What’s In A Rolex?

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We’ve all seen and marveled at a Rolex watch – the genius of the movement and the bold execution of the design. But what goes on behind the scenes? And how do these feats of refined mechanical engineering come about? Well, the finished piece is the result of over 200 parts being correctly shaped and placed and then working together in perfect motion, driven by a single spring. This is the unique convergence of science and art, founded upon the interplay between composite parts and materials. When you look at a Rolex you’re seeing the outside of a miniature system – a system which had been pieced together by a skilled artisan who possesses the suitable patience and precision of intellect.

The moment you see a watch movement through a loupe you’re transported to another world, wherein a plethora of wheeling cogs and internal minutiae spins in unison, delivering us our precious time. The workshop of a watchmaker is invariably well-lit and perfectly organised with tidy and smooth surfaces. It possesses the stillness and quietude of a monastery and has high desks, lifted close to the eyes of the watch assemblers, in order to keep their arms and hands steady. These individuals use specialised tools, lubricants and assorted parts, all of which are kept close at hand, to keep the process running smoothly. All day they’ll peer through their loupes and magnify the intricate inner working, or ‘movement,’ of the timepieces they receive. In the case of a repair or servicing they’ll use tweezers, clamps and small screwdrivers to disassemble the watches, before cleaning, lubricating, reassembling and then finally re-calibrating it. The Rolex you wear on your wrist was once scattered across a workbench – nothing but an assortment of minute gears and springs, each of which has to be put in its rightful place with due care and attention. This involves a great amount of time and commitment. There’s no doubt it’s tricky work and everything has to be exact, pertaining to the strictures of science and mathematics. Generally speaking, creativity is reserved for the designers, whereas the process of assemblage requires approach – one of patience and dexterity, which necessitates certain analytical powers, like the ability to memorise where parts have to be placed. For this reason, Rolex employs only the most skilled technicians to service and maintain their fine mechanical watches.

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