Rolex, like many companies including Apple, patent ideas and inventions that might not ever make it to market in order to keep a competitive advantage from others stumbling across their ideas and concepts. Some patents are basically ideas that cannot come to fruition because of mass production issues. As a result, there are many patented ideas that never see the light of day, but on the other hand, reviewing patents also provide a glimpse of what might come to the future market place. Horobox, a website located here, reviewed Rolex’s yet to market patents that show what might be coming in the future.
First is a patent filed in 2014 for an updated GMT wristwatch that utilizes a push button to change the hands from one timezone to another. From the documents, it is hard to tell what the innovation is as Glashutte Original already has a push-button type of GMT on the market, but of course, Rolex will probably improve upon it. Also, the document shows a Daytona style register hand that perhaps marks the actual timezone.
Rolex was the first watch company to patent a rotating bezel and Rolex continues to focus upon the bezel as integral interface component between the wearer and the watch. The Rolex Yachtmaster II and SkyDweller are two recent models that utilize the bezel to perform specific watch and time setting functions.A 2015 Rolex patent document shows that they are investigating how to wind the watch utilizing the bezel interface rather than the winding crown.
Rolex appears to be making up for the long standing tuna-can clasp designs that prevailed on Rolex bracelets from the 1950’s until the 2000’s by further researching other bracelet clasp designs. A 2013 patent document illustrates a butterfly style clasp that has two locking mechanism rather than one. Butterfly clasps are not new, but utilizing Rolex’s Oysterlock design is new.
Even though Rolex released a new movement for 2015 in the Rolex Day-Date, Rolex continues movement innovation. Patent documents filed in 2015 show Rolex utilizing silicon balance springs complete with new spring attachment mechanisms. Rolex unveiled a silicon balance spring, Siloxi, in the Lady DateJust as well as in the 2015 Day-Date, but the patent document illustrates how Rolex continues to pursue concepts utilizing silicon balance springs probably because of silicon’s antimagnetic, relatively maintenance free, and shock absorbing properties.
Taking an idea already put to market by F.P Journe, a May 2015 Rolex patent document Rolex’s pursuit of a double balance spring regulated movement. A double balance spring work together simultaneously regulating any irregularities from the opposite balance spring. As Isaac Newton points out, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Two balance springs compensate for each other, and, if the other patent documents hold true, -that most likely a double balance wheeled movement will have Siloxi balance springs.
No one ever thought Rolex would market a perpetual calendar, but Rolex did with the time-chasing SkyDweller, so don’t put it past Rolex to release a new movement with double the balance wheels for double the fun. Feel free to stop by Fourtané to discuss what might be on the Rolex horizon.
– Sheldon Smith