Rolex Oysterquartz : The makings of a collector’s watch

By Fabrice Guéroux. One of the biggest misconceptions in the world of watch collecting is that watches with quartz mechanism have relatively little value... This misconception is even more inaccurate when it comes to the only quartz model produced by Rolex, the "Oysterquartz". Let me explain.

What is the dividing line between a vintage watch and a true collector's watch? Its rarity and the excitement that its design, or history, brings to a collector. I sincerely believe that the Oysterquartz has enough qualities to become a true collector's watch.

A few years ago, I was looking at this watch as part of the Royal Oak, Nautilus, Engineer or Oversea collections, and to put things in a nutshell, all those watches that were a bit shunned at the time, with a built-in strap and a "seventies-style" case shape. Nowadays, we can all appreciate what each one has become in the realm of "collector timepieces".

The first quartz watch produced by Rolex dates back to 1970, marketed under the model reference 5100 (better known as "Texano"). Released in a very limited edition with 1,000 pieces in total, it is estimated that 900 watches were produced in yellow gold and 100 in white gold. 1,000 watches were sold before they could even reach the market...

Rolex 5100 « Texano ».©"The Italian Watch Spotter”

The adventure stops here for the moment because this watch was equipped with a Beta 21, used by many brands and Rolex's intention was to develop its first in-house quartz movement. This took a few years (a little less than 7 years). However, with the hindsight and the proliferation of quartz during that period, you might be wondering why it took so long... Rolex was looking for accuracy and above all was looking to develop an ultra-precise, flawless caliber. This is what they did with the 5035 and 5055 movements, which is an innovation featuring an anchor escapement and an anchor wheel. If that doesn't ring a bell for some of you, this movement is identical to their mechanical movements, but powered by a quartz system. A true innovation, and a gamble that paid off!

From left to right: Movements Beta 21, 5035 et 5055

It wasn't until 1977 that Rolex marketed its first watches equipped with these "in-house" movements, the Oyster quartz Datejust (movement 5035) and the Oysterquartz Day-Date (movement 5055). It is worth mentioning that Rolex handed over these models to the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) only after one year, which is why the first series attracted collectors' attention a few years later, since the first series had a very visible feature on the dial. First production: ROLEX DATEJUST lettering on 2 lines and OYSTERQUARTZ at the bottom of the dial (single line). The following generations will have "SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED" added to the bottom of the dial and OYSTERQUARTZ will be placed on top.

Rolex Oysterquartz First & Second Generation

This timepiece has a great history and reputation in addition to its 70's look, and its value as a collector's watch continues to rise.

Among the numerous references for this model (12 in total), there are two that I particularly recommend, not by personal preference but by the "perceived notion" of investment : references 19018 and 19019 a.k.a. the Day-Date Quartz, yellow gold, and white gold.

Rolex Day-Date Oysterquartz 19018 Yellow Gold

These two model references were added to the Rolex catalog in 1977. The Date-Date Oysterquartz caliber reference 5055 is a 100% in-house movement. It was produced in yellow and white gold until 2002.

Model reference 19018 is entirely in yellow gold, and reference 19019 is in white gold making it the rarest because it was produced in lesser quantities.

Rolex Day-Date Oysterquartz 19019 in white gold

This watch is already a collector's item today, becoming increasingly rarer and harder to find in very good condition. It's very important to check out some key details before making a purchase. If everything seems to be in check, you have a good chance of owning a very nice collector's watch that has its place among the best timepieces in the collection in terms of value.

Rolex Oysterquartz Day-Date: how to invest safely

You ll find herebelow a few advices when purchasing an Oysterquartz...

The Case

36mm diameter : The case should be unpolished with visible chamfers. Similarly, the fluted bezel should not have undergone any polishing that would make its original shape disappear.

The finishings around the case

The dial

The dial is a matter of taste, even if similar to the references 1803/8, 1803/9, 18038 and 18039, the Oysterquartz 19018 and 19019 have been marketed with various different dials. They exist in white, champagne, chiseled, burr walnut, "Cherry", black lacquered, matte black dials...

The same rule applies to the case, the dial must be in excellent condition and not present any trace of wear or oxidation.

Image of a white dial "T-Swiss-T" on ref. 19019

The strap

The strap is an important component of this piece. The pieces are rare and are difficult to find. Moreover, this strap is thin and completely different from the one available on steel versions. It is rather difficult to find an Oysterquartz Day-Date with a non relaxed strap. However, this strap will make the difference.

Image of the strap in perfect condition on ref. 19018

The Movement

The movement must be in perfect condition and show no trace of moisture, neither past nor present. It is worth noting that Rolex still has many parts for this model and still provides after-sales service. It is very easy, and much cheaper than for a mechanical watch, to have this vintage reference serviced by them.

Why the Oysterquartz is a collector's watch

As you can see, the closer the watch is to its original condition, the more likely you are to own a collector's item. Plus, the value of this timepiece is going up and up.

It is a collector's watch without a doubt, especially considering that Michael Caine's 19018, estimated at around 20,000 euros, recently sold for more than 150,000 euros... And Sir Michael Caine was not the only one to wear this watch during his career!

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