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ROLEX BLOG

The Rolex Oysterdate Precision 6694

November 9, 2017

BY Paul Altieri

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Ask any designer, of anything, and they’ll tell you the compositions that look the simplest are usually the hardest ones to get right.

With a stark, pared-down design, there’s really nowhere to hide—each minimalist element has to be perfectly proportioned and in the right place, and factors such as color, material and texture become ever more important.

As far as Rolex is concerned, the Rolex Oysterdate Precision is just about as simple as it gets.

Oysterdate Precision 6694

The Oysterdate Precision 6694 collection began in the 1960’s.

The Oysterdate Precision 6694

The Oysterdate first appeared in the 1960s and remained one of the brand’s least well-known series until it was finally discontinued in the late 80s.

Easily confused with the Oyster Perpetual and Oyster Perpetual Date ranges, the Oysterdate is actually something of an oddity in the Rolex canon. The lack of a ‘Perpetual’ label in its name points to the fact that it was one of the incredibly rare examples from the crown that was not self-winding. Additionally the lack of any chronometer certification text on its dial alludes to the fact that the watch was not chronometer certified. To gain chronometer status, a watch has to undergo some particularly unforgiving tests for accuracy at the COSC, The Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute. Only those proving to keep reliable time between -4/+6 seconds a day can wear the badge.

Instead, the Oysterdate has ‘Precision’ marked on its dial – a small, easily missed detail beloved by hardcore watch collectors.

The manual-winding distinction really sets the Oysterdate apart from just about everything else that has passed through the Rolex gates, since it is, and was always, a manually-wound timepiece. Incredibly, for the company that invented the perpetual, self-winding movement, the Oysterdate was never fitted with an automatic caliber, even towards the end of its run in the 80s.

Instead, the Cal. 1225 purrs away inside, a 17-jewel mechanism with a 21,600bph frequency.

Oysterdate Precision 6694

This Oysterdate Precision 6694 is a great entry level watch.

It is surprising that a watchmaker as progressive as Rolex kept a manually wound movement on its books until so recently. Even the Daytona, with the understandable excuse of needing a far more complicated chronograph engine, was granted the El Primero in that decade.

For the ref. 6694, needing nothing more taxing than a date function, and a non-Quickset one at that, never graduating to a Perpetual caliber gives it an air of the watch that Rolex forgot.

But, in fact, its straightforwardness only adds to the Oysterdate’s charm. In an evermore automated world, there is a real fascination in doing something as nostalgic as winding a beautifully made watch.

Oysterdate Precision 6694

The Oysterdate Precision 6694 has no quick set feature.

The Universal Rolex: Oysterdate Precision 6694

With its all-steel construction and its non-chronometer, manually wound movement, the Oysterdate hits a price point that marks it at very much the entry level for a Rolex.

For the burgeoning collector of vintage watches, it can represent the first buy-in to the brand, a model that manages to be very affordable and easily found on the pre-owned market, but so unfamiliar amongst even knowledgeable enthusiasts that it’s unlikely you’ll come across many in the wild.

It appeared with a number of different color dial options over its two-decade lifespan, with blue, silver and black being by far the most prevalent. Look hard enough and you’ll come across versions set off by yellow gold accents on the indexes and hands as well as the crown logo.

Although by modern standards its 34mm case sounds particularly small, perhaps because of the austerity of the dial, it wears somewhat bigger on the wrist. With practically no text beyond the Rolex name and the single ‘Precision’ line, its largely blank surface area evokes slightly more presence.

But its most engaging aspect is in its appeal across the sexes. While it may have started out as a man’s watch, the Oysterdate looks equally at home on women’s wrists.

Oysterdate Precision 6694

The Oyster Perpetual Precision is a watch with very little text on the dial.

The Essence of Rolex

When called upon, Rolex can produce watches as complicated as any other, but their name was built with the kind of eminently simple, effortlessly elegant timepieces that could be worn 100 years from now without looking outdated.

The ref. 6694 Oysterdate is one such watch. As just about as basic as a Rolex could be, it still has the brand’s faultless lineage behind it. Whereas some models in the lineup shout for attention, the Oysterdate’s sparse design barely gets above a whisper.

Modest in both size and style, it’s a watch for those who want an unassuming, reliable timepiece with an impeccable pedigree and are content with being the only ones who know it’s a Rolex.

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10 Responses to “The Rolex Oysterdate Precision 6694”

  1. Steve says:

    Thankyou for the information.
    I have a Rolex here that has the face “Oysterdate Perpetual” instead of “Oysterdate Precision”. Is this watch a fake?

    • Paul Altieri says:

      Not necessarily, although it wouldn’t be possible for us to properly authenticate a watch without seeing it. There can also be instances where the watch iself is real but its dial was previously refinished (an aftermarket process) and this can also be a source of inconsistencies between the dial found in a certain example and the one you might expect to find in it.

  2. Andreas says:

    Hello and thanks for a great article!
    I own a Rolex oysterdate 6694 from the 70s but it came with a mop dial, which I am guessing is aftermarket. I want to bring the watch as close as I can back to it’s original state. Do you know what kind of dials were there available at the time? It would help me try to find one.
    Thanks

    • Paul Altieri says:

      Many Rolex Oysterdate reference 6694 watches were either fitted with black or silver dials, but there are also examples with blue, champagne, and white dials. Any of these colors would be correct for your watch, but it is also important to find one from the 1970s, as the style of hour markers and text can vary depending on the year.

  3. AG says:

    Hi, is 6694 parts hard to find and difficult to service?

    • Paul Altieri says:

      While many of the parts are no longer in production, they are not impossible to track down on the open market should you need them, and since the movement itself is a relatively simple one in terms of its design and features, service is a straightforward process provided that all of the components are in decent shape.

  4. Leo says:

    Heyy, I recently came across a yellow gold rolex oysterdate 6694. However, I notice something odd. It came with a fluted bezel. From what I found via online, all the 6694 I came across is with smooth bezel instead of fluted. Is there a Oysterdate 6694 with fluted bezel?

    • Paul Altieri says:

      You are correct that most are fitted with smooth bezels so there is a strong possibility that it was swapped at some point during its history. Many years ago, Rolex gave its retailers far more freedom with the watches that they sold, and it is not uncommon to hear of instances where a watch was purchased brand-new and has some inconsistency/modification that was done by the retailer at the request of the customer.

  5. Shane says:

    I am looking at a 1971 Oysterdate 6694. Where most watches read “precision” this watch is blank. What does that signify?

    • Paul Altieri says:

      The lack of the “precision” text does not really signify anything in this instance (other than being a rarer variant). Rolex’s chronometer-certified watches all have text relating to their chronometer-rated status, but for Rolex’s non-chronometer-certified models, there can exist a wider variety of dial text that can be found on them (for example Rolex Air-King 5500 watches can either say “precision,” “super precision,” or not say anything on their lower halves at all). The fact that your watch does not say “precision” does not signify any different standard of accuracy since no ref. 6694 watches were chronometer-certified; it is merely a different (and relatively seldom seen) dial variation for the watch.

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