With the rise of luxury-grade smartwatches, some watch-wearing aficionados have left behind decades of quintessential quality for smartphone compatibility. You won’t see those digital watches on my wrist, however, because I remain committed to the enhanced reliability and industry-leading durability built into my Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36. Here’s my Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm review.
I fully recommend this watch, secure in the knowledge that Rolex has decades of innovation that have gone into this model, starting back in 1926 with the first-ever water-proof watch. Those innovations carry on today with a heightened sense of aesthetic refinement, as exemplified by its simplified glow-in-the-dark watch face.
I wouldn’t make such a strong recommendation on brand alone. Over the years, I’ve always done my research before investing in such a mainstay of luxury fashion. Now, I’m passing on my research for the outstanding Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 to you so that you can fully appreciate what it feels like to receive a watch recommendation from a consummate expert.
There may be many fish in the sea, but when it comes to luxury watches, take my word for it: there is only one Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36.
Customer Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm Review
“A classic starter watch” – Hodinkee, a leading online high-quality watch publication
“…a benchmark to which many others in the watch industry are measured.” – Business Insider
“…the very essence of a Rolex watch.” – The Jewelry Editor
- Every model in the collection built with durable, proprietary Oystersteel
- An exceptionally reliable winding mechanism, certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute
- Classic visual appeal mixed with modern innovations like glowing numerals
- Waterproof up to 330 feet
- Requires winding every two days (48 hours)
- Lacks traditional Arabic numerals
- Limited dial plate color selection palette
Even among luxury watches, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 places reliability at its core and works its essential functionality into every minute detail of the prime time-keeping mechanism. With a top-quality hairspring and an enhanced self-winding mechanism, I will gladly count on this watch when it comes to keeping precise time down to the second.
Its new and improved central timekeeper is the reason for the model’s reliability. Equipped with a 3130 caliber self-winding mechanism, this Rolex Oyster is capable of keeping steady time well beyond the 48 hour power reserve if properly attended to.
Another key component to ensuring this model’s reliability is its Parachrom hairspring. This hairspring enhances the Perpetual 36’s ability to withstand shocks and significant temperature changes by serving as a kind of turtle shell for each precision cog within the timekeeper. This watch can handle all of those unexpected dangers and still ensure that you always have the time of day at hand (or at the wrist, as the case may be).
Rolex’s long-standing commitment shines through at the heart of the Oyster Perpetual 36 as well, given that the 3130 caliber mechanism and Parachrom hairspring were developed and implemented in-house.
All of this tinkering in-house has paid off, with this model earning the COSC’s (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute) “superlative chronometer” rating based upon its core functionality alone. The COSC hardly ever hands out this certification, so its presence on this model should stand as a testament to its reliability.
All of this attention to detail results in a precision rating of -2/+2 sec/day. By any measure, that is an exceptional amount of precision for a luxury watch. Among many other factors, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36’s enhanced reliability stands out as one of its top qualities.
As noted with the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36’s newly reinforced hairspring mechanism, this watch is surprisingly durable beyond the bounds of most fragile luxury watches. In fact, it’s almost become the norm that a luxury watch wearer must always move with caution for fear of damaging their wrist-bound jewelry. This Rolex watch really gives you a chance to break from that normative trepidation.
While gold and silver are traditionally known as precious metals, this Rolex Oyster might give watch experts reason to add new specialized metal to that list. Using Rolex’s own proprietary steel alloy – Oystersteel – this model is able to provide a scratch-resistant, tarnish-resistant body that won’t take on dents and nicks.
Though other Rolex watches offer Oystersteel as a material component, only the Perpetual 36 has truly mastered its implementation. And speaking of implementation, Oystersteel’s metallic cousins have seen implementations in a variety of pursuits beyond luxury goods. Aerospace and chemical industries are just two fields that have appreciated this steel family’s long-term ability to remain maximally resilient.
