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A Closer Look at What Makes the Iconic Rolex Oyster Perpetual Movement Tick

January 5, 2019

BY Paul Altieri

Oyster Perpetual Calibre Movement

Oyster Perpetual Calibre Movement

Much like an exotic car, a mechanical watch is not only admired for its body, but for the engine that drives it. A look under the hood of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch will give you a glimpse at the Oyster Perpetual Movement – a self-winding caliber entirely designed and manufactured by the watchmaking masters at Rolex.

Movement Rolex Oyster Perpetual

The movement of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual

Certified as a chronometer by COSC (the institute charged with testing Swiss-made watches for accuracy and precision), the Oyster Perpetual Movement is further scrutinized at Rolex’s own laboratories where the movement is tested for optimal precision, waterproofness, self-winding capabilities, and power-reserve, all while housed in an Oyster case to mimic real-world scenarios. The rigorous internal and external testing grants this caliber its mark of “Superlative Chronometer.”

Rolex Movement

A close-up look at a Rolex movement

The “perpetual” in an Oyster Perpetual Movement refers to the ability of the watch to run on the energy provided by the motion of the wearer’s wrist rather than manual winding. Invented by Rolex in 1931, the perpetual rotor drives this ability. The activity of the wrist causes the rotor to rotate back and forth, thus winding the mainspring that powers the watch. Automatic watches only exist today because of the ingenuity and inventiveness of Rolex.

Rolex Perpetual Movement

The brilliantly colored Rolex Oyster Perpetual movement is equipped with a few patented features

A watch’s precision, on the other hand, is dependent on the consistency of its movement’s oscillator, which is comprised of a hairspring and a balance wheel. The more steady the swings of the oscillator the more precisely a watch tells time, so manufacturers always strive for new ways to enhance the components of this mechanism. As a result of five years of R&D, in 2005 Rolex created a superior version of a traditional hairspring: the patented Blue Parachrom hairspring – a spring impervious to magnetic fields and up to ten times more resistant to shocks. Later in 2005, Rolex introduced the patented Paraflex system, a tiny yet robust shock absorber that improves the shock resistance of a Rolex by up to 50%, enhancing the watch’s protection from everyday knocks.

Parachrom Hairspring

The iconic blue Parachrom Hairspring

At Baselworld 2015, a number Rolex watches were inaugurated with a new-generation Oyster Perpetual Movement: the Caliber 3255 movement. With improvements on over 90% of its components, the movement resulted in optimized precision and an increased power reserve. Featured in the new caliber is the Rolex patented Chronergy escapement – an advanced version of the traditional Swiss lever escapement found in mechanical watches. According to Rolex, modifications to the escapement’s design structure provides a 15% increase in efficiency making way for more power reserve, plus its construction from nickel-phosphorus makes it resistant to magnetic interference. Debuted in the new Day-Date 40, the Caliber 3255 has gone on to feature in a number of Rolex’s other releases over the past few years.

Inside Look at the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Movement

Inside Look at the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Movement

The illustrious history of the Oyster Perpetual Movement is an inspiration for Rolex’s watchmakers to continuously push the boundaries of timekeeping excellence. The spirit of innovation is perpetually beating at the heart of Rolex and we look forward to many more technological breakthroughs from this legendary company.



3 Responses to “A Closer Look at What Makes the Iconic Rolex Oyster Perpetual Movement Tick”

  1. Allison Retzlaff says:

    I have a ladies Oyster Perpetual Date Just that I’m thinking about selling. If I send you pictures (I was afraid to remove the bracelet myself, but I was able to remove the back and have pictures of the actual movement) Would you be able to tell me approximately what it’s worth if I do decide to sell it. It does have an aftermarket diamond dial and bezel, which I was unaware of when I originally purchased it. I sent it to Rolex for service and they sent it back because of the after market parts. I did have serviced through my local jeweler about 18 months ago, which cost me $300. It runs beautifully and I was just wondering if I do sell, what would I realistically expect to get for it. Again, I do have pictures of the movement and every other part of the watch, except the serial number. I was afraid that I might not be able to get it back on. I apologize for the lengthy message, but I wanted to give you most of the info. The diamond bezel is 1 ctw and the dial is pink mother of pearl with 0.25ctw of diamonds. I do also have the box.
    Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Allison Retzlaff

    • Louise Goldwyn says:

      I also hablve an Oyster Perpetual and want to sell mine. An approximate price would suffice me.

      • Paul Altieri says:

        The Oyster Perpetual is one of Rolex’s oldest watch collections (introduced in the early 1930s) and it has existed in countless different references over the better part of a century. Prices can range anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars (or less) to well beyond the six-figure point, simply depending on the specific model, materials, configuration, condition, the presence of its original box and paperwork, and a number of other factors.
        If you would like to receive a free quote for your specific watch, feel free to fill out the ‘Sell Rolex’ page on our website, and one of our representatives will be in touch shortly.

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