It was back in 2005 that Rolex launched a subtly redesigned Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II and with it a new bezel with a black Cerachrom insert. Crafted from highly scratch resistant ceramic, thisis another innovation of the 2000s that was entirely developed, manufactured (and of course patented) by Rolex. The extremely hard ceramic of the Cerachrom insert has the advantage of being corrosion resistant and virtually scratchproof. It also retains its color even when exposed to ultraviolet rays from sunlight.
Anyone who has ever owned a watch – and has worn it extensively – can report from experience how the bezel, i.e. the external frame of the dial is a part that is usually the most exposed to external impacts, scratches, corrosion and so on. To create a new bezel that would outperform traditional metal bezels, Rolex has developed and patented the design, as well as the manufacturing technologies of a bold new bezel design: Cerachrom.
Rolex uses a particularly hard, corrosion-resistant ceramic that is virtually scratch-resistant. Why "virtually?" Well, because you can in fact scratch any ceramic with one certain type of material: diamonds. Anything softer than a diamond – that means pretty much everything else, really – and your Cerachrom bezel will come away unscathed if they come into contact.
In 2016, Rolex has introduced a further development of the Cerachrom bezel: where the GMT-Master II, Submariner and other collections that hitherto featured this invention used it as a bezel insert, the 2016 Cosmograph Daytona debuted a monobloc Cerachrom bezel, where the entire bezel, as a whole, is a single piece of Cerachrom, as opposed to the other design variant where the ceramic piece sits within a metal bezel frame.
As one would expect, the manufacture of the Cerachrom bezel is carried out entirely by Rolex, in-house. That indicates incredible dedication to this material and testifies to the inimitable technological advancement of Rolex and its in-house manufacturing capabilities. The basic ceramic material is a very fine zirconium dioxide or aluminum oxide powder, comprising particles each less than one-thousandth of a millimeter in size. This material is mixed with a binding agent that will help arrange the fine powder into the desired, iconic shape and pigments will give it the final, desired color that ranges from black, blue and green all the way to bi-color variants.
Following a high-pressure molding, the work-pieces are placed in furnaces where first the binding agent is eliminated and then they are exposed to the scorching heat of 1,600 °C (2,900 °F). It is the combination of the base material and this extreme heat that ultimately results in the remarkable surface hardness, beautiful sheen and exceptional color of Cerachrom. However, because each piece contracts by about 25 percent during this process, they all need to be precision-machined to give each its definitive shape and size for the ultimate fit and finish all Rolex watches exhibit.
The two-color or bi-color Cerachrom bezel that is a defining feature of the iconic GMT-Master II line is achieved with yet another high-tech process, developed by Rolex. On the blue and black bezel, the blue is colored black, but on the red and blue bezel, half of the red bezel is colored blue. Either way, the color is achieved by impregnating half of the insert with a solution of chemical compounds that is added before the aforementioned sintering process. In the course of this sintering process, the ceramic densifies and the added compounds react with the basic elements of the Cerachrom insert, therefore creating a different color on one half of the insert.
The two-color Cerachrom insert obtained presents a clear demarcation between the two colored areas. Because it is manufactured in a single piece, the insert acquires mechanical resistance properties which respond to the quality and reliability demanded of a Rolex product.
Last, but certainly not least, a key feature of every Rolex Cerachrom bezel is the gold or platinum PVD-coated numerals and graduations. After the entire bezel has been coated with one type of these precious metals, they receive a final polish that brings out the incredible shine of the Cerachrom surfaces – while leaving the precious metal coating intact within the recessed numerals and graduations of the bezel.
Today, the inimitably cool-looking and incredibly scratch-resistant Cerachrom bezel is available on the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, Submariner, Sea-Dweller, GMT-Master II and Yacht-Master collections – further proof for the versatility and popularity of Rolex Cerachrom.
We would be delighted to present you a wide range of Rolex watches that feature this incredible, Rolex-developed component in any of our Rolex Petite Geneve Petrovic boutiques in Budapest, Belgrade or Porto Montenegro.