THE RE­LENT­LESS PUR­SUIT OF PER­FEC­TION

Rolex time­pieces are con­stantly up­graded with the lat­est ad­vance­ments to watch­mak­ing

Singapore Tatler Jewels & Time - - Contents - Text Jamie Tan

Rolex is con­stantly chas­ing in­no­va­tion

You don’t be­come The King by ac­ci­dent. Rolex’s claim to the Swiss lux­ury watch­mak­ing throne is undis­puted, and for sev­eral good rea­sons. For a start, there’s its sheer pro­duc­tion vol­ume with ev­ery Rolex time­piece cer­ti­fied as a Su­perla­tive Chronome­ter and backed by a five-year war­ranty. (“Su­perla­tive Chronome­ter Of­fi­cially Cer­ti­fied” is Rolex’s in-house stan­dard, which builds on the chronome­ter cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by Con­trôle Of­fi­ciel Suisse des Chronomètres, an in­de­pen­dent test­ing and qual­ity con­trol in­sti­tute.)

The brand’s un­ri­valled brand eq­uity is another—no other man­u­fac­ture can claim to be as well-known, even out­side of the watch com­mu­nity, let alone have the je ne sais quoi that makes a Rolex so de­sir­able.

One other oft-over­looked fac­tor that has made Rolex so suc­cess­ful is its at­ti­tude to­wards in­no­va­tion. No other brand is quite as re­lent­less in im­prov­ing its watches for bet­ter func­tion­al­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity, and no one else can in­tro­duce changes on the industrial level that it does. What’s more, an im­prove­ment that Rolex makes to a fea­ture im­me­di­ately su­per­sedes the pre­vi­ous one com­pletely.

Case in point: Move­ments. Rolex’s last ma­jor up­date oc­curred in 2015 when it un­veiled the Cal­i­bre 3255. The most sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment over its pre­de­ces­sors is the 70-hour power re­serve—a 50 per cent in­crease— achieved via tweaks to var­i­ous com­po­nents. One of them is the new Chronergy es­cape­ment. With an im­proved geom­e­try, skele­tonised parts, and an off­set an­gle at which the pal­let en­gages, this es­cape­ment is sig­nif­i­cantly more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient than a

tra­di­tional one. An op­ti­mised gear train also helps, as does the new bar­rel man­u­fac­tured with thin­ner walls to house a longer main­spring. Other changes in­clude fool-proof date set­ting, im­proved lu­bri­cants and new anti-mag­netism fea­tures—all for greater con­ve­nience and re­li­a­bil­ity.

Rolex’s work in ma­te­rial engi­neer­ing de­serves a men­tion too. The man­u­fac­ture’s hair­springs of­fer greater re­sis­tance to mag­netism, shock, and tem­per­a­ture fluc­tu­a­tions com­pared to tra­di­tional bal­ance springs, thanks to the use of Parachrom, a pro­pri­etary para­m­ag­netic al­loy, and Sy­loxi, a sil­i­con-based ma­te­rial.

For the watch’s ex­te­rior, its con­stant ex­po­sure to the el­e­ments means that work to im­prove its ro­bust­ness is a must. To that end, Rolex has made var­i­ous changes over the years. Take its Cer­achrom bezel, for in­stance. Its ce­ramic isn’t just harder and more scratch-re­sis­tant than the pre­vi­ously used alu­minium bezel but also cor­ro­sion-re­sis­tant and non-fading.

The bot­tom­line? Any Rolex time­piece that is cur­rently in pro­duc­tion rep­re­sents the lat­est and great­est it­er­a­tion of that model, bar none. The new Oys­ter Per­pet­ual SeaDweller (pic­tured) is a stel­lar ex­am­ple. At 43mm-wide, it fea­tures a larger case than its pre­de­ces­sor and is equipped with the Cal­i­bre 3235, a vari­ant of the Cal­i­bre 3255 sans the day func­tion. It’s equipped with a Cy­clops lens on the crys­tal at 3 o’clock for bet­ter read­ing of the date— a tiny change but it shows Rolex’s fas­ci­na­tion with per­fec­tion.

One may ar­gue that some of th­ese tweaks are over-en­gi­neered and un­nec­es­sar­ily com­plex but only the best will suf­fice for The King.

Rolex watches are made such that they can with­stand ex­treme con­di­tions as many ex­pe­di­tions have shown.

Clock­wise from top left: The Chronergy es­cape­ment—note its skele­tonised parts, which are dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tional lever es­cape­ments; Cer­achrom bezels in var­i­ous colours; The Parachrom (left) and Sy­loxi (right) hair­springs.

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