Rolex Beta Quartz 5100 'Il Texano'
Rolex and a number of other Swiss watch manufacturers joined forces in the 1960s to produce the first Swiss-made quartz movement.
Rolex and a number of other Swiss watch manufacturers joined forces in the 1960s to produce the first Swiss-made quartz movement. The resulting Beta 21 caliber was used by Rolex in the ‘Il Texano’ (reference 5100) in 1970. Apart from the pioneering quartz movement, the ref. 5100 was also revolutionary due to its angular case shape and integrated bracelet. Indeed, the watch looks a lot like the Royal Oak and Nautilus designed by the legendary Gerald Genta in 1972 and 1976, respectively. While the details are murky, a longtime colleague and friend of Genta has stated that it was Genta who designed the Il Texano. In any case, the Royal Oak and Nautilus followed just a few years later and feature the same design cues.Rolex introduced the 5100 ‘Il Texano’ in 1970 and ceased production just two years later. By that time, Rolex had decided to leave the Beta 21 consortium and focus on developing its own in-house quartz calibre, resulting in the Oysterquartz line.As a result, the Il Texano is one of the rarest among all Rolex references. Around 1,000 ref. 5100s were made in the early 1970s with the vast majority of them in yellow-gold. White-gold variants are the rarest, with an estimated 100 in existence. Consequently, the 18k white-gold Il Texano is one of the most collectible vintage Rolexes on the market.The 18k white-gold case is uncharacteristically large with a diameter of 39 mm, which was necessary to house the bulky Beta 21 movement. Due to its beefy looks, the watch was nicknamed ‘Il Texano’ by collectors. The case is accented by an 18k fluted bezel and an integrated 18k white-gold President-style bracelet with faceted links. The classic silvered dial features long 18k white gold stick indices and characteristic long painted minute markersAside from housing Rolex’ first quartz movement, the Il Texano featured two other important technical developments. It was the first Rolex reference to incorporate a quickset mechanism for the date function and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It would take nearly a decade until Rolex would begin to roll out these developments in other models.This historically important and rare ref. 5100 dates back to 1971 and features the unique number “225” engraved in the case back, indicating that it was the 225th Il Texano to ever be produced. This unique watch is in excellent condition with a spotless dial, thick case and sharp bracelet.