Since the Rolex brand’s conception in 1904, they have been pushing the boundaries of watchmaking. From the first waterproof case and automatically changing date display to the general aesthetic of their watches, the impact that Rolex has made on the watchmaking industry is enormous. Below we will discuss a few of the most interesting designs to come from the iconic Swiss watchmaker.
The Cosmograph Daytona Dial
The Rolex Daytona is the official timepiece of the Daytona Speedway and the highly coveted prize of the 24 hours of Daytona. While it was initially developed with space travel in mind, hence the name Cosmograph, it didn’t take long for the Daytona with its sporty aesthetic and ability to measure incredible speeds to find its place among the face-paced world of professional driving.
As it goes with almost any timepiece, the dial is often the most fascinating aspect of the watch, and the Daytona is no different. Three subdials sit just below the central hands, giving the brand’s iconic chronograph its signature motorsport aesthetic. The subdials are usually presented in a contrasting tone for easy reading and display the chronograph, or stopwatch, functions of the movement. Two of the three dials display elapsed time in minutes and hours, while the third dial displays the current seconds. The actual second’s hand that runs from the center of the dial remains stationary until engaged by the wearer to begin the stopwatch feature.
The Paul Newman dial is, perhaps, the most notable of all the Daytona dials and is characterized by a “Tri-tone” dial with contrasting registers and red accents. The art deco font used on the numerals in the subdials themselves is what sets the Paul Newman apart from other vintage Daytonas. These variations are incredibly rare, but fret not, modern tri-tone dials are available on the market without the signature art deco font and at a much more obtainable price.
Reading Multiple Time Zones with the GMT Master/II
Rolex collaborated with the Pan American Company when they created the GMT Master in the 1950s. The intention was to develop a timepiece with dual-time capabilities, a feat that was achieved by equipping the case with a rotatable 24-hour bezel. A dedicated GMT hand was also added to the dial and, in early models worked alongside the other central hands. The GMT Master II debuted in 1983, bringing with it a slightly more sophisticated movement that allows the wearer to adjust the GMT hand independently of the other hands. This update allows the wearer to read a third-time zone.
The first GMT Master came with a bright red GMT hand with a luminous arrow tip. This feature remained a constant until the newest generation of pilot’s watches debuted in the 2000s, displaying the hand in a bright green hue on the first 6-digit references and in blue on the highly coveted Batman 116710BLNR variation.
The Submariner and the Waterproof case
While the Rolex Submariner was not the first waterproof watch – the first waterproof Oyster case was invented in 1926 – it is by far one of the most notable. The Submariner was officially released at Basel World 1954 and offered a depth rating of either 100 or 200 meters. The design of the case was refined over the next several decades, eventually providing a waterproof guarantee up to 300 meters or 1,000 feet. The concept behind the Submariner would lead to the development of other dive watches by the brand with an even greater depth rating, including the Sea-Dweller (1,220 meters) and the Deepsea (3,900 meters).
The Submariner can attribute most of its waterproof capabilities to the addition of a screw-down crown, which offers three sealed zones to seal the case hermetically. Despite offering such an impressive feature, the case itself retains a traditional 40mm diameter and a sleek profile on the wrist, save for the newest generation of Subs that boast a slightly more robust case.
The features showcased in this article are just the tip of the iceberg. To explore even more fascinating Rolex designs visit Bobswatches.
- Largest Swiss companies in the watchmaking industry
- Business Watches For Men: What To Look For When Dressing The Part