Hans Wilsdorf founded Rolex in 1905 at the age of 24, along with Alfred Davis in London. In 1919 they moved their operation to Geneva, Switzerland. This move was brought about by high wartime taxes on Gold and Silver in the UK after the Great war 1914-1918. They were now closer to their suppliers in Bienne. The Rolex Oyster case was released in 1926. Marketed as the world's first “waterproof” watch. The notches on the bezel and case back meant they could be screwed down to the middle case with a special tool invented and manufactured by Rolex to hermetically seal the case. In 1927 a young swimmer Miss Mercedes Gleitz swam the English channel wearing the “Oyster”. Later in 1933 the team of the first expedition to fly over Everest wore them. It was also famously worn by Sir Malcolm Campbell, “King Of Speed”, on the 4th September 1935. An advert of the time made a big splash with him saying “The Rolex watch is still keeping perfect time- I was wearing it yesterday when Bluebird exceeded 300 mph” He broke the world land speed record 9 times between 1924 and 1936. 1931 saw the debut of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual, their first self-winding watch that was also water-resistant and dustproof. The 15200 was first introduced in 1988 and follows this history.
This 1991 Rolex Oyster Perpetual, reference 15200, has a 34mm 316L stainless steel Oyster case with polished and brushed surfaces. Gently sloping lugs that elegantly taper. On the right side, a signed screw-down crown. A bevelled polished bezel holds a flat scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. At 3 o’clock a cyclops magnification above the date window. Its striking black dial has an outer minute track with Luminova pips and fine applied baton indexes marking the hours. Broad baton hands have Luminova infill complimented with a sweeping seconds hand. On the reverse, a coin-edged screw-down case back. Inside an Automatic Rolex calibre 3135, 31 Jewels, 28,800 beats per hour. It is fitted with a Parachrom hairspring, making it much more resistant to shocks and to temperature variations. Fitted on its original Oyster stainless steel bracelet with its Rolex signed clasp.
Points of Mention
This watch is sold as "Watch Only" and therefore comes with no original Rolex box or Rolex paperwork. The watch comes paired on its original oyster bracelet which has a total length of 21cm, more links can be sourced on request. The dial is a Rolex factory original service replacement, as are the hands, and therefore featuring Luminova rather than Tritium, these would have been replaced sometime after 2000 when the watch went for service with Rolex. The case is in good condition and has been polished over its life, but still stands with its edges as you can see from the photos. The movement does come with the KibbleWatches 12-Months NON-Waterproof Warranty.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date offers a ton of value in the Rolex world, you get everything you would with the Datejust, minus 2mm in case size and a lot less in price. The black dial is also a nice touch and harder to find than most of the other colours it seems, whether this is because black is very natural and those who own them tend to keep them, or whether it is because they produced few, I don't know. Personally I don't mind that the dial and hands are luminova rather than Tritium, granted they won't age the same, but it actually makes the watch a lot more practical as it still glows.