Understanding Rolex Water Resistance
Very few companies have been consistently associated with the combination of luxury and technical expertise. While many luxury timepieces are meant to be handled delicately, Rolex watches are designed to be worn even under harsh elements, while maintaining their elegant aesthetic all throughout.
One of Rolex’s key strengths is the water resistance of their watches. Having created the first water resistant watch in 1926, Rolex has continued to improve in this arena; and all their watches are water resistant up to certain depths.
So what’s the water resistance of your Rolex watch? And what does that mean for you as a wearer? Here’s a quick guide to Rolex water resistance:
THE ROLEX OYSTER CASE
Most Rolex watches have the “Oyster Perpetual” title in their name and written on their dial, right below the Rolex logo.
The “Oyster” refers to their hermetic case. Introduced by Rolex in 1926, it is the first ever waterproof case made for a wristwatch. It keeps water out through its patented system where the bezel, case back and winding crown are screwed against the middle of the case, wherein all parts of the watch are securely fitted.
Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf and the original Rolex Oyster watch
Today, the Rolex Oyster case is made out of solid and elegant Oystersteel (Rolex’s unique blend of 904 stainless steel), 18k gold or 950 platinum.
The robust materials and patented system make for an impenetrable case that provides a safe and dry environment and protection against water, dust, and shocks for Rolex’s self-winding “Perpetual” movement.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona and Rolex Datejust Sunbeam Dial Watch
With the exception of the Rolex Cellini, all modern Rolex watches are fitted with the Rolex Oyster case. This guarantees water resistance of up to 100 meters (330 feet) for the following models:
- Rolex Datejust and Datejust II
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual
- Rolex Air-King
- Rolex GMT-Master
- Rolex Daytona
As part of Rolex’s quality control tests, each watch is subjected to water pressure that is 10 percent greater than the depth it has guaranteed (or in the case of dive watches, 25 percent).
This means Oyster Perpetual watches can be used safely in the water for a while, such as when swimming or bathing; but one must never go diving with it.
THE ROLEX SUBMARINER
Before today’s Rolex watches were developed to have their 100 meter depth rating, the Rolex Submariner was the first to achieve this feat.
Almost three decades after they developed the Oyster case, Rolex set out to create a timepiece especially for professional diving. In the Basel of 1954, Rolex introduced the Oyster Perpetual Submariner – the first commercially available watch capable of submerging to 100 meters.
Rolex Submariner Ceramic Oyster Bracelet Steel Mens Watch
Today, the modern Rolex Submariner has a depth rating of 300 meters (1,000 feet).
Most owners of Rolex Submariners won’t actually go into the water with it, much less wear it near the said depth, but at its core, the Submariner was created and tested to be worn in real and harsh diving environments.
THE ROLEX SEA-DWELLER
While the Oyster case and the Rolex Submariner were already amazing feats, Rolex continued to develop and improve the water resistance of their watches. In 1967, they introduced their most water resistant watch yet – the Rolex Sea-Dweller.
At this point, the Rolex Submariner was already capable of reaching 200 meters (660 feet), which was by no means inadequate. However, it presented one problem – when used during saturation dives, the crystal would pop out during decompression.
Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Automatic Steel Mens Watch
Rolex’s solution to this problem was through the helium escape valve. By letting the helium particles escape through this controlled mechanism, they found a way to safely depressurize the watch as it reaches sea level.
And so began the lineage of the Sea-Dweller line.
Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea and Sea-Dweller Deepsea Cameron D-Blue Dial
Today, the Sea-Dweller has two lines of watches designed for extreme diving: the Sea-Dweller and the Deepsea Sea-Dweller.
The Rolex Sea-Dweller has a depth rating of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet). While the Rolex Deepsea, launched in 2008, has triple its depth rating – 3,900 meters (12,800 feet).
At the core of the Rolex Deepsea’s brilliant engineering is the Ringlock System. The result of decades of collaboration with diving professionals, the Ringlock case architecture is designed to withstand enormous pressure without making the case as bulky as is usually necessary.
THINGS TO NOTE ABOUT YOUR ROLEX’S WATER RESISTANCE
While Rolex watches are water resistant up to certain depths, the wearer must still exercise precaution when exposing the timepiece to water. Everyday activities have an impact on the watch parts and compromise the water resistance of your watch.
Here are some things to look out for:
1. Exposure to heat
While hot tubs, saunas, and showers are not deep, the heat in these places can cause damage to your timepiece. One should be particularly concerned about the gasket, which creates an airtight seal that prevents water from entering the watch case. As it’s made of rubber, high temperatures may potentially alter its shape.
2. Vintage models
When buying older Rolex models, one should assume that they have no longer kept their water resistance. This is because over time, gaskets and seals lose their elasticity, thus affecting their ability to form a proper seal against water. It is best to have your vintage watch checked by an authorized Rolex dealer before exposing it to water.
Rolex Datejust II Steel White Gold Blue Dial Watch
3. Aftermarket parts and accessories
Components of Rolex watches are subjected to rigorous tests and specific conditions before the company makes its claims. When you replace these parts with aftermarket or non-Rolex components, you also risk weakening your watch’s water resistance.
4. Leaving the crown unscrewed
Last but not the least, is this very common error. It’s pretty easy to forget to screw it back on after winding the watch or resetting the date and time. While there are seals and gaskets that work with the Oyster case, these may also undergo wear from everyday use, leaving your watch susceptible to water and dust when the crown is unscrewed.
Whether you take your Rolex watch diving or not, water resistance is still an important factor in maintaining the performance of your Rolex watch. It is advisable to have your watch checked every 3-5 years by an authorized Rolex dealer, in order to maintain its water resistance.