The anatomy of a Rolex


Oyster case

Oyster case

Unparalleled protection

This is our Oyster case, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch case, conceived by Rolex in 1926 and patented. A one-of-a-kind feature, which holds within it an intricate world of cogs and minutely crafted parts. Made of some of the most refined alloys, the Oyster case is incomparably resistant to all sorts of external aggressions.

Yet no object so hermetic, so immovable, has ever opened the door to so many possibilities. With its original patented design consisting of a bezel, a case back and a winding crown screwed down against the middle case, it profoundly changed the course of watchmaking history and set new standards of waterproofness for all wristwatches. To this day, the Oyster case continues to protect our watches and our movements within them. It stands as undeniable proof of our constant quest for reliability.

Oyster Case
Helium Escape valve

Helium escape valve

Safety in depth

This is our helium escape valve. Patented in 1967, it protects our watches designed for extreme diving. Rolex invented this valve so that the helium used for dives in hyperbaric tanks could be released during decompression.

The valve triggers systematically when the pressure inside the watchcase is too high. Thus, the hermeticity of the watch is never compromised. Indispensable to human beings when saturation-diving, helium is a noble gas, but an intrusive one. Its atoms penetrate anything. Even watchcases, through its seals, no matter how airtight they may be. And if they are not dealt with swiftly enough during the ascent, the internal pressure can cause the glass to pop, therefore affecting the integrity of the case, and impacting the performance of the movement. That is why we invented this self-regulating system, which today consists of a hermetic cylinder, a piston, a seal and a spring. Because to us, when it comes to depth, the true feat lies not only in the descent, but in the journey back to the surface.

Helium escape valve
Ringlock system

Ringlock system

Under pressure

Our Ringlock system, introduced in 2008, equips our diving watches designed for extreme depths. It is a unique and patented case structure which can withstand the colossal pressure of the abyss. In turn, let us dive into its distinctive three-layer architecture.

First comes a slightly domed sapphire crystal no thicker than a few millimetres. Deeper, we encounter a highly resistant compression ring made of nitrogen-enriched steel. Then, deeper still is found a RLX titanium case back. In the wake of our original Oyster case, the first milestone in our mastery of waterproofness, the Ringlock system is the expression of a conviction and an ambition constantly reaffirmed. To us, as unforgiving as it is, pressure is a catalyst in our quest for perfect hermeticity, pushing us to take our mastery of waterproofness even further. And if we’ve managed to make it an ally, it is to enable you to reach for new horizons.

Rolex Watchmaking Know-how

Excellence in the making