Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

Thread: Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

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  1. #1
    Member G-Shocks Are Cool.'s Avatar
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    Question Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

    Plastic is way more tougher than crystal, and it doesn't weight down a watch.

    In my opinion, I think Rolex changed from plastic to crystal, because if people really think about it.

    People would be paying for a watch with plastic.
    Last edited by G-Shocks Are Cool.; February 17th, 2011 at 23:37.
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  2. #2
    esm
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    Re: Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

    i can see where you are coming from - but how often do we see people polish the plastic/hesalite crystal on their luxury/high end watches? sapphire crystal is much more durable and less care required, hence the switch... imo

  3. #3
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    Re: Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

    its an odd one as I own both a 1976 oysterdate with a plastic crystal and a 2005 DJ with saphire and there are a very different look. I think its purely a look verses scratch resistance thing, posh folk dont bash there watches so even though saphire is scratch resistant its more brittle than plastic but thats an improvement as thats more likely for the posh owner to be the accident.

    I recently had an ORIS which was plastic large domed to replicate an old vintage look as well and it was lovely.
    On the right watch plastic still rocks.

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    Re: Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

    I have been working in a jeweller's store 25 years ago. At this time, Ebel and Cartier where very popular and the main competitors for Rolex. You know what I mean: Screws all over the watch and the bracelet, TT on sports watches etc.

    Both introduced sapphire crystals already and many customers complained about Rolex using still the outdated plastic crystals. If they would have staid with them (plastic), it may have put the company success in danger. Additionally I am absolutely sure, that the absence of sapphire crystals with Rolex was part of Ebel's and Cartier's success.

    I also recall selling the last plexi Rolexes (including Submariners GMT and Datejust - The Day-Date already had a sapphire crystal, also the GMT II) with heavy discounts as noone wanted them anymore.
    Last edited by Bondtoys; February 17th, 2011 at 15:04.

  5. #5
    Moderator Emeritus GinGinD's Avatar
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    Re: Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

    Like Peter, I have Rolexes with both types of crystal. My vintage gold DateJust has acrylic and my midsize DateJust has sapphire. Both are beautiful in different ways, but I'll confess I worry far more about the acrylic crystal scratching than the sapphire crystal shattering. I think the maintenance free aspect of the sapphire is the attraction.

    Jeannie

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    Re: Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

    What year did Rolex first start using sapphire crystal as opposed to acrylic?

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    Re: Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

    Quote Originally Posted by JPS3 View Post
    What year did Rolex first start using sapphire crystal as opposed to acrylic?
    Depends on the model.
    For the GMT it was roughly around 1988.
    GMT-Master

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    Re: Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

    Interesting. I have either a 1984 or 1985 Datejust so I was just curious about it. Is there a good way to tell between acrylic and sapphire?

  9. #9
    Moderator Emeritus GinGinD's Avatar
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    Re: Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

    Rolex gradually phased in the change in the 1980s. The date I've heard for the completion of the changeover is 1988.

    The cyclops on the sapphire is glued on and it's molded as part of the crystal with the acrylic. Also, the acrylic feels lighter. When you tap it with your fingernail it has a hollow sound. At least to me.

    Jeannie
    Last edited by GinGinD; February 17th, 2011 at 22:06.

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    Re: Why did Rolex change from plastic to crystal?

    Ah thank you, very good information. When I'm home from school this weekend I'll take a close look at the crystal and keep those points in mind. I've done the tapping before and I'm pretty sure I remember that hollow sound. Again thank you, it's good to have a place to come and learn so much good information about one of my passions!

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