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Watch Education , Watch Videos Video: What Makes a Modern Rolex?

Tim Mosso and Josh Srolovitz are back with their latest video discussing the materials and standards in a modern Rolex. Learn about the in-house metals such as 904L Steel and Cerachrom and how Rolex tests their COSC movements after being certified.

Rolex Qualities


Can’t see the video? Watch it on the Govberg Watches YouTube channel! Or read the full transcription below!

Tim Mosso:
Today we want to talk a little bit about what makes a modern Rolex a Rolex, because Rolex has always been known for refinement. Between any 2 generations, for instance, Submariner, GMT Master, Sea-Dweller, you may not see hugely pronounced differences, but when you compare watches built in the middle of the last century, like the Submariners and GMT Master to contemporary production, all of a sudden, that’s where the quantum leap emerges.

Josh Srolovitz:
Absolutely. It’s part of the reason why Rolex has been considered all these years as the best and the gold standard of watch making, why they are what they are. It’s methods they use to produce their watches. It’s the materials they use, and it’s the lack of—

Tim Mosso:
Need to resort to anything that’s not built in-house.

Josh Srolovitz:
Exactly. Exactly.

904l-stainless-steel-from-rolex

Tim Mosso:
The thing about buying pre-owned Rolex is that you’re talking about, first of all, here’s the proof that a generation ago, make that several, this late 50s Rolex 5508 Submariner was essentially built to a quality such that it could endure to the present day, and that was without any of the refinements that you see on late-model Rolex.

Now, today, you see everything from solid links to alloys that are milled, blended, forged in-house, proprietary ceramic, hairspring alloys. Could you tell us maybe a little bit about Rolex steel, just the most basic level, how that’s different?

Josh Srolovitz:
Another thing that sets Rolex apart, they make their own materials in-house. Everything is done in-house. Instead of using generic stainless steel, like you’ll find on another kind of watch, your refrigerator, you have 904L steel. It’s a higher grade steel. It will not bend. It will not break. It will not shatter. It’s just so well constructed, and it feels so premium.

Tim Mosso:
It is. It’s an exceptional material, and it’s a testament to Rolex spending the money to actually build a foundry in-house and develop it’s own metals. People say, “Well, I’m never going to plunge my hand into boiling acid. Why do I need 904L steel?” The reason you want it is because it holds a polish better and it holds a satin-brushed finish better, meaning the watch looks better longer. That’s really it’s key benefit to you and me.

Josh Srolovitz:
Sure. To touch on the foundry again, not only do they make their own stainless steel, Rolex also took it a step further to produce their own gold. They have a gold foundry in which they produce their yellow, their Everose, excuse me, in addition to their white gold, which is special due to the lack of rhodium plating.

rolesor-material-for-rolex

Tim Mosso:
Conventionally, in the industry, even today, this is a Rolex Cellini print in 18 karat white gold. Conventionally, in the industry today, you’ll see that white gold is typically a dilute milky yellow gold that’s been plated with rhodium or in some cases they’re exceptionally regrettable nickel, and that material will have to be perpetually re-plated every couple of years to restore the luster.

The Rolex white gold is different because it is homogeneous. If you were to scratch it, there’s just more white gold underneath.

Josh Srolovitz:
A step further, it’s also easier to take care of, to polish down the line when you’re ready to do so. It doesn’t have to be re-rhodium plated, and there’s no disassembly required. It’s just done right.

Tim Mosso:
This is one of the keys. Because when you think about pre-owned watches, you are talking about a little bit of wear, a little bit of mileage on the wrist. So choosing a brand like Rolex pre-owned makes a lot of sense, because the watches are built for the long haul.

Again, using only a fraction of the technology they have today, they created these vintage watches that I have right under my hand. These have survived to the present day functional and wearable. Ten, 20 years down the line, these watches of contemporary construction are going to be even better, functionally and aesthetically.

platinum-950-for-rolex

Josh Srolovitz:
The amazing part is these pieces from from ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, they work just as good now as I imagine they did when they were originally sold. They’re tool watches meant to be worn under strenuous conditions. A lot of soldiers wore them at various wars. They’re serious pieces for serious watch people.

Tim Mosso:
Beyond that, you take the essential mechanical integrity of those, there are changes within the watch that make contemporary Rolex references just a cut above. For one thing, like the outside of the watch, the inside of the watch is all Rolex. They make their own overcoil hairsprings, and not just overcoils, but in the case of the Parachrome blue hairspring, for instance, in this in-house caliper Daytona, it’s robustly anti-magnetic.

Josh Srolovitz:
Anti-magnetic, it doesn’t succumb to gravitational pulls as easily, if at all. The amount of friction is extraordinarily reduced. It just has everything going for it. It’s finely tuned. All the detail is there.

rolex-blue-hairspring

Tim Mosso:
Exactly. Sometimes some of these refinements are so faint it’s hard to describe them. But how do you describe the pinion leads of a movement when they’ve been polished to a gleam. How do you describe exhaustive micrometric roulage of the end of pivots. This is what Rolex does. When you open up the caliber case and you see contemporary Rolex, you say, “Okay, it’s well made.”

But now you put it under the microscope, and you start looking at the places where metal touches metal, and it’s on a surgical level or beyond. Everything from their own shock protection built for the movements, their own handmade Breguet Overcoil hairsprings, like Josh explained, resistant to different positions in gravity, with the Parachrome blue alloy resistant to magnetism, with free sprung balances in all cases, and full balance bridges now, so they’re very shock resistant. Plus, there’s the whole matter of actually making sure the watch is a chronometer inside it’s case.

