Speaking Rolex: What are the terms you should know?

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If you can nail down these common Rolex terms, you will have already set a strong foundation for understanding a large portion of the watch industry. By learning the terminology from Rolex, you're jumping ahead of those who might choose a different learning path. An obvious strength of Rolex over its history has been its marketing, so much so that there is a lot of watch terminology that is actually trademarked by Rolex and people use it unknowingly while referring to other brands.

One of these terms is Oyster. Oyster was originally a marketing term used by Rolex when referring to their first “waterproof” watch. The term is often used when the case has a screen down crown and case back, and a certain level of water resistance.

Another term coined by Rolex is perpetual. Perpetual simply refers to any automatic movement. So when you see the words “oyster perpetual” on the dial of any Rolex, they are referring to a water resistant case and automatic movement.

Cyclops is one of the most commonly used terms by watch enthusiasts when referring to the small bubble that magnifies the date. It was actually coined and trademarked by Rolex years ago and has become a prime example for how other brands have followed in their footsteps. Today, every modern Rolex with a date, with the exception of the Deepsea Sea Dweller, has a cyclops, and now everyone refers to this magnification window as a cyclops!

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This term is not the most exciting, but reference number is a term that refers to the model number of the watch. It might be cumbersome at the beginning, but they are good to know and will almost become second nature after some time in the hobby. Rolex did not pioneer reference numbers and pretty much every watch brand has their own reference numbering system. A fun and important fact to know about Rolex that can help you along in the beginning  is the fact that vintage Rolex have 4-digit reference numbers. More recent, yet still vintage Rolexes have 5-digit reference numbers, and present-day models have 6-digit ones. Therefore, with a quick glance at the reference number you will be able to know which time period that timepiece is from.

The next term is just about as fascinating as the previous one, and this is the Serial Number. A serial number is different from a reference number in that it refers to a particular watch, and no other watch will have the same serial number. Years ago, you were able to tell the production year of a watch by the first character in the serial number, but in 2010 that stopped. Going forward, Rolex used what is commonly referred to as a scrambled serial number, which just means it's completely random. According to many timepiece enthusiasts, this was done in a fight against counterfeit goods. It is generally recommended to not share the serial number of your watch and be careful when taking and posting photos of your watch as counterfeiters and con artists might use it for their own gain in some ways that we will not get into here.

You may have heard a few terms for this already, but the most popular version of this happens to also be from rolex. The term is Chromalight, and it refers to the luminescence that Rolex used on the hands and markers. Chromalight and lume are popular terms for describing the light that glows in the dark enabling you to tell the time in low light conditions. Prior to 2008, Rolex used a green lume but has since been changed to Blue as studies have shown it to be better for visibility and deep sea diving.

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