Originally Posted by padi56
Not quite yet the mainsprings are still outsourced but during the RWC now Rolex early period many different types of watches were made rememeber Rolex in the early years were not watchmakers but buyers/sellers, and then Rolex did not have complete control over their now fully owned movement factory, they were only a minority shareholder. The full name of the company tells the story "Aegler, Société Anonyme,Horologies D Excellence Fabrique des Montres Rolex & Gruen Guild A.," this means, in translation, Aegler incorporated, manufacturer of Rolex & Gruen Guild A Watches. At this time ownership of the factory was split between three parties, Herman Aegler (movements only), (Hans Wilsdorf of now Rolex, RWC watch sales) and the Gruen brothers, Frederick Gruen and George Gruen.Now Aegler manufactured movements for both companies, who then sold the completed branded watches in their respective territories; Wilsdorf of Rolex, throughout Europe, Asia and the British Empire; whilst the Gruen brothers sold in the USA only. This arrangement worked well until Rolex acquired the patent for the the Oyster case and screw down crown system; now they had something very new and special which they wished to sell all over the world, not just in their limited territory. However the three way partnership prohibited Rolex from selling their products with Aegler movement in the Gruen brothers' territory (and vice-versa).
So Hans of Rolex being a very clever and shrewd man, took a sideways move and fitted their new Oyster cases with a movement from FHF (Fontmelon)factory just down the road from Gruen and then tried to find a US distributor. They came across the firm of Abercrombie and Fitch,this was then a store specialising in sportsman's' equipment; whether you wanted to go shooting in Africa, fishing for salmon or trout around the world, Abercrombie and Fitch was the place you went for all your sporting equipment. Everything from fishing rods to double barrelled shotguns could be found under their roof. As the sportsman's store they seemed the ideal place to sell the first oyster watches, which were already building a reputation as the sportsman's watch. It may have seemed the ideal place but it did not work out that way, firstly because Rolex sold the cheaper down-market version of their watches in a high end store, and also because Abercrombie & Fitch did not advertise the watch sufficiently.
Now these Abercrombie & Fitch watches are probably the rarest of all the cushion case oysters, in all my life I have only ever seen one; it was signed "Abercrombie and Fitch (Seafarer) on the dial and the case and movement were signed Oyster Watch Company.The case was quite badly pitted because then they were made from a base metal, a chromed zinc material that did not last very long,a bit like the relationship between Rolex and Abercrombie & Fitch.Now they went on to become the USA main distributor for the Swiss Heuer watches, probably more of a sportsman's watch to speak of, being mainly chronograph watches.
After a couple of years in the wildiness Rolex decided to give the USA market another try. This was after they had been approached by Zell Brothers, a jewellery store chain in the Pacific North West of the USA, headquartered in Seattle. Zell had seen the great success of Rolex in Canada, and in Vancouver in particular (Seattle and Vancouver are only about 150km apart). They asked to be made the exclusive importer for Rolex in the Pacific North West, and Rolex eager to get a US foot hold accepted their proposal. The strange thing is that, despite the Canadian success either Zell or Rolex decided not to use the famed "Oyster" name but substituted the name Turtle Timer, (IMHO undoubtedly Zell) Once again these were non-Aegler (non-Rolex) movements, so as not to disturb the three way relationship with Gruen. Zell were much more successful than Abercrombie/Fitch had been, but can hardly be described as having made a major market breakthrough. I have seen around 5 or 6 pictures of these watches and because they were made when Rolex was using real stainless steel the cases looked to have lasted much better than the A&F ones ever did. But Zells had two major problems as far as Rolex were concerned; firstly they were a regional not national chain and their insistence on using their own Turtle Timer name and not Oyster meant that Rolex would never reap the benefit of any of the new oyster case success.Now in these early days of Rolex only about 1 in 5 had the name Rolex on the Dial,the rest were blank dials when they left the factory.But after the arrival of the oyster case most of the oyster cased ones did have the name Rolex on the dial.But most Rolex movemnts were made by Aegler and even today a member of the Aegler family still runs the movement side of todays Rolex company movement factory with some of the finest long lasting movements made today. .