Every time an annual watch event that features Rolex rolls around (Baselworld in the past, Watches and Wonders today), conversations on what to expect from the behemoth start flying thick and fast. To say Rolex is popular is an understatement, something the brand uses to its advantage by remaining tight-lipped, rarely “dropping hints” on their new offerings ahead of the event. All this in turn contributes to the eventual thrill of discovering their novelties. To that effect, the brand’s 2021 offerings did not disappoint.
Leading the pack was the Oyster Perpetual Explorer, a line whose legacy can be traced back to 1953—the watch was part of the expedition that saw Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay scale the Everest; the Explorer line was launched shortly after. What has shocked most Rolex purists is that the watch, for the first time ever, has appeared in a two-tone Yellow Rolesor (gold and steel) and Oystersteel version on the dial and bracelet. The dial has been scaled down to a 36mm after being a 39mm for more than a couple of years. The watch appeals to me for several reasons—the new look, the freshness—but most of all, I am excited about this icon having an update.
The second in line is the Oyster Perpetual Explorer II, a line that is celebrating 50 years. And to commemorate that, there is a redesigned case and bracelet. Featuring a white lacquer dial, its hour markers have a PVD coating, and the 24-hour orange hand allows one to tell whether it is night or day in extreme weather conditions. The 42mm Oystersteel watch also has a Chromalight display (like the Explorer); the new, innovative material allows for the hour markers to glow bright blue in the dark and in a brighter white hue during the day. Overall, the brand has kept the celebrations subtle, and that is not a bad thing.
If beautiful dials catch your fancy, Rolex has offered up the Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36 in four new models. Two of them have a palm tree motif in green or golden with Oystersteel. There is an Oystersteel and Everose gold with a fluted bezel and dual-toned jubilee bracelet and a golden fluted dial and bezel with a dual-toned Yellow Rolesor and Oystersteel.
For that ‘out of this world’ touch, the 40mm Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona—with its three bracelet versions in Oysterflex, yellow gold and Everose gold—has a metallic meteorite dial with captivating Widmanstätten patterns.
There are also two jewellery timepieces—the diamond-studded Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 (in coral, turquoise and burgundy), and the 28mm Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust.
According to a report released by Morgan Stanley in collaboration with LuxeConsult in March, in 2020, Rolex SA became the largest watch group in Switzerland for the first time. This new collection is well placed to keep the watchmaker on that winning streak.