Friday, December 8, 2017

The Complete History Of The Rolex Cyclops



The Complete History 


The Rolex Cyclops




One of Rolex's biggest surprises this year—and the most controversial among Rolex enthusiasts—was the addition of a magnifying glass, or Cyclops, to its new Sea-Dweller model. Since we are on the subject, have you ever wondered what the history of the Rolex Cyclops magnifier date window lens was? 



The Rolex Cyclops represents one of the most iconic and quintessential trademark Rolex design language characteristics. 


It is interesting to note the Rolex Cyclops was an innovative feature, designed to enhance an innovative feature. The idea is that the small date aperture window was not so easy to see and that by adding a magnifier window to the crystal, it would be much easier to read.


Rolex is the greatest innovator in the history of the mechanical wristwatches. That being said, perhaps Rolex's most outstanding innovation was the advent of the Oyster case in 1926, which was the first truly waterproof wristwatch case. I can't emphasize how innovative figuring out how to make waterproof watches was. In doing so, Rolex revolutionized watches forever...

Rolex quickly followed up with patenting the Rolex Perpetual movement in 1931, which was the first wristwatch that automatically wound itself.




Genesis

One of Rolex's next major innovations came in the form of the Rolex Datejust model, which was the first watch in history to feature a date aperture window complication. The photo below shows the first Datejust model, which Rolex introduced in 1945. 



The 1945 Rolex Datejust pictured above and below was loaded with new Rolex innovations that went beyond the date window, including the Rolex Jubilee bracelet. The bracelet was named Jubilee, as it represented Rolex's 40th year in business. The term Jubilee in marriage parlance/nomenclature is typically referred to as the Ruby Jubilee. (FYI, this is the same as the 25th being referred to as the Silver Anniversary, or the 50th anniversary being referred to as the Golden Anniversary.)


There are some other interesting historical takeaway points to note in the photos above. The 1945 Datejust was the first Rolex to feature solid end-links. Also, notice the watch does NOT yet feature the "Datejust" dial designation. This first Datejust model was named  Datejust; it just didn't have the designation on the watch dial.

Notice the date wheel has the date printed in red to make it stand out better. Also, notice there is no Cyclops date magnifier on this first Datejust. Rolex first introduced the Cyclops magnifier lens feature on the Datejust model at Basel Fair in 1948. The name Cyclops came from the mythological Greek one-eyed monster. 


It is believed Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf developed the Cyclops as his second wife had a difficult time reading the date on his Datejust. Hans Wilsdorf is pictured below wearing his trusted Rolex Datejust. For the record, I have never seen a photo of Hans Wilsdorf wearing any Rolex model other than a Datejust, which makes me believe it was his crowning achievement and likely favorite Rolex watch.



This innovative feature made it much easier to view the date. This early Datejust was also the first to feature the now classic fluted bezel design. So let's get in the Rolex Time Machine and travel back to the late 1940s and take a look around.




Rolex gave General Eisenhower the 150th Officially Certified Swiss Chronometer Rolex, which is pictured below. When they gave it to him in 1948, it lacked a Cyclops date magnifier window. 


In 1953, when Eisenhower sent the watch in for servicing, it came back with not only the updated Cyclops magnifier window, as seen below, but also with an updated dial.





The Rolex Datejust brochure pictured below belonged to Dwight Eisenhower and I discovered it in the Eisenhower Presidential Library archives. Note there is no Cyclops date window on the crystal.





Vintage Rolex crystals made out of acrylic had the Cyclops lens molded into the crystal structure, so it was not removable. 

When Rolex switched over to using synthetic sapphire crystal, the Cylops lens was manufactured separately and later glued to the sapphire crystal. In 2005 when Rolex introduced the 50th Anniversary GMT-Master, they added a new feature that used anti-reflective coating on the bottom of the Cyclops, which made it even easier to read.


Photo appears courtesy of Matthew Becker

Historically, all Rolex professional watches that featured the date function included a Cyclops date magnifier window, with the last holdout being the 40MM SEA-DWELLER, which was recently replaced with the 43MM Single Red SEA-DWELLER which added the Cyclops. As of this writing Rolex still makes the DEEPSEA SEA-DWELLER which also lacks a Cyclops.









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