The Rolex Oyster Perpetual was in reality the first waterproof self-winding watch ever produced, but not the first self-winding. Harwood produced the first self-winding watch in 1928 and the iconic Rolex Oyster Perpetual was introduced by Rolex in 1931. This interesting timepiece was only produced for a little bit over two decades and then phased out when the first Explorer prototype was launched in 1952. Rolex has always been known for having some of the most resilient timepieces in the market and the most water tight due to its design. In reality there's no other workhorse and more robust timepiece than a Rolex. Tight as a clam or an oyster shell, the water resistance in any Rolex can only be guaranteed if the gaskets are in good shape and if the screw-down crown is properly secured. This time, we are featuring a Rolex Datejust ref. 16264 Turn-o-graph fitted with an 18K white gold 'Thunderbird' bezel and powered calibre 3135 circa 1993 with water damage. This particular watch is a perfect example of what water can do to a watch when the crown has been left opened and subsequently the watch has been stored without knowing that water has entered the case. A few months later, the owner of this particular Datejust sadly discovered its watch in the condition depicted by the following images. The watch had been damaged and the movement corroded by seawater.
Upon close inspection by a Rolex certified watchmaker, an even when the balance wheel bridge and balance wheel did not get rusted, the movement inside this Datejust is completely trashed and a candidate for a complete new movement overhaul. As you can see in these images, the level of corrosion after a few months is almost unfathomable. While many would think that this watch can be fixed at a reasonable amount, the reality is that a service bill to repair this timepiece exceeds the actual value of the watch in the pre-owned market. Even if you want to sell this watch in pieces, you'll end up coming with a major loss.
Ladies and gentleman, make sure those crowns are tightly secured whenever you are exposing your Rolex timepieces to water environments and don't forget to service your timepieces on a regular basis to make sure that those gaskets are in good shape, properly lubricated but most importantly, that the watch has passed the proper pressure tests to avoid water damage like this.
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