OF A CONCEPT
Today, thanks to the case's hermetic construction, all Oyster watches are guaranteed waterproof to a depth of at least 100 metres (330 feet), 300 metres (1,000 feet) for the Submariner divers' models, and 3,900 metres (12,800 feet) for the Rolex Deepsea.
Solid middle case
The Oyster’s middle case (the central section of the case) is stamped and machined out of a solid block of 904L steel, 18 ct gold or platinum.
It is extremely robust and forms the backbone to which all the other parts of the case are securely fitted. Certain Professional models feature a crown guard on the side – these shoulders are stamped as an integral part of the middle case.
Screw-down case back, Rolex fluting
The back of the Oyster case is hermetically screwed down against the middle case. The characteristic fluting on Oyster case backs, a legacy from the Oyster of 1926, fits into a special tool exclusive to authorized Rolex watchmakers allowing them to access the movement.
Crowned with success
A little masterpiece of technical prowess, the winding crown is made up of about 10 parts, and is screwed onto a tube that forms an integral part of the watch case. This is how Rolex, for the first time in the history of watchmaking, crafted a water-resistant winding crown - the interface between the protected, sealed world inside the watch and the wet, wild world outside.
The crown not only hermetically seals the case –
it also provides access to the watch’s key functions. The crown can be pulled out to adjust the time, date, day or time zone, or to wind the watch manually if need be. Rolex Twinlock and Triplock winding crowns use two or three sealed zones inside the tube to ensure watertight security akin to a submarine’s hatch.
The date magnified
The Cyclops lens, which magnifies the date two and a half times on many Oyster models, is a Rolex invention dating back to the early 1950s. This innovation makes for appreciably easier reading of the date and has become a signature feature of the brand. When it was introduced, the lens and the crystal were a single piece, made of Plexiglas.
From the 1970s, Rolex equipped its watches with
a new, virtually scratchproof, synthetic sapphire crystal. Consequently, the Cyclops lens evolved.
Also in sapphire, it is now affixed to the crystal.
An anti-reflective coating was subsequently introduced to further improve the wearer’s comfort.
FORM AND FUNCTION
At Rolex, form and function are often closely intertwined. This is particularly true of the bezel, an essential component in the very strong visual identity of Oyster watches. Bezels in a wide variety of forms have been introduced over the years, offering new functions according to
the watch type.
In the beginning, the Oyster bezel fluting had a functional purpose:
it served to screw the bezel onto the case helping to ensure the waterproofness of the watch. It was, furthermore, identical to the fluting
on the caseback, which was also screwed onto the case for the same reason, using specific Rolex tools. Over time, the fluting became a purely aesthetic element, a genuine Rolex signature feature. The fluting is today a mark of distinction that is only available on gold models.