Rolex Oysterquartz Review: Unveiling the Iconic Timepiece

The Rolex Oysterquartz is a remarkable timepiece for its unique combination of the quartz movement and Rolex craftsmanship. Often considered “hidden gems” within the world of luxury watches, these timepieces offer a perfect mix of vintage aesthetics and modern functionality, making them a sought-after choice among collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Despite deviating from Rolex’s traditional mechanical movements, the Oysterquartz models have become known for their attention to detail and high-quality construction. With their unique designs and scarcity on the market, these watches offer an intriguing and unique option for those looking for a Rolex that defies convention.

A Brief History of the Rolex Oysterquartz

The Rolex Oysterquartz is a one-of-a-kind timepiece in the brand’s history, distinguished by its quartz movement and distinct design.While it was not the first quartz watch or even the first quartz Rolex, it established and continues to set the standard for high-quality quartz timepieces.

During the 1970s, Swiss watch manufacturers, including Rolex, faced stiff competition from the emerging Japanese quartz watch industry. In response, Rolex introduced its first quartz watch, the ref. 5100, which paved the way for the development of the Oysterquartz series.

Rolex eventually launched the Oysterquartz models in 1977 with two main references, the Datejust, which is the Rolex Oysterquartz Ref 17000 (stainless steel) and the Rolex Datejust 17013 (stainless steel and yellow gold). These watches were equipped with the Caliber 5035 for the Datejust version and the Caliber 5055 for the Day-Date version, designed in-house by Rolex.

The Oysterquartz’s movement makes it one of the most accurate watches Rolex has ever produced, with its precise timekeeping nearly impossible to beat using a mechanical movement.

The Oysterquartz was produced until the early 2000s. Although it never gained the same popularity as Rolex’s mechanical watches, it remains an intriguing piece, representing an important chapter in watchmaking history.

Oysterquartz Rolex history at a glance:

Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust
  • 1970s: Swiss watch manufacturers, including Rolex, faced stiff competition from the emerging Japanese quartz watch industry.
  • 1972: Rolex introduced its first quartz watch, the ref. 5100.
  • 1977: Rolex launched the Oysterquartz models with two main references, the Datejust 17000 (stainless steel) and the Datejust 17013 (stainless steel and yellow gold).
  • 1977-Early 2000s: The Oysterquartz was produced. Although it never gained the same popularity as Rolex’s mechanical models, it remains an intriguing piece, representing an important chapter in watchmaking history.

Rolex Oysterquarts 6-Month Price History

Month

Highest Price (SGD)

Lowest Price (SGD)

Average Price (SGD)

March 2023

9,162

7,799

8,384

February 2023

9,139

8,530

8,849

January 2023

8,541

7,726

8,069

December 2022

8,628

8,009

8,213

November 2022

9,054

8,597

8,787

October 2022

9,057

8,854

8,954

Over the past 6 months, the price of Rolex Oysterquartz watches in Singapore has fluctuated. As of March 29, 2023, the price was SGD 7,875. The highest recorded price in this period was SGD 9,162 on March 10, 2023, while the lowest was SGD 7,726 on January 15, 2023.

Since early March, the price has been generally declining, with occasional small increases. However, there have been a few price surges, most notably in mid-February and early March, when the price briefly surpassed SGD 9,000.

Overall, the price fluctuations of Rolex Oysterquartz watches over the last six months indicate that the market for these watches is relatively stable, but it can experience sudden fluctuations depending on various factors such as market demand, supply, and availability.

Key Features and Technical Specifications

In House Quartz Movement and Caliber

rolex oysterquartz movement

The Rolex Oysterquartz is powered by the legendary Rolex caliber 5035, a high-quality oysterquartz movement known for its precision and durability. Manufactured with great care and attention to detail, this movement helped establish the Oysterquartz as a high-caliber timepiece.

Case and Dial Design

rolex oysterquartz dial design

Featuring a stainless-steel case with a diameter of 36mm, the Oysterquartz is characteristically robust and elegant. Its water resistance is rated at 100 meters (330 feet), ensuring reliable performance under various conditions. The 12.5mm thickness and cushion shape of the case gives it a significant presence on the wrist, adding to its distinctive design.

Bracelet and Clasp

rolex oysterquartz bracelet and clasp

The Rolex Oysterquartz has an integrated bracelet, providing a seamless and comfortable fit on the wrist. The bracelet design reflects the watch’s overall aesthetic, with its angular links contributing to the Oysterquartz’s unique and modern appearance.

Functionality and Reliability

rolex oysterquartz functionality

As a timepiece from the prestigious Rolex brand, the Oysterquartz boasts great functionality and reliability. Its precise quartz movement ensures accurate timekeeping, while the sturdy construction of the case and bracelet provides a long-lasting and durable watch. 

The 100-meter water resistance further underscores its versatility, making the Rolex Oysterquartz a reliable companion for daily wear and various activities.

Pros and Cons of the Rolex Oyster Quartz Watch

The Rolex Oyster Quartz is a unique timepiece with a combination of features that sets it apart from traditional mechanical Rolex watches. Here we will discuss some pros and cons of this watch to help you make an informed decision.

Pros:

  • 50m water resistance: Suitable for everyday use and light swimming, although not recommended for professional diving activities.
  • Magnetic resistance: This helps the watch maintain its accuracy even with strong magnetic fields that can interfere with its mechanism.
  • Thermo-compensated movement: Designed to withstand temperature fluctuations and maintain accuracy in different environments, including high-altitude locations like Mount Everest.
  • Unique design: The Oysterquartz features a special case and integrated bracelet design that separates it from its mechanical counterparts.

