Introducing The Quintessential Rolex Oyster Perpetual Buying Guide - Chrono Hunter
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Introducing The Quintessential Rolex Oyster Perpetual Buying Guide - Chrono Hunter

Introducing The Quintessential Rolex Oyster Perpetual Buying Guide - Chrono Hunter


Welcome horophiles, watch collectors and Rolex lovers! Have you ever found yourself compelled to read into the history and intricacies of the first ever timepiece with an automatic movement? Today’s timepiece will have your brain ticking. 

We suggest you read on…

Released in 1926 when Queen Elizabeth II was born and Greta Garbo appeared in her first movie, The smooth-bezel Rolex Oyster Perpetual was introduced with more fanfare than one of Donald Trump’s court appearances. We hasten to add it was the first ever waterproof watch, which would later be worn by Mercedes Gleitze when swimming across the English Channel. 

Nowadays, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is a highly functional collection that retains its classic durability, alongside a vibrant array of colourful dials. These include the famous Stella dials and its fair-share of precious metal numbers.

For this article, we will cover everything you need to know about buying a Rolex Oyster Perpetual, including the timeline of events, history, how the watches have evolved such as the bezel type and materials, the most popular watches to date, including their prices, and other burning horological questions that are on the tips of your tongues.

So, without further hesitation or repetition, allow us to cover everything you need to know about the Rolex Oyster Perpetual. But first…a little background check.


History Of The Rolex Oyster Perpetual

Unveiled in 1926, the history of the Rolex Oyster started with being the very first timepiece resistant to water and dust. Its “Oyster” title was earned via the hermetically sealed case, offering maximum protection for the movement and delivered high performance chronometric precision.


Mercedes Gleitze, Source - Countryfile

Just one year later, the Rolex Oyster took to attaining an impossible feat around the neck of a young English swimmer named Mercedes Gleitze. In 1927, The British born record-breaker swam across the length of the English Channel and returned with the Rolex watch intact and the movement fully functioning. 

That very same year, the success of Mercedes Gleitze allowed Rolex to kickstart what would be called their “Testimonee concept”. Here, Rolex celebrated the incredible achievement of the Rolex surviving such a treacherous trip, by publishing a full-page ad on the front page of the Daily Mail.

Daily Mail Spread - Source - Rolex

With the brilliance of the Rolex Oyster already breaking records and revolutionising the horological industry, they decided to step it up a notch with the sensational Perpetual movement. 

Released in 1931, Rolex patented the world's first self-winding mechanism with a perpetual rotor. Now the blueprint of every automatic watch to date, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual represented the pinnacle of technical innovation during this era. 

In the space of two years from 1933 to 1935, Rolex achieved two more achievements, with the Rolex Oyster Perpetual at the forefront of the successes. In 1933, it was flown over Mount Everest on the wrists of pilots David McIntyre and Stewart Blacker.

In 1935, Rolex was worn by racing car driver Sir Malcolm Campbell. He drove the experimental Bluebird vehicle which promptly set a land speed record of around 300 MpH. What was he wearing? That’s correct…the smooth-bezel Rolex Oyster Perpetual of course!

Preceding what was to be the Rolex Explorer, perhaps the most famous event in Rolex history resulted in the Rolex Oyster Perpetual being taken into the most strenuous conditions was the Mount Everest ascent. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit with the Oyster Perpetual watches strapped to their wrists. 


Summarised History Timeline

  • 1926 - Rolex Oyster collection is born
  • 1927 - Rolex Oyster crosses the English Channel
  • 1931 - Release of the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual 
  • 1933 - Rolex Oyster Perpetual flies over Mount Everest
  • 1935 - Rolex Oyster Perpetual worn by Sir Malcolm Campbell in land speed record.
  • 1953 - Rolex Oyster Perpetual climbs up Everest on the wrist of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. 
  • 1956 - The Oyster Perpetual Day-Date was released in 1956 and fitted Cyclops eye to magnify the date.
  • 1960s - New 31mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual is released
  • 1986 - Rolex Oyster Perpetual uses new sapphire crystal as opposed to acrylic. 
  • 2012 - Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller is released with an annual calendar and Saros functionality. 
  • 2014 - New case sizes in 26mm, 31mm, 34mm and 36mm
  • 2019 - New Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39mm case size unveiled.
  • 2020 - The 26mm is replaced by the new 28mm while the 39mm is replaced by the 41mm case.
  • 2023 - Optimised ball bearing added to oscillating weight as well as ‘Chronometer Perpetual’ and ‘Superlative Adjusted’ engraved on both oscillating weight and bridges.


