National Geographic : 1971 Nov
In order to make sure that every Oyster case is waterproof, we had to make a special one that wasn't. Our craftsmen have a fool proof method of ensuring that every Oyster case is waterproof. It's quite simple: each case (complete with winder and crystal, but without the works) is put into a special jar which is full of water. The air pressure in the jar is then reduced. The craftsman watches care fully. If any bubbles come from the case, he knows there's a leak in it somewhere. Just to double-check, he takes the case out of the jar and puts it on an ordinary domestic hot plate. If any water has got into the case, the heat will make it con dense inside the crystal. As we said: simple and fool proof. But there was one draw back. In order to prove to ourselves that these tests were infallible, we hadtogooutofourwaytomake a special Oyster case that wasn't waterproof. Because that was the only way we could prove that bubbles would appear, or con densation form with the applica tion of heat. Because every genuine Oyster case is waterproof. And thus, nothing happens when we test them in this way. (So why, you may well ask, do we bother to test them ? But that's the kind of thing which makes a Rolex a Rolex.) It takes 162 separate operations to carve each Oyster case out of a single, solid block of 18ct. gold, or surgical stainless steel. This seamless case is then fitted with one of our craftsmen's patented inventions: the Rolex Twinlock Winding Crown. Unlike the winders on ordinary watches, the Twinlock actually screws onto the case (rather like a submarine hatch) to form a solid plug as watertight as the case itself. The movement all these safety features protect is well worth all the trouble we go to. Our crafts men like to think of it as their crowning achievement: we call it the Perpetual Chronometer movement, because that's just what it is: a rotor selfwinding movement, the accuracy of which has been tested over a gruelling fifteen days and nights by one of the Independent Official Swiss Institutes for Chronometer Tests. The Rolex red seal (which you can see in the photograph below) is your proof that the watch is not a watch, but is, in fact, a Chrono meter, and that its superb acc uracy has been ratified by one of the Swiss Institutes. This accuracy has often proved invaluable to Rolex owners, as this letter (one of many we keep in Geneva) from the leader of a Welsh Himalayan expedition shows: "During the six and a half months spent away from the UK we experienced the widest poss ible range of temperature and humidity; the highest tempera ture being 117 deg. F. in the shade in Afghanistan to 34 deg. of frost at the top of the 19,000 ft. Urai Lagna pass near the Nepal Tibet border. The humidity varied between the moist mon soon weather of India and Nepal to the arid dryness of the Tibetan plateau in winter. Never once during this period did any of the watches show any signs of irreg ularity. So much so that good time-keeping was taken for grant ed. Our first check on the time broadcast by Radio Delhi in early January proved that both Harrop's watch and mine were within seconds of the correct time after five months away from civilisation." Letters like these give our craftsmen immense satisfaction. They like to know that their work is appreciated. And appreciated it is, by Rolex owners like racing driver Jackie Stewart, sailor Sir Francis Chichester, and many, many others, including most of the world's leading Heads of State. The satisfaction these people derive from owning a Rolex is only matched by the satisfaction our craftsmen get from making them. Owning one is almost as satisfying as making one. ROLEX of Geneva Pictured:the Rolex Explorer. Available in steel, with matchingbracelet.