The perennial ‘modern versus vintage’ debate is one among these disputes that regularly split opinion across the full spectrum of fans. However, few would argue that the watchmaker’s present models are superior technically to their predecessors, with many of them evolving through some decades of unrelenting improvement, certain factions grumble that the original Rolex essence has been lost in more recent times. What was once the best tool watches for serious professionals and a match for the cruelest environments on the planet, whether above ground or deep underwater, were becoming seen more as marks of wealth and success; jewelry, in other words.
It is obvious that the latest generation of replica Rolex’s sports models is their most capable staff. But the all-consuming popularity of the brand as a status symbol has left some die-hards reminiscing on the good old days when you were more likely to see one of these critically trustable instruments on top of a forbidding glacier than around a boardroom table.
When a prototype of the watch that would continue to become the first Explorer accompanied Hillary and Norgay to the highest point on earth, the fake Rolex’s association with the pioneering explorers of this world goes back to the middle of the last century. The successful summiting of Everest in 1953 laid the groundwork for more than 60 years of innovation that has today led to one of the brand’s purest and most underrated offerings.
The Explorer was among the first of Rolex’s line up built for serious professionals and today stands alongside the Yacht-Master as the only watch in the catalog with two versions running at the same time. Much like those nautically themed offerings, the Explorer and Explorer II are completely different animals.
Launched in 1971, the original Explorer II replica watch was aimed at adventurers whose lives play out at the very extremes of the earth. The bright orange GMT hand and 24-hour bezel meant wearers could tell at a glance whether it was day or night. For those spending weeks in subterranean caves or their summers exploring the poles where the sun never sets, becoming disoriented is practically ensured. The now-iconic ‘Freccione’ (Italian for ‘arrow’) hand circles the watch once a day, pointing out the hour on the engraved bezel markers.
Only available with a black dial and sporting its ‘phantom hands’, this version is highly sought after on the pre-owned market by the most immovable of fake Rolex advocates, who cite it as one of the last of the tool watches to stay absolutely true to the brand’s origins.
The Rolex Sea-Dweller was born in an era when the next great stage of exploration – of extreme environments never before visited – was just beginning. It was just a decade before that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay scaled Everest for the first time; several short years later, in 1960, the bathyscaphe Trieste descended to the deepest point in the ocean successfully. It was also during this time that the first permanent research stations were established in Antarctica, and that Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine, traveled under the Polar ice cap to the North Pole.
These years of prosperity led to some of mankind’s greatest explorations, and it was these feats by the greatest generation that captured the minds and hearts of the baby boomers. There was simply nothing more exciting than exploration in the late 1950s and early 1960s, whether of outer space or the deepest oceans, and this is why it makes perfect sense that during this period, the Rolex replica watch developed the Sea-Dweller. This was an era of scientific discovery, and the world was captivated by these feats of perseverance and determination to the point where the dive into the Marianas Trench landed Bob Walsh and Jacques Piccard on the cover of Life Magazine, arguably the magazine of record for most Americans at the time.
It should be noted that the fake Rolex Sea-Dweller watch did come after the Deep-Sea Special, the watch clamped to the outside of the Trieste when it descended to the bottom of the Challenger Deep. But that watch was huge – completely unwearable. Of course, it wasn’t even really designed to be worn in the first place. The same can be said for another experimental watch made by the fake Rolex in 2012, the Deepsea Challenge, a monster 51mm mega-dive fake watch that James Cameron strapped to the outside of his vessel when he recreated the historic 1960 dive. The Rolex Sea-Dweller wasn’t devised as a one-time use tool, or a prototype from which other technology could be taken – it was made for the most serious divers in the world and meant to be worn daily, over a long period of time.
Among the world brand watches, there are certain subjects that though they come up time and again, never seem to lose their ability to arouse disputes. Date windows are, for one thing, the limited editions are the another, of course, pretty much anything Rolex replica watch is a lightning rod for comments and often, the acrimonious back-and-forth between otherwise civil enthusiasts. Another such subject is the question of the so-called “Big Three” of Swiss watchmaking: Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, and Patek Philippe (you can say “Holy Trinity” too; some people do).