Josh Srolovitz:
Absolutely. In addition to adhering to COSC or C-O-S-C standards, once the Rolex movement is confirmed to be within their specifications, they don’t just case up the watches and ship them out. They actually go through their own testing as well. Just a further testament to their quality, and just why they’re as highly regarded as they are.

Tim Mosso:
Now, Rolex does lead the industry in chronometer certifications, but it’s important to know that most of the manufacturers that do certify movements as chronometers, they send the movement bare. The movement’s certified with the COSC as a chronometer, if it meets the standards. Then it goes back and it’s subject to handling. It’s subject to installation, stressing of the plates as it’s clamped into place, then the case is closed on it. By the time that movement makes it to market, it may be nothing like the caliber that passed the COSC in terms of performance. Rolex makes sure the cased up watch is still a chronometer as it goes to market, and that’s a big distinction.

superlative-chronometer-rolex

Josh Srolovitz:
In terms of the testing they put these watches through before they’re released to the public, some of these Deep Sea Sea-Dweller pieces, the devices they have to actually test these watches to pressures of 12,000 meters, they actually do that. The fact that these watches can withstand that, and are prepared to do that, if you’re prepared to do that, it’s mind blowing.

Tim Mosso:
Now, circling around to here this becomes relevant to the pre-owned buyer, it’s important to note that all of these refinements, everything from the platinum filled Cerachrom ceramic bezels, to the special re-certification of the fully cased watch, to tests down to rated depth for the deep seas, that carries a premium. Rolex is going to be priced above the equivalent Omega, Tag Heuer  or Breitling in its class. But pre-owned watches get you back ahead of the game, and that’s where it really makes sense, because you’re getting this late model technology at a discount.

Josh Srolovitz:
Absolutely. Despite it being pre-owned, it’s one of the safest investments you can make. One could argue that it’s a better investment as pre-owned than it would be as new. When you buy from an authorized dealer who’s backed by the brand, who has an authorized service center for Rolex in house, it just, it’s a great package. The watches are backed with a warranty. Some are even still under the factory warranty with Rolex.

Tim Mosso:
It’s the best way to buy a pre-owned watch. Buy it from the dealer than may have originally sold the watch. In Govberg’s case, that’s often.

Josh Srolovitz:
It is often. We have a lot of collectors who buy watches. They have a lot of pieces here throughout their tenure as a collector. Something new comes out, they need to have it. Despite having had maybe this Daytona or this Sea-Dweller 4000 for just a few months, they’re ready to trade it back to finance their next purchase. The reason they’re able to do so so comfortably and willingly is because these retain their value. They’re worth their weight in currency. They’re commodities, not just watches.

rolex-cerachrom

Tim Mosso:
Rolex, also spelled cash in many markets, is the watch that you can always resell to a willing buyer. Unlike some specialist brands, unlike some newer brands that have just emerged in the last few years, Rolex is an institution. It’s a household name. There’s always a willing taker, whether you’re looking to sell a very vintage timepiece from Rolex, or a late model, you’re going to be able to convert that watch and turn it over relatively quick. If you decide, having owned it for a year, that you’re satisfied and fulfilled, there’s no watch that’s easier to turn around and trade in for something more fun, something new, than a Rolex.

Josh Srolovitz:
For sure.

Tim Mosso:
So it’s important to note, back in the days when these watches were made, you know, the refinements were a historic first. Rolex didn’t invent automatic winding, but it did popularize and perfect it. Rolex didn’t invent the water-resistant watch, but it did popularize and perfect it. Of course, the first watch with a 24-hour hand and a bidirectional rotating pilot’s bezel was the GMT Master in the mid ’50s. Those kind of firsts, those kind of claims to fame, were the domain of Rolex back in the middle of the last century. Today it’s all about science, material, engineering, and just providing that extra measure of refinement beyond the typical watch in its class.

Josh Srolovitz:
Sure, and it’s things you normally don’t see, unless you’re a watchmaker or you’re opening up your watch for some reason. It’s Parachrome hairspring, it’s polished components and movement that make all the difference. It’s a little bit longer of a power reserve in-house chronograph, which sets themselves apart.

rolex-gold

Tim Mosso:
Yes, absolutely. What sets Rolex apart isn’t necessarily a giant exclamation point, a single standout showpiece feature. It’s all of those refinements that add up collectively to an exclamation mark.

Josh Srolovitz:
Every single part of these watches has a purpose. There’s no frills. There’s no nonsense. It’s just, they’re serious watches.

Tim Mosso:
Absolutely. You get what you pay for with Rolex. When you buy pre-owned Rolex, you get that, plus the peace of mind of letting someone else take the depreciation hit, and putting your money into something that can be considered a cash equivalent at any point down the road. Thanks, Josh.

Josh Srolovitz:
Thank you, Tim.

Looking for more on Rolex from Tim and Josh? Check out their last video on the 1950s – Present History of Rolex!

About Govberg Jewelers
The Govberg Jewelers legacy began in 1916 on South Street in Philadelphia, opened by Albert and Sam Govberg. 100 years later, Govberg Jewelers is celebrated as a true Philadelphia icon, bringing exquisite timepieces, beautiful jewels and exceptional service to the people of a city rich in history and tradition. Govberg Jewelers’ collection of esteemed timepiece brands represents one of the largest selections of Swiss timepieces on the entire East Coast and expands internationally.

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