The Rolex Oyster Perpetual was the first water resistant, self-winding watch. Finally, Rolex had found the solution that watchmakers had been searching for centuries. Of course, the solution attracted the attention of watch buyers worldwide. In addition, this Rolex perpetual movement was identified with the “Bubbleback” model. Over the next 20 years, Rolex would continue to produce this model with a variety of materials, dials, and references.
During 1931, Rolex patented and launched the first watertight, automatic wristwatch: The Rolex Oyster Perpetual. Generally, this watch contained one of the first Rolex perpetual movements through the means of a rotor “weight.” This weight moved as the wearer moved his arm and wrist, constantly winding the mechanism. As a result, they called it “Perpetual,” because this movement would perpetually wind itself.
In fact, this rotor was able to swing unobstructed through a full rotation. Because the rotor never hit against anything or have any sudden stops, this removed the possibility of breaking the winding mainspring. Equally important, this provided the watch with a stable, constant source of energy. Additionally, this new Rolex perpetual movement was much quieter than other competing automatics. Rolex took advantage of this benefit by advertising with a slogan, “Rolex the silent self winder.” The wearer, however, could still wind the watch using the crown, if needed.
There was, however, a slight disadvantage to the design because of its additional thickness. Because of the thickness, Rolex gave it the nickname “Bubbleback.” In Italian, this was referred to as the “Ovetto,” or little egg. Also, there is record that Rolex initially advertised these Oyster Perpetuals as “the watch sensation of 1934.” These early models always had very simple dials and made with a stainless steel material called “Steelium.” Rolex offered these early watches with steel, a gold bezel, and winder.
Subsequently, in the 1950’s Rolex produced an Oyster perpetual movement with a rotating bezel and called it “Turn-O-Graph” Ref. 6202. So far, this was the first model with a rotating bezel that had a 60-minute scale and luminous triangular zero marker set on the tip of the minute hand. As a result, this allowed clear functionality for measuring shorter time intervals and labeled the “Tool Watch.” Beginning in 1959, Rolex issued the Oyster Perpetual No Date in size 36mm and featured a plastic crystal and a 26 jewels movement. However, today these timepieces are available with a variety of dials, bezels, bands, and sizes.
Undoubtedly, the Rolex perpetual movement is definitely a piece of art that has transcended its technological achievements to offer ease of maintenance and reliable precision under a water resistant case. Browse these elegant timepieces at beckertime.com to discover how Rolex has applied this automatic movement to almost all of their models, including their “dress” watch models, as well as their sports line.