No date
3131: No date, with anti-magnetic shield
3132: No date, with Paraflex anti-shock system
2235: Smaller with date (2236 gets an updated hairspring)
2230: Smaller without date
3186: Rolex’s 24-hour GMT movement (the 3187 picks up the Paraflex anti-shock system).
9001: Rolex’s most complicated movement with two time zones and an annual calendar (Sky-Dweller only)
4130: No-date chronograph movement (Daytona only)
This is just the tip of the iceberg to learn everything you need to know about Rolex, so stay tuned for a part 2 that will dive into all the models, both new and old! If you are looking for that perfect Rolex, contact us, we have a large selection or pre-owned and new Rolex watches.