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Old 25 July 2011, 07:54 AM   #1
rolexpawn
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History of Rolex Sapphire Crystal

Iíve always seen people in Rolex forums ask when Submariner began to use sapphire crystal, and occasionally someone will ask the time when Deepsea Sea-Dweller adopted sapphire.

But there is almost no systemic introduction about the time when Rolex series adopted the sapphire crystal.

Sapphire crystal often appeared together with golden Rolex, but the contemporaneous steel Rolex still used acrylic face.

The following information introduces sapphire crystalís adoption year of Rolex mens watches, it is normal if there is one or two-year deviation.

Testing(1978):

In the early 70s, there were few Rolex watches that used sapphire crystal face, the first Rolex that used sapphire crystal was Ref. 5100, which was equipped with Beta 21 quartz movement, the next was ref. 1530, Ref. 1630, Ref. 1831.
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Small-amplitude Replacement(1978-1984):

Between 1978 and 1984, sapphire crystal successfully entered into replacement stage, some popular models that used sapphire crystal were born.

In 1978, Day-Date and Datejust(Ref. 16018, 16019), as well as OysterQuartz, they all started to use sapphire.

From 1981, the first Rolex sport model Submariner(Ref. 16800, 16808), Sea-Dweller(Ref. 16660) and GMT-Master(Ref. 16758) began to use.

After several years, in 1984, sapphire crystal was equipped on GMT-Master II(Ref. 16760), Explorer II(Ref. 16550) and the two toneSubmariner(Ref. 16803).

Period of Great Innovation(1989-1991):

In the late 80s, all Rolex models were equipped with sapphire crystal.

First was the self-winding Daytona(Ref. 1652X) in 1988, in 1989, Date, Datejust, Turn-O-Graph all adopted sapphire, also including GMT-Master(Ref. 16700), GMT-Master II(Ref. 16710, 16713, 16718). In 1990, Explorer(Ref. 14270) used sapphire crystal and in 1991, Air-King also used.

From 1978 to 1991, it took Rolex nearly 13 years to replace acrylic glass face with sapphire crystal, but the experimental period in 1970 was not included.
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Thought I should hammer_animated.gif this.
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Old 25 July 2011, 08:21 AM   #2
Jagatai
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this should be a sticky.
Thanks!
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Old 25 July 2011, 08:24 AM   #3
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Good info, thanks for sharing.
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Old 25 July 2011, 12:30 PM   #4
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I learned yesterday from the Rolex rep that Rolex cuts its sapphire differently than every other watchmaker, to give it more strength. Yet another reason Rolex is superior.
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Old 25 July 2011, 12:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2th DR View Post
I learned yesterday from the Rolex rep that Rolex cuts its sapphire differently than every other watchmaker, to give it more strength. Yet another reason Rolex is superior.
They manufacture it and cut it.
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Old 8 August 2011, 06:17 PM   #6
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Interesting write up, good example of how Rolex r&d's with certain lines before adopting across the board.
Did the design or production of the sapphire change much over the years?
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Old 6 January 2012, 11:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jagatai View Post
this should be a sticky.
Thanks!
Don't see why this should be a sticky as it contains so much wrong info?
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Old 7 January 2012, 02:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2th DR View Post
I learned yesterday from the Rolex rep that Rolex cuts its sapphire differently than every other watchmaker, to give it more strength. Yet another reason Rolex is superior.
Wonder where he got that one from,Sapphire crystals for watches are created in a laboratory environment and they have the same chemical properties as corundum which has a hardness of “9” on the Moh’s scale of hardness. (The only substance with hardness greater than sapphire is diamond which has a hardness of 10 on the Moh’s scale.) Because of their hardness, sapphire crystals were the most “scratch resistance” available in watches. However, sapphire crystals are prone to breakage due to the brittle nature brought about by its un-giving attributes no matter how they slice/cut them. Krysterna a new type watch crystal actually has more strength over a spread surface area than sapphire! this still is a very new synthetic material much like synthetic sapphire, but its much more shatter-resistant scratch resistant than plain sapphire it self.
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Old 28 January 2012, 04:43 AM   #9
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What I read somewhere is they hey cut the sapphire at a transversal angle, which supposedly makes the crystal super clear. Take it with a grain of salt, because I don't remember where I read that, and it was long ago. I also remember reading it's more difficult to cut it this way, so only Rolex does it.
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Old 28 January 2012, 05:13 AM   #10
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this should be a sticky.
Thanks!
Sorry to ask this, but I'm new here. What is a sticky?
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Old 28 January 2012, 06:48 AM   #11
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Here's the first Datejust model to use a sapphire crystal and nope, its not an OysterQuartz.
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Old 21 February 2015, 06:52 PM   #12
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Great info. Thanks. It was just what I was looking as I got the date adjust oyster from 1978-79 and wanted to know if it has a sapphire or mineral glass
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Old 10 August 2017, 09:03 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by 2th Dr View Post
I learned yesterday from the Rolex rep that Rolex cuts its sapphire differently than every other watchmaker, to give it more strength. Yet another reason Rolex is superior.
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