Features of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual

There are a number of key elements that tend to make up most Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches. 



The watch cases tend to be crafted out of Oystersteel. This is Rolex’s patented alloy that originates from the 904L steel family. Typically associated with the aerospace and chemical industries, the material ensures the watches are anti-corrosive and maintain a spectacular case lustre throughout their lifetime. 

Reference 124300 - Source - Rolex

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These Rolex watches are available in 28, 31, 34, 36 and 41mm case sizes that feature a domed bezel. The “Oyster” case ensures excellent water resistance and durability, totalling 100 metres of water resistance via the screw-down twinlock crown and screw-down caseback. 



All Oyster Perpetual watches are fitted with the durable Oyster bracelet. Combining form and function, the bracelets originally saw their release in the 1930s and the design has remained true to this day.

124200 - Source - Rolex

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Composed of three flat links, the bracelets are secured with an Oysterclasp and an Easylink comfort extension link for up to 5mm extra width on the bracelet. 



The watches are supported by a perpetual rotor movement as per its original release back in 1931. The perpetual rotor was a phenomenal innovation within the movement that utilised an oscillating rotor that moves in both directions when the watch is moved and subsequently winding the movements mainspring. 

276200 - Source - Rolex

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For the current Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches, they are powered by two specific calibres


3230 Calibre

Housed within the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41mm and 36mm case sizes, the 3230 movement made its debut in 2020. These self-winding movements are fitted with the perpetual rotor and boast several patents that combat magnetism, enhance precision and have a weekend-proof 70 hour power reserve.

2232 Calibre

The 2232 movement was originally unveiled in 2020 and is built into the rest of the case sizes. This self-winding mechanical movement utilises a Syloxi hairspring for excellent resistance to magnetism, optimal chronometric performance and a fantastic design that means the watches movement is around 10 times more precise than your standard hairspring. 


Evolution Of The Rolex Oyster Perpetual

Four Digit References

  • 10XX
  • 66XX


The original Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches were fitted with the 645 and 1030 movements. Originally, the movements were adopted from Aegler and the Rolex watches were modified to fit an automatic rotor on the back. 

Reference 6293 - Source - Christies

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Well, this baby got back…“Bubbleback” that is due to the large casebacks of the pieces. This would be the integral design that took its inaugural expedition up Mount Everest in 1953. The watches featured either fluted bezels or engine-turned bezels and were built onto steel, rose gold and yellow gold cases.

The precious metals tended to feature Jubilee bracelets, while the steel versions opted for classic steel bracelets.


Five Digit References

  • 142XX
  • 671XX
  • 672XX
  • 761XX


The five digit reference was the first change of the acrylic crystals to the sapphire crystals. 

Reference 14233 - Source - Rolex Forums

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As dramatic as Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower in Dallas, this was the first change from the collections, especially since the sapphire crystal is so revered for its durability and legibility. Nevertheless, the watches retain their fabulous Oyster bracelets. 


Six Digit References

  • 124300XX
  • 126000XX
  • 124200XX
  • 277200XX
  • 276200XX
  • 114300XX
  • 116000XX
  • 177200XX


In 2014, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual underwent a revolution. Featuring brand new case sizes from 26mm, 31mm, 34mm and 36mm, one year later in 2015, Rolex brought in a fresh 39mm case size, fitted onto an Oyster bracelet. 

114300 - Source - Rolex Forums

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Featuring new in-house movements like the 3130 from the 36mm and 34mm case sizes as well as the 2231 movement for the 31 and 26mm case sizes, the movements utilise the Bleu Parachrom hairspring which offers around ten times more precision than standard hairsprings. Now that’s what we call accuracy.


Current Watches


  • 124300
  • 126000
  • 124200
  • 276200
  • 277200


The Oyster Perpetual current collection has a vast plethora of diverse styles and design codes. 

276200 - Source - Rolex

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In the current day, some of the case sizes have ceased production. These are the 26mm ladies and 39mm mens case sizes that have been discontinued, leaving a still-solid range of case diameters, totalling 28mm, 31mm, 34mm, 36mm and 41mm. 

Crafted out of Oystersteel, the watches are fitted with the classic Oyster bracelet and look sublime in their 904L steel case and fitted with smooth bezels. These models tend to be powered by the 3230 or the 2232 movement, depending on the watch being male or female orientated.

Both are still very desirable due to their excellent COSC certification and first rate precision of -2/+2 seconds per day. 


