Rolex Oysterquartz: 5 Reasons to Buy It

rolex oysterquartz

Rolex is world famous for its precise and reliable mechanical movements, but at one point in time, they also became part of the quartz craze.

During the well-documented ‘quartz crisis’ of the 1970s, less expensive but more precise quartz watches from Japan and the United States threatened the Swiss watchmaking industry. Rolex, despite their hesitation, joined other watch brands in launching their own quartz watches – and the Rolex Oysterquartz was born.

While the Rolex Oysterquartz has long been discontinued, it represents an important time in watchmaking history. Here are 5 important facts about it:


Rolex Oysterquartz

It took over 5 years for Rolex to develop their own quartz movement.

As quartz watches took over the market in the early 1970s, Rolex and several other major Swiss watch players banded together to form Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH). CEH’s mission was to form a quartz movement that can rival the competition.

The eventually came up with the Beta 21 movement, which made way for Rolex’s prototype quartz watch – the reference 5100 Beta 21. While it was commercially successful, it presented a few problems for Rolex. First, it was too large to be fitted in the famed Oyster case. Second, the movement was also being used by its direct rival’s watches.

Rolex withdrew from CEH and developed their own quartz movement instead. In 1977, after 5 years of conceptualization, design and testing, the brand introduced the Rolex Oysterquartz with calibers 5035 and 5055.

With 11 jewels and a 32khz oscillator, the new in-house quartz movements became a standard for others to follow. SEE ALL OYSTERQUARTZ >


Rolex Oysterquartz

The Oysterquartz was produced within two iconic families in the Rolex portfolio – the Datejust and the Day-Date.

That Rolex chose these two particular models to try a quartz engine was no surprise. The Rolex Day-Date even back then was the flagship watch of Rolex; while the Rolex Datejust has always been used to test Rolex’s innovations.

Each model had its own quartz movement: the Rolex Datejust ran on caliber 5035, while the Rolex Day-Date had caliber 5055.

The Oysterquartz Datejust watches were offered in stainless steel and Rolesor stainless steel with yellow or white gold; and of course, the Oysterquartz Day-Date models were offered only with an option of yellow gold or white gold. SEE ALL OYSTERQUARTZ >


Rolex Oysterquartz

It has a design reminiscent of the time.

A little known fact about the Rolex Oysterquartz, is that its design was based on Rolex reference 5100 Beta 21. The watch was designed by Gerald Genta – the designer responsible for the iconic Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

The design is archetypally 70s. With flat and angular surfaces and an integrated three-link bracelet. Rolex made sure that the Oysterquartz still stood out within the Rolex Datejust and Day-Date ranges. SEE ALL OYSTERQUARTZ >


Rolex Oysterquartz

Only 25,000 Oysterquartz watches were produced.

Although the Rolex Oysterquartz was produced from 1977 to 2001, only 25,000 pieces were produced – a very low number in the realm of Rolex manufacturing.  This makes it a less common Rolex watch and one that is increasingly sought after among collectors today. SEE ALL OYSTERQUARTZ >


Rolex Oysterquartz

It is a significant part of Rolex and watchmaking history.

While Rolex watches with mechanical movements will always be more popular and coveted, the Oysterquartz represents a significant period during Rolex’s history; and in the Swiss watch industry as a whole.

While the so-called ‘quartz crisis’ was a dark period for Swiss watchmakers, it showed Rolex’s ability to not just adapt to trends, but to make it their own.




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