A watertight case and a new automatic movement
The grand innovations of Rolex
Hans Wilsdorf may not have invented the wristwatch, but many milestones in the history of a wristwatch can indeed be attributed to Rolex. In 1916, the company that is now based in Geneva, presented the first worldwide water and dust-tight watch, with the telling name of “Oyster”. Just like an oyster, the case of this watch is tightly sealed and, therefore, offers exceptional protection for the mechanical movement.
At a request made by Hans Wilsdorf, the Oyster was worn by swimmer Mercedes Gleitze during her historic crossing of the English Channel in 1927. That day, a true legend was born. The day after this record-breaking achievement, Rolex placed a large advert on the first page of the Daily Mail, celebrating the success of the Oyster. From that day forward, demand for the robust watch quickly increased, and Hans Wilsdorf did not rest on his laurels. With his dream of offering his customers the highest levels of comfort, he gave John Harwood the task of further developing the automatic watch. The result was a success: in 1931, Rolex introduced the automatic movement with a unidirectional rotor winding mechanism. This revolutionized the entire market as automatic watches could not be mass-produced during that time. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual represents a milestone in the history of watchmaking and is a testament to the inventive genius that defines Rolex to this day.