Most Popular Rolex Oyster Perpetual Watches


Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm - 126000

The Oyster Perpetual 36mm was released in 2023 with a fresh play on the traditionally quite conservative Oyster Perpetual 36mm reference 126000. 

126000 - Source - Rolex

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Nicknamed the Bubble dial, it is sized at 36mm with Oystersteel case watches that feature a polished, smooth bezel alongside brushed lugs. Secured by an Oyster bracelet that was originally released in the 1930s, it has retained the same style and elegance throughout its lifespan. 

The fresh aesthetic comes in the form of a new dial style. Nicknamed Dubbed “Celebration”, the dial is available across the 31, 36 and 41mm case sizes. The dial features a lacquer turquoise blue shade and was originally released in 2020. 

Do you know your Bart Simpson from your Pussy Galore? Check out our in-depth article on the best Rolex nicknames.

Featuring a variety of “bubble” styles from candy pink, coral reds and green shades, the dials represent much more interesting aesthetics than their predecessors, and represent Rolex’s adherence to an incredibly colourful and exciting horological world. 

Within the watches pulsates the phenomenal 3230 movement. This has a fantastic -2/+2 second per day precision, alongside a 70 hour power reserve supported by a Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers. 

You can buy a Rolex Oyster Perpetual at retail for a price of around £5,300 as of June 2024. 


Rolex Oyster Perpetual 1002 - Sheikh Adbullah Al-Jaber

Representing one of the first ever Oyster Perpetual references released by retailers, the 1002 has all the vintage charm of what makes this series so epic. However, this is exceptionally exclusive due to its links to Arab royalty. 

Source - Christies

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Only three other Rolex watches have been spotted in public with the signatures of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on the dial. He was a member of the house of Sabah, the ruling family of Kuwait. Known for his great benefit to the country by improving the standard of education, the Oyster Perpetual 1002 was made in his honour…smooth bezel and all!

The vintage reference 1002 was released by retailers between the 1950s and the 1960s, and is only available in steel, or gold. Given an Oyster bracelet and tropical dial with steely hour markers and hands, the signature is spotted beneath the hands in black print. 

While this Rolex is certainly not available at retail, the pre-owned watch sold at a Christie’s auction in 2021 for around a price of £13,700. 


Rolex Oyster Perpetual Stelline 6062

The 6062 reference is inherently rarer than the Yeti due to it belonging to the original, vintage 4 digit references. However, this edition is very rare due to its Stelline associations. 

Source - Christie’s

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Owned by legendary watch collector and CEO of Continental Airlines, George Bethune, he sourced this extremely rare, pre-owned 6062 and became just the fourth owner of the watch. 

Continuing on from the launch of the Oyster Perpetual case in the 1940s, the watches became varied and innovative to celebrate the incredible innovation. As vintage as the three TAG Heuer watches worn by Ryan Gosling in Barbie, the 6062 was released with a pink gold 35mm case, full calendar and moon-phase indication. This sits alongside an in-house automatic movement. 

Introduced at Basel Fair 1950, the watch represented the only other timepiece with a triple calendar, alongside the Padellone 8171. Reference 6062 receives its Stelline title due to the matte grainé silvered finish, blue date scale and pink gold stars as well as blue champlevé enamel on the moon-phase. 

Along the top is a smooth bezel, pertaining to the luxury of the pieces, alongside a brown leather bracelet.  

This pre-owned beauty sold at a Christie’s auction in 2023 for a cool price of £1.9 million. 


Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm 126000 - Stella

The Oyster Perpetual 36mm 126000 is a gorgeous play on the classic Stella dials of the 1970s, when glam rock and Dr. Martens were all the rage. 


Source - Rolex

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Demonstrating a vast array of fabulous dial colours from rich coral reds to light turquoise shades, the hues remain consistent in the modern era, especially on the fabulous Oyster Perpetual 36mm 126000 - Stella. 

Crafted out of Oystersteel, these radiating Rolex watches are inherently very durable, and produce a fantastic lustre when polished. This is especially the case along the smooth bezel, but the beautiful brushed finish along the lugs. 

This similarly works along the Oyster bracelet which features all brushed links. Boasting a screw down crown and caseback, this particular Oyster Perpetual produces a 100 metre water resistance which can competently deal with some light water sports activities. 

The dials utilise a turquoise blue dial, attained via applying layers and layers of lacquer against a brass plate. This is varnished and then polished to produce a brilliant shade whilst allowing the baton hour markers and hands to clearly stand out. 

