Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust and Day-Date models: Watches with nostalgic charm
Rolex Oysterquartz models date from the time when the Swiss watch industry was threatened by cheap digital watches from the Far East. They also have a place in the record books thanks to their involvement in the first successful ascent of Mount Everest. To this day, the Oysterquartz Rolex movement is reckoned by experts to be the best battery-powered movement ever. Discover rare, vintage examples of the Rolex Oysterquartz for sale at attractive prices in our online store.
An overview: which models had the Rolex Oysterquartz movement installed?
While other luxury watchmakers bought in quartz movements from external suppliers, the Geneva-based company remained true to its ethos of doing everything in-house, developing its own custom-made technology. You'll find this battery-powered movement in vintage models of the Rolex Oysterquartz. In particular, the company updated two of its most successful series, the Datejust and the Day-Date. As it turned out, this was a vital decision. In the course of a few shorts years, bankruptcy loomed for all those companies that refused to accept the quartz trend or couldn't bear the development costs on their own.
Rolex Oysterdate Dayjust models
- Reference 17000
- Reference 17014
- Reference 17013
Rolex Oysterdate Day-Date models
- Reference 19028
- Reference 19018, 19048, 19148
- Reference 19019, 19049
Special features of the design
The design of Oysterquartz models is quite different from a classic Rolex in some respects. These quartz watches can keep up with mechanical models in terms of water resistance up to 100 metres, and you can also expect features such as a fixed bezel, screw-down crown and screw-down case back. However, the company gave the bracelet a distinct look. The classic Oyster bracelet with folding clasp was redesigned into one that's more integrated into the watch case and angular in profile.
More specifically, the Oysterquartz Datejust was available in white and yellow gold with a bracelet reminiscent of the iconic five-piece Jubilee band from 1945. Meanwhile, the Oysterquartz Day-Date also came in white and yellow gold with a band similar to the President bracelet that's generally reserved for very high end models.
The captivating history of Rolex's Oysterquartz
Until the 1960s, the Swiss watch industry focused on perfecting its mechanical movements. Initially, they hardly noticed that a new technology from Japan was just around the corner. In the meantime, brands like Seiko were working intensively on perfecting a battery-operated clockwork. Quartz movements would have unprecedented accuracy and be almost maintenance-free, changing the watch industry forever.
In the early 1970s, these new, initially expensive quartz movements appeared on the market and quickly became all the rage. Thanks to their high precision and modern appearance complete with LED and LCD digital displays, quartz watches felt like a bold step into the future. Mechanical models, on the other hand, were hardly in demand any more. Instead, they seemed stale and old-fashioned to the majority of the general public. This change in taste brought well-known companies to their knees. In Switzerland in particular, the number of people employed in traditional watchmaking plunged from 90,000 to 30,000 during this period. Numerous factories reported bankruptcy.
The turbulent times demanded quick action, and thankfully Rolex's deep financial development budget enabled it to sure-footedly change course. Adapting its portfolio of classic timepieces to these new trends, it launched its first quartz model under the name Rolex Oysterquartz in 1977. in this way, the Geneva-based firm was able to survive a crisis that took down many other big names. Today, vintage examples of these models enjoy a cult status as fascinating transition pieces in the history of watches.