The Oysterdate first appeared in the 1960s and remained one of the brand’s least famous series until it was eventually interrupted in the late 80s.
Easily disrupted with the Oyster Perpetual and Oyster Perpetual Date ranges, the Oysterdate is actually something of an oddity in the replica Rolex canon. The lack of a ‘Perpetual’ label in its name points to the fact that it was one of the incredibly rare examples from the crown that was not chronometer certified. To obtain chronometer status, a fake watch has to experience some special unforgiving tests for accuracy at the COSC, The Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute. Only those proving to keep exact time between -4/+6 seconds a day can wear the badge.
On the contrary, the Oysterdate has ‘Precision’ marked on its dial—a small, easily missed detail beloved by hardcore watch collectors.
The other distinction that really sets the Oysterdate apart from just about everything else that has passed through the fake Rolex gates is the fact that it is, and was always, a manually-wound timepiece. Surprisingly, for the company that invented the perpetual, self-winding movement, the Oysterdate was never fitted with an automatic caliber, even towards the end of its run in the 80s.
It is exciting that a watchmaker as progressive as Rolex kept a manually wound movement on its books until so recently. Even the Daytona, with the understandable excuse of needing a far more sophisticated chronograph engine, was granted the El Primero in that decade.
However, the fact is that its straightforwardness only adds to the Oysterdate’s charm. In an ever-more automated world, there is a real fascination in doing something as nostalgic as winding a beautifully made watch.
For the burgeoning collector of vintage watches, it can represent the first buy-in to the brand, a model that manages to be very affordable and easily found on the pre-owned market, but so unfamiliar amongst even knowledgeable enthusiasts that it’s unlikely you’ll come across many in the wild.
It appeared with a number of different colorful dial options over its two-decade lifespan, with blue, silver and black being by far the most prevalent. Look hard enough and you’ll come across versions set off by yellow gold accents on the indexes and hands as well as the crown logo.
The Oysterdate watch is one such a special watch. As just about as basic as a Rolex could be, it still has the brand’s faultless lineage behind it. Whereas some models in the lineup shout for attention, the Oysterdate’s sparse design barely gets above a whisper.
Modest in both size and style, it’s a watch for those who want an unassuming, reliable timepiece with an impeccable pedigree and are content with being the only ones who know it’s a Rolex.