What’s a Rolex Cyclops?

One pastime many watch geeks do while out in public is Rolex watch spotting. Looking to see what other watches are wearing while ambling down the sidewalk, watching a movie, or the television, a watch lover is always looking to see what others are wearing. Spotting a Rolex is not too difficult because there is no anti-reflective coating on the crystal, giving it a reflection that no other watch has. On a Rolex, the reflection has one tell-tale interruption on the crystal, the Rolex cyclops. The cyclops is an extra piece of sapphire crystal affixed to the crystal above the date window such that it that magnifies the date for easier reading.

The Rolex cyclops crystal is a Rolex patent since expired, and a trademark-sign that the watch is a Rolex. Starting in 1954, the Rolex cyclops has adorned Rolex DateJusts making the date easier to read by magnifying it by 2.5 times. According to Rolex lore and history, Hans Wilsdorf’s wife had difficulty reading the original date window on her watch. Subsequently, Hans Wilsdorf had the magnification cyclops added to the DateJust. Since its introduction in 1954, the Rolex cyclops window has adorned both dress and professional watches. Rolex DateJusts, Presidents, SkyDwellers, all have the cyclops. Rolex professional models such as the Submariner, GMT, Explorer II, and the Yachtmasters have the cyclops as well. The only watches that do not possess the Cyclops are watches that do not have a date such as the Explorer I and AirKing, as well as the discontinued SeaDweller, and the current DeepSea SeaDweller. Both the SeaDweller models have thicker crystals. A cyclops lens on a thicker crystal would magnify too much because the top of the lens is farther away from the date wheel than on standard Rolex sapphire crystals.

On older Rolex watches with acrylic crystals, the cyclops lens is molded and integral to the crystal as one piece. With newer sapphire crystals, the cyclops is actually a separate piece of sapphire glued to the crystal. What is amazing is that a Rolex cyclops on a Rolex sapphire crystal looks as one piece, but in fact they are two. Starting with the GMT 50th Anniversary edition, Rolex started applying antireflective coating on the underside of the crystal below the cyclops for easier reading. The antireflective coating is a forklift upgrade and improvement than with the older sapphire Rolex models.

Rolex recently how a cyclops crystal makes a Rolex a Rolex. The video itself is short, only 30 seconds, but if downloaded (Google YouTube Downloader to download) would make a great screensaver. Other watch companies have included a cyclops on their sport models, namely Cartier, Seiko, as well as others but there is only one true cyclops lens and they are found only on Rolex watches.