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In Rolex's impressive 111-year history, the brand has released a veritable arsenal of models that have become classics. Many of these bear the moniker "Oyster Perpetual." While the name Oyster Perpetual doesn't designate a particular model or line, it does signify a few things. First, that the watch will have the trademark Rolex Oyster case. Second, that the movement beating inside that Oyster case will be Rolex's famed Perpetual movement.
Rolex first patented the Oyster case in 1925, but the quest for a waterproof and dust-proof case began shortly before the First World War. The cases of the Great War and the early 1920s came in two or three pieces with an inner case that shielded the movement (then a manual-wind movement) from the wet, dusty conditions of the battlefield. The Oyster case of 1925 represented the culmination of ten years of development. It gained notoriety in 1927, when Mercedes Gleitze became the first British woman to swim across the English Channel, wearing - you guessed it - a Rolex. A series of advertisements followed, featuring smiling flappers holding their Rolexes in fishtanks.
As with the Oyster case, the Perpetual movement saw many iterations before finally being perfected in the 1930s. Rolex's first automatic movement quietly debuted in 1931, without the fanfare that followed the introduction of the Oyster case. The movement was met with some consternation from purists who decried the "extreme novelty" of a self-winding watch. Nevertheless, Rolex could see that they had struck gold with the Perpetual movement. They continued to develop and improve it over the years, establishing a line of watches that would stand as an alternative to Rolex's sportier models.
The Oyster Perpetuals of the 1960s and 1970s remain some of Rolex's best-loved timepieces. Elegant, with clean lines, the watches are nevertheless sturdy, coming in stainless steel or 18k yellow or pink gold. The Perpetual, Rolex cal. 1570, movement has a straight-line lever escapement and a Breguet balance spring. Meant to be worn every day, the Oyster Perpetual Date combines elegant looks with rugged dependability.
Produced from 1963 to 1980, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Reference 1501 resembles the better-known (perhaps more sought-after) Datejust, particularly the more commonly-recognizable Ref. 1601/1603. The most obvious resemblance is the milled bezel, a gorgeous feature similar to those found on Turn-O-Graphs of the era. Artfully designed, the fixed bezel is raised at hour intervals with hash marks in between, drawing the eye outward from the center, producing a wonderful radiant visual effect that is mirrored in the sunburst pattern of the grey dial.
For a discerning collector who would like a vintage Rolex, but doesn't necessarily want to spring for a Datejust, the Oyster Perpetual Date Ref. 1501 presents an attractive alternative.
Stainless Steel case is approximately 34.5mm (excluding Crown). Rolex Reference 1501. Circa 1970s.
Overall Condition: Stainless Steel Rolex Oyster case is in excellent condition over all, with a few very faint wear marks. The lugs show no signs of overpolishing and are still incredibly sharp. Grey sunburst dial with applied silver markers shows some signs of aging and spotting, particularly near the hands and the date window. Luminescent elements on the hands show signs of light corrosion consistent with age, and patination similar to that on the hour markers. Case back bears the inscription "Kats Yamashiro." Signed Rolex crown.
Includes later genuine Rolex 19mm Oyster bracelet (Reference 78350) with 13 links and #557 end links. Also includes two 19mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle.