You’re probably used to reading the words “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” on a classic Rolex dial, but what does it signify when it’s replaced by the word “Precision”? In this article, we’ll look at the history of the word “Precision” on Rolex dials, as well as the two primary types of watches that utilize it.

To summarize, Rolex used the term “Precision” on watches that were not certified by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC). Having said that, it’s worth noting that COSC certification has no bearing on the watch itself. Non-certified timepieces did not fail certification; they simply did not apply for it.

Rolex developed Precision branded timepieces to give a lower priced product while still preserving their main product lines through label difference. A Rolex Precision, like the Tudor brand, was a superb initial step on the ladder for people who couldn’t quite afford the classic lines.

These watches were initially available in two styles. The first were simple dress timepieces, usually in gold but occasionally in steel. Rolex began made these watches in the 1940s, with the most recent specimens being from the 1970s. Most specimens date from the 1950s and 1960s and were available in simple snapback casings.

The second design made its debut in the classic Rolex Oyster case about 1953. The most well-known models are the Oysterdate and Oyster Precision. While these were the bulk of “Precision” marked watches, it’s worth noting that several Rolex Air King models also had this label.

A Precision dial as seen on a Rolex Oysterdate 6694, 1969 Men's Vintage Watch

About the Oyster/Oysterdate Precision

The date function is the primary distinction between the Oyster and Oysterdate Precision. The Oyster Precision was primarily concerned with time. Whereas (you got it!) the Oysterdate, introduced in 1953, included a date function. The Rolex Oysterdate would remain in the Rolex lineup until the late 1980s.

The initial Oysterdates, which debuted with the manually wound Cal. 1215 movement, were labeled “precision” rather than “Superlative Chronometer, Officially Certified.” This mirrored the above indicated absence of qualification.

In keeping with its innovative characteristics, the casing was 2mm thinner than the Datejust equivalent. The Waterproof Oyster Case was considered slim for the time at 34mm.

The launch of this line at a cheaper retail price introduced the Rolex brand to a broader audience. When most classic Rolex watches are automatic, having a manual wind Precision on your wrist is really appealing.

A Precision dial as seen on a Rolex Oysterdate 6694, 1969 Men's Vintage Watch

The Ultimate Vintage Dress watch?

While the Oysterdate range may get the most attention when it comes to the use of the word Precision, we believe that some of the most underappreciated Rolex watches to bear the label are the simple, snap back dress watches from the 1940s to the 1970s. These watches, which are frequently cased in gold and have a refined and subtle style, embody all of the elegance of classic timepieces while bearing the distinctive Rolex name.

The bulk of these watches were offered in gold, with a variety of case and dial style variations. They were modest and inconspicuous, unlike modern Rolexes. Keep an eye out for the gentleman who didn’t need to shout to be heard.

Today, they are one of the most popular sub-£5000 watches on the market, and it’s easy to see why. When it comes to a classic antique Rolex watch, they provide the ideal balance of elegance, legacy, and affordability.

If you’re looking for a Rolex Precision dress watch, case sizes typically vary from 30-33mm, however they occasionally reached 35mm, which was considered big at the time.

Many versions feature Dennison branded cases for customers in the UK, as Rolex and numerous other companies used to case their watches locally for tax purposes. This has increased the difficulty of developing a clear and accurate history of the Precision line, but it has also made the search more interesting.

However, when Dennison ceased business in 1967, Rolex obtained their gold housings, which were deemed to be of better quality by Rolex. This was bought from David Shackman & Sons, marking a fascinating chapter in Precision history.

A Precision dial as seen on a Rolex Precision 9k Gold Dennison Case, 1955

Precision as an Investment

The Precision has been caught up in the surge of interest in dress watches in recent years. As a result, we consider these watches to be an excellent investment. You will not only own a magnificent watch with a rich history, but you will also be safe in the knowledge that demand for these items is unlikely to wane any time soon.

However, be cautious when it comes to pricing, especially for the simpler gold dress watches samples. Unlike most vintage Rolexes, which are essentially commodities with known pricing, the lack of information and comparability of these dress watches makes determining the proper price more difficult. Unfortunately, some sellers exploit this, and you can see the identical watch in the same condition that we would sell for £1,995 selling for more than £4k at other shops.

To summarize, the Precision represents an important milestone in the history of Rolex watches. Moving into lesser price ranges introduced the brand to a new audience, and a Rolex Precision is still a fantastic entrance point into the world of vintage Rolex.

Whether you’re in the market for a Rolex Oysterdate or simply want to learn more about the Precision range, we hope you now feel more secure and prepared to make an informed purchase when the time comes.