Rolex Cerachrom Bezel: A Closer Look

rolex with cerachrom bezel

Out of all the watch’s parts, it’s the bezel that takes the most beating. Most vulnerable to impact, corrosion, scratches and fading, the bezel simply has to be robust in order to make the timepiece reliable.

Ceramic has become a choice material for bezels for several decades now, due to its desirable traits of scratch resistance, hardness and malleability. Many watchmakers have been using ceramic since the mid-1980s, but Rolex for one, took its sweet time and only debuted their ceramic bezel in 2005. In lieu of third party providers, Rolex created the Cerachrom, its own exclusive and patented ceramic bezel.

The now popular Cerachrom bezel has become one of the most desirable traits of Rolex watches; and still continues to evolve through the years. Here’s a closer look at the history of the Cerachrom and what makes it so special.

 

Rolex’s Bezel Materials

 

GMT Master Pepsi
Rolex GMT Master Pepsi Bezel Jubilee Steel Watch 126710

Prior to creating the Cerachrom, Rolex used bakelite and aluminum bezels for their professional models.

Bakelite – this material was used in the 1950s, in particular for the Rolex GMT-Master line. Bakelite bezels were made of acrylic with luminous radium numerals inside. This was to enable pilots to read the time even in low light conditions. Quite quickly, however, the bakelite bezels were found to be prone to brittling and cracking. There were also concerns about the radioactive properties of radium.

Aluminum – in 1956, Rolex formally switched to the use of aluminum inserts for their bezels and continued to do so until the 2000s. While it had been their reliable material for decades, it had its limitations. It didn’t offer the long-lasting durability that Rolex desired for its watches because they scratch and fade over time.

 

Introducing the Cerachrom Bezel

 

Rolex Submariner Steel Yellow Gold Blue Ceramic Bezel 116613,
Rolex GMT Master Pepsi Bezel Steel Watch 126710

In 2005, Rolex finally unveiled their first ceramic bezel watch. First seen on the 50th anniversary Rolex GMT-Master II ref 116710, it became an instant hit due to its scratch- and fade-resistant properties, deep color, and beautiful sheen.

Two years after, a blue ceramic bezel version of the Rolex Yacht-Master II followed and Rolex officially gave it the registered trademark, “Cerachrom”. The name is a combination of the words ceramic and chrom, which means color in Greek.

 


 

What sets the Cerachrom Bezel apart

 

Daytona Everose
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Everose Gold Ceramic Bezel 116515

The technology of the Cerachrom is entirely unique to Rolex. The material starts off as extremely fine zirconium or aluminium oxide powder, then mixed with pigments for its color and a binding agent that allows it to be molded. Extreme temperatures are applied to the bezel, as high as 1500 degrees, to remove impurities and improve its strength. Finally, gold or platinum are used on the numbers, for a touch of luster and maximum legibility.

The result is a corrosion-resistant, virtually scratch proof and vibrantly colored bezel that is unaffected by UV rays and whose beauty will last for many many years.

 


 

The Evolution of the Cerachrom Bezel

 

GMT Master Daytona
Rolex GMT Master II Yellow Gold Green Annniversary Dial, Rolex GMT Master II Blue Black Batman Bezel 116710, Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Everose Gold 116515

Even when the Cerachrom bezel’s strength and beauty have been established, Rolex continued to push the envelope. Numerous new models and advancements were introduced since its first appearance in 2005, a number of them firsts when it comes to using ceramic in bezels.

In 2011, Rolex introduced a monobloc Cerachrom bezel in the Cosmograph Daytona Everose Gold. Instead of a bezel insert, this model had a single piece of Cerachrom holding the crystal in place, ensuring waterproofness. On top of the Cerachrom is the Daytona’s tachymetric scale in exceptionally legible rose gold.

In 2013, Rolex again achieved what was thought of as impossible – two colors on a single piece of ceramic. The two-color aesthetics of the GMT Master II proved to be a challenge to achieve on the Cerachrom. Rolex after many years of fine-tuning, beat the odds with the black and blue bezel of the Rolex GMT Master II Batman.

 

Yachtmaster Rubber
Rolex Yacht-Master 42 White Gold and Yacht-Master 40 Everose Gold 

Yet again, Rolex introduced another innovation in 2015, with the Rolex Yacht-Master Everose Gold. The all black Cerachrom bezel insert came in a sandblasted matte finish, topped with raised and polished indexes. Instead of using precious metals, it used the interplay of matte and polished surfaces to improve legibility.

 


 

Today, Rolex uses the Cerachrom ceramic bezel in nearly all of its professional models. Thanks to their passion for innovation, the hard wearing material now comes in different designs and in multiple colors, all of them deep and intense. The possibilities seem endless with the Cerachrom, and we’re excited to see what Rolex has up its sleeves.

 

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