Did you know that the first person to swim to Robben Island and back to Cape Town was endurance swimmer Mercedes Gleitze in the late 1920s? She was also the first English women to swim the English Channel in 1927 and although not the first — that was claimed by US endurance and Olympic swimmer Gertrude Ederle a year earlier — this was at a significant time when women had only a couple of years earlier been allowed to partake competitively in the sport. The evolution of their bathing suits no doubt also went a long way in making swimming much easier.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust Pearlmaster 39
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust Pearlmaster 39
Image: Supplied

The iconic watch band Rolex started its life in England in 1905 but by 1919 company operations were well-established in Geneva. The year before Gleitze made her Channel crossing this evolutionary manufacturer had revolutionised watchmaking with the hermetically sealed Oyster case, making it the first waterproof diving wristwatch.

The perfect testing ground, Rolex wisely sponsored Gleitze on her crossing. Although the first wristwatch was designed for a woman in the mid-1800s and essentially as a piece of jewellery, the Oyster might in this instance also be seen as a first entry in the women’s ‘sports’ watch category.

Our featured 39mm Oyster Perpetual Datejust Pearlmaster elegantly marks 25 years since the launch of the Pearlmaster model. It’s a rather regal looking piece with 18ct Everose pink gold case and bracelet, juxtaposed by an aubergine dial and paved numerals, and haloed by the brilliant diamond-set bezel.

Whether you’re planning to take a leisurely dip at the Oyster Box (oysterboxhotel.com), a more committed crossing between Hotel du Cap Eden Roc (oetkercollection.com/fr/destinations) and Cannes or ice-cream-headache-inducing swimming trek around the Isle of Man, rest assured that your Oyster case is guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100m.

The Pearlmaster 39 is equipped with the new generation in-house Calibre 3235 self-winding ‘perpetual’ mechanical movement. After being tested and certified as a Swiss chronometer by the COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute) it is tested a second time by Rolex to guarantee excellent performance on the wrist.

Available at selected Rolex retailers country wide. rolex.com

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