Rolex's New Patent That Nobody Knows: Integrated Bracelets and Quick-Release?

Rolex's New Patent That Nobody Knows: Integrated Bracelets and Quick-Release?

Recently, the Everest team discovered a patent application by one ROLEX SA that nobody seems to be talking about. The application, filed in October ‘22 and published in May ‘23, describes an attachment device for securing a strap/bracelet to a watch case. The document contains drawings of integrated bracelets and language describing quick-release straps of various materials (leather, rubber, metal). It even details the potential use of magnets to install and remove straps. Is Rolex venturing into the world of quick-release straps? Does the design require any tools to use? We’ll get into all of that and more, but first, let’s understand the concept itself.

What Is Rolex’s New Patent?

Rolex's New Bracelet Patent

Image Source: founderslegal.com

Simply put, this design is a pin-and-bore attachment system. The connecting element (11 in Figure 1) contains retractable pins (1 in Figure 1) that extend into bores (21a in Figure 1). These bores are lined with inserts (5 in Figure 1) to reduce frictional wear. The design’s ingenuity lies in its versatility. The connecting element can take on any number of forms: a metal bracelet link (as in Figure 1), an extension of the watch case itself (as in Figure 6), or “the connecting element can be integrated into the end of the flexible wristband [rubber or leather], preferably in a manner that is totally or partly concealed”, as per the patent application. In short, this attachment system is designed to work with almost any type of strap, bracelet, or watch.

Spring Bars

Image Source: ablogtowatch.com

Reducing frictional wear is a big focus of this design. When you think about a traditional lug-and-springbar system (pictured above), springbars slowly wear down on lug bores, of course depending on the watch’s material (mostly an issue for softer precious metal watches). Rolex’s proposed attachment system uses inserts as barriers between pin and case, preventing frictional wear on the watch case itself (and introducing a consumable part that Rolex can charge for). These inserts “may advantageously be made of a sintered ceramic or of a composite material. . . or a polymer (a thermoplastic for example)”, as per the patent application. The pins are also “preferably made of ceramic, particularly in sintered ceramic”, as per the patent application.

How do you retract the pins? Is it toolless? Well, as of right now, the design requires the user to unscrew a screw (4 in Figure 1) and use a tool “such as a pin or tweezers” to retract the pins, as per the patent application. However, the document states that “Of course, any other means or tools enabling actuation of the two pins may be envisaged, such as magnets, for example”. This tells me that Rolex will absolutely develop a toolless iteration of this design. After all, the document states that a major objective of this design “is a user-friendly solution for fixing a wristband to a watch case”.

How Might Rolex Use This Design? 

Rolex Oysterquartz watches

Based on my understanding of this patent application, the sky's the limit. In typical Rolex fashion, we’ll likely see this design rolled out very slowly. It clearly has applications for metal bracelets (Oyster, Jubilee, President), rubber straps like the Oysterflex, and even leather straps like that on the Perpetual 1908. Furthermore, Rolex went out of their way to illustrate an integrated bracelet design (Figure 6), which could mean that we see the first integrated-bracelet Rolex since the Oysterquartz references of the 1970s (discontinued in the early ‘00s). With time, this design could unify Rolex watch straps, bands, and bracelets, allowing user-friendly removal and installation across models. 

I’ll let you take on the speculation from here. If you’d like to read the full patent application document, visit https://ppubs.uspto.gov/pubwebapp/ and search “17/974,352”. Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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