Now that Watches & Wonders Geneva has been over for a bit and the hype has settled down, let us give you our thoughts on the newest additions. These will be hitting the dealers soon and, knowing Rolex fans, it won’t be long until they start making their way around the pre-owned market.
The classiest: Perpetual 1908
The newest addition to the Rolex lineup replaces the old Cellini, which was a bit of a strange one in the collection. It wanted to be a classy dress watch on the level of Patek Philippe or Breguet, and it was priced like it, but its caseback was closed off to the world, and it could never escape the shadow of Rolex’s sports watches. The new Perpetual 1908, named for when the Rolex name was first used, changes that. It combines the classic fluted bezel with the domed bezel, both of which Rolex is renowned for. It also adds a brand new butterfly clasp and, most importantly, an open caseback which allows you to see the brand new automatic 7140 calibre, which is a Superlative Chronometer. It also looks very sleek on the wrist and instantly became a favourite of journalists and collectors at Watches & Wonders Geneva.
Most innovative: Rolex Yacht-Master 42
One might say that changing the material around on a watch isn’t an innovative thing to do. Rather, it’s something we’d just expect a watchmaker to do. However, RLX titanium is a new material for Rolex, having only been used in one watch before now, and it requires completely different tooling due to its hardness. The new Yacht-Master 42 has a case and bracelet made from titanium in a “technical satin” finish. Designed to disappear on the wrist of a professional yachter (is that a word?), the watch is exceedingly light for its size, but it’s still comfortable. The grey/black dial with large markers is very legible, the bi-directional bezel is easy to read, and the self-winding 3235 Superlative Chronometer calibre movement will remain accurate for up to 70 hours.
Anniversary: Cosmograph Daytona
The Cosmograph Daytona, also known as the Daytona to you and me, is Rolex’s chronograph sports watch. Did you know that it’s 60 years old this year? The Daytona name, that is, the watch itself is thoroughly modern, having been refreshed for this model year. You’d be forgiven if you missed the changes, they were mostly in relation to the size of the rings for the subdials and the size of the markers. If you go for a version with a ceramic bezel, you’ll notice that there is now a ring of metal around the edge of the bezel to class it up and also help protect it from knocks and cracks. This can be found on the solid steel, solid yellow gold and solid platinum models. If you have a Rolesor (two-tone) or solid Everose gold version, your watch has a metal bezel anyway. The refreshed calibre 4131 is another new movement from Rolex, combining the Chronergy escapement with Rolex’s classic column wheel and vertical clutch chronograph. My favourite is the yellow gold Rolesor variant, but collectors will definitely love the 60th-anniversary platinum edition, which comes with all of the above as well as an open caseback.
The ultimate daily: Oyster Perpetual Explorer 40
The Explorer cemented its place in history, and contributed to Rolex’s, by joining Sir Edmund Hillary on his successful climb to the peak of Mount Everest, the first person ever to do so. The new Oyster Perpetual Explorer 40 comes with a 40mm case made from Oystersteel, Rolex’s proprietary steel blend, which has an enhanced lustre over regular steel. The case with its Twinlock screw-down crown is water-resistant to 100m, keeping the self-winding calibre 3230 inside nice and dry. It incorporates the accurate Chronergy escapement just like the other movements here, and has a 70-hour power reserve, this movement lacks a date feature which keeps the dial clean and simple.
The most unexpected: Oyster Perpetual Celebration Motif
If you’d asked us a year ago whether we thought Rolex would ever go a bit bonkers with its watches, we’d have sent you right off in the direction of the people running MB&F and Roger Dubuis, because Rolex keeps its watches classy and simple. And yet, for 2023, the Oyster Perpetual gets a new dial for its 31mm, 36mm and 41mm watches. Called the ‘Celebration’ dial, it features a bright backdrop onto which bubbles of different colours are formed. The colours, candy pink, turquoise blue, coral red, yellow and green, represent the colours Rolex introduced into the Oyster Perpetual collection in 2020. The 31mm Oyster Perpetual has the self-winding 2232 calibre with a silicone escapement and 55-hour power reserve. Meanwhile, the larger variants get the same 3230 calibre as the Explorer 40 above.
The connoisseur’s favourite: Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller
It’s also one of our favourites. The Sky-Dweller is a unique and innovative take on the ultimate traveller’s companion that was first presented in 2012. It features the possibility of showing two different timezones thanks to the 24-hour ring on the dial, as well as an annual calendar system which adjusts for the length of each month except February. Called Saros, this system displays the correct date in the date window, and the months via a small red window next to each hour marker. All of this is controlled by the ingenious Ring Command bezel and the crown. The watch is water-resistant to 100m and is equipped with the new calibre 9002, which is a development of the 9001 calibre which was used until this point. It features a Chronergy escapement with Paraflex shock absorbers, and it’s one of the brand’s most complex calibres. Other than this, the main change from the previous Sky-Dweller range is that 18k white gold is back on the menu, along with new dial colours.
The most unexpected: Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36
2023 was a year of surprises for Rolex at Watches & Wonders Geneva, with the brand flexing its muscles and showing some genuine creativity with its models this year. The newest additions to the Day-Date 36 feature dials of amazing colours, with precious stones such as aventurine, carnelian and turquoise taking centre stage and showing Rolex’s mastery of dial making. As well as stone dials, Rolex’s gem-setting capabilities are on display thanks to the gem-set bezels and dial markers. When combined with the President bracelets, these watches make an impression.
If that isn’t floating your boat, then a special version of the Day-Date was also released with a very unusual dial. Nicknamed the “Jigsaw” for fairly obvious reasons, it features a champlevé enamelled dial with multicoloured jigsaw pieces on it, and the backdrop colour changes depending on the case material used. The date indication is present, but instead of numbers, it shows a set of 31 unique emoji expressions to inspire positivity in the wearer. Also, the arc-shaped day indication is present but, as above, isn’t showing its usual information. Instead, the inspirational keywords ‘Happy’, ‘Eternity’, ‘Gratitude’, ‘Peace’, ‘Faith’, ‘Love’ and ‘Hope’ are in place. The dial markers are baguette-cut sapphires in six different colours. We’ve seen this from other brands, but we never expected the usually serious Rolex to come up with these, which are also proving to be a firm favourite, if divisive, addition to the collection.
Our favourite: GMT-Master II
We couldn’t finish this article without looking at the two excellent new additions to the GMT-Master II collection. These watches feature a new bezel colour combination: black with grey. As ever, the bezel is one piece of ceramic with two colours on it. Rolex was the first watchmaker to achieve this feat with the original “Batman” many years ago. Also new for 2023 is the application of gold into the watches. When Rolex started seriously remastering the GMT-Master II collection, it sidelined nearly all of the gold models in favour of the more affordable stainless steel ones. Now, for 2023, the GMT-Master II comes in either yellow Rolesor with matching bezel and dial markers, or it comes in full 18k yellow gold, which is our favourite. Presented with a solid 18k yellow gold Jubilee bracelet, this watch oozes class. It also has ceramic inserts in each link, which help to prevent stretching and drooping over time. We can’t wait to get this model in our store.
So, there you have it, that’s all of the main releases from Watches & Wonders Geneva for 2023; which models were your favourite? For a list of every watch Rolex released this year (except, bizarrely, the jigsaw Day-Dates), click here.
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