Rolex is a brand that distinguishes itself in many ways. It was the first brand to put a date complication on a watch, the first to create a fully hermetic case protecting the movement from moisture and dust, and perhaps the first to have created names for the stuff they use to make their watches. At some point in history, Rolex started buying several of the companies that made parts for them, for example they bought Gay Frères which manufactured the Oyster bracelet so that it became *the* Rolex bracelet. Rolex also started melting its own metals and created its own lume, and therefore the brand attributes unique names to its unique creations. These names can sound strange to those who are not familiar with them.
In this article, therefore, we’ll take a look at some of Rolex’s unique names for materials they use to help you better understand what the brand and watch journalists talk about.
In the Rolex over-engineering tradition, the Swiss brand couldn’t satisfy itself by using simple 316L stainless steel for its sports models like most other brands do. So they started using 904L stainless steel which contains higher proportions of chromium, molybdenum, and nickel compared to 316L. In other words, this means the steel is softer but more resistant to corrosion which is key for those who actually use their Submariners to dive. Because Rolex melts its own steel, it was able to call it Oystersteel. I mean, kudos to them for creating a better stainless steel and for having the idea of giving it a unique name that sounds good when said in the same sentence as Oyster case.
In 2005, Rolex started using Everose Gold as its own take on the rose gold trend that took the Swiss luxury watch world by surprise a few years ago. Just like Rolex created a better stainless steel that has a higher resistance to corrosion, the Swiss brand also makes a rose gold compound that doesn’t fade overtime unlike other rose and pink gold alloys. This is due to the fact that Rolex adds a small amount of platinum—known for being highly resistant to corrosion and tarnishing—as well as copper—which creates the rose color—to prevent fading. All of this means that Everose Gold has a unique hue and sheen that cannot be found on other watches made of rose or pink gold.
You’re going to see a trend here. Ceramic is known for having a superior resistance to scratches, making it a sought-after material to be used on rotating bezels. Rolex, as always, went an extra step and created its own ceramic compound called Cerachrom which makes it easier to create two-done bezels as seen on the GMT Master II, as well as being fully immune to color fading over time. (The “how” this is done remains a mystery to me.) Moreover, Cerachrom bezels are paired with deeply engraved Arabic numerals filled with gold or platinum and then diamond polished to create the super reflective sheen Cerachrom is known for.
Why bother using SuperLuminova lume like every other brand does instead of making your own compound? That was basically Rolex’s mindset when the brand decided to create Chromalight. It’s Rolex proprietary lume compound that glows ice blue, a bit like BGW9 however brighter, and which is said to glow for much longer than SuperLuminova. I honestly don’t know how long the latter glows, however it is stated that Chromalight glows for up to eight hours after a full charge. The only other brand I know that makes its own lume is Seiko with the Lumibrite.
This one doesn’t refer to a proprietary alloy compound like Oyster Steel or Everose Gold. Instead, Roselor refers to any two-tone combination Rolex issues on its watches and is a term that was registered as early as 1933. Roselor could be used to talk about a watch which combines Oystersteel and 18 ct. yellow gold or Everose Gold or even white gold. If tomorrow Rolex was to create a new alloy, then it could be combined with Oystersteel and be called. Roselor. Quite interesting if you ask me.
Lastly, let’s talk about the Parachrom hairspring. To keep things simple, in order to protect movements from the negative effects of magnetism, brands used to envelop movements with a soft iron cage. Iron is a paramagnetic material which basically absorbs magnetic fields. But using a soft iron cage equals making watches thicker. So watch manufacturers and engineers started creating paramagnetic materials for hairsprings and, eventually, Rolex came with Parachrom known for its distinctive blue color. I spared you and myself the details of what it is made of, but now you know what it is.
Although Rolex is not the only brand that creates names for the technologies it develops, it seems to be the one that does it the most. And it seems, at least from what I’ve observed, that some people look down on Rolex for coming up with names that sound a bit too pretentious. However one feels about them, however, we got to admit the Swiss brand has a healthy track record for innovating. If you want to learn more about Rolex’ nomenclature and unique inventions, I recommend reading the following articles from TheWatchBox.