There are several questions that can come up in the context of the Big Three; nowadays one is whether or not at this point, there should be a Big Four with the inclusion of A. Lange & Söhne. There are surely historical reasons why the Big Three/Holy Trinity is just who they are but to understand why we have to take a little bit of a longer view. All the Big Three have some similarities, and two points especially stand out.
To begin with, they’ve all been around for a bit longer than most other modern brands, and have all three been in continuous operation since their founding (Replica Lange for instance while a brand I admire essentially without reservation, basically stopped to exist after the end of World War II and the collectivization of the Glashütte watchmakers, and only came back to life as a new independent brand after German reunification).
Second, all three have basically never made anything other than a Haut de gamme luxury product. There have been varying degrees to which this is strictly true for each brand, but by and large, the watches from the Big Three have movements that have been hand-finished to a very high degree using the whole repertoire of traditional finishing methods, which is where 90% of the value-added of Haut de gamme watches has traditionally been.
The most important we are going to talk about is the Rolex Replica watches. Rolex has never been about the de game manufacturer, nor has it ever tried to be. On the contrary, the replica Rolex’s stock in trade since it was founded by Wilsdorf, has basically been the creation of robust, reliable watches made to very top quality standards, but not to Haut de gamme finish standards. The Rolex fake watch has also never made or sold any of the high complications with the exception of the odd rattrapante chronograph; instead, it has gone for steady, incremental improvements to reliability and precision in basic time-and-calendar wristwatches.
However none of that means that the fake Rolex is not a respected name – in fact in terms of movement reliability and build quality, the basic quality of materials, and real improvements to reliability and functionality, they are one of the most respected names in watchmaking and their watches are worn and worn happily by many who understand watchmaking right down to its bones.
They have classic good appearance, are versatile, and are made with a level of attention to detail and consistency in quality that is really admirable and the fact that they are not a part of a group whose membership has some historical defensibility, but which is really more of an enthusiast’s casual rule of thumb than a serious classification, should not dissuade anyone from buying a Rolex.
The Rolex Sea-Dweller fake watch was announced in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the model. The Rolex Sea-Dweller replica model is one of Rolex’s most important, though arguably least commercial products – a true tool watch catering to true professionals. This latest incarnation is very much a Sea-Dweller, but there are many updates, including some that are technically minor but emotionally significant departures from models that came before. This week, I’ll examine those and try to unpack just what they mean. Besides, we’ll talk about what this cheap watch is meant to do, and what it’s not meant to do.
In my detailed look at Rolex from 2015, I talk about founder Hans Wildorf’s pursuit of three different properties that would come to define Rolex replica watches: precision timekeeping, an automatic movement, and finally, resistance to water. Why was this so important to Wilsdorf? However, Wilsdorf believed there was an actual market for watches that could be worn during active sports by participants themselves. The early Oyster cases featured the first fluted bezels used by Rolex so that watchmakers could screw them in tighter to the case middle. Of course, the screw-down Oyster crown was a significant part of the fake Rolex family that further allowed wearers of these watches to go deeper than ever before.
In 1953, the Rolex and Blancpain both showed professional dive watches and the category that many of us love so much was born. While the Fifty Fathoms was discontinued decades ago before being reintroduced by the modern incarnation of Blancpain, the Submariner has remained a constant force in the watch world for over 60 years. When it was first shown, complete with its screw-down crown, luminous radium dial, and rotating bezel, one could expect water resistance up to an impressive 100 meters.
Before that though, Rolex replicas produced what was arguably the new plus ultra of pre-1950s dive watches as well, they just didn’t have the Rolex name on the dial. Yes, some of the original Panerais – during this period created predominantly for Italian military divers – were made sophisticatedly by Rolex, and feature Rolex cases and movements. It should be noted not all of the early Panerai wristwatches used Rolex movements and cases, but several of the earliest did and they remain very collectible – one such example is the tropical dial piece owned by John Goldberger and seen in his episode of Talking Watches.
This “Rolex Submariner” wasn’t always intended to be the Submariner, and just as Rolex experimented with names for the Daytona and other now-famous models, there was a time when the Rolex diver could have been called “Sub-Acqua.” A few early examples with this name have surfaced over the years such as this one at Antiquorum in 2013.
The fake Rolex kept on producing the Submariner in a host of variants without interruption, and as you all know, continues to produce it today. In the first couple of decades of consumer and professional dive watch production, there were surely other serious dive watches out there, but many of them though impressive technically were not greatly distributed, and few reached the level of commercial or professional success of the Sub.
The fake Rolex Sea-Dweller watch is the best expression of Rolex as a brand. From its very beginning, the model showed a preoccupation on Rolex’s part with extensive over-engineering and performance above all else. Please keep this in mind, the fake Rolex already had a more than capable dive watch in the 5512 and 5513 Submariners, and yet it wanted to build something even tougher – a watch meant for those who not only worked but in some cases, actually lived underwater.
The original Paul Newman Daytona had taken on Holy Grail status by 2016. Every serious replica watch collector knew of its existence, and they knew it hadn’t been seen on his wrist since the mid-eighties. But actually, nobody knew where it was. All the speculation only served to deepen the interest in the fake watch, which fuelled an even greater premium on the price of the other exotic dial models.
Newman’s daughter Nell had by this time established a charitable organization called the Nell Newman Foundation, to carry on her father’s extensive philanthropic work. It’s to help the foundation that Cox has decided to finally sell the watch, who works as treasurer.
Thinking about heading to the auction? Let’s take a look at what you’ll be bidding on. Physically, it’s in great shape for a 45-year-old. That nice dial is absolutely original and not restored and the white face has faded to a familiar vintage cream, with a warm patina. All the lime indexes are intact and greatly aged. However, there’s no strap on the fake Rolex watch; Newman changed the original steel bracelet and only ever wore it with a three-piece military Fatstrap that’s been lost to the ravages of time. The back, still perfectly legible among the scratches of an active life, is the inscription entreating the racer to drive carefully.
But of course, it’s not the watch that’s being bid on. As for the collectors, this is the most significant piece of history there is. The esteem in which Paul Newman is held and the place he has in the American psyche make this a momentous event.
As an actor, he was as iconic as Brando or James Dean, but his integrity and generosity set him apart. That he gifted the watch so easily to James Cox should come as no surprise for someone who donated every profitable cent from his food line to charitable causes.
As a man, he marched alongside Martin Luther King and was most admired by his children for breaking the top 20 on Nixon’s list of enemies. He was anti showboating, tough, and enigmatic. So what else would he wear but a replica Rolex Daytona?
In March of 2015, that is almost two years ago, something happened that we had always dreamed of but never really expected: we were given access to all four of the replica Rolex’s main manufacturing centers. Les Acacias Plan-Les-Oates, Chene-Bourg, and actually, Bienne, where Rolex movements are made, were all on the itinerary and while we went there with a lot of assumptions about what does and doesn’t go on during the innovation of Rolex watches, many of those assumptions were overturned and as well, we were exposed to an incredible wealth of new information.
All in all, what we have discovered was the fact that much more hand-work goes into making the fake Rolex watches than we’d realized and that indeed, Rolex is one of the most thoroughly vertically-integrated watch manufacturers on the planet, a situation which is partly responsible for the amazing degree of uniform top quality of manufacturing and performance on which the fake Rolex’s reputation has been built, and which has made it what it is today.
Besides, we weren’t just wowed by all the new information we got; we saw the proof that the Rolex replica is doing things its own way and doing them extremely well. An independent watchmaker – not a Rolex employee or associate – whom we consulted for the story in order to get another perspective, told us in part:
“Setting Dufour and Voutilainen level movement finishing aside, from a pure engineering perspective, the best fake Rolex’s 3130 based calibers have reigned supreme for close to 30 years now. No mass-produced movement outside of Rolex comes close to matching their quality, durability, and reliability. They have come terribly close to defining the epitome of what a perfectly conceived mechanical watch movement should be.”
Therefore, if you missed the story when we first ran it, or if you’re a new reader here and community member, or if you just want to step back into one of the most thoroughly interesting and genuinely revelatory factory visits we’ve ever done, check out Ben’s take on what we discovered when we went Inside All Four Rolex Manufacturing Facilities, in 2015.