Rolex Oyster Model Ref.2081 1938


100% Genuine & All Original

Fully Inspected, Serviced and Guaranteed

A Very Well Cared For and Lightly Used Example

Fully Original, Unrestored and Untouched Beautiful Rolex Watch

High Quality 32mm x 32mm Size Case, Excluding the Rolex Signed Crown

Original, Unrestored and Untouched Off-White Dial with Standard Arabic Numerals

High Grade Rolex 15 Jewel, Hand-Wound Movement in Sparkling Condition

High Quality Black Alligator Embossed Strap & Rolex Steel-Plated Buckle

High Quality Leather Double Watch Pouch Included

VGWL 12 Months’ Written Warranty Included*

VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee

Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery

Free UK Special Delivery

VGW Reference: R1115s
Price £3,250 Sold


Out of stock

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Why This Watch Is Important  – The First Generation Rolex Oyster Waterproof Watch!

“Rolex did something truly astonishing in 1927: it released a genuinely waterproof wristwatch that, unlike earlier efforts from other firms, neither looked, or felt unusual and could be worn on a daily basis. The seasoned Rolex enthusiast may well recognise the model above as an early example of that historic game-changer: a first generation Rolex Oyster.”  –  So begins an excellent article entitled: The watch that changed everything: the 90th anniversary of the Rolex Oyster. The article is written by James Dowling, the recognised authority on vintage Rolex and author which may be read here.

The design of the first Rolex Oyster watch case was nothing short of revolutionary. The construction of the Oyster case was quite complicated and very expensive to produce. The case is composed of four main parts: the main case with the lugs attached to it, a central ring and separate screw-down bezel and screw-down case-back. The movement and dial are held in a separate central ring with external threads at either end, which is secured to the main case by the bezel on one side and the case-back on the other. Two soft metal seals were also used, as shown in the diagram. The screw-down crown comprises of a further three parts.

The first four Rolex Oysters were actually released in 1938 in an octagonal and a cushion-shaped case, 28mm for ladies and 32mm for men. Whilst waterproof, the Rolex Oyster at this time was not considered a dive watch as recreational diving did not exist at the time and military diving was still in its infancy. It was sold as giving peace of mind, not as an invitation to adventure under the sea – and its design reflected this.  The soft curves of the cushion Art Deco angles were something to be admired from across the dinner table, not on the back of a boat.


A beautiful, completely origina, unrestored and untouched rare 1st Edition Rolex Oyster watch from 1938 in stainless steel. The case is in superb condition and measures 32mm x 32mm, or 37mm corner to corner. These watches were very popular during the 1930s and were a forerunner to the Rolex Precision. They are however becoming harder to find these days, particularly in such wonderful condition as this.

The Dial

The outstanding, fully original, unrestored and untouched off-white dial is in wonderful condition as are the beautiful ‘leaf’ hands, making the dial very easy to read. These are original and are an outstanding feature of this watch. The dial also carries attractive bold 1 – 12 standard Arabic numerals, framed by an outer minutes track, all perfectly proportioned with a subsidiary seconds dial at 6, which completes the dial perfectly!

The dial is correctly signed ‘Rolex Oyster’ at the very top of the dial just below 12 with ‘Swiss Made’ below.

As this dial is in original, unrestored condition, this has been left untouched by our restoration team due to its superb condition. Usually, we restore the dials of the watches we sell, however we decided in this case to leave it alone, due to its unusually good condition and to retain its originality and charm for those who prefer this. It also helps to contrast with almost all of the other watch dials you see on our website, which have been restored. The hands, likewise, have also been left in their original untouched condition.

Please note, studio lights, professional-grade digital cameras, and macro lenses can be very unkind to an unrestored vintage watch dial. Also the dial here measures less than 1.25 inches across, so the image you’re seeing may be between 5 – 25 times larger than the watch itself. Therefore please keep in mind you are seeing many tiny flaws which cannot be seen, or will be very hard to see with the naked eye, even under close examination. Suffice to say, on the wrist, in natural light, this dial looks much better and carries a great deal more charm than the photographs portray.

The Movement

The original movement here is referred to as a Rolex Rebberg movement and it was this movement which helped to establish Rolex and make the company famous. It was made by the Swiss Aegler company, with whom Rolex formed a partnership. Rebberg is a Swiss district where the factory that produced these movements was located. The movement is a 15 Jewel, 11 Ligne, meaning this is the smaller-sized Rolex Rebburg movement.

