Rolex watches are among the most prestigious timepieces in the world. However, despite their prestige and popularity, not everyone knows that Rolex does not use batteries to power their watches. Instead, they use an ingenious system of gears and springs that work together to keep perfect time without any power source needed at all.
This is not true for all Rolex models ever created, however – there is one model called the Oysterquartz which does use a battery as its primary energy source.
Let’s learn more about the aspect of batteries in Rolex watches, the advantages of mechanical versus battery-powered watches, and which one is more suitable for your needs and taste.
Do Rolex watches have batteries?
If you’ve been wondering whether Rolex watches have batteries, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Most Rolex watches are powered by mechanical (manual winding) and automatic (self-winding) movements. However, one line of Rolex watches, the Rolex Oysterquartz, does use batteries.
How do Rolex watches work?
To understand how a mechanical watch works, let’s take a look at the anatomy of one:
The movement — the heart and soul of the watch — is powered by energy generated by your wrist movements as you wear it if it’s an automatic watch.
A mechanical watch, meanwhile, requires winding to give the mainspring the energy to keep the gears turning.
Either way, the mainspring is wound tight and as it tries to unwind or straighten, it powers the mechanism to move the dials.
Rolex watches have a self-winding or automatic movement, which means they are powered by a mainspring. A mainspring is a coiled metal bar that stores energy as you move your wrist and unwind. The watch uses this energy to drive the gears inside the watch, giving it the power to operate.
In 1931, Rolex invented the Perpetual rotor – the world’s first self-winding mechanism. The term “Perpetual” refers to its ability to run on the energy provided by the motion of the wearer’s wrist.
The rotors or metal weights oscillate freely inside the watch while you wear it. Your hand’s movements spin the rotors which in turn wind the main spring and that’s how the watch is powered automatically.
With the occasional need for manual winding, these watches use the wearer as their battery. This system is still used today and is at the heart of each automatic timepiece.
Rolex Oysterquartz: the only Rolex with a battery
The Rolex Oysterquartz is the only Rolex model that requires a battery, although the company halted its production in 2001. The Oysterquartz is also the only Rolex model to ever use batteries.
Introduced in 1977, the Oysterquartz is Rolex’s response to the well-documented Quartz Crisis, where the Swiss watchmaking industry was threatened by less expensive and more accurate quartz watches made in Japan.
During its production run, it’s estimated that Rolex made around 24,000 timepieces requiring a battery, which in turn made the Oysterquartz one of the most affordable Rolex watches in history. Despite the battery and cheaper price tag, it still matched Rolex’s need for luxury and skill in high-quality movements.
First produced in the 1970s, you can recognize this distinctive watch by its rounded square case design rather than the typical round shape featured on most Rolex cases, but there were many variations in the Oysterquartz Datejust and Day-Date lines.
Every three to five years, the battery would need to be changed, like most battery-operated watches. It’s advised that you let a professional change the battery for you, despite all the articles and videos teaching you how. Inside that case is the high-quality, high-value Rolex movement with tiny and intricate parts that can be easily damaged.
For more extensive information about the collection, here’s our Rolex Oysterquartz Ultimate Guide.
What are the advantages of mechanical watches over quartz battery powered watches?
Mechanical watches are loved for their intricate workings. Their movements are formed using intricate mechanisms, consisting of gears, springs, and escapements, which are a testament to artistry and fine watchmaking. This attention to detail results in the intricate designs and more ornate and visually appealing aesthetics of mechanical watches. Moreover, the charm of winding a watch or hearing that familiar ticking sound evokes a sense of appreciation for the history and heritage of fine watchmaking.
Additionally, mechanical watches are powered by the winding of a mainspring (or, for automatic movements, through the natural movement of the wearer’s wrist). Thus, mechanical watches do not rely on batteries, and there is no need to constantly replace batteries, which can be more convenient and environment-friendly.
Mechanical watches are loved for their craftsmanship, connection to tradition, and sustainability.
What are the advantages of quartz battery powered watches over mechanical watches?
In comparison to mechanical watches, quartz watches operate in terms of power and regulation. While a mechanical watch relies on a spring for power and an escapement for regulation, a quartz watch accomplishes the same tasks using a battery-powered motor and a quartz crystal. Thus, they are more accurate than mechanical or self-winding watches – they produce vibrations that ensure near-perfect timekeeping accuracy.
Additionally, quartz watches do not require winding, so they offer a level of convenience that appeals to some people. Because they use simple components, quartz watches are also generally less expensive than mechanical watches, thus making them more accessible to a wider range of audiences.
Overall, if you value accuracy coupled with low maintenance and affordability, then a quartz watch is ideal for you.
Do Rolex watches have batteries? Final Thoughts
Rolex watches are some of the most popular and valuable timepieces in the world. They have become iconic symbols of luxury, class, and sophistication. It is no surprise that many people want to own them.
However, there are some important things you’d probably like to know before purchasing your Rolex – like if they require batteries or not.
As it turns out, most Rolexes do not have batteries because they run on self-winding movements instead; however, there is one model which does contain an electronic component: the Rolex Oysterquartz.
These watches were made when quartz technology was still relatively new and gaining popularity among consumers due to their low maintenance costs compared to traditional mechanical movements, as well as other features like accuracy (within five seconds per year).
While Rolex no longer makes battery-operated watches, they remain an important part of the brand’s history – showing that they know how to adapt to changes, and even turn things around during challenging times.