Last week while we were visiting our friend Howard Frum and taking some pictures for the story we published last Friday, we were amazed to find not one but two Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust ref. 1630s at his store. An amazing find of a true 'rare bird'.
The 'rare bird' Rolex ref. 1630 was introduced a few years earlier than the Oysterquartz as its predecessor —at least from a case and bracelet standpoint. While the stainless steel version of this watch was named Oyster Perpetual Date ref. 1530, the two-tone version bears the name Oyster Perpetual Datejust ref. 1630. Interestingly enough, the case diameter on both watches is 36mm and not 34mm and 36mm respectively as it typically happens between a Date and a Datejust.
The ref. 1530 was fitted with an integrated 'Oyster' bracelet while ref. 1630 came with an integrated 'Jubilee' bracelet. A timeless and very 'Gerald Genta' looking design that would later be adopted by the Rolex Oysterquartz. As you can imagine, very few 1530s and 1630s were made in the 1970s.
For this particular timepiece, the reference number marking is located on the back of the case right behind where the 1 and 2 o'clock markers would be located on the dial. The serial number marking is typically located on the opposite side from where the reference number is engraved. The serial numbers for this model fall within the 5.1 and 5.4 million range.
This Rolex ref. 1630 came fitted with an integrated 'Jubilee' bracelet code 96673 in 14K yellow gold
and stainless steel. The main difference between the two-tone bracelet in the Oysterquartz ref. 17013 and this one, is that the bracelet on the Oysterquartz comes with two gold center links while the bracelet on the ref. 1630 has three gold center links. It is very common to have unscrupulous sellers replace the bracelet of the ref. 1630 with the one on the ref. 17013 so be very careful. The clasp is identical to other Rolex clasps and the clasp code shows the letter B —circa 1977 and correct to the time period of this watch— and the number 14 indicating the type of yellow gold in this bracelet is 14K.
Another difference —besides the obvious difference in movement and dial imprint that doesn't say Oysterquartz— between ref. 1630 and the Oysterquartz, is the presence of a flange with a minute and half minute track. Something worth mentioning, is that ref. 1530 came with a minute track flange with the same layout as the one one on the second picture. As far as we know, all original flanges on ref. 1630 show the minutes and half minutes, while service replacement flanges only show markers for the minutes.
Without a doubt, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust ref. 1630 is one of the most iconic watches of all time and a clear example of an era influenced by flat top cases and Royal Oak inspired designs. Long live the Rolex ref. 1630.
If you find one of these rare references, make sure you have done your homework and always, always buy the buyer.
Pre-owned Sticker Price $3,800-5,000 USD depending on the condition. For more info on Rolex click here.