Oh hey! I didn’t see you there. Just brushing up on my Rolex terminology. And that’s got me thinking. Rolex terminology is a great primer to understanding the watch industry as an individual. What I mean by that is Rolex has been a master marketer. In the earlier 20th century Rolex would put a watch on anybody’s wrist that was willing to talk about them. A perfect example of that is when a woman by the name of Mercedes Gleitze swam the English Channel. In a swim that took over 10 hours, she had a Rolex Oyster strapped to her neck. And at the end of it the watch still worked perfectly. Now that’s a marketing campaign that Rolex still talks about to this day. And here’s why Rolex terminology is so important. A lot of these terms are trademarked terms of thing that they have created. And a lot of brands end up following suit, whether in naming or just in practice. So, by going ahead and learning some of these Rolex terms you’re kind of giving yourself of jumpstart in the hobby of watches. So, what we have here is about a dozen of the most important Rolex terms. So, what we’re going to do, is we’re going to learn how to speak Rolex.
Up first: Oyster. Now the term Oyster refers to any Rolex watch that is sealed. Originally in 1926 that was the marketing term they used for the first “waterproof” watch. That was the one that was also worn by Mercedes Gleitze that I mentioned, and it is now on most Rolex watches. You will see their term “Oyster”, which means that is a case that has a screw-down crown a screw-down case back and has a certain level of water resistance.
Up next: Perpetual. Now perpetual just refers to any Rolex movement that is an automatic movement. Often, you’ll see on a Rolex dial “Oyster Perpetual.” That means that this watch is both water resistant to some standard AND has an automatic movement. That appears on most Rolex watches.
Cyclops. Now the cyclops refers to the bubble of sapphire that sits over the date. On any Rolex that has the date there is going to be a cyclops. It magnifies the date 2.5X and has become an iconic image for a Rolex watch. And this is a perfect example of where other brands will follow suit. Other brands have magnifiers over their date complications, and what people often refer to that as is the “Cyclops”, and that’s why Rolex marketing is so great because so many of their trademarked terms become ubiquitous in the industry.
Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified
Alright, up next. Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified. Now every Rolex movement does go through the C.O.S.C process, but once they receive those movements back. Rolex has their own standards that they have to meet before they will be call the “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified.” And Rolex loves their trademarked terms, and they love to put this on the dial and let you know all of the technology that is in the watch.
Now up next, Jubilee. Now Jubilee refers to the five-link style bracelet that Rolex released in 1945. This was for their 40th anniversary, and for the debut of the Datejust. And since then many brands have copied that five-link style. Some of them even referring to it as a “Jubilee” style bracelet. But its home is the Datejust.
Alright, so this term is going to be a little dry, but this is a good one. Reference Number. Now reference number refers to the model number of a watch. And Rolex isn’t the only brand that does this nor were they the first to do it, but this is a good way to learn a little bit more about the naming process of a watch. So vintage watches have a 4-digit reference number. After that came a 5-digit reference number. And present day, Rolex reference numbers are 6 digits. So, you can look at the reference number and somewhat date the timepiece, but also each specific digit refers to some of the specifics of that model. For example, a vintage Submariner, 1680, versus a modern-day Submariner, 116610, has some of the same number because of that. But if you were to look at a brand like OMEGA, their numbers designate different things. So, reference number refers to model number, and that’s pretty much across the board.
Rolex Serial Numbers
Alright, up next we’re going to talk about serial numbers. Now serial numbers will differ from a reference number in the fact that every watch has a specific serial number. now these are great because you can start to somewhat date when the watch was produced. Similar to a model number, but with more specificity. Things can get a little complicated though because in the 50s Rolex had topped out their numbers and started over. And then again in the late 80s Rolex started adding a letter to the front of the serial number. And what’s kind of interesting is they started with “R” and then the next year they went to “L” and the next year they went to “E” and then the next year they went to “X.” They skipped “O” of course because “O” and 0 look to similar. Since then there’s not been any alphabetical order in which the letter preceded the numbers, and they eventually stopped in 2010 and went to, what we call, a Scrambled Serial Number. So, it’s a jumble of number and letters, and they claim it makes it harder to counterfeit their watches. But ultimately the beauty of a serial number, to some extent, you can figure when the watch was produced. And this can be great for a number of reasons. It can help you symbolize that important event, but it can also help in collecting, and finding that specific model and all of its intricacies.
