The Oyster is the embodiment of Rolex’s prestige and know-how, a true watchmaking archetype. Today the collection consists of some 15 ranges: Classic watches like the Datejust, the Day-Date and the Sky-Dweller, as well as Professional watches, such as the Explorer, the Submariner and the GMT-Master II, designed for specific activities.
Beyond its legendary technical performance, the Oyster’s aesthetic codes set it apart as a benchmark of universal and timeless style, a lifestyle icon. An Oyster watch constitutes a perfect alchemy of form and function and is recognizable at first glance.
The Oyster collection was built on the success of the original Oyster model, patented by Rolex and launched in 1926. As the first waterproof wristwatch in the world, it played a pioneering role in the development of the modern wristwatch. Over the years the Oyster became the proud bearer of many other innovations – such as self-winding by means of the Perpetual rotor – that defined the identity of the different models, forged Rolex’s reputation for excellence and often went on to set watchmaking standards.
THE MANY VARIATIONS OF THE OYSTER
The Oyster is the incarnation of the ideal watch as conceived by the visionary genius Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex: a precise, reliable and functional watch of timeless elegance, which can be worn in any circumstance. After it acquired its definitive form in the early 1940s, this archetypal wristwatch gradually evolved into a coherent collection of watches integrating new functions and innovative technologies. It was nonetheless developed with continuity, strictly abiding by fundamental principles that embody its perfection. This explains why all the models in the Oyster collection share a very strong visual identity that makes them immediately recognizable. And also why their family relationship with the original model remains evident.
The model with the most direct line of descent is the Oyster Perpetual – a precise and reliable watch with three hands, characterized by its waterproof Oyster case and self-winding Perpetual movement. The Oyster collection has developed around two axes. Firstly, elegant and prestigious watches, with a calendar, like the Oyster Perpetual Datejust and the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date, launched in 1945 and 1956 respectively; and the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller launched in 2012. Secondly, Professional watches, veritable tool-watches that take full advantage of their waterproofness,
robustness and precision to offer dedicated functions for specific activities. This second category was inaugurated in 1953 with the simultaneous launch of the Oyster Perpetual Explorer, an extremely robust and legible model intended for explorers and mountaineers, and the Oyster Perpetual Submariner, the first divers’ wristwatch waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet) and equipped with a rotatable graduated bezel, specially developed for deep-sea diving.
Over the decades, these two categories have expanded, adding numerous models, each with its own strong personality. The Oyster Perpetual Datejust has appeared in versions for ladies, allying aesthetic refinement and technical performance in smaller sizes, such as the Lady-Datejust and the graceful, divinely gem-set Pearlmaster models.
In the Professional category, new watches have been developed to meet the particular demands and needs of aeroplane pilots (GMT-Master II), physicists (Milgauss), racing drivers (Cosmograph Daytona) and sailors (Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II).