Rolex Is On A Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection


January 9, 2018 | BY Jamie Tan

Rolex timepieces are constantly upgraded with the latest advancements to watchmaking.

You don’t become The King by accident.

Rolex’s claim to the Swiss luxury watchmaking throne is undisputed, and for several good reasons. For a start, there’s its sheer production volume with every Rolex timepiece certified as a Superlative Chronometer and backed by a five-year warranty. (“Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” is Rolex’s in-house standard, which builds on the chronometer certification by Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, an independent testing and quality control institute.) 

The brand’s unrivalled brand equity is another—no other manufacture can claim to be as well-known, even outside of the watch community, let alone have the je ne sais quoi that makes a Rolex so desirable.

One other oft-overlooked factor that has made Rolex so successful is its attitude towards innovation. No other brand is quite as relentless in improving its watches for better functionality and reliability, and no one else can introduce changes on the industrial level that it does. What’s more, an improvement that Rolex makes to a feature immediately supersedes the previous one completely. 


(Related: The Story Of Rolex As A Timekeeper For The Seas)

Case in point: Movements. Rolex’s last major update occurred in 2015 when it unveiled the Calibre 3255. The most significant improvement over its predecessors is the 70-hour power reserve—a 50 per cent increase—achieved via tweaks to various components. One of them is the new Chronergy escapement. With an improved geometry, skeletonised parts, and an offset angle at which the pallet engages, this escapement is significantly more energy-efficient than a traditional one. An optimised gear train also helps, as does the new barrel manufactured with thinner walls to house a longer mainspring. Other changes include fool-proof date setting, improved lubricants and new anti-magnetism features—all for greater convenience and reliability.

Rolex’s work in material engineering deserves a mention too. The manufacture’s hairsprings offer greater resistance to magnetism, shock, and temperature fluctuations compared to traditional balance springs, thanks to the use of Parachrom, a proprietary paramagnetic alloy, and Syloxi, a silicon-based material. 

For the watch’s exterior, its constant exposure to the elements means that work to improve its robustness is a must. To that end, Rolex has made various changes over the years. Take its Cerachrom bezel, for instance. Its ceramic isn’t just harder and more scratch-resistant than the previously used aluminium bezel but also corrosion-resistant and non-fading. 

The bottomline? Any Rolex timepiece that is currently in production represents the latest and greatest iteration of that model, bar none. The new Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller (pictured) is a stellar example. At 43mm-wide, it features a larger case than its predecessor and is equipped with the Calibre 3235, a variant of the Calibre 3255 sans the day function. It’s equipped with a Cyclops lens on the crystal at 3 o’clock for better reading of the date— a tiny change but it shows Rolex’s fascination with perfection. 

One may argue that some of these tweaks are over-engineered and unnecessarily complex but only the best will suffice for The King.  

(Related: Rolex: In The Oyster)

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