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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

We visited Rolex at the Watches and Wonders last week. The lineup included pieces that will increase the already spiking demand even further and others that could easily be overlooked. Below is a selection of models that we found interesting.

Just like swallows, the speculations about Rolex novelties return on a schedule every single spring. Unlike swallows however, Rolex might not be that predictable. Because the expectations are high but Rolex’s kitchen is sealed off from the public, the final announcements may or may not be close to the predictions and they typically trigger heated discussions between the zealous supporters and the dislikers of the novelties. Mysticism has always been an integral part of Rolex.

Since 2016 the balance between supply and demand of Rolexes has been tipping, which the company commented on in late 2021: ‘Our current production cannot meet the existing demand in an exhaustive way, at least not without reducing the quality of our watches – something we refuse to do as the quality of our products must never be compromised’. Rolex has been addressing the situation with investments of approximately USD 1 billion including a new permanent production facility planned to open in 2029 in Bulle, Fribourg, and three other temporary facilities opening in 2024 and 2025 (source: Bloomberg).

This is good news as some novelties will probably increase the demand even further.

Rolex Daytona

The waiting lists for Rolex’s sport watches are the longest, especially for the steel versions. The Daytonas, celebrating their 60th anniversary, are probably the most-coveted amongst all. New references were introduced this year in Oystersteel, 18k yellow or Everose gold, and 950 platinum. The core design remained, receiving slight refinements that include the elongated hour markers and the somewhat thinner sub-dials. More importantly, Rolex has retired the previous 4130 calibre introduced in 2000 for the 4131, which although shares the basic running attributes (4 Hz, ‘Superlative Chronometer’ -2/+2 seconds a day precision, 72 hours power reserve), but is equipped with the company’s new generation Chronergy escapement, optimised ball bearing for the cut-out oscillating weight and Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance. For the first time, the calibre became visible on the Platinum version through the sapphire caseback.

Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 42 in titanium

A new RLX titanium version of the model presented in 2019 was released this year. RLX titanium is a grade 5 titanium alloy specially selected by Rolex. The movement is the same cal. 3235, the difference is in the metal and the finishing only. The polished and warmer hues of the 18k white gold were switched to brushed titanium, which lends a really cool look to the piece. Lugs were slightly bevelled and polished to intensify the technical look of the brushed titanium. The Oyster bracelet is also made of RLX titanium and equipped with the Oysterlock safety clasp and the Easylink comfort extension link which allows a 5mm quick adjustment of the bracelet by the wearer. Those truly using the watch on the sea will greatly appreciate its lightness.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 42 in titanium
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 42 in titanium
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 42 in titanium
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 42 in titanium

Oyster Perpetual ‘Celebration’

A funky new model bubbled up in the Oyster Perpetual family in three sizes: 31mm, 36mm and 41mm. The colours resemble the dial of the 2020 novelties – candy pink, turquoise blue, yellow, coral red and green. Just like in those pieces, the case of the novelty is made of Oystersteel. The smallest is fitted with Calibre 2232, while the 36mm and 41mm versions come with the Calibre 3230. It is truly a fun piece in the clean Oyster case – probably the one I like the most this year.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual ‘Celebration’
Rolex Oyster Perpetual ‘Celebration’

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 models

An even more divisive off-catalogue piece is the ‘President’s Watch’ heralding emotions rarely seen on presidents in their honesty. Operated by the Calibre 3255, the day of the week aperture circulates keywords such as ‘Happy’, ‘Eternity’, ‘Gratitude’, ‘Peace’, ‘Faith’, ‘Love’ and ‘Hope’, while the Cyclops lens magnifies Rolex’s self-designed enamel emojis in the date aperture. The shapes of the compartments on the champlevé enamel dial are jigsaw puzzle pieces filled with different coloured enamel: turquoise blue, red, fuchsia, orange, green and yellow. Hour indexes are  represented by 10 baguette-cut sapphires in six different hues. The case metal is 18k Everose gold, white gold or yellow gold.

Three more references were introduced that ‘evoke the atmosphere of the Mediterranean coast’ using the same gold metal variations. All of them are adorned with diamonds on the bezel and in the gold hour marker appliqués. The Everose gold has a green aventurine dial, which is turquoise on the white gold and an orangey-colour carnelian on the yellow gold version.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36, green aventurine dial
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36, “Jigsaw Puzzle Dial”

Perpetual 1908

Rolex had a more classical line, the Cellini, which the company discontinued. The new 1908 collection they presented in Geneva will fill this space. The name refers to the year when Hans Wilsdorf registered the brand name ‘Rolex’ in Switzerland. The new timepiece inherited the case design from its predecessor, while the watch face and the movement is new. 

Hours are shown by a hand with a broken-through circle and the minutes by a double-edged sword. Arabic numerals are used for 3, 9 and 12 and a sub-dial for seconds is at 6 o’clock. The 39mm case comes in 18k white or yellow gold and the dial in ‘intense’ black or white. The movement is the new Calibre 7140, which incorporates the Chronergy escapement, the Syloxi hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers. It is visible through the sapphire case back.

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