Canadian Rolex Watches and Military Models


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The Rolex Canadian market Oyster watches date back to the late 1930’s and are some of the most affordable vintage Rolex watches available on the used watch market today.

They differ from Swiss marketed Rolex’s in that they used a Rolex modified ebauche movement made by Fontmelon, their caliber FF30 subsequently renamed the Rolex caliber 59. The movements were stamped Rolex Geneva on the top plate and were not engraved or stamped Rolex on the bridge. On some variations of the movement, the bridges were engraved with the name Oyster Watch Ltd.

     These two pictures show a typical Canadian Rolex with the Rolex caliber 59 movement which is actually an FF30 model.  Stampings on these movement vary greatly.

The Rolex Canadian Oysters used a Rolex Oyster watch case with a Rolex Oyster Patent crown.

The various models marketed included names such as Oyster Centregraph, Oyster Lipton, Oyster Junior Sport, Oyster Raleigh, Oyster Commander, Oyster Recorda, Oyster Edison, Oyster Grenfell, Oyster Standard and Oyster Shipmate. These watches were most frequently sold in gold-filled and stainless steel Oyster cases.

These watches are frequently seen with 24-hour military dials and as such, many were given as gifts to soldiers departing for active service in Europe during World War 2. Many of the watches returning to Canada came back with the serviceman’s registration numbers engraved on the rear of the case back.

Another variation of the Canadian Oysters were Rolex models sold by the famous former Canadian icon department store Eaton's. The watches were renamed, as Solar Aqua’s or King of Wing’s and the name Rolex or Oyster were never visible on the watch dials. Eaton's also has a particular arrangement with Rolex which allowed them to provide as long service awards, a Rolex watch that only had the words 1/4 Century Club spelled out on the dial, which was simply signed Eaton's.

There was no mention of Rolex or Rolex Oyster on the dial's of the Eaton's 1/4 Century Rolex watches. Some of these watches were manual wind Rolex Oyster or automatic Oyster Perpetual models. Earlier watches given out in the 30's through to the 1950's, were famed Rolex Prince models. Women were given a unique Rolex model as their 1/4 Century watch.

The other variation of the Canadian Oyster isn’t actually Canadian, but American. The American retailer Zell Brothers sold Canadian Oysters under their store name Zell Brothers and the model name Turtle Timer, These watches usually had the movements marked Oyster Watch Ltd. And are highly sought after today.

  This picture shows a Neptune model.  The Rolex Oyster Neptune is a rather rare and model and has the sweep second hand.

This vintage Canadian market Rolex is perhaps one of  the rarest of the Canadian Oysters along with the Corvette models, Hurricanes, Pioneers, Grenfell's, Lincolns and others that were scarce but Neptune's are seldom seen.

This watch has the unmistakable Rolex minute chapter and dial configuration as the other Canadian Oysters of the 1930's and 1940's. The difference being that neither the word Oyster or Rolex appear on the fabulous rose colored dial.

The steel Oyster case is signed Oyster Watch Company and carries the reference number 3478 with a serial number dating it to 1937. Please note the original Oyster Patent crown, which screws down tightly to the tube.

The 17 jewel manual wind movement fitted in the watch is the same non shock resisting caliber 59 movement found in all the other Canadian Oysters of the period, however this one is signed Oyster Watch Ltd on one of the rear plates of the movement. This is fairly rare and makes the watch more sought after by collectors.

The case measures 29 mm wide by 35 mm long.  These watches are valued as high as $2195.00

These watches have a gold filled Oyster case.  The crown screws down tight to the case tube such as you would find on newer Rolex models. The case back carries a reference of 4270.

The Rolex Oyster Regent model which is quite a scarce model with a red 24 hour military chapter ring inside the hour markers of the dial. The dial has a light and even patina, which gives the whole watch a magnificent vintage appearance.

The watch is fitted with the Rolex contract movement caliber 59 which is signed Rolex Geneva on the top plate. These were distributed and sold through Rolex Canada from the 1930’s through the 1950’s.

The case measures 28 mm wide by 35 mm long.  These watches are valued as high as $2095.00.

   This picture shows the typical markings that are located inside of the case backs on the Canadian Rolex models.

   This is the Rolex Regent model.  Notice the dial which also has the red 24 hour markings as well as the small seconds bit.  Many of these watches came with the sweep second hand rather than the smaller seconds bit.

We also have some pictures of the Standard model.  The Standard resembles the Regent model but differs in that the dial is marked Rolex Oyster and directly above the seconds bit it is marked Standard.  As soon as we take some pictures of the Rolex Standard we will show them here as well as the movement.