My first time with a Rolex
For as long as I can remember, when asked a statistical Pole, “what is the best watch in the world?” , he replied “Rolex”.
Of course, this is not true, but the marketing that the company has been using since the first years of its existence has done its job and in the minds of people who don’t delve into the subject of watches and watchmaking, the word Rolex is associated with the absolute top of the prestige pyramid of watch brands.
I remember when my late uncle asked me the same question. I was about 13 at the time. Imagine my surprise when, after my – statistical – answer, I heard “well, no.” It was the first time I heard about Patek watches and from that moment I decided to become the owner of a watch of this brand one day. I am chasing the bunny all the time, but for a moment I decided to stop at the watches of the brand, which arouses extreme emotions in enthusiasts of watches and everything related to them.
I was enjoying my collection when a friend knocked on the door of my office one day.A few weeks earlier, I had bought a fairly unique watch model, which I had been hunting for quite a long time. It was JeanRichard Aquascope Hokusai. Of course, like me, I gave in to my friend’s persuasion and sold him the watch. And at that moment something let go of me. I decided to sell most of the watches in my collection and become a two-watch man (the Orient World Time is a keeper forever).
The resources I had at my disposal would have been enough for Patek, but only vintage models, the case size of which resemble today’s women’s watches, were involved. I decided to stop halfway and test the phenomenon of Rolex watches for myself.
As many of you know, the demand for this company’s watches has increased to an absurd level and buying a new one in a store is bordering on a miracle. That’s why I decided to buy an aftermarket watch. The first choice was a 39mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual with a Dark Rhodium dial.
The good economic situation and the opportunity to sell with a considerable profit meant that I sold the watch after less than two weeks. I only lasted two days and became the owner of the same model, but with a black dial, which you can read about below.
How much quality is there and how much marketing in Rolex watches? I will try to answer this question as objectively as possible.
In a cardboard box with an embossed crown, there is a green box with characteristic waves, closed in a rectangle. Below that wave is the gold Rolex logo. After opening the box, we see a light, delicate material lining the interior.
The inner part of the cover is signed with the brand name and logo. Additionally, it is opened, which makes it an ideal place to store the warranty card and proof of purchase. The whole thing gives the impression of a very good workmanship and in fact it is.
Oyster is the most popular and distinctive type of case for Rolex watches. Its origins date back to 1926, and the name comes from an oyster. It was one of the first wristwatches to be fully dustproof and waterproof. The Rolex OP 39 case is made of 904L steel, which differs from ordinary 316L stainless steel for greater corrosion resistance. And that’s about the differences, although I have the impression that in the case of polished surfaces, the effect of obtaining a mirror surface is better in my opinion in cases made of 904L steel.
The width of the case without the crown is 39 mm and to tell the truth I was afraid of this size. The circumference of my wrist is 19.5 cm and the standard for me is a 42-43mm case. 39 mm in the case of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is a completely different number on paper and different in reality. This is due to a rather narrow bezel that optically enlarges the entire watch and quite long lugs, which are 47 mm in total. The sides of the case and the bezel are fully polished. The upper surface of the lugs is brushed, which in my opinion contrasts nicely with the mirror surface of the sides and the bezel.
At 3 o’clock there is a logged crown that is screwed down. Despite its small size, its operation is comfortable. When pulling the crown back, you do not feel the slightest slack, which increases the feeling of communing with a high-quality timepiece. Interestingly and rarely found in Rolex watches, after screwing the crown all the way in, the logotype placed on it fits perfectly parallel to the case surface. With dozens of watches with screwed crowns, I have encountered such a case for the second time in my life. Previously, this watch was JeanRichard Hokusai.
The bottom is a simple, screw-on cap with characteristic, dense cuts around. This is a standard at this manufacturer and probably a Rolex with a transparent caseback will never be made.
It is also worth mentioning the thickness of the case, which is only 11.5 mm and thus contributes to the comfort of wearing. The downward contoured lugs also have an impact on the wearing comfort. After testing over 100 different watches on my wrist, I have no hesitation in calling the OP 39 one of the most comfortable watches I have come across.
As mentioned, my first Rolex of the same size had a Dark Rhodium-colored dial. On the one hand, the watch looked quite interesting and the sunburst added to the attractiveness. On the other hand, on a sunny day, reading the time was quite a challenge, because this dial reflected light to a large extent, which resulted in poor legibility. The turquoise squares above the hourly indices, on the one hand, made the look more attractive and eliminated boredom, but I had mixed feelings about their placement, because I associated them with the dials of famous brands painted in India. Perhaps these are too far-reaching associations, but I could not get rid of them, so without hesitation I gave it to a friend from one of the groups on Facebook page.
I decided that the next Rolex I buy would have a black dial. It seems to me that the black color of the dial is the most universal one, it suits practically any styling. Initially, the Oyster Perpetual line in the 39 mm size was available in four colors: purple, olive green, bright blue and the gray mentioned above.