Cons:

  • Limited production: Oysterquartz was produced relatively quickly compared to other Rolex models, making it more challenging to find in the pre-owned market.
  • Maintenance: Since it is a quartz movement, the watch will require battery replacement over time, which might inconvenience some owners.
  • Collectability: Oysterquartz may not be as highly sought after by collectors as mechanical Rolex timepieces due to its relatively lower production numbers and unique features.

Rolex Oyster Quartz in the Watch-Collecting Community

The Rolex Oyster Quartz holds a special place in the watch-collecting community due to its unique design and the rarity of quartz movements in Rolex watches. 

Introduced in 1976, Oysterquartz was developed as a response to the growing popularity of quartz movements during that time. Millenary Watches highlights that the watch’s appearance is quite different from other Rolex models, making it stand out among collectors.

Some aspects that make the Rolex Oyster Quartz appealing to the watch-collecting community are its exclusive design and unusual construction. 

The watch’s angular design, integrated three-link bracelet, and flat surfaces are reminiscent of the 1970s style. According to The Watch Club by SwissWatchExpo, the Oysterquartz’s look was inspired by the Rolex ref 5100 Beta 21, designed by the legendary Gerald Genta, who also created the iconic Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

Although the Rolex Oyster Quartz was discontinued over a decade ago, it has maintained its appeal among watch enthusiasts and collectors. Its durability, unique design, and the fact that it represents a departure from traditional Rolex offerings only enhance its collectible value. Designer Watches Online notes that the Oysterquartz is still an attractive, well-built, and reliable timepiece.

Rolex’s Oysterquartz came in two primary models, the Oysterquartz Datejust (with the 5035 quartz caliber) and the Date-Date (with the 5055 quartz caliber). These movements contained 11 jewels and a 32khz oscillator, which took five years for Rolex to develop.

Comparable Watch Models and Alternatives

The Rolex Oyster Quartz is a unique timepiece that combines the precision of quartz movement 

with the iconic design elements of Rolex. However, for watch enthusiasts seeking alternatives, there are several comparable models from other brands and even within the Rolex lineup. Here are some of the notable alternatives.

At a Glance

Watch Model

Movement

Water Resistance

Case Diameter

Material

Bracelet

Price Range (SGD)

Rolex Oysterquartz 

Quartz

100m

36mm

• Steel case

• White gold bezel

• Silver dial

Steel

$9,520 to $13,600

Tudor Heritage

Automatic

150m

42mm

• Steel case

• Steel bezel

• Grey dial

Steel

$3,500 to $5,000

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Automatic

50m

41mm

• Rose gold case

• Rose gold bezel

• Blue dial

Rose gold

$25,000 to $45,000

Steinhart Ocean One

Automatic

300m

42mm

• Steel case (pinkgold coated)

• Black ceramic bezel 

• Black dial 

Leather

$700 to $900

Seiko SARB065

Mechanical Automatic

50m

40mm

• Steel case

• Steel bezel

• Uilloche sunburst dial

Leather

$500 to $700

Note: Prices may vary depending on the condition, rarity, and other factors.

Tudor Heritage is often considered a close alternative due to its similar design features and the fact that it is a subsidiary of Rolex. With its blend of Swiss engineering and style, it can often give Rolex a run for its money in terms of aesthetics and functionality. 

AP Royal Oak is another model that compares well with the Rolex Oysterquartz. The Royal Oak’s octagonal bezel, integrated bracelet, and mix of brushed and polished surfaces share some design similarities with the Oysterquartz.

Watch enthusiasts may also consider affordable alternatives to Rolex watches, such as the Steinhart Ocean One or the Seiko SARB065. Though these models do not have the same design as the Oysterquartz, they offer similar build quality and classic watch aesthetics at a more accessible price point. 

In conclusion, while the Rolex Oysterquartz remains an iconic timepiece, several comparable watch models and alternatives are available for those looking to explore other options or find a more budget-friendly option.

FAQs for Rolex Oyster Quartz Watches

1. Is Rolex Oyster Quartz rare?

Yes, Rolex Oyster Quartz watches are rare as they were only produced for a limited time and in smaller quantities than other Rolex models.

2. When did Rolex stop making oyster quartz?

Rolex stopped making Oyster quartz watches in the late 1990s, around 2001.

3. How long does the Rolex Oyster Quartz battery last?

The battery life of a Rolex Quartz watch can last up to five years, but it may depend on how frequently the watch is used and the conditions it is exposed to.

4. How much is a Rolex Oysterquartz worth?

The value of a Rolex Oysterquartz watch can vary greatly depending on its condition, rarity, and other factors. However, they are generally valuable and can range in price from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

5. How accurate is the Rolex Oyster Quartz?

Rolex Oyster Quartz watches are known for their high accuracy, as they use a quartz movement that is regulated by a quartz crystal. These watches can be more accurate than their mechanical counterparts, with a variation of only a few seconds per month.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

The Rolex Oysterquartz has often been overlooked in the watch-collecting world due to its quartz movement. It is sometimes perceived negatively as a cheap or low-end option for luxury timepieces. However, the Oysterquartz offers a unique blend of design, history, and Rolex quality that sets it apart from other models in the brand’s lineup.

Key Takeaways

  • The design of the Oysterquartz is unique and sets it apart from traditional Rolex timepieces.
  • The Oysterquartz was introduced during the Quartz Crisis as Rolex’s response to the competition from Japanese quartz watches.
  • The Rolex Oysterquartz price range starts from $9,520 to $13,600 or more.
  • Tudor Heritage is a more affordable option compared to the Rolex Oysterquartz, with a price range of $3,500 to $5,000
  • Steinhart Ocean One and Seiko SARB065 are both budget-friendly options, with a price range of $500 to $700. However, it’s worth noting that they do not have the same design or material quality as the more expensive models.

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