Alright, now that we’re done with some of those dry terms. Onto something a little bit more exciting. Rolex Nicknames. Now because Rolex is such a popular brand, and the collecting community loves their models so much, a lot of them have crazy nicknames. So, for example, let’s look at the Kermit and the Hulk. Now the Kermit was the Rolex Submariner released in 2003 for the 50th anniversary of the Submariner. Among other things, what made it different is it had a green bezel. Now in 2010 that was discontinued, and it was then replaced by the ceramic Submariner called the Hulk with the green bezel AND green dial. So even though Rolex nicknames aren’t sanctioned by Rolex, they do a couple of really cool things. First, they let collectors, and people like you and me, talk about Rolex watches in a fun way and kind of highlight some of the things we love most about those watches. but they also allow you to not have to mix up confusing reference numbers. So, if you’re interested in learning more about Rolex Nicknames, we actually have an entire video about just the Rolex nicknames, and I’ll make sure to leave a link in the description.
Hollow End Link and Solid End link
So up next in our Rolex terminology we kind of have a two-parter. And that’s going to be Hollow End Link and Solid End link. Now, the end link refers to the two links that actually connect the bracelet to the watch, and not the entire bracelet. So, a hollow end link is going to be just a bent piece of steel that connects to the watch case, and those can generally be separated from the entire bracelet with something like a spring bar or watch pin.
On the other hand, a solid end link is milled from a single piece of solid stainless steel. It is permanently affixed to the bracelet, and it also connects it the watch head. They generally create a more secure fit. Now we also, actually, have a video comparing these in more and I’ll make sure to link that in the description as well.
Rolex Maxi Dial
Alright, up next is Maxi Dial. Now maxi dial refers to the hour markers and hands of a watch, and they’re just larger, They’re Maxi. And the best example of this is 2003 limited edition Submariner we previously talked about, the Kermit. Now that watch in comparison to a similar model Submariner just has bigger hour markers and bigger hands, and that became known as the Maxi Dial. And is pretty much the standard in Rolex Sport Models now. But what’s really interesting, is after that, Rolex collectors have now gone back and started finding vintage Submariners with larger than normal indices and referring to those as maxi dial as well. So, we can see Rolex terminology kind of infiltrating the entire collecting market, and that’s just fascinating.
So up next is the term Supercase. So, in the 2000s Rolex kind of went through a growth spurt and most models received one of two things. They either larger in size. So, things like the Explorer line, or they just got beefier. The cases got fatter lugs, the got fatter crown guards, and just resulted in a more block’ey case design. And that’s where the term Supercase came from. Now since then most models have kind of gone on a diet and slimmed down and kind of found a happy medium between the Supercase and the predecessor, but that term does refer to a specific set of watch is a specific timeframe.
Alright the next term is Chromalight. Now Chromalight refers to the proprietary luminesce that Rolex uses. And it was released in 2008 and up until that point Rolex lume was green, but now Chromalight is blue. And Rolex claims that blue is actually better for deep sea diving and visibility.
Laser Etched Coronet or L.E.C.
Alright up next is Laser Etched Coronet or sometimes you’ll just see it as L.E.C. And this refers to a tine Rolex crown that is actually laser-etched into the sapphire crystal. You’ll often find it at 6 o’clock on the crystal, and it can be pretty difficult to find, but with a little extra light and some snooping you’ll see it there. And it’s a great way to confirm authenticity of a Rolex timepiece.
Alright so now we’re going to get a little deeper into some of the Rolex encyclopedia terms, but these are definitely still worth knowing. So up first 3135. Now those four number refer to the most ubiquitous caliber that started production in 1988 and is still in production today. For starters it’s in this watch and probably any Rolex you see with a date. Which is most of them.
Alright so the last two terms we’re going to look at give a glimpse into the wonderful world of vintage Rolex collecting. So up first is Tropical. Now tropical refers to the color of the dial, and basically going from black to varying shade of brown. And ultimately what is happening is there was a defect in the paint on the dial and when it was exposed to UV it changed. Collectors really love these tropical dials because first and foremost every one of them is unique, and it kind of speaks to the life that that watch lived. You know, this one maybe was left on a boat for multiple years or this one only came out of the safe when it went on a Sunday walk. Each one of those could’ve been tropical, but they’re going to look different and they’re going to look unique, and collectors love that.
So next. Spider Dial. Similar to tropical this occurred in the mud 80s when Rolex was switching from matte dials to gloss dials. And there was a defect in the lacquer of the gloss dial. And what came of that were dials that ended up cracking. And they gained the affectionate name, Spider Dial. And what’s interesting about dials like this and the Tropical is they speak to something about Rolex. Rolex is so particular, and is so perfect, that in these moments where things like the tropical dial and the spider dial occur, they’re unique, and collectors love those. So, what can be seen as an outside as a problem, actually has become something sought after in the vintage Rolex market, and that’s truly fascinating. So, there you have it guys. A dozen plus terms to get you started in How to Speak Rolex. And we know there could probably be a dozen plus books this size filled with Rolex terms, but what we wanted to do is we wanted to get you comfortable reading about and talking about watches, and Rolex is a perfect place to start. So, if you have any questions throw them down in the comments below. Let’s continue the conversation. Let me know that I need to get a new pair of glasses and what have you. And as always guys thanks for watching.