The black dial model premiered a few years later, in 2018. The main difference was the return to the subdued look of the dial. The colored squares above the indexes have been replaced with white ones. The indices themselves also changed, as 11 of them were filled with Superluminova’s luminous substance (in earlier versions there were only three of them). We look through the dial through the sapphire glass, strongly protruding from the bezel.
The dial is subdued, but has a delicate sunburst effect, thanks to which in strong light it changes its shade, gently shimmers and falls into a shade of gray. The applied indexes are fully polished, and the quality of their workmanship is phenomenal. As mentioned above, they were filled with Superluminova luminescent mass. The arrangement of the Luma inside the indices is perfect. Luma “catches light” quite quickly and gives it quite intensively and for quite a long time.
At twelve o’clock there is a crown made of white gold. In my opinion, the 12 o’clock replacement logo is a great solution and I like it visually much more than the triangle at the same hour on the Explorer and Air King models.
Below the crown is the inscription Rolex Oyster Perpetual, and below the axis of the hands we find information that the watch is a certified chronometer. The hands are simple, but so profiled that the light refracts beautifully on them. The center was filled with the same luminous mass as the indices. All the elements on the dial are perfectly made and look great even at high magnification.
The watch is operated by the automatic caliber 3132 with a 48-hour power reserve. The balance works with a frequency of 28,800 strokes per hour and is equipped with a Parachrome spring, patented by Rolex in 2005. It is made of an alloy of niobium and zirconium. It is the second element that is responsible for the blue color of the spring. But not the color of the hair is important here, but the resistance to the electromagnetic field. Thanks to the innovative approach to this element of the movement, the manufacturer is able to guarantee a time deviation of max. 2 seconds a day. I can confirm that this is the most accurate watch I have dealt with. The movement also features the famous burgundy winding wheel, characteristic of Rolex movements. The inscriptions on the movement are gilded, and the bridge and other elements have been pearled.
We can only regret that the manufacturer did not attempt to break the internal rules and did not use a transparent case back through which you could admire this movement.
I associate Rolex watches with the attachment on a bracelet. It is no different with the OP 39 model, which we get with the bracelet. The bracelet is completely satin finish, it fits perfectly with the upper surface of the lugs. The full end links fit perfectly between the lugs and there is not the slightest play between these elements.
The bracelet narrows from 20 mm by the lugs up to 17 mm when fastened. Thanks to this procedure, the watch is extremely comfortable to wear. The clasp is logged, and the Oysterclasp system makes it easier to unfasten the bracelet. An additional advantage is the micro-adjustment of the clasp, although I regret that the Easylink patent was not used here, thanks to which we do not need a tool to adjust the length. However, it is Rolex’s lowest model, and it’s not difficult to see why the Easylink use was not included in this model. The links of the bracelet are connected to each other with one-sided screws.
It is one of the most comfortable bracelets I have dealt with, and its apparent simplicity perfectly captures the spirit of the Oyster Perpetual watches.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 watch surprised me very positively. The execution of individual elements of the watch is at the highest level. The watch is very comfortable in everyday use. Exactly! It is the perfect watch for any occasion. Thanks to the simplicity on the dial, we can put it on with a suit, and after a while we can jump into jeans and a T-shirt and the watch will still perfectly complement the outfit – this time casual. Previously, I was looking for this model in size 41, which has a movement with a 70-hour power reserve and is theoretically 2 millimeters larger. Theoretically, because it turns out that the width of the case in the alleged model is not 41 but 39.6 mm. Considering the composition on the dial, the version appeals to me more 39 mm because it has evenly spaced indices (version 41 has double indices at 3,6,9 hours).
If I had the Oyster Perpetual 39 model in a few words, I would use the following phrases: the most boring, the most readable – just a painfully correct watch in the world.
And maybe that’s the phenomenon of Oyster Perpetual watches?
Is the watch worth the price? In my opinion, each mass-produced watch should cost up to 15 000 PLN; any price above this amount is a payment for brand recognition, its history and broadly understood marketing. It is no different with Rolex, which over the years has become the most recognizable brand of watches in the world.
A few words about the current situation …
Recently, you can see a huge jump in the popularity of Rolex watches. This situation is dictated by the recent events related to the pandemic and the uncertain future of currencies. People started buying luxury items, seeing them as an investment for the future.
Due to the popularity of the brand, this trend did not bypass Rolex of course. Additionally, the company’s management decided to cut production by 20 percent, which only increased the demand.
The Oyster Perpetual 39 is the perfect model to start your Rolex adventure with, although it is no longer available in dealerships, it can now be easily purchased on the aftermarket. Prices start from PLN 28,000 for a model from the earlier collection – with colored dials, and end up at PLN 40,000 (as of May 2021). There are no indications that these models will ever drop price, as the manufacturer has now focused on the sizes 36mm and 41mm. While there is no problem with the availability of 36-millimeter models, 41-mm watches are in great demand, and prices on the secondary market are slowly approaching 40,000 PLN.