Your Complete Guide To The Rolex OysterQuartz

Rolex OysterQuartz Datejust Reference 17000

Your Complete Guide To The Rolex OysterQuartz

The Rolex Oysterquartz is a very special collection in the Rolex family. Despite the fact that the look of the OysterQuartz is very unusual and outstanding when comparing to other Rolex models, the watch uses a quartz movement that powers the watch.

The watch was first introduced in 1976 and the movement took Rolex 5 years to develop. The Oysterquartz was revolutionary, the precision was better than before, and the movement was the future they believed.

The Oysterquartz was only available in the Datejust version or as a Day-Date in both white and yellow gold. The production lasted for 25 years, and during this time only 25.000 examples were made is speculated, which actually makes the Oysterquartz a rare watch that you don’t come over every day. Back in 1970 and 1980 quartz watches were the new thing and almost every brand started to make quartz watches. Even such a big company as Audemars Piguet had a 97% production of quartz watches.

Even though the watch was believed to be the future, Rolex stopped the production of the Oysterquartz in 2001 and could be seen in the Rolex catalog until 2003. How could such prestigious and luxurious company sell watches powered by a battery?

Here are some interesting facts about the Rolex OysterQuartz.

The beginning of the Rolex OysterQuartz was the Rolex Quartz

Before the OysterQuartz came, Rolex and a number of other brands collaborated to develop a quartz movement known as the Beta 21. The beta 21 was used for approximately 1000 watches by Rolex, where 250 were made in white gold and the rest in yellow gold. The first quartz watch from Rolex was the reference 5100.

The Caliber 5035 was not COSC certified the first 5 years

The movement in the Oysterquartz Datejust is the caliber 5035. In the early production years 77-78 the caliber was not COSC certified ( Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres ). In -79 the movement got certified and the caliber 5035 continued in the Datejusts’ until the last production year in 2001.

The OysterQuartz movement took 5 years to develop

The OysterQuartz movement 5035 ( Datejust models ) and 5055 ( Day-Date models ) took Rolex 5 years to develop. The movements included 11 jewels and a 32khz oscillator.

Rolex started researching quartz movements in the 50’s

Rolex started their research on electronic movements way back in the 1950’s and got themselves their first patent on an electronic movement in 1952.

21 patent Rolex had were issued for electronic watches

Between 1960 and 1990 Rolex is believed to have issued 50 patents for their watches thereby 21 of them were for electronic watches.

Rolex patented one LED watch

In the 1970’s, Rolex issued one patent for a digital watch with a LED screen. The process was taken seriously and a prototype was made and was believed to be called reference 7065.

Rolex continued developing quartz movements

In the last production year of the OysterQuartz watches in 2001, Rolex was believed to have improved the caliber 5035 ( Datejust models ) and 5055 ( Day-Date models ) to a better more precise movement believed to be called 5335 ( Datejust models ) and 5355 ( Day-Date models ). The new movement would include 23 jewels and featured a perpetual calendar. However, even though they had the ability to make a new improved OysterQuartz, Rolex never put the new movement in any OysterQuartz.

The OysterQuartz case was used for mechanical watches

Rolex made a mechanical Datejust known as the reference 1630 for 3 years. The watch had the same case and bracelet as the ordinary OysterQuartz but was running a mechanical movement, caliber 1570. During the production 1976-1978, only 1500 watches are believed to been made making it a very unusual reference.

The OysterQuartz was one of the earliest Oyster-watches with a sapphire crystal

The OysterQuartz was the third Rolex model to come with a sapphire crystal.

The battery of an OysterQuartz lasts up to 5 years

It’s been reported that some OysterQuartz batteries have lasted for up to 5 years, however, the average battery life in the OysterQuartz series is usually 2-3 years.

The accuracy of the OysterQuartz is no more than 1 minute per year

Even though Rolex never had an official accuracy claimed for the OysterQuartz movements, it’s been told that the movement shouldn’t differ more than 1 minute per year.

The OysterQuartz was only made in 36mm

The Rolex OysterQuartz was only made in 36mm during its production.

The OysterQuartz was only made in steel and gold

The Oysterquartz was only made in steel and gold. The Datejust only came as a steel and two-tone version in yellow and white gold while the Day-Date version came in yellow or white gold.

There are 12 different OysterQuartz watches

Rolex produced 12 different OysterQuartz models both for the Datejust and Day-Date version. However, the Day-Date version can be seen with different bracelets, bezels and stone dials.

Here are the references for the Rolex OysterQuartz models:

  • 17000 ( Datejust in stainless steel )
  • 17013 ( Datejust in yellow gold two-tone )
  • 17014 ( Datejust in stainless steel and white gold fluted bezel )
  • 19018 ( Day-Date in yellow gold )
  • 19019 ( Day-Date in white gold )
  • 19028 ( Day-Date in yellow gold with pyramid bracelet and bezel)
  • 19038 ( Day-Date in yellow gold with pyramid bracelet and bezel with 12 brilliants )
  • 19048 ( Day-Date in yellow gold with 44 brilliants on the bezel, 8 brilliants and 2 baguettes on the dial )
  • 19049 ( Day-Date in white gold with 44 brilliants on the bezel, 8 brilliants and 2 baguettes on the dial )
  • 19068 ( Day-Date in yellow gold with 44 brilliants on the bezel, 8 brilliants and 2 baguettes on the dial and a pyramid bracelet )
  • 19148 ( Day-Date in yellow gold with 44 brilliants on the bezel, 8 brilliants and 2 baguettes on the dial, bracelet set with 308 brilliants )
  • 19168 ( Day-Date in yellow gold set with gems on the dial, bracelet, and bezel )

The OysterQuartz has been on the top of Mount Everest

In 1978 Reinhold Messner was the first to climb Mount Everest without using oxygen tubes, on his wrist was a Rolex OysterQuartz.

