Can you help me sell my Oysterquartz?

No.  Post it on a watch forum sales corner or on e-bay.

I have a ______ (fill in the blank with some obscure Rolex model). What can you tell me about it?

Nothing.  (You'd be surprised at the number of non Oysterquartz questions I get.)

I need ______ (fill in the blank with any part for an Oysterquartz). Can you help me find it?

No.  All the info I have on Oysterquartz watches was done through hard research and is posted on this site.  I do not sell watches or watch parts.  I have no info about where Oysterquartz parts can be obtained.

I have a lady's Oysterquartz. What can you tell me about it?

It's a fake.  Rolex never made a lady's model of the Oysterquartz.  They do, however, make lady's quartz watches in the Cellini line.

Is the Oysterquartz still made?

Unfortunately, no. The SS/gold and all gold models last appeared in the 2003 Rolex catalog. The all steel model 17000 last appeared in the 2001 catalog. Actual production of all Oysterquartz models probably ceased sometime in 2001, which was the last year Rolex received any chronometer certificates for quartz movements (according to COSC records.)

When was the Oysterquartz introduced?

The Oysterquartz first appeared at authorized Rolex retailers in the fall of 1977.

Is the Oysterquartz antimagnetic?

Yes.  Quartz movements are typically very vulnerable to magnetic fields which tend to depolarize the magnets used in the stepper motor.  The typical method used to avoid this problem is to enclose the movement within an antimagnetic casing (usually made of soft iron). However, the 5035/5055 movement is antimagnetic by design up to 1000 Oersted and requires no external shielding. The only other watch ever produced by Rolex that was similarly antimagnetic without shielding was the extremely rare Milgauss 6543, of which only 88 pieces were ever made.

Why is the "tick" of the Oysterquartz movement so loud?

The drive mechanism for the 5035/5055 is very similar to the design of a traditional mechanical watch escapement.  The pulse motor drives a pallet fork which in turn moves a pallet wheel.  This wheel drives the second hand at a 1:1 ratio with one tick per second.  The hour and minute hands are driven off this pallet wheel.  The loud "tick" you hear every second are the pallets engaging the pallet wheel.  That is why the tick of the 5035/5055 has such a unique sound and is very much like the tick of a mechanical watch, though at one tick per second rather than the eight ticks per second of a 28,800 bph Rolex Perpetual movement.

Was the Oysterquartz the only Rolex watch to have this unique case design?

No.  This angular case design and integrated bracelet was introduced for the Ref 1530 Perpetual Date and the Ref 1630 Perpetual Datejust models. These watches were made in very limited quantities and are extremely rare.

Was the Oysterquartz the first Rolex to have a sapphire crystal?

No. The Rolex Quartz Date Ref 5100, which was the forerunner to the Oysterquartz, came with a sapphire crystal. The aforementioned 1530 Perpetual Date and 1630 Perpetual Datejust models also came with sapphire crystals. The Oysterquartz was actually the third Rolex model to come with a sapphire crystal.

How rare is the Oysterquartz?

It has been estimated that fewer than 25,000 Oysterquartz watches were made, which makes it one of the rarest regular production watches Rolex has ever produced. (To put the number 25,000 in perspective, remember that Rolex made almost one million watches in 2004 and the Oysterquartz was in production for nearly 25 years.)

Is the Oysterquartz a collector's item?

There has been some evidence that collectors are starting to take note of this watch, as prices seem to be on the rise, especially for early models in pristine condition. An Oysterquartz complete with the original boxes, manuals, hangtags, and paperwork will command the highest prices. Also, collectors seem to favor the very early model Datejusts from 77-79, which have dials without "Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified" on them. (All Day-Date models were certified chronometers.)

How much can I expect to pay for an Oysterquartz?

As with any Rolex, the answer depends on the age and condition of the watch. I have seen a completely non-functioning SS Oysterquartz that was in fair condition sell for almost $1000 on ebay. The SS and SS/gold models will generally be less expensive than the all gold models. I have seen SS models sell in the $1500 - $2500 range, with the SS/gold models being similarly priced. The all gold models command the highest prices, sometimes in the $4000 - $6000 range. With any Oysterquartz, having the original boxes, manuals, hangtags, and paperwork will add a substantial premium to the price.  As of the first quarter of 2006, you can still occasionally find NIB Oysterquartz watches at authorized Rolex dealers. These watches can usually be purchased at substantial discounts off the retail price. 

How long does the battery last in an Oysterquartz?

Some Oysterquartz owners have reported batteries lasting as long as five years. Two to three years seems to be about the average life of the battery, however.  Rolex USA replaces Oysterquartz batteries free of charge, and this service includes new gaskets and pressure testing.

Does the Oysterquartz have an EOL (end of life) indicator for the battery?

While some modern quartz movements have EOL indicators for the battery (such as the second hand moving in two-second increments), the 5035 and 5055 do not. The most common "symptom" of a battery nearing its end of life in an Oysterquartz is erratic timekeeping. The typical accuracy for an OQ is +/-2 to 5 seconds per month. If you start getting significantly more drift than this, the battery is probably about to go. 

Should the watch be serviced every time the battery is replaced?

A full servicing every ten to twelve years should keep an Oysterquartz running strong for a very long time. However, Rolex USA recommends that Oysterquartz movements be serviced every five years just like mechanical movements.  This means when the battery does need replacing, if you send your watch to one of the Service Centers, you will probably wind up having to pay for a full service whether the movement actually needs it or not.

NB: Any authorized Rolex dealer should be able to replace an Oysterquartz battery. My Rolex jeweler is Geiss & Sons, and the elder Mr. Geiss has assured me that when my Oysterquartz battery needs replacing, his watchmaker can do it with no problem.

How accurate is the Oysterquartz?

Rolex never made any official accuracy claims for the 5035/5055 movement used in the Oysterquartz. However, sales training materials given to authorized Rolex dealers state: "A variation of no more than one minute per year can be expected."

Were there any substantive changes to the 5035 and 5055 movements over the years?

There was one notable change that took place about eighteen months after the introduction of the Oysterquartz.  The configuration of the quartz crystal was changed to a tuning fork shape.  The earlier movements were known internally at Rolex as Mark I movements, while the later ones with the different crystal were known as Mark II.  All Mark I and II 5055 Day-Date movements were certified chronometers.  Mark I 5035 Datejust movements were not submitted to the COSC for testing.

Some Oysterquartz dials have "Superlative Chronometer" on them and some don't. Were some Oysterquartz models not chronometers?

The Oysterquartz Datejust models that were made in the first couple of years of production are the ones without the chronometer wording on the dial. These watches use the Mark I 5035 movements, which were not submitted to the COSC for "official" testing. All Mark I and Mark II Day-Date movements were certified chronometers, and these models had "Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified" on the dials from the beginning.

The COSC accuracy requirements for a quartz chronometer equate to an annual deviation of no more than 25 seconds. How does that square with Rolex's unofficial claim of 60 seconds per year and the fact that the later Oysterquartz watches were "officially certified" chronometers?

The short answer is that it doesn't square.  The current more stringent COSC requirements for quartz chronometers were put into effect in 2001.  That year Rolex received 573 chronometer certificates for Oysterquartz movements, and this was the last year that they received any certificates for quartz movements. The most logical explanation is that the 5035/5055 movements that were certified in 2001 were "grandfathered" under the old COSC standards (possibly because the movements themselves had actually been made before 2001).

Photos by Jocke. Used by permission.

 



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