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Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust

Developed in the 1970s, the movements in the Rolex Oysterquartz series continue to keep the time reliably today.  More

Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust
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A quartz watch was Rolex's answer to the quartz crisis of the 1970s – the Rolex Datejust Oysterquartz. To some, it symbolizes a split with the rest of the company's DNA. To others, it's proof of a fundamental idea behind the brand, which is to always strive to perfect upon what seems perfect. Rolex embraced battery-powered technology and developed a custom design for the Datejust Oysterquartz models. Long misunderstood, these watches are now enjoying a revival.

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Visual and technical features

Featuring a design concept that is often compared to that of the legendary designer Gérald Genta, the Datejust equipped with a quartz calibre is unmistakably a result of the 1970s. It retains the typical shape and contours of the Datejust, but comes in a more modern shape that is typical for the seventies. On the whole, the Datejust Oysterquartz models have a slightly more angular appearance than their mechanical siblings. The bracelets are also 70s versions of the Oyster and Jubilée bracelets, which are directly integrated into the watch case.

Whether in steel, gold, or Rolesor, the 36 mm Datejust Oysterquartz watches are suitable for both men and women and, featuring chronometer certification and 100 meters of water resistance, they offer everything one could desire from a Rolex Datejust. The 5035 quartz calibre only received a COSC certificate starting in 1997, but it was used until 2001, which was the collection's last year in production.

Notable models and prices of the electric Datejust

The Datejust Oysterquartz is only available for sale as a vintage or pre-owned model. In order to offer a better understanding of the different models and prices of Oysterquartz watches, here are a number of references in a little more detail.

  • The Oysterquartz Datejust (ref. 17000) comes equipped with a 36 mm stainless steel case including an Oyster bracelet and a black dial. The classic date window is located at 3 o'clock, which provides the watch with a certain versatility and elegance, despite all its sporty design. Vintage models from this reference from 1983 in very good condition are available for sale for €6,000 to €8,000.

  • reference number 17013 is a steel and yellow gold version with a champagne-coloured dial and fluted yellow gold bezel. It's possible to find models from the collection's early years of production in good condition starting at around €5,000.

  • The collection is more restrained with the Oysterquartz (ref. 17014). This is a steel and white gold model, featuring a blue dial and fluted white gold bezel. Moreover, this is one of the most sought-after and rare models, which is why it's necessary to budget between €7,000 and €14,000, depending on the timepiece's condition.

Rolex's answer to the quartz crisis?

The history of Rolex Oysterquartz models did not begin in the 1970s, but 20 years earlier, when the brand first built and tested a variety of quartz calibres in 1950. In 1952, this made it possible to apply for the first patent. Interestingly, it took another 18 years before Rolex was successful in introducing the Oysterquartz (ref. 5100) in 1970, after joint research with other brands led to the development of the Beta 21 calibre. The Beta 21 calibre was also used in a number of other watches made by different manufacturers.

Then in 1977, in the midst of the quartz crisis, Rolex released its first manufactured calibre powered by batteries. The references 5035 of the Datejust and 5055 of the Day-Date series were the first steps with in-house quartz calibres. The Oysterquartz calibre was fitted with a total of 11 jewels and a 32 kHz oscillator, so that chronometer certification was guaranteed for this watch as well.

The Oysterquartz models were produced until 2001, when they no longer received a COSC certificate. Most likely, no further applications were submitted either. There were rumours that the brand wanted to expand the Oysterquartz range, but in the end their production was discontinued in 2001. In 2003, the Oysterquartz watches ultimately disappeared from the Rolex catalogue. In 2004, an unmarked Oysterquartz turned up at auction with a calibre that confirmed the rumours that had emerged earlier. The Calibre 5335 was reserved for Oysterquartz prototypes and was equipped with a perpetual calendar, although this calibre reference is extremely rare.

The different wearers of the Oysterquartz: strangely typical

While numerous musicians rely primarily on gold models from Rolex, there are a few who are partial to other timepieces from the brand. For his part, British rapper, producer and DJ Craig David opt for a Datejust Oysterquartz made of stainless steel with a silver dial.

The battery-powered Rolex Datejust is also popular outside the hip-hop world. Director and filmmaker John Huston has also relied on a stainless steel version of the Datejust Oysterquartz. The watch can be seen on Huston's wrist in an advertisement for Apple with the slogan "Think different".

Mountaineering legends Reinhold Messner and Peter Haberler also favoured an Oysterquartz over their usual Explorer and Explorer II models when they climbed Mount Everest. Their choice was the stainless steel model with a black dial. Rolex took advantage of this marketing opportunity and advertised with it the slogan "Alone at the top of the world", among others. Incidentally, press photos show the subsequent mountaineer and Everest veteran Sir Edmund Hillary with a watch on his wrist that appears to be an Oysterquartz in Rolesor.

Other popular collections from the brand

  • One of the most famous diving watches in the world, the Submariner Collection is water-resistant up to 300 meters. It comes with or without a date window and in different materials such as steel, gold or a combination of steel and gold.

  • As the archetype of the modern dress watch, the Datejust Collection is currently one of the most popular wristwatches. Featuring 100 meters of water resistance, an automatic movement and a date window, it's robust and practical enough to be worn every day, yet elegant enough to shine at fancier occasions thanks to its design.

  • Designed at a time when commercial aviation was becoming increasingly popular, the GMT-Master II was designed to allow its wearers to read multiple time zones simultaneously. With its robust appearance and understated complication, this is a particularly versatile collection.

  • Regarded as the blueprint for the modern wristwatch, the Oyster Perpetual is the basis of the Rolex brand's present-day success. This watch features a waterproof case and precise automatic movement, and remains an integral part of the brand's product range to this day.

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