A Step Up for Syloxi

A technology formerly reserved for the brand's smaller timepieces, Rolex has stepped things up in size and introduced its spin on a silicon hairspring in its new, notably larger caliber 7140. Although wider in girth than the 2236 caliber that the Syloxi hairspring debuted in, the 7140 affords a slimmer case profile than 3132-equipped Rolex Cellini Time that the 7140-powered Rolex 1908 supplants in the collection thanks, in part, to the slimness of the Syloxi hairspring, which does away with the additional height of the Parachrom hairspring's requisite overcoil while maintaining the isochronism that an overcoil provides.

While purists may balk at Rolex broadening the use of silicon in its timepieces—it is, after all, fabbed from the exact same, soulless atomic fabric that helped pave the way for the Quartz Crisis—anecdotally speaking, it is less prone to potential perturbations in timekeeping than the Parachrom hairspring. Further to that, the molecular makeup of Parachrom is so exotic and finely tuned relative to traditional hairsprings that it may just as well be made from silicon as far as any one individual watchmaker's ability to craft a new one from the raw constituent materials is concerned. Although it is unquestionably superior to the alloys that preceded it, Parachrom is still subject to all manner of subtlety and in-between states. After it comes off of the factory line it can be tweaked, shaped, and deformed, for better or worse. Syloxi, on the other hand, operates in a more deterministic manner, much like the microchips in modern electronics that are made from the same material via similar processes. It comes out of the fab perfect. The structure of its molecular building blocks locked in place. It either works or it doesn't. It's binary.

I do find a degree of paradox in the plethora of advanced micro-mechanical tech that Rolex has packed into what is, arguably, the most classical looking timepiece in their current collection. Five new patents. A silicon hairspring. Chronergy escapement. Paramagnetic, nickel-phosphorus components. And a new, LIGA-fabricated playless gear form to drive the second hand. Rolex is fully self-aware in this matter, though:

The new 1908 is by no means a nostalgic timepiece.

I'd be pleased to see them eventually branch this collection out to include an Oystersteel variant with gilt dial—substituting the solid gold oscillating weight with the tungsten-rimmed one, of course, just as they've with the Oystersteel Cosmograph Daytona references that are equipped with the new Rolex caliber 4131.

Image credit Ulysse Fréchelin for Rolex SA