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I have a Rolex Oyster Perpetual wrist watch. I've had it now for around 12 years. And before you start thinking, "Rich B*****d" let me tell you that I didn't buy it: it was given to me. I was awarded this bit of bling by the American software company for which I used to work, as a 10 year long (that IS long in the IT industry, believe me) -service award. I was even presented it in New Orleans by the founder of the company at the annual company bash. I have worn it ever since.
It looks almost exactly like the one at the top of this page. The big difference is that the back of the watch is engraved with the [then] company logo, as is the bracelet clasp, though that has more or less worn away with use. Were it to be stolen then this alone would make it virtually unsaleable; it also reduces the resale price should you want to dispose of it for spare cash. Nevertheless, a replacement (without the engraving) would currently set you back over £5,000. When I was given it I originally insured it for £3,300, the then going price.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual owes the final word of its name to the internal mechanism which ensures that the watch is always fully wound. It has a semi-circular weight that rotates in sympathy with the movement of your arm and ensures that the spring is always at the optimum tension. From the word, "spring" you will gather than the Rolex is an analogue watch, not a digital one. Rolex, being a Swiss company, made its reputation on the accuracy of its watches, but more of that later.
I have to say that I prefer digital watches, with a digital as opposed to an analogue display. It's strange that not that long ago, all the rage was for purely digital watches. Now, even digital watches have gone back to having analogue displays, even if they have, behind the sweeping hands, digital windows for such as date information. Even Seiko Kinetic watches, which constantly recharge their internal battery by a similar means to Rolex, have analogue displays. I don't understand it!
The Rolex Oyster comes in a variety of forms and sizes. Mostly they are divided into the gentlemen's and ladies' sizes but the body and the bracelet vary greatly in style and composition. The one I have has, like the photo above, a stainless steel body with a gold bezel. The bracelet is also a mixture of stainless steel and gold links. You can, of course, get versions which are all gold.
The face is covered by a crystal which has a bulge over the date window in order to magnify the size of the numbers displayed beneath it. It seems to be very durable as, unlike the rest of the watch, it has never suffered any scratches or other damage. The date window only display the day number, not the day of the week. You can get versions which display both. This, for me, is the biggest drawback to my watch. At my age it's difficult to remember what day it is, let alone what date.
Left unused the watch will run down in about three to four days. To adjust the watch you have to unscrew the knob on the side of the case and pull it out. It comes out in several clicks, indicating the point at which you need to twiddle the knob in order to adjust the time or the date number. I have to adjust the date at the end of any month which doesn't contain 31 days as the watch isn't sophisticated enough to know the difference. The watch appears to be water-proof and I have worn it in the water frequently without it suffering any apparent damage.
The bracelet has worn considerably over time. The mixture of steel and gold links doesn't work particularly well together. The steel components wear away the much softer gold and I have had links which have snapped apart completely because of this. Which brings us neatly to the quality of Rolex's customer service.
I rather get the impression that Rolex and their local agents regard their customers as having money to burn. They obviously think that if you have one of their watches then you must be a millionaire and so fair game for being ripped off. When I took my watch in to have the bracelet repaired I was told, after it had been sent away for examination (few local agents do the work themselves) that it would require a new bracelet and that would be £3,300 thank you very much. Oh, and they would let me have the old bracelet back so that I could recover the value of the gold.
I don't think so!!!!!
Instead I found a local manufacturing jeweller who repaired the bracelet perfectly satisfactorily for just £60! The watch is now, if not as good as new then good enough as far as I am concerned.
The other issue with analogue watches is that they do require regular servicing and this is not the same as installing a new battery in a digital watch! All analogue watches, even Rolex ones, need to be cleaned every now and then, so as to ensure that they continue to keep good time. Rolex recommend that this is done every three years. I've had it done twice so I suppose it's due to be done again. Normally expect to have to pay between £150 and £200 (which is why I haven't had it done too often) for this service and to have to relinquish the watch for a week or two (just to make you feel you've had your moneys-worth).
Having said all this, my watch has given reasonably good service over the years. Currently it is running about five seconds a day fast, which is why it needs a service. However, I would still prefer a digital watch for its greater accuracy, with a digital display for all the additional information and features that they offer.
So, my suggestion is that unless you are filthy rich, have a very generous employer, a rich uncle or a Sugar Daddy, that a Rolex Oyster Perpetual wrist watch is something you can leave on the "nice to have" Christmas list and not feel to aggrieved if no one buys one for you.