Overshadowed by Rolex's more famous Rolex models, the Oysterquartz is often overlooked and thought of as a desperate attempt to stay relevant in the quartz crisis in the 70s. However, contrary to popular belief, the electro-mechanical movements were not a mish mash of circuits put together haphazardly, but a rather arduous research process that started in the early 50s, Rolex launched their first Rolex Quartz ref 5100 (solid gold pictured below, which comes in SS too) in the 1970s using the famous Beta 21 movement that was used even in the Patek Phillipe ref 3597 and were only produced in a small quantity of 1000 (which commensurate the price today).
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After the launch of their first quartz watch, Rolex invested more time and money researching and finally launched their first inhouse quartz watch in 1977, namely the calibre 5035 (date) and 5055 (day + date), coincidentally (possibly purposefully) used in both the Reference 5035 as well as the 5055 model (seen below). These 2 calibers were 11 jeweled movements with 32khz oscillator coupled with an analog thermocompensation.
And, you may be wondering how long do the Rolex batteries last? These calibers have a battery life of up to 5 years, but most collectors and owners report that they do have to change the batteries every 2 or 3 years.
Did you know that Rolex provides a LIFETIME guarantee on all their Oysterquartz batteries? That is to say, every 2 or 3 years if you suspect your battery is dying, simply take it to Rolex service center and they will replace it for free (which is incredible, seeing as how they can charge $50 per battery change if they wanted to).
The predecessors that came after like the 5 digit references Date (17000 [SS], 17013 [SS/YG], 17014 [SS/WG]) & Day-date (19018 [YG], 19019 [WG]) were only for sale till 2003 before they were completely phased out and Rolex has since stopped producing these Oysterquartz models (due to COSC not issuing certs for the Quartz models any longer).
We personally feel that these Oysterquartz pieces are good additions to any collection if you can find one in the right condition and configuration. In particular, the day-date model is one to be looking out for, especially in white gold. We would not be surprised that the prices for these pieces start going up in the next few years (you never know when Rolex will release a re-edition) due to it's relative rarity. Quartz watches are still not our thing though, so you will not be seeing me aggressively hunting for one unless it conveniently falls into our laps ;)