All watches have their origin story and Rolex’s can be traced back to the “BubbleBack”. It wasn’t their first timepiece, but it was quite probably their first breakthrough best-seller. A cornerstone in the quest to associate the Rolex brand with terms such as: precision, accuracy and reliability. A goal that was accomplished and has been maintained to these days. And there have been many other innovations Rolex has brought to horology. But, it’s still quite admirable to certify that if you back check their older models, like this 60 year old “bubble back”. They not only continue to keep time, but they’re also still desirable.Rolex-Oyster-Perpetual-aka-Bubble-Back-00-EiT

This is a special watch because it was one of the first oyster cases ever made by Rolex. And you might find another million Bubble Back’s, but this one is in mint condition. Quite an accomplishment for a model that’s been discontinued since the early 1960’s. Many of the other “survivors” you can come across in the vintage-market have refinished dials. While this one has an original untouched dial from the 1940’s.

This dial also has not been repainted retouched relumed It was one the first automatic waterproof watch ever made by Rolex, cause up in till then they had been mechanical.

The term “Bubble Back” comes from the bulgy caseback on these watches that can be screwed off to see its inner movement, as well as, its technical info, such as caliber, serial number, etc. The founders of Rolex got into the watch business by buying and importing Aegler movements to England, where they would fit them in other watchmaker’s cases to sell with various brand tags. Until they eventually started to case the movements themselves and also attempt their own branding.

At the time Rolex came up with their “auto-rotor” movement from working with the Aegler movement in Hunter watches and from there on began getting more involved in the watch trade. And it would be this movement that would also bring along this unofficial “bubble back” model and branding sound-bite. Because it was due to this auto-rotor requiring such a thick case, that Rolex ended up designing a protruding caseback, instead of making an overall larger watch. A choice that lead to a slick and fashionable design for the epoch, that in today’s day now gives off a classy vintage look.


And the “Rolex Bubbleback” is about as vintage as they come, being one of the first fully-functional automatic self-winding watches to ever be produced. It has a 32mm case and a white dial with Roman & index numerals for the hour marks, with smaller index and Arabic numerals for the minute markers. You can also read “Rolex Oyster Perpetual” under the 12 o’clock position and “Chronometer” at the center of the dial. This particular piece comes in rose gold, which although not uncommon for the era, is still somewhat rare in that time period. And has an original yellow gold crown. These two tones could lead one to say “this has been serviced or parted together from various bubble backs”. But, no. In actuality we’re in the presence of a very well kept timepiece that couldn’t have aged its case without affecting its crown. In fact this BubbleBack model is a rose gold dial with a yellow 14kt crown. Which only gives it more character, adding a somewhat rarer look than its yellow gold version14k gold. This “Bubble Back” has spent more time in the store than any ones wrist. To find another one in this condition you probably need a timemachine…

This “Rolex Bubble Back” is also a 2 piece case which differs from models produced before 1936, which had a 3-piece case. The less pieces the higher water resistance. And all these vintage models can be seen as stepping stones Rolex had to take in order to justify such an impenetrable name as they’re chosen “Oyster” term. That would go from a 3-piece, to a 2-piece, to a one-solid-piece, while adding more complications and not allowing water seeping through. Until they ended up discontinuing production for the “Oyster Perpetual aka BubbleBack” in the 1960’s, in favor of producing more of their “Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust”, which was introduced in 1945 and also continues to assure Rolex maintains its reliable production standards to this day.


Rolex Oyster Perpetual aka Rolex Bubble Back

The “Rolex Oyster Perpetual” aka “Rolex BubbleBack” is powered by an automatic self-winding movement that can keep up to 40 hours on its power reserve. It has a chronometer movement that works with a -5 to 7+ variation to keep accuracy. A fifth generation movement (1945-1946) 9 3/4″’ Hunter which features the “Rolex Perpetual” mark on the rotor of the reformed movement. This fifth generation machinery even derived from the 7 3/4″’, also referred to as PA, from the 1940’s war to peace times. A COSC certified assuring it posses a better movement. An Swiss institution that been keeping these standards since the 1800’s, cementing their reputation on certifying models like these vintage Rolex’s. The watch comes mounted to its original brown leather strap and also includes its original brown Rolex case. The case shows signs of deterioration, but for a 60 year old case you could say it still looks darn good and we can supply and extra pouch for safe-keeping

Rolex Oyster Perpetual BubbleBack Chronometer – 14k Rose Gold Dial with 14k Yellow Gold Crown    Ref#: 3131 – All original parts

Unfortunately this watch is not for sale. It’s a Museum piece to us, at Element iN Time.

But feel free to view other Rolex BubbleBack and Vintage models we have on our Website.


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Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, Bubbleback, Luxury Watches

Written by Mauro Az