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Yes, There’s a Battery in Rolex’s OysterQuartz

OysterQuartz on Beckertime
Rolex OysterQuartz on Beckertime

Rolex is renowned for making mechanically powered timepieces, but from 1970 through 2001 Rolex also produced a battery powered and quartz regulated wristwatch known as the Oysterquartz. Creating a quartz watch was not necessarily Rolex’s method for keeping up with the Joneses as Rolex had been researching electro-mechanical since 1952 and filed over 21 patents between 1960 and 1990 for electronic and LED/digital watches.

One watch, two movement types.

Initially, in their first quartz offering, Rolex utilized a Beta 21 movement that was also used by Omega and Enicar. With only 1000 of these watches out the door, Rolex developed its own in-house quartz movements released in 1977 as the Oysterquartz. Rolex developed two movements, the 5035 for DateJusts, and the 5055 for the Day-Date. These movements utilized 11 jeweled bearings, the most advanced CMOS circuitry, a 32khz vibrator, and thermocompensation that is only found in the upper ranges of swiss quartz watches. Rolex’s in-house quartz movements are certified to COSC’s stricter quartz chronometer standards of ± .07/seconds a day as opposed to the COSC standards for mechanical movements which is -4/+6 seconds day.

More developments

Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust 2tone 18k Gold/SS w/Diamond Dial 17013
Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust 2tone 18k Gold/SS w/Diamond Dial 17013

In addition to the uber-accurate movement, the Rolex Oysterquartz possessed other refinements later found on the rest of the modern Rolex line. The OysterQuartz was fitted with Rolex’s first synthetic sapphire crystal – a development that took almost 30 years to become a standard feature on all Rolex watches. The OysterQuartz was Rolex first watch to utilize a solid link bracelet. At the time, Rolex used hollow-link bracelets in all of this watches. The durability of the OysterQuartz bracelet is legendary to this day.  A stretched or badly worn OysterQuartz is rarer than the watch itself. The OysterQuartz series utilized the same profile and case proportions as their mechanical counterparts, with the only exception of the lugs. OysterQuartz watches did not use end link/lug combination that is found on most other watches (including Rolex mechanicals). The solid link bracelet, combined with a lugless bracelet connection makes the OysterQuartz look like a solid piece of stainless and/or gold. At the time, the lug/bracelet design was compared to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Although they look similar, the Royal Oak and the OysterQuartz are two entirely different watches coming from two different design ethos.

There are estimates that there are fewer than 25,000 OysterQuartz watches produced. The last appearance of the Reference 17000 stainless in a Rolex catalog was 2001, with the two-tone and all gold models staying in the catalog until 2003.

  • David Wilson

    I have a Rolex Datejust 0ysterquartz in Stainless steel. It was given to me by my wife for a birthday so I can’t ask her what it cost new but I believe it was one of the first produced.
    All went well-battery changed from time to time-but one day it stopped. For some time I did nothing about it, but when I did send it in, it turned out that the problem was not the battery but the mechanism and Rolex have quoted a price of £1430 to put right.

    I suspect this is much more than the watch cost my wife new but can I please trouble you to advise me on my best course of action? Rolex seems totally unconcerned.

    • admin

      You do have a beautiful Rolex. The Oysterquartz is a true collector’s timepiece. Depending on what needed to be done to the movement, it can be very costly to fix. This is one of the drawbacks to the Oysterquartz model.

      Did she buy it brand new or did she buy it preowned? How long did it work for before it stopped working?

  • Good morning,
    I receive a Rolex for my Christmas gift. I love it but the only thing it has no battery . When i was working it is fine but i’m not working & i don’t get to wear it every day. Can a battery be put in the watch?

    • Chris

      If the watch was made as a self wind watch as I suspect it is, Then no, you cannot put a battery in the watch. Set the watch and then go to this website and follow the instructions on how to wind your Rolex watch. It makes a difference if the watch has been left motionless long enough to stop so I would follow these instructions as a Rolex is too expensive to do something wrong to it……..

  • Ralph mika

    I read your article “YES THERE’S A BATTERY………OYSTERQUARTZ” with interest. Prior I assumed it was a much less desirable Rolex model. In 1994 I purchased an 18kt PRESIDENTIAL OYSTERQUARTZ with platinum diamond bezel & birchwood dial. I’m second owner and it was purchased new in 1987. If not in mint condition, it’s the closest thing to it. 99% of it’s life was spent either in a safe deposit box or safe. Can you please estimate a value? Manny thanks

  • Mary1301

    Why is there a picture of an Oyster Perpetual Day Date in an Oysterquartz article?

    • Mary1301

      Thanks for updating the picture.

      • Joseph Chambers

        We actually missed that! Thanks for pointing it out!

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