Rolex Watches Goldsmiths
Above is a superb and early Rolex Oyster wristwatch dating to the mid 1930s. For me, this is exactly the time period when wristwatch design started getting serious; this watch has a robust case and bold clear dial, it’s light years away from the early wristwatches of the 1910s and 1920s and shows how far things had come in such a short time. Hans Wilsdorf, the co-founder of Rolex, was quite rightly thrilled with his Oyster case invention and, following its introduction, Rolex spent a fortune advertising its merits.
The invention of the Oyster case was a game changer for the wristwatch market. The importance that Rolex gave to their Oyster models was such that many of the early versions were stamped ‘Oyster Watch Co’ to the inside case back (see photo above left); so too, the winding crowns were marked ‘Oyster Patent’ to their ends (see photo above right). Bearing in mind Rolex itself was a young company at the time, it seems that, at least for a while, Oyster as a ‘brand’ name was as important to Rolex as the Rolex name itself.
This particular wristwatch is branded ROLCO which is a truncation of ‘Rolex Company’. The ROLCO brand name was registered by Rolex on 15th September 1927. The broad blued steel hands are beautifully and boldy shaped, their design, traditionally known as ‘moderne’, was strongly influenced by Art Deco tastes. The dial carries the retailer’s name of the Newcastle based Northern Goldsmiths. The Northern Goldsmiths company was founded in 1877 in Clayton Street, Newcastle; in 1892, the Northern Goldsmiths moved to their impressive towered building at 1 Blackett Street, where the company can still be found today.
The movement’s ebauche was supplied to Rolex by Beguelin & Cie who, along with Aegler, supplied movements for some of Rolex’s early production watches. Their signature stamp BTCo can be seen stamped to the top plate of the movement under the dial (see photograph detail above right).
Although mid-sized at 30.5mm in diameter, this is a chunky watch and the thick lugs and bezel, combined with the bold applied Arabic numerals and broad blued steel hands, create the impression of a much larger watch. This is the archetypal early sport’s wristwatch and represents a design ethos that was to prove so successful for Rolex in the decades that followed.