When it comes to the fevered speculation in the run-up to Watches & Wonders each year, Rolex takes the lion’s share of attention. This year was no exception, with even more points of intrigue in the mix than usual. Would the most lauded haute horology outfit on the planet pitch a curveball to match that of last year’s “Southpaw” GMT-Master II with green and black bezel, or the titanium Deepsea Challenge that raised eyebrows in the watch-loving community a few months after it?
Would calls be answered for a little more gaiety when it comes to dial hues with the Oyster Perpetual, perhaps, as hinted at in a recent Insta post from the manufacture? What might be kicked from the catalogue? Well, to say that a maker often thought of as conservative when it comes to reimagining their repertoire have certainly shed their inhibitions and really had some fun this time around—see below.
No discussion of Rolex’s latest creative output is complete, of course, without tackling the knotty question of actually acquiring the new novelties. Rolex launched its certified pre-owned business this year, giving it control over some of its secondary market from here on. What impact this has on how likely those without an authorized dealer on speed-dial are to get hold of a piece remains to be seen.
Our sense, though, is that Rolexes are a little easier to purchase these days, in part due to economic slumps in various parts of the world. Given what attendees beheld for the first time in Geneva today, we’d implore readers to take advantage.
With the Submariner turning 70 this year and the Cosmograph Daytona 60, much of the Rolex-related conjecture in the last few weeks has surrounded anniversaries. Would any new releases prove as singular as the platinum iteration of the latter, introduced when it turned 50?
As it turns out, the next-gen versions of this iconic motorsport chronograph have been subject to a number of subtle aesthetic twists. The case and lugs have been tweaked so that light reflections better emphasize the contours of a design which the piece has had since its launch six decades ago, whilst new material/color combinations bring out the contrast between the dials and the counters/rings.
There are several iterations—including platinum with ice blue dial; an 18 ct Everose gold version with black dial and Sundust counters; and 18 ct yellow gold with a golden dial and bright black counters and Oysterflex bracelet. All house the new calibre 4131 movement, an evolutionary step up from calibre 4130, which features bridges decorated with Rolex Côtes de Genève finishing.
Case Size: 40 mm
Case and Bracelet Material: Oystersteel, Yellow Gold, Everose Gold, Platinum
Power Reserve: 72 hours
Perhaps the piece in the Rolex canon most conducive to formal dressing, the Perpetual 1908—named as a nod to the year that Hans Wilsdorf came up with the name Rolex—has a slim, 18 ct yellow or white gold case and a part domed, part finely fluted bezel. Subtle chamfering on lugs completes the piece’s aesthetic.
A transparent case back reveals the exquisite piece of horological theater that is calibre 7140—a self-winding mechanical movement Rolex unveiled this year. It includes a Chronergy escapement, Syloxi hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers, not to mention bridges finished with Rolex Côtes de Genève (keen-eyed observers will note the polished groove between each band).
Dials—which come in a white or black—have Arabic numerals at 3, 9 and 12 (there’s a seconds subdial at 6) and faceted index markers, whilst the hour hand, with a ring approaching its tip, contrasts playfully with the minute hand’s sword shape.
Case Size: 40 mm
Materials: Yellow and White Gold
Power Reserve: 66 hours
Yacht‑Master 42—in Titanium
What the fruits might be of Rolex R&D boffins’ recent dabbling with titanium has been another major topic of conjecture over the last few weeks. Many predicted the arrival of a Daytona (or perhaps a Submariner) rendered from an alloy known for its strength and lightness.
As it turns out, they’ve applied their newly found nous with this material to a model that has been at the heart of the intersection between horology and sailing since the 1950s—and we’re predicting a warmer response to this release than those received by the titanium Sea Dweller model, which many deemed too bulky, its dial too busy.