What’s so special about the Rolex OysterQuartz, and are they increasing in value?

What makes the Rolex Oysterquartz so special? Well, considering the watch only was produced for 25 years, and only 25.000 pieces were made, it’s actually a rare watch At the same time, it is a watch that Rolex isn’t too proud about. Because Rolex takes great pride in making reliable and high-quality mechanical movements, and that is what Swiss watchmaking is all about, but the OysterQuartz is the only model in Rolex’s history to use battery-driven movements instead.

Conclusion

There are split opinions about the Rolex OysterQuartz. Some people absolutely love the aesthetics of the Rolex OysterQuartz with the integrated bracelet in the case, and its iconic shape. They also find the Quartz part of Rolex’s history very interesting, and the fact that while these watches are quite affordable compared to many other Rolex watches, they’re watches that you don’t see around too often, and this is an appeal that many people like, since they want to have pieces that not a lot of people have.

My personal thought is that it’s a very cool piece to keep in your collection due to it being so unique and different from what Rolex is known for – even though its design is notoriously Rolex-like. It’s been noticed that collectors have started to look at models early in the production line of the OysterQuartz and started to collect them, however, since this model hasn’t been too popular during its production years, it’s still a relatively cheap Rolex watch that’s a very unique piece to keep in your collection.

While many people doubt that the Rolex OysterQuartz will ever be a collector’s piece due to the fact that it is a quartz, the OysterQuartz has received more acknowledgment and attention in the last couple of years, and due to the limited numbers of the OysterQuartz Rolexes, it’s not unlikely that they’ll become more rare and attractive in the future.

18 thoughts on “Your Complete Guide To The Rolex OysterQuartz

  1. Very atractive watches, which could an d should be reintroduced, despite some people’s rather snobbish “down” on quartz watches.
    Wilĺ Rolex be doing that, does anyone know whether, or why not?

    1. I agree! The Oysterquartz Rolex watches are quite underrated.

      Never say never, but I don’t think Rolex will ever go that path again. Rolex focuses on craftsmanship, and making a quartz movement isn’t that. The quartz movements and watches tend to dilute the brand as they are cheaper, and people are willing to pay less for them. Rolex is all about long-lasting durability and craftsmanship, but quartz watches don’t simply live up to this.

      1. You mention craftsmanship, but fail to mention this watch has one of, if not the most, over-engineered quartz movement!

        1. Good point! Thank you for your comment, Marco!

          Kind regards,
          Millenary Watches

  2. You failed to mention the Rolex 5100. The first Rolex Quartz watch

    1. Thank you for your feedback! It has been added!

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

  3. I must say I am intrigued by the quartz movement having been made by Rolex. I’m a mechanical movement lover through and through but this has my attention.
    Agreed, it’s not for everyone but it’s a Rolex and I’m sure it will stand the test of time.
    I am very close to pulling the trigger on a 17000 model and could very easily see it as a daily wearer. This review has been most helpful – many thanks

    1. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts! Glad you found the article helpful.

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

    2. Do it! I have owned 2 now, and absolutely love them! Would love to get my hands on the mechanical version one day, but that’s another story!

  4. Too bad that Rolex did not move on to develop their quartz watches any more. they have had so many innovations in watch industries that i can only imagine what kind of quartz watches we could have now.
    Luckily there is such a like Grand Seiko. They are so superb and high end quartz

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

      1. Hi. I have just acquired a 1981 Oysterquartz Datejust in bi-metal – so ref 17013. This also features a white dial with Roman numerals. In fact this particular one has what is known as a Barkley dial and is fairly rare. I love the watch, with its iconic angular case/bracelet design. Just the right size, elegant and, hey, no need to worry about winding! The watch came with full box/papers from a respected UK retailer and in my view was good value at a little over £5k. This was my fist quartz purchase since, er, 1988, but better late than never!

  5. Hi. I have just acquired a 1981 Oysterquartz Datejust in bi-metal – so ref 17013. This also features a white dial with Roman numerals. In fact this particular one has what is known as a Barkley dial and is fairly rare. I love the watch, with its iconic angular case/bracelet design. Just the right size, elegant and, hey, no need to worry about winding! The watch came with full box/papers from a respected UK retailer and in my view was good value at a little over £5k. This was my fist quartz purchase since, er, 1988, but better late than never!

    1. Thanks for sharing! It is a beautiful watch!

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

  6. Hi, I have owned my 17000 since 1993 2nd hand and really enjoy wearing it. I have had it serviced a few times where it comes back gleaming like new. Downside is biting the bullet on the £100+ every couple of years to send it off to Rolex for a new battery but then you don’t put remoulded tyres on a Rolls Royce. Love the bracelet, the sound of the ticking movement when it is silent at night too. Shall not part with mine and thanks for the comprehensive review. James

    1. Thanks for sharing James!
      The Oysterquartz is truly a special watch and a historically important model from Rolex.

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

  7. I purchased my 17013 in 1981. Solved the expensive battery replacement by getting a tool to open the back. This also let me take my time and regulate the time to within about +15 sec. a year! My dial does not have the chronometer certification but only says “Oysterquartz”. I have a GMT II for daily wear and it is nice to know that whenever I want to put on my ‘dress up’ oysterquartz I know the time will be right!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience! Congratulations on two stunning timepieces.

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

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