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Long time readers will know by the rehaut, this is a Rolex that is not what it first appears to be. If you love watches, you’d spot this case from across the room. You’d say ‘Nice Oysterquartz’, and in 19/20 passes, you’d be entirely correct. But this is the one time you’d be off. This is a 1530, it’s mechanical, and it’s what came first. The 1530 confounds expectation, made in just ~1500 examples, the wrist in question is far more likely to be an Oysterquartz (OQ). But it’s worth knowing this exists. If you want a mechanical integrated Rolex, your choices aren’t just Midas and Cellini. It’s a good old fashioned, ‘superlative’ chronometer calibre 1570 in this case.


This misstep, if you can call it that, was a result of Rolex’s most uncertain era. To face the quartz crisis head-on, Rolex had decided in 1972 to develop their own revolutionary calibre and not rely on the Beta 21. That monumental project, the OQ, took a humbling, unexpectedly lengthy, and expensive five years. However, a few years into the project, Rolex had already designed and produced the perfect case for this groundbreaking calibre, strongly influenced by the 5100 ‘Texan’.

Instead of simply waiting for the OQ to be finished at some uncertain time, Rolex decided to combine this new angular 36mm steel case with their dependable calibre 1570 for the interim. The result was this, the short-lived 1530; an OQ case with an automatic calibre. Its run lasted from just 1975 until 1977 and quartz launch, making it one of the shortest Rolex productions. Moreover, these dials vary from the OQ considerably. This dial was made for the calibre 1570 and is smaller. To cover the gap Rolex created a wide and steeply angled rehaut. It is not confirmed but widely speculated that this was the first Rolex to use sapphire crystals as well.

Many of the 1530’s silver dials had a tendency to turn a light yellow over time, more than any OQ did. It isn’t quite a cream dial patina, no. I think lemon may be an appropriate adjective. The 1530 has it all: characterful patina, robust story, integrated cases, mechanical watchmaking, and captures a brief glimpse of a time when even Rolex was uncertain.

Extremely rare ROLEX Datejust, ref. 1530, from 1976

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  • DESCRIPTION

    Extremely rare ROLEX Date, ref. 1530, in stainless steel.

     

    CASE

    36 mm in stainless steel with a sapphire glass and a  stainless steel bracelet like the one for the Oysterquartz​

    Dial

    silver dial with aperture for the date

     

     

    MOVEMENT

    ROLEX automatic cal. 1570

    FUNCTIONS

    self-winding with date

    CONDITION

    perfect original condition​

     

    YEAR

    1976

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