Through a series of rigorously applied procedures, Rolex ensures that its timepieces shine like no other
At Rolex, gem-setting is viewed as an art-form. Hence, the timepieces have the most of striking of gemstones, a result of the extremely stringent quality criteria adopted by the watchmaker. This ensures that the gemstones received are examined closely and that only the best pass through the hands of the gem-setters and are placed and fixed in a manner that best reveals their beauty, colour and sparkle.
This is a tradition that Rolex has adhered to throughout history. In offering gem-set watches, the brand presents an alternative to existing timepieces, whilst conserving its identity and all its technical features, ensuring reliability, robustness and resistance to magnetic fields and to shocks.
Only the highest quality natural stones are used, thanks to the rigid procedure that is applied. The moment the gemstones arrive at the ateliers – both diamond and coloured stones – undergo rigorous verification procedures. To guarantee the quality of the stones, the gemmologists don’t just rely on their own expertise but apply a range of analysis tools, some of which have been specially developed for Rolex. Diamonds, for example, are systematically tested via X-ray imaging to confirm their authenticity.
The gemstones are also cut in a way that allows light to penetrate through the stones, which will
enhance its brilliance. With diamonds, a wellcut stone accentuates the intensity and number of reflections, even creating rainbow hues. The facets of each of the stones, the result of the diamond cutter’s painstaking work, are then analysed in the gemmology laboratory. At Rolex, only the most translucent, natural gemstones are selected and for diamonds those of the highest category of the grading scales generally used in gemmology – Internally Flawless – are accepted.
Once this process is completed, the next step is for the stones to be set by the gemsetters. Working with the precision of a watchmaker, each stone is set, one by one, onto the watches. To accomplish this, a gemsetter’s craft has to be multifaceted. First, decisions have to made about the colours and arrangement of the stones. This requires a balance to be achieved between aesthetic and technical requirements. Then the case and bracelet engineers are consulted which are necessary to ascertain the future placement of the stones. This requires the preparation to the nearest micron, the gold or platinum into which the stones are set. That means having to determine the precise amount of metal required to hold each st one in place.
At Rolex, gem-setters generally use four traditional techniques. The most frequent is “bead” setting, which is employed in particular for surfaces that are “paved” or encrusted with diamonds. With bead-setting, the stone which is round, is usually held in place by three to five small, bead-shaped pieces of metal.
The second is “closed” setting, in which a metal band encircles the gemstone, holding it in place. There then is the “channel” setting, also known as “baguette” setting. This is used when dealing with baguette-or-trapeze-cut stones, allowing them to be aligned side by side to form a circle, for example, on bezels. The use of these various techniques, combined with the process of sourcing the stones, ensures that the result is of the highest quality.
Rolex’s expertise in gem-setting is captured in the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona presented at Baselworld this year. The new 18k Everose gold version showcases 56 brilliant-cut diamonds set in the lugs and crown guard. The dial is surrounded by 11 baguette-cut sapphire hour markers, each of which matches the colour of the corresponding point on the bezel. The chronograph counters are in pink Gold Crystals, which has a shimmery effect, created through a special process developed by Rolex.
Also a reflection of Rolex’s expertise is the Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31. The combinations include an 18k white gold, fitted with a white mother-of-pearl and a diamond-set bezel. The 18k yellow gold features a malachite dial with a Roman VI and IX in 18 ct yellow gold set in diamonds while an 18k Everose gold comes with diamondpaved dial inlaid with pink motherof-pearl butterflies.
This ensures that the gemstones received are examined closely and that only the best pass through the hands of the gem-setters and are placed and fixed in a manner that best reveals their beauty, colour and sparkle