Rolex – 6 Degrees of Separation
Being the Owner of OC Watch Company locating High End and Exclusive Watches for clients, the discussion of “why Rolex?” comes up a lot. Some people will start the conversation with statements like “Rolex is just a name” or my personal favorite “Rolex watches don’t keep good time.” This is what I look forward to when it comes to conversations about high-end timepieces, especially when it comes to other people’s opinion about Rolex. Everyone is of course entitled to their opinion, however, in this post I will give you some interesting information about Rolex and what sets them apart from the other Swiss watch brands.
1 – Synthetic Sapphire Crystal
Rolex synthetic sapphire crystals are 17 times stronger than all other watch manufacturers. During the production of a Rolex crystal it is cut against the grain instead of with the grain. This process wastes a lot of material, is much harder to manufacturer and costs more than cutting the crystal with the
grain . On the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness the Rolex measures a 9.5/10. To put that in perspective a Diamond is a 10 on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness. Rolex strives to make the strongest most durable time pieces that will withstand the test of time through many generations. “Rolex’s commitment to excellence begins at the source” – Rolex.com
2 – 904L Stainless Steel
Rolex uses 904L stainless steel in the production of their watch cases and bracelets when most other watch manufacturers use 316L steel. The difference between 904L and 316L is that it contains more Nickel and molybdenum reduces the chances of chloride induced stress corrosion cracking and pitting. How would this affect you? If you actually use a Rolex for diving in the ocean then the 904L steel will be superior when it comes to with standing salt water. You don’t go in the ocean? OK, do you sweat? Your sweat also contains chlorides that over time will affect the moving parts of your watch bracelet. 904L steel is also more expensive than 316L steel as it is not as commonly used due to the cost of working with the material. Using 904L Stainless Steel in my opinion makes Rolex “Life-Proof.” “Rolex’s commitment to excellence begins at the source” – Rolex.com
3 – In-House Precious Metal Foundry
Rolex has its own Foundry for mixing and producing the gold and platinum for their precious metal watch cases and bracelets. This means Rolex has 100% control as they are creating the mixture, designing the watch case and bracelet pieces from the raw material. Not too many watch manufactures can say that about their quality control. All of the pieces for the cases and bracelets are made from solid pieces of raw material whether it be stainless steel,
platinum, yellow gold, white gold or even Everose gold which is an in-house mixture from Rolex. Other watch manufacturers have issues with rose gold as it naturally wants to change back to its natural yellow gold color. Rolex has confronted this issue with the addition of different materials to make it stronger and to keep its rose color. All of these steps in the in-house production of precious metal pieces cost more money and is probably the reason why other watch manufacturers do not follow suit. “Rolex’s commitment to excellence begins at the source” – Rolex.com
4 – The Invention of Waterproofness
Rolex invented the waterproof watch and then they patented it. In 1926 the Oyster case was born. It was the first waterproof and dust proof watch case. In 1953 the Rolex Submariner was introduced with a waterproof depth of 100 meters / 330 feet. Then in 1979 the waterproof guarantee went up to 300 meters / 1000 feet. Currently the RolexDeep Sea Sea-Dweller has a waterproof rating of 3900 meters / 12800 feet. All Rolex models that have a screw down
crown are rated at least to 100 meters / 330 feet. You will notice that Rolex does not stamp water-resistant on their watches as other manufacturers do. Rolex simply writes 12800ft / 3900m on the watch dial or nothing on the watch at all, because the minimum waterproofness is 330 feet. “Rolex’s commitment to excellence begins at the source” – Rolex.com
5 – Rolex is ALL In-House
To be be able to use the name SWISS MADE, the rules state that only 50% of a Swiss watch company’s parts have to come from Switzerland. The other half could be China, Mexico, or even Kentucky. Since the birth of Rolex in 1910 they have been designing and manufacturing their own in-house movements,
most of the Rolex movements are known as the work horses when it comes to swiss mechanical watch movements. Some of these movements have stayed virtually the same for 15-20 years. If it’s not broke don’t fix it! In each rolex automatic movement there are approximately 130 parts. Rolex never adds parts to only make their watches look better or more complicated. Rolex not only assembles their movements in house but they manufacture all of the parts in their facility. From the screws, plates, rotors, bearings and even the recognizable two red reversing wheels in a Rolex movement. It is almost like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “Nobody ever goes in, and no one ever comes out.” “Rolex’s commitment to excellence begins at the source” – Rolex.com
6 – Superlative Chronometer
Rolex has produced the most COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres certified) Chronometers out off all the Swiss watch manufacturers for many years now. Rolex produced 751,285 Superlative Chronometer movements in 2011. The next two companies Omega with 509,000 and then Breitling with
154,00 Certified Chronometers. Not only did Rolex produce the most Chronometers. But they are among the most accurate timepieces in the world. The COSC Standard deviation for a COSC Certified Chrometer is +6/-4 seconds in 24 hours which is tested by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC). Rolex takes it a step further and making sure that their watches are within +5/-1 seconds in not only a 24 hour period but over 15 days as well, making it one of the most accurate watches in the world. This is why Rolex calls their watches “Superlative Chronometers.” “Rolex’s commitment to excellence begins at the source” – Rolex.com
Rolex is a privately held company named after the founder (Hans Wilsdorf) the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. I believe this is what has given Rolex the freedom to make the worlds best timekeeping and most durable watch that will last many generations. Rolex was named Europe’s #1 SuperBrand in 2011 and 2012 leading some major global corporations you may have heard of e.g. Apple, Inc, Microsoft, British Airways, Coca-Cola and Google. I bet that makes Warren Buffet Thirsty since he owns approximately 9% off the Coca-Cola Company and what seems to be 10% of everything else in the world.
You will see the quote “Rolex’s commitment to excellence begins at the source” – Rolex.com at the end of each section. This quote has everything to do with how Rolex operates their company and the the attention to detail that goes in to their watches.
At the end of the day opinions are still opinions and everyone has one, or 5… And when people say “Rolex is just a brand” or “Rolex doesn’t even keep good time” I chuckle a bit. And that is normally enough bait to get the question “Wait, You think Rolex is more than a name?” My response is always the same. Let me tell you about the Rolex-Six Degrees of Separation and you decide if Rolex is more than a brand. After the 6 Degrees some peope still say “I still don’t like Rolex.” Which is ok, because we were not discussing if you liked them or not. Specifically, sticking to the facts and giving you 6 facts why Rolex is not just a brand and in fact they are the worlds best time keepers in my opinion. “Rolex’s commitment to excellence begins at the source” – Rolex.com,
Written by: Kyle O’Connor
Mark UrquhartMarch 2, 2014
Very informative article, Kyle. As an owner of two submariners and one explorer II, it confirms I made the right choice.
Kyle O'ConnorMarch 2, 2014
Thank you Mark!