This movement is fully signed, with ‘Rolex, 15 Rubies, ‘Swiss Made’ and ‘Fab Suisse’. The Rebberg was available in two grades, the best of these, as found here, has 15 jewels as opposed to the standard 7.  As can be seen, the movement is in incredibly clean and unmolested condition indicating it has been very well looked after.

As part of the restoration of this watch, the movement has been overhauled and serviced by our vintage specialist watchmaker. This involves dismantling the watch to all its component parts, careful inspection under high magnification, replacement where necessary with only original parts before careful reassembly and adjustment.

Please note – Rolex watches of this period are reliable and accurate by the standards of their day. However, they do need to be treated with some care so while perfectly suited for occasional use, we would not recommend this watch for everyday wear.

*Please note our 12 months warranty is only applicable if the full list price is paid.

The Case

The beautiful stainless steel case is in superb condition, with no scratches or dings or marks visible to the naked eye. This watch also has an incredible plain bezel which completes the look of this watch perfectly. It is of a large size, compared with typical case sizes of the day, and measures 32mm in width excluding the crown, 32mm in height excluding the lugs, 37mm diagonal across the case and 43 mm including the lugs.

The case-back is of full thickness and has never been inscribed. It is completely blemish-free with no scratches dings or other marks visible to the naked eye. Also of note is the watch case, which is crisp with clearly defined lugs.

Inside the case is signed ‘RWC Ltd’ for Rolex Watch Co Limited and also ‘Oyster Watch Co.’. It is also signed ‘Geneva Suisse’, ‘Great British Patents’ along with the case serial patent numbers from the UK and the USA. On the exterior of the screw down case back you will find the case serial number 85341 and the model reference number 2081.

As ever, our standard advice applies: vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.

The Strap & Buckle

A high quality black alligator embossed strap is fitted along with a Rolex steel buckle. However, if a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige free of charge. We carry tan, conker, dark brown and black in stock in plain padded leather, crocodile skin or lizard skin. We can also obtain most types and colours from our partners at ‘Watch Obsession’ within 48hrs. Please take a look at their huge range of straps here.

Box and Papers

Although there are no original papers with this watch, the reference numbers, markings, signatures and hallmarks are all correct, dating this watch to 1938.

Detailed particulars will be included with our purchase receipt for your interest and security. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will be provided at the time of sale along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If this watch proves to be anything less than 100% genuine, authentic and original, a full refund will be given at any time”.

A high quality double watch leather pouch is included in the sale of this watch.

Payment and Delivery

If you would like to pay by bank transfer, we will be pleased to assist you with this and pass on a 3% saving to you. Paying by bank transfer for a 3% saving will not affect your 12 months warranty. Similarly, if you wish to pay by International SWIFT or Bank Wire Transfer we will provide you with our BIC / Swift number and our IBAN number.

Please check the import duties and any taxes your government may apply, these are different for each country and, unfortunately, out of our control.

We understand there may be some ‘loopholes’ that may help you avoid these charges; however, attempting to use these could impact our ongoing ability to serve our growing international customer base.

For those who happen to visit London on occasion, we are, of course, more than happy to store your watch until we can meet you in our offices in Kensington, London, and hand your watch directly to you there.

As with all our watches, this watch will be sold under our 14 days no-quibble sale or return policy.

In Conclusion 

This is a truly first class example of a vintage 1st Edition Rolex Cushion. If treated with care, it will make an excellent investment or heirloom piece. Even though vintage Rolex prices have risen markedly recently, we still feel good examples such as this are still undervalued and as each year goes by and the world market for vintage Rolex watches continues to expand, prices will continue to climb ever higher.

A word on our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before restoring them to the highest possible standards. We then offer these at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post-sales care and service. This approach means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are some well-known stores in West London which are highly successful charging between two to three times the price you see here. We, therefore, consider our prices to be fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.

Please note, we also welcome part exchanges. If you have a watch or a small collection for sale, please contact us as we will be happy to discuss this.

We will also be happy to Service your watch, Repair your watch or Restore your watch, all at ‘sensible’ prices. Please see here.

If you have any questions please call us on 020 7727 7095 or if calling from overseas on +44 207 727 7095.

Please take a look at our other fine vintage watches.

Thank you.