Monday, August 23, 2021

Taking A Deep Dive Inside The Rolex Submariner 3230 Series Movement


...Rolex Macro Shots Of The Day...

Taking A Deep Dive 

Inside The Rolex Submariner 3230 Series Movement

The 3230 & 3235 Movements 

Rolex mechanical movements are absolute works of art, and the all-new Submariner 41MM Reference 124060 (pictured above) features the Caliber 3230 automatic mechanical movement (Pictured below) as well as the 3235 movement for the Submariner DATE model. 

In order for this new Submariner to keep superb mechanical time it depends on Rolex's waterproof 'Oyster' case which Rolex originally patented and brought to market in 1926. Proper movement lubrication is also paramount for excellent timekeeping which is why Rolex developed its own proprietary new lubricants that were developed in-house. Rolex's special state-of-the-art lubricant is not only a trade secret but significantly increases the dependable longevity and timekeeping performance.

Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) once responded to King Lois XVI's request for him to make a perfect watch by saying: 

"Show me the perfect lubricant and I will show you the perfect watch."

—Abraham-Louis Breguet

Automatic Kinetic Energy Winding 

Rolex developed and patented their super innovative 'Perpetual' rotor movement design in 1931, which is considered to be one of the greatest innovations in timekeeping. This free-spinning, self-winding rotor mechanism pivots on a central axle while capturing all the kinetic energy created by the wearers wrist movement, and allows the watch to constantly wind itself while being worn—all without the worry of overwinding.

This game-changing design is beautifully decorated despite the fact the movement inside the case is never seen by the owner. Methinks Rolex should consider implementing exhibition casebacks to showcase this splendor :-) I mean it really is a shame Rolex owners can't witness and enjoy the beauty of their watch movement. The bridges on the movement are satin finished, circular-grained or snailed while the gear trains and plates are circular-grained. All screw heads are mirror-polished coupled with precisely beveled edges.

The Rolex caliber 32XX Series movements feature a traversing balance bridge which isolates the oscillator from the automatic rotor and results in greatly improved shock-resistance and increased chronometric performance. The photo below brings us in for a close-up of the heart of the Rolex movement which shows the Oscillator with the Paraflex shock absorber precisely positioned on top, which is in the lower center of the photo. On the right side we see the gold 'end shake' screw which is surrounded by 7 micro-adjustment markers which remind me of a Keith Haring painting :-) Ironically, the 7 indexes are for balance height/endshake adjustment but 1/4 of a turn of the gold screw equals only .01MM, so the individual marks aren't very helpful per se.

Paraflex Shock Absorber 

The ruby red and gold Paraflex (pictured above and below) sits atop the Oscillator, which in a mechanical watch keeps precise time. The Rolex Paraflex (pictured below in detail) is an exclusive and highly precise shock absorber Rolex developed and patented in 2005. Rolex has fitted their movements with shock absorbers since the mid 1930s which protect the escapement and balance wheel from shock that might cause the watch to become less precise if dropped or subjected to violent shocks like if you were to swing a golf club while wearing a Rolex. Rolex developed and designed the precise Paraflex geometry with 3D modeling which guarantees it remains properly and precisely positioned without risk of distortion or deformation.

Rolex Oscillator 

The robust in-house manufactured Rolex Oscillator (pictured below) consists of three superlatively manufactured parts which result in optimal frequency response coupled with peerless reliability: 

    1. Balance staff which is the skinny silver spooled part with the red ruby. A balance staff is highly subject and sensitive to shock, and thus needs to be robustly designed and manufactured.
    2. Large Balance wheel which is the gold outer wheel that features adjustable gold microstella nuts (seen better in second photo below) to ensure it maintains high-precision regulating, which results in increased stability while achieving a perfect balance. 
    3. Parachrom blued hairspring which is exclusive to Rolex barely measures one centimeter in diameter.  This in-house manufactured hairspring is made from a special niobium-zirconium-oxygen alloy and is made in an ultra-hot fusion furnace specifically developed by Rolex physicists and engineers for this purpose. 
The proprietary Rolex oscillator beats at 28,800 times per hour, which breaks down to 8 times per second. This results in supremely precise dependability coupled with exacting accuracy.

When I visited Rolex in Geneva in 2013 and toured all four of their factories I saw the super precise machinery that makes the beautiful cobalt blue Parachrom hairspring which completely blew my mind! The Parachrom hairspring is made from a niobium, zirconium and oxygen alloy which has a melting point of 4350.2° Fahrenheit (2399° Celsius) while maintaining a tensile strength of 330-620 MPa. 

The exclusive Rolex Parachrom is made from a paramagnetic alloy which is immune to magnetic fields which would normally effect a standard ferromagnetic hairspring, and is an order-of-magnitude more resistant to shock than normal hairsprings. The Parachrom hairspring measures 1 centimeter in diameter yet it's finer than a human hair. If you were to uncoil the Parachrom it would form a 20 centimeter ribbon that is 50 microns thick by 150 microns wide.

Rolex points out:

"The outermost coil of the hairspring is curled towards the centre to counter the effects of gravity. This allows perfectly balanced and concentric (isochronous) oscillations of the balance wheel-hairspring assembly and contributes to greater chronometric precision whatever the position of the watch."

Rolex Escapement 

The Rolex escapement (pictured below) is not only a conquest of microtechnology, but what makes the famous 'tick-tock' noise (Think 60 Minutes Stopwatch sound ;-) The 'tick' noise is made by the tooth of the escape wheel locks when they move against the pallets of the lever, then when it is released by the oscillators sweeping motion the pallet fork allows the wheel to 'escape' until is locks against the second pallet which results in the 'tock' noise.

 Rolex profoundly points out: 

"The pallet fork continues its infinite pendular beat against the oblique teeth for the escapement wheel precisely 28,800 times every hour—14,400 'ticks' and 14,400 'tocks'. That's 250 Million times per year! We are at the very heart of the Rolex Perpetual movement, where its pace is distilled with chronometric precision."

In short, the all-new Rolex Submariner is as magnificently beautiful and precisely engineered on the inside as the outside as seen is all these highly detailed illustrative photos.