Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Rolex Wears Out After Seven Years Shock

Hot on the heels of Walt Odets' legendary controversial review of the Rolex Explorer, The Rolex Submariner Cal. 3135 by Andrew Babanin makes interesting reading.

Disappointing design in a watch that expensive? You betcha!

Andrew notes,
"Rolex still does not use ball bearings (to support the winding weight) even in its top calibers. Instead, there is a plain sleeve bearing, and proper oiling is critical. When the lubricant evaporates or migrates, the metal axle experiences wear against the jewel. In the picture above, you can notice a rut left by the jewel. If Rolex had designed an automatic device based on ball bearings (like in most modern automatic devices) - the watch would be more reliable."
I expect an approach like this in a cheap calibre like my Lemania 5100 based Sinn 157. Every time I see a Rolex apart or reviewed like this, I am left unimpressed. Clearly you need to stay right on the recommended service schedule and there is little margin for error. It's interesting to note that as technology is implemented to improve the escapement service interval, (e.g. co-axial, or coatings) other areas of the watch potentially need to be upgraded to cope. Omega are now talking about ten years between service, and clearly need and have a superior design of winder to Rolex.


Speedmaster said...

Ouch, I read that review last night. Great pics and commentary.

A couple of times in the last few years I've commented about my surprise to learn that Rolex has traditionally used (perhaps not in the new Daytona movement) a rotor borne on a jewel instead of ball bearings like the traditional Eterna/ETA design. Note that I'm far from a mechanical engineer so take these comments with a grain of salt. :-)

I believe the ball bearing design for rotors to be well proven. I've wondered if the 3135 and variants from Rolex have stayed with the jeweled rotor design out of tradition, spite, or a belief in its superiority. I will admit that Rolex certainly seems to have an excellent general reputations w/ respect to reliability and longevity, so they obviously know what they are doing imho.

I've also wondered if the Rolex 3135 rotor design is more susceptible to being cracked (the jewels anyway) from a shock? Certainly much more so than a ball bearing design?

I think it was GP that we've recently seen have some advances in the design and use of materials in the area of ball bearing use in watches?


Speedmaster said...

Maybe it was JLC that recently introduced ceramic ball bearings?