Rolex Oyster Perpetual: 5 Things to Know

 

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is often touted as the best “one-and-only watch”. While watch lovers find joy in collecting, there is merit to having that watch that one could wear at every occasion. And the Oyster Perpetual, Rolex’s most basic watch, fits the bill.

Despite being the simplest Rolex, and the most accessible price-wise, the Oyster Perpetual is not to be seen as a compromise to Rolex’s other collections.

Intentionally, and almost defiantly simplistic, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is a storied and covetable watch through and through. Here are 5 things to know about the Rolex Oyster Perpetual.

 

Oyster Perpetual
pictured: Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, the original 1926 Rolex Oyster.
1. It is a direct descendant of the first water proof watch, the Oyster.

The Oyster was launched by Rolex in 1926 and is the world’s first water-and-dust proof wristwatch. The hermetically sealed watch protected the movement from elements and marked a milestone in horology.

In 1927, a Rolex Oyster crossed the English Channel while worn by swimmer Mercedes Gleitze. The Oyster remained working at the end of the 10 hour swim.

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2. The name “Oyster Perpetual” describes the watch’s origins.

The word Oyster of course, is derived from the original 1926 Oyster case. Hans Wilsdorf got the idea from sealed Oysters – it was meant to provide optimal protection for the movement, to be opened only by professional tools, and to give the watch a depth of at least 100 meters.

The word Perpetual comes from Rolex’s Perpetual self-winding movement, invented by Rolex in 1931. The mechanism keeps the watch’s mainspring under continuous tension, thus giving it a stable source of energy.

 

Oyster Perpetual
pictured: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Pink Luminous Markers Ladies Watch, Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King Silver Dial Blue Markers Watch.

Now you know why every watch Rolex manufactures today – except for the Cellini – has the words “Oyster Perpetual” on its dial. It certifies that the watch has a screw-down caseback that is water resistant and a self-winding movement that is powered by the motion of the wrist.

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Oyster Perpetual
pictured: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Olive Green Dial, Silver Dial, and Blue Dial Stainless Steel Watches.
3. The design of the Oyster Perpetual, until today, is distilled to the most important elements.

In all models, the watches just have three hands – hours, minutes and center seconds. It’s wound using the Twinlock screw-down crown, is paired with the Oyster bracelet and Oysterclasp fastener, and has Chromalight for lume.

This is what makes the Oyster Perpetual so wearable. It’s neither a dress watch, nor a sport watch – and while the steel on steel construction makes it look casual, it’s still appropriate to wear with a suit and tie.

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Oyster Perpetual
pictured: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Black Concentric Dial Watch
4. Despite the simplistic design, the Oyster Perpetual is available in more sizes than any other Rolex watch.

The are about 30 iterations of the Oyster Perpetual, with varying colors, bezels, and sizes. Until recently, it was available in 26-31-34 and 36 mm sizes. This made the Oyster Perpetual a “vintage sized” watch for men until 2015, when they launched a 39 mm size.

Aside from the larger case, Rolex also added new colorways for the Oyster Perpetual – a classic black and dial across all five sizes.

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Oyster Perpetual
5. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is Rolex’s most accessible watch.

At about half the price of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona and around $1,000-$2,000 less than the Rolex GMT-Master and Submariner, the Oyster Perpetual is an excellent entry to the Rolex brand.

This doesn’t mean however, that it’s anything less than stellar watchmaking. With a rich history that paved the way for today’s watches and a design that’s both contemporary and timeless, the Oyster Perpetual earns a rightful spot in every watch collection.

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