Powered by the 3230 movement, there is a top notch -2/+2 seconds per day precision, 70 hour power reserve, and a movement supported by a Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers. 

You can buy a Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 Stella at retail for a price of £5,300 as of June 2024. 


10 Things You Never Knew About The Rolex Oyster Perpetual


  1. It directly followed the Rolex Oyster, the first ever waterproof timepiece - The waterproofness of the watches were obtained via the fluted bezel that screws the bezel into the middle case, a Twinlock crown that is fitted with two gaskets to prevent water leakage, and the solid caseback to counteract water entering.


  1. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual housed Rolex’s first ever automatic movement - Invented by Rolex in 1931, the Perpetual, self-winding movements are operated via the prominent mainspring being under constant tension, wound by the movements of the user's arm. It then slowly unwinds in order to create the power for the movement.  


  1. The first watch to ascend Mount Everest was the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Bubbleback - Sir Edmund Hillary joined expedition partner Tenzing Norgay to become the first people to climb Mount Everest in 1953. Edmund Hillary wore the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Bubbleback, a variation of the Oyster Perpetual that was fitted with a rounded case to accompany the unusually thick movement and rotor. 


  1. Almost all Rolex watches are part of the Oyster Perpetual Collection - Lines such as the Daytona, GMT-Master and Submariner form this in some way or another. However, it is not a part of the now discontinued Cellini line. The Oyster relates to the waterproof case and the Perpetual relates to the automatic winding movement, while every Rolex watch uses these two components. 


  1. All modern Rolex Oyster Perpetual timepieces are Superlative Chronometer certified - Superlative Chronometer certification relates to Rolex’s highest award for accuracy. This relates to the strenuous checks that Rolex conducts to ensure the quality of the movements, including its performance, waterproofness and power reserve. 


  1. Sir Malcom Campbell wore an Oyster Perpetual when he broke the land speed record back in 1935 - Sir Malcom Campbell has become a symbol for record-breaking, including breaking more land and water records than any other person in history. He wore a Rolex Oyster Perpetual when he broke the land speed record in 1933, reaching 272 MpH at Daytona Beach when he drove the Bluebird vehicle…wearing an Oyster on his wrist.


  1. Design codes of the Oyster Perpetual have remained exceptionally consistent - The Oyster Perpetual echoes and remains loyal to its original design codes. While the fluted bezel has changed to smooth, the circular framing remains, alongside the dials with baton hour markers and Rolex emblems at 12 o’clock.


  1. Rolex revolutionised the dial design in 2023 with a fresh bubble aesthetic, nicknamed the “celebration” dial - The Rolex Celebration dial is a fresh motif from 2023 that uses various bubble sizes in rich colours. These lacquered dial types were originally introduced in 2020, and colours like turquoise, coral red and candy pink are showcased. 


  1. Rolex once bought an entire front page of the Daily Mail newspaper to boast their achievement of swimmer Mercedes Gleitze swimming across the English Channel - On November 24th 1927, Rolex took over the front page of London’s Daily Mail showcasing its achievement of Mercedes Gleitze swimming across the English Channel with a Rolex Oyster.


  1. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is the most accessible Rolex in terms of size. - Due to its availability and variety of sizes, encompassing 28mm, 31mm, 34mm, 36mm and 41mm, there are around 30 iterations of the Oyster Perpetual. Available in a range of colours, bezels, and sizes, what was originally capped at vintage case sizes like 26mm, 31mm 34mm and 36 mm sizes, has now evolved into a more modern 39mm case size in 2015. 


Frequently Asked Questions


Is a Rolex Oyster Perpetual A Good Investment?


Rolex has the special ability as one of the top luxury Swiss brands, to produce phenomenal resale prices and be top investments. This is primarily due to their phenomenal level of demand and exclusivity that easily counters their one million watches per year supply. 

After all, this is the brand that yields a 30% plus retail market share of the Swiss horological marketplace, alongside a record breaking 10.1 billion Swiss Francs sales price from 2023. Investment worthy? Absolutely! 

The Oyster Perpetual, both old and new, has earned itself its prestigious title as one of the go-to collections for investment-minded horophiles interested in the blueprint of all Rolex watches to date. 

Crafted out of Oystersteel on the case and Oyster bracelet, and capable of 100 metres water resistance, the watches offer Rolex’s patented Chromalight display for optimal legibility in all conditions.

Housed within is the new 3230 or 2232 movement, delivering unparalleled chronometric performance. Or should we say Superlative Chronometer certification, the combination of COSC certification alongside METAS and Rolex’s very own certification?