As might be expected, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36’s steel alloy construction brings with it a weighty drawback. Compared to more diminutive luxury watches, this model adds some noticeable weight to your wrist.
But as Cara Barrett at Hodinkee points out, this watch is “heavy without weighing your arm down.” Essentially, this watch’s weight can be considered the optimal middle point between a burden and a presence-less Walmart watch – weighty, but just enough to remind you that you are wearing a fine product made of high-grade steel and crystal.
A Sight to See – Even in the Dark
As with so many Rolex watches before it, the Oyster Perpetual 36 is a sight to behold. This model in particular finds a great middle point between minimalism and wearable contrast. Though the dial plate color selection options are limited, those available create perfect visual harmony with the refined silver color of the watch’s Oystersteel body.
Speaking of the watch body, the Perpetual 36 features a classic oyster-style bracelet band that many watch owners have come to appreciate for its style and comfort. Each 3-piece link – known as an Oyesterclasp – in the bracelet is set together to allow them to move seamlessly, which empowers you to wear this watch for days without discomfort.
In contemporary terms, I’ve been tempted to move away from analog watches many times in order to find a modern watch that can be read while out on a dark night in the city. That’s why when I learned that the Oyster Perpetual 36 features glow-in-the-dark index numerals, I simply knew it would be a quick favorite.
This faint glow isn’t a distraction either, more comparable to the (formerly radioactive) glow seen on watches worn by World War II pilots. Even now, my friends and associates are amazed to see an analog luxury watch that glows in this manner. As such, I never leave home for an evening out without my Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 on my wrist.
Minimalist Indexes – A Concern?
One concern some watch shoppers often profess is a dislike for minimalist Roman numeral indexes, as used on this watch. I cannot help but agree with these concerns, as I – a life-long glasses wearer – need all the extra visibility I can get when it comes to checking my watch. In truth, I believe that the addition of Arabic numerals would be the only thing that improves this watch in my eyes.
Altogether, this Rolex watch preserves what is effective and sporty about its core brand while still creating a contemporary niche for itself, thanks to its standout innovations. If performance and durability alone don’t sell you on the Perpetual 36, then I really believe its aesthetic appeal will do so.
A Luxury Price Tag
Perhaps the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36’s only considerable drawback is its price. For those accustomed to shopping in the luxury market, this will come as no surprise. But because of all of the innovation, performance, and durability described above, this model runs a steep price tag.
On the other side of the coin, though, this watch represents a worthwhile investment that may never need to be replaced. In fact, with its long-term reliability and resistance to degradation taken into account, you’ll very likely pass this watch down one day, to a son, daughter, or grandchild.
Also, price need not always be a distraction. In fact, some observers may even consider it an attraction. I won’t lie, I have at least once bragged about how much I’ve paid for a watch simply to demonstrate how I am personally committed to owning fine goods. Though being a braggart is not necessary with the Oyster Perpetual 36, you’ll certainly have good cause to point it out to companions when you wear it.
If the price is an issue for you, though, you should definitely consider shopping around for the best available price. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is carried widely by many watch dealers, as well as by some local jewelers. If you have a favorite dealer, you should definitely give them a call in order to find the best possible price point for this must-have watch.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm Review Bottom Line
In total, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 is a fantastically-built, fantastically-performing luxury watch that I fully recommend. While I don’t often go out of my way to profess my precise watch preferences online, I really do believe that this watch, in particular, is worth the cost and the time needed to procure it.
While I do have many watches in my collection, I don’t expect them to stay with me forever. More importantly, my children aren’t expecting to keep my collection when I’m gone. But I hope to impress upon them how well I expect this Rolex watch to last, perhaps enough for one of them to one day wear it proudly.
This is all to say, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 is a watch worth wearing, time and again. From its classic oyster shell band to its precision internal components, you will be glad to add this watch to your wardrobe. I hope this Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm review has helped you learn about this terrific watch.