facebook pixel
  • Watch Certification Services of America100% Certified Authentic

    Bob's Watches
    100% Certified Authentic

    At Bob's Watches, your trust is very important to us. We believe that buying a pre-owned Rolex watch online should be simple, honest, and straightforward. To that end, we guarantee that every Rolex watch on our site is 100% authentic, comprised entirely of Rolex parts. Our mission is to be the leading trusted online source for selling and buying authentic pre-owned Rolex watches. We stand behind this authenticity guarantee with a full money back refund on any watch not found to be completely genuine.

  • SIGN IN

BOB’S WATCHES

ROLEX BLOG

The Rolex Bubble Back

February 23, 2018

BY Paul Altieri

SHARE

Some of the lesser-discussed vintage watches from Rolex’s long and illustrious history are their early self-winding watches, affectionately nicknamed “Bubble Backs” by members of the collecting world. Although they were not specifically designed for some demanding sport or an inhospitable environment, the Rolex Bubble Back represents the basic, self-winding template that all modern Rolex watches would come to follow.

Bubble Back

The Bubble Back is a vintage watch that set the ground work for many watches to come.

History on the Bubble Back

Manufactured between roughly 1933 and 1955, a vintage Rolex watch without a doubt, dozens of different reference numbers fall into the unofficially named, “Bubble Back” category. Rolex’s Bubble Back watches get their nickname from their extremely rounded, protruding case-backs. Although highly interesting from a design standpoint, the Bubble Back design was actually born out of necessity as an efficient means to house Rolex’s thicker, self-winding movements.

It was during the 1930s that Rolex first began fitting their watches with automatic movements, rather than the manually wound calibers that had been traditionally used in their watches. The addition of the oscillation weight significantly increased the overall thickness of the movement, and required additional clearance for the rotor to move freely inside the case. Rather than making the entire case of the watch larger, Rolex decided to allow the case-back to protrude in a curved, bubble-shaped fashion.

Bubble Back

Here is an inside look at the Bubble Back.

Living as a Bubble in the Modern World

By today’s standards, Rolex Bubble Back watches are rather antiquated in design. Case diameters are relatively small and typically hover around 30 mm to 32 mm for the classic men’s models. Additionally, due to their domed acrylic crystals and convex, protruding case-backs, Bubble Back watches are disproportionally thick in an almost egg-like fashion.  

Although their large, dome-shaped case-backs have earned these watches a number of different nicknames throughout the years, the “Bubble Back” name is probably the most well known and commonly used today. The small case diameter and relatively large overall thickness combine to make a somewhat awkward and strangely proportioned, egg-shaped watch; however, Bubble Backs represent an early and important time in Rolex’s history, when the company was first starting to refine their self-winding watch movements.

bubble back crown

Here is a view of the Bubble Back Crown and the shape.

Today, all Rolex watches are fitted with automatic-winding calibers; however they can trace their root DNA back to the original Bubble Back watches that Rolex first introduced during the early 1930s. Although later refinements to case and movement designs eliminated the need for a curved, protruding case-back, Bubble Back watches are emblematic of a time when nearly all watches required manual winding, and automatic movements were first starting to emerge from the different timepiece manufacturers.

While the Bubble Back may not receive nearly as much attention or acclaim as other vintage Rolex watches, these early self-winding timepieces hold arguably more importance to the overall evolution and success of the Rolex brand than any other wristwatch that the company has ever put forward. Nearly every watch that Rolex now manufactures has the word “Perpetual” printed on the surface of its dial, and it was these early Bubble Back watches that were the first to receive Rolex’s inaugural, self-winding movements.

 

WATCHES YOU MIGHT LIKE

SHARE

Leave a Reply

  • This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

    Error: API requests are being delayed. New posts will not be retrieved.

    There may be an issue with the Instagram access token that you are using. Your server might also be unable to connect to Instagram at this time.

    Error: API requests are being delayed for this account. New posts will not be retrieved.

    There may be an issue with the Instagram access token that you are using. Your server might also be unable to connect to Instagram at this time.

  • Get The Best Deals - Buy A Rolex
    Sell A Rolex

    "The most trusted place to buy or sell a used luxury timepiece" – WSJ

    Bob's Watches is an independent watch dealer and is not sponsored by, associated with and/or affiliated with Rolex, or any other brand listed. Bob's Watches only sells pre-owned watches and provides its own warranties on the watches it sells. Rolex Datejust, Rolex Day Date President, Submariner, Presidential, Explorer, Sea Dweller, Super President, GMT Master, GMT, YachtMaster, Prince, Milgauss, MasterPiece, Air King, Cosmograph Daytona, and PearlMaster, etc are all registered trademarks of the Rolex Corporation. All brands including Brequet, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Ulysse Nardin, Breitling and Omega, etc are trademarks of their respective owners.