The brilliance of its patented Oystersteel material ensures that the watches are extremely durable, and produce a stunning lustre. This works in conjunction with the exceptional movements that utilise Rolex’s similarly patented tools like the Syloxi hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers, making these fantastic investment pieces.


What Is The Most Sought After Oyster Perpetual?

It all depends on how vintage or new you are looking for when you buy a Rolex Oyster Perpetual. 

For example, an in-season Oyster Perpetual Turquoise may be the best bet for those interested in a sought-after new Oyster Perpetual. Combining the Tiffany style dial shade of the turquoise colours, its Stella dial inspirations from the 1970s make this a go-to watch for most horophiles and enthusiasts looking to kick start their collection. 

However, some of you will be wanting the real deal. Worn by none-other than Hip-Hop legend, Kendrick Lemar during the 2023 Grammys, he pulled off the vintage Oyster Perpetual 41mm Tiffany Blue, secured with an Oyster bracelet. 

This highly sought after watch could easily be a grail watch for some due to its associations with the New York Jewellers, Tiffany. The collaboration originally started in the 1950s and has since resulted in a legendary accent alongside the sought after Tiffany & Co stamp on the dial. 

Featuring the spectacular 3230 movement, there is a 70 hour power reserve, and Superlative Chronometer certified accuracy for good measure. 


Does Oyster Perpetual Hold Value?

Like most other watches from their catalogue, the Oyster Perpetual has the ability to retain its value over many years due to its associations with the evergreen horological brand. Enduring and dateless, it has a range of phenomenal vintage watches that can even blow over the £1 million mark at resale!

For watches that tend to perform well, you need to look to the pre-owned original and older versions that come in precious metals, or have an element of exclusivity associated with them. 

The vintage, 18K gold Oyster Perpetual 6062 from circa 1952 is a great example as it uses precious metals in its materials, and the watch dial features the very rare Stelline aesthetic in the form of a moon-phase indication at 6 o’clock. 

This pre-owned example sold at a Christie’s auction in 2018 for a price of around £1.2 million. 


How Long Does Rolex Oyster Perpetual Last?

Most Oyster Perpetual watches are designed to last a lifetime, regardless of whether it’s pre-owned. Built out of the highest quality materials and fitted with movements that are protected by a long list of innovative patents, they are crafted with endurance, technical brilliance and longevity in mind, including the solid casing and bracelet. 

It’s estimated that you should service your pre-owned or new watch every 5 to 10 years for optimal performance, but the chances are that your watch will be durable enough to withstand even longer. 

Should we say Rolex is the ultimate heirloom? Maybe!



The Oyster Perpetual will definitely not be a disappointment to you horophiles. Following on from the classic Oyster from way back in 1926, the Oyster Perpetual represented the first prominent innovation from the house of Hans Wilsdorf. 

Still continuously ticking, the watches have been subject to a range of changes over the years, resulting in the highly modernised celebration dial in 2023, a collaboration piece with Tiffany, and a range of motifs like palm leaves. The collectability of the collection has never been higher.

The Oyster Perpetual holds the special triumvirate of being practical, durable and effortlessly stylish, as well as being phenomenal investment pieces. Everyday watches simply do not get more beautiful, or useful. Typically, they offer the basics, including standard timekeeping, but the earlier Stelline watches do offer moon-phase complications… If you can get your hands on such a desirable vintage novelty! 

With investment potential that supersedes an Omega Speedmaster on one of its lunar expeditions, The Oyster Perpetual is by far one of the most desirable and enticing collections produced to date. If it’s new, vintage or pre-owned, they are always valuable and as evergreen as a Christmas tree!

So, where should you go to purchase such a thing of beauty? There’s only one solution to all your timekeeping desires.

Hang on a tick…


Want to buy a Rolex Oyster Perpetual quickly at the best possible price? Or, perhaps you want to sell your Rolex to achieve maximum value? Then turn to Chrono Hunter to get you on track. Contact us today and let our expert team assist in landing you your dream watch or helping you put your first step onto the horological ladder.

Whether looking to buy a watch or sell a watch, our trusted network of luxury retailers are the best in the business. As the go-to platform, authenticity is guaranteed along with peerless service, fast turnaround and 100% security for every purchase or sale 

Talk to us today for a quick no obligation quote if you want to sell, or discuss your needs if you are looking to buy.


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Further Reading: 

The Must-Read Rolex Buyer's Guide - Chrono Hunter

5 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Rolex


Buy Or Sell A Luxury Watch The Smart Way With Chrono Hunter

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