Commonly known to be the first "Waterproof Watch", the Rolex Oyster is undoubtably one of the most widely popular names in the world of wrist watches.
1 - Rolex did not create the first Water Resistant Watch…Widely acclaimed to be the first Water and Dust Resistant Watch, there are examples of water resistant watches dating back to the 1850’s.
According to a great blog article on vintatewatchstraps.com, at the Great Exhibition of London in 1851, a pocketwatch from W. Pettit & Co. was displayed in a glass globe filled with water and fish.
One of the first Water Resistant Wrist Watches was from François Borgel which dated back to the 1890’s as well as the Submarine Watch by Tavannes in the mid 1910’s.
2 - How Rolex was able to accomplish Water Resistance with the Oyster…
What prevented most wristwatches from having water resistance was the crown and stem. With the invention of the screw down crown, it gave Rolex the ability to seal the case for true water resistance. But the screw-down crown wasn’t invented by Rolex. In fact it was invented by Paul Perregaux and Georges Perret.
The were granted the patent in May of 1926. It was in July 1926 when Hans Wilsdorf purchased all of the rights to the patent and had it assigned to him. Wilsdorf then Registered the patent in Britain, Germany and the United States.
3 - Rolex didn’t create the first "Diver’s Watch"… OMEGA Did.
Wilsdorf’s desire to have a water resistant watch wasn’t intended for swimming and diving, but more for everyday wear to avoid damaging Rolex Watches from perspiration, rain, and dust.
Omega created the first Dive Specific and Water Resistance-tested wristwatch. The Omega Marine.
They Didn’t have to come up with an alternative to the screw down crown or purchase the rights to it from Rolex because the Omega Marine was a watch that slid into an additional outer casing.
4 - The Rolex Oyster wasn’t Hans Wilsdorf’s first attempt at a waterproof and Dustproof Watch.
In 1922, Rolex introduced the Submarine, a watch with a second outer case to protect the workings of the watch. Although it was waterproof and dustproof, the watch wasn’t practical.
The outer shell had to be opened everyday to wind the watch. In doing so, it weakened the metal gasket that sealed the opening which would’ve quickly rendered the system useless.
5 - Was Mercedes Gleitze the First Celebrity Watch Brand Ambassador?…
In October of 1927, English Swimmer Mercedes Gleitze became the first English woman to swim across the English Channel. During her swim, she wore a gold Rolex Oyster around her neck.
Rolex pounced at the opportunity to boast about the ruggedness and water resistance of the Oyster by taking out a full page advertisement in the Daily Mail.