WATCHES THAT STAND THE TEST OF TIME
Watchuwant is now WatchBox! Subscribe for the best luxury watch content. This Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust deserves a place in any discerning collector's watch box. As an historic reference and true rarity, the importance of the Oysterquartz has only begun to dawn on enthusiasts - even those who bleed Rolex green. But look closer, and the Oysterquartz carries more than the Rolex crown; this 36mm steel and gold machine is the grail watch you never expected. The Rolex Oysterquartz wasn't the first quartz watch - or even the first quartz Rolex - but it set and remains the gold standard for the class. Launched in 1977 and blanket-certified as quartz chronometers from about mid-1979, the caliber 5035 Oysterquartz Datejust and its cal. 5055 Day-Date cousin were designed to ensure Rolex joined the dawning quartz era at the top of the food chain. The design was characteristic of the 1970s haut-de-gamme but entirely distinct from typical Rolex fashion. In the era of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, IWC Jumbo Ingenieur, and Patek Philippe Nautilus, integrated case-bracelet watches represented the cutting edge of high style. Rolex resolved to launch its revolutionary caliber 5035 in a case that would declare its vanguard status for the Geneva giant. The Oysterquartz series assumed the appearance of a continuous faceted metal bracelet -- almost a continuous run of metal planes. While the traditional Rolex fluted gold bezel was retained, it straddled an immense cushion case that appeared far, far larger than its nominal 36mm. Consider that number pure fiction; the striking Rolex Qysterquartz Datejust can go lug-to-lug with 40+ sports watches and appear just as imposing. This Rolex Oysterquartz features a black dial with gold gilt-style text. Gold hands, baton-style hour indices, and lightly aged tritium lume dots enrich the imagery. There's magnetism - figurative - in the effect of this dial. The look unmistakably screams Rolex, but with a distinguished charm potent enough to rival even the most revered GMT-Master, Daytona, and yes, Submariner. The matching two-tone 17013B bracelet feels more substantial than any Oyster, Jubilee, or President counterpart from the N-series (roughly 1992) production date of this Rolex Oysterquartz. In fact, the bracelet is so solid that it feels at least three generations removed from the others. Even Rolex sports watch bracelets didn't become this refined until the mid-2000s, and the feel of this 17013B evokes thoughts of the Patek Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak bracelets rather than any Rolex model from the early 1990s. Inside the 100-meter (330-foot) water resistant Oyster case sits the main event: the legendary Rolex caliber 5035. Thermocompensation and anti-magnetic hardening ensured a level of precision and toughness unheard of then and rare even today. COSC Swiss Chronometer certification is standard, and while that may seem like an elementary distinction for a Rolex Datejust, COSC quartz is another world and an extreme rarity. Rolex internal memos cite precision in the realm of less than 50 seconds of timing deviation per year. And with autonomy of 24 months on a single battery, that precision is more than academic. Want more? You got it; the Rolex Oysterquartz cal. 5035 is built like a legitimate mechanical movement. In fact, it's that and much more. Rhodium-plated brass bridges with chamfered edges and cotes de Geneve anchor a gear train and pallet assembly that would look at home in a Submariner. Eleven jewels - including two pallet jewels - ensure long life and smooth operation. The quartz oscillator drives a stepper motor, which, in turn, alternates the anchor bearing the pallets. A classic escape wheel completes the Swiss lever assembly, and the hands are controlled directly by the halting 1hz progression of the escapement. All in all, the 3,600 VpH system is more precise, slightly more audible, and infinitely more soulful than a conventional limp system of quartz circuits and ropey steppers. With production spanning the years from 1977 to 2001, the total pool of 25,000-30,000 Oysterquartz units is a drop in the sea of millions of Rolex watches built during that time. The Oysterquartz Datejust is distinctive, technically alluring, and so rare that its discovery by collectors is only a matter of time. Discover it before speculators wield their corrupting influence; own the Rolex Oysterquartz for the pure love of a quirky but charismatic classic. See this Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust 17013 in high resolution images on: https://www.thewatchbox.com/watches/rolex Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/watchbox/ WatchBox Reviews Channel: https://www.youtube.com/WatchBoxReviews Video and content by Tim Mosso.