From Fresh Daytonas to an Emoji Date Wheel: Rolex’s Bold New Watches Surprise and Delight

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.

Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Rolex

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. 

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex Cosmograph Daytonas Rolex

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
Caliber: 4131
Power Reserve: 72 hours

Perpetual 1908

Perpetual 1908

Rolex Perpetual 1908 Rolex

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
Caliber: 7140
Power Reserve: 66 hours

Yacht‑Master 42—in Titanium

Rolex Yacht‑Master 42

Rolex Yacht‑Master 42 Rolex

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.

The attractiveness of this piece lies in the contrasting finishes: satin, with a visible grain, on the middle case sides, the edges of the bracelet links and the sides of the clasp cover; chamfered, with a high sheen, when it comes to the top edges of the middle case lugs; polished in the case of the crown guard. The bidirectional rotatable bezel, meanwhile, is in matte black ceramic with raised numerals, complementing a black dial with a fine satin finish.

Case Size: 40 mm
Materials: Titanium
Caliber: 3235
Power Reserve: 70 hours


Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller Rolex

Independent watch dealer turned vlogger Paul Thorpe was among those calling for a more flamboyant approach to bezel and dial colours (as well, in Thorpe’s case, as the trademarked rubber Oysterflex bracelets) from Rolex in recent weeks.

Aficionados of the Sky-Dweller, a piece aimed at global travellers, who share Thorpe’s views are now afforded versions in white Rolesor (two-tone gold and steel) with a mint green dial (formerly seen only on the Datejust) and an 18 ct Everose gold piece whose dial comes in an entirely new blue hue (there’s also, for the first time ever, a 18 ct white gold version on an Oysterflex bracelet).

As for technical enhancements to a model already equipped with two time zones and annual Saros calendar, its beating heart is now calibre 9002, whose repertoire—unlike its predecessor—includes a Chronergy escapement.

As for more flamboyant approaches to dials, the new Sky-Dweller models are just the start of it…

Case Size: 42 mm
Materials: White Gold, Oystersteel, Everose Gold
Caliber: 9002
Power Reserve: 72 hours

New GMT‑Master IIs

Rolex GMT‑Master II

Rolex GMT‑Master II Rolex

A line launched in 1955 in response to the explosion of intercontinental travel—a piece instantly recognizable thanks to its bidirectional rotatable bezel and a 24-hour graduated insert—this morning welcomed two newcomers: one entirely in 18 ct yellow gold, the other another Rolesor piece.

Both have a bezel enhanced, aesthetically, by a two-tone Cerachrom (a portmanteau of ceramic and chrome) insert in grey and black ceramic plus Jubilee bracelet. These juxtapose elegantly with the name “GMT‑Master II,” rendered on the dial in powdered yellow.

Both versions feature a Jubilee bracelet with Oysterlock clasp and the Easylink comfort extension link.

Case Size: 40 mm
Materials: Yellow Rolesor, Yellow Gold, Cerachrom (Ceramic and Chrome)
Caliber: 9002
Power Reserve: 72 hours

Explorer 40

Rolex Explorer 40

Rolex Explorer 40 Rolex

Rolex have made just a single new addition to a line, launched in 1953 shortly after the first successful conquering of Mount Everest, whose black lacquer dial, numerals at 3, 6 and 9 and Professional hands embody—in Rolex’s own words—“the spirit of adventure and perseverance.”

The altogether more imperious 40 mm model offers better legibility than the 36 mm version, and is crafted from Oystersteel, an alloy which is corrosion-resistant and takes on an incredible sheen when polished diligently. Also enhancing that legibility is a Chromalight display which gives off a pleasing blue glow in poor light dark conditions but during daylight hours offers up a strikingly bright white hue.

A worthy addition to a line of pieces which make even those of us who won’t be leaving base camp any time soon feel on top of the world.

Case Size: 40 mm
Materials: Oystersteel
Caliber: 3230
Power Reserve: 70 hours

Oyster Perpetual 31, 36 and 41—With Colored Bubbles

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 31, 36 and 41

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 31, 36 and 41 Rolex

And here’s the first curveball: the lacquered dials of the new Oyster Perpetuals in 31 mm, 36 mm and 41 mm, which are dotted with bubbles in those five vivid colours (candy pink, turquoise blue, yellow, coral red and green) first introduced to the line back in 2020.

All of the fundamental features of the Oyster Perpetual collection—chronometric precision, waterproof Oyster case, self-winding movement with Perpetual rotor—are present in these zany additions to a line which became the first waterproof watch back in 1926.

But it’s the pieces’ dials, and where they sit with Rolex’s reputation for cautious nips and tucks over brassy aesthetic statements, that has got tongues wagging. (Think elegantly understated auntie letting rip on a wedding reception dance floor.)

Rolex’s newfound flamboyance is all the more elegant, here, for how it contrasts with refined aesthetic touches such as the fine fluting on the caseback.

Case Size: 31 mm, 36 mm, 41 mm
Materials: Oystersteel
Caliber: 2232 (the 31 mm version) and 3230 (the 36 mm and 41 mm versions)
Power Reserve: 55/70 hours

Day-Date 36 With Decorative Stone Dials

Rolex Day-Date 36 With Decorative Stone Dials

Rolex Day-Date 36 With Decorative Stone Dials Rolex

The Mediterranean coast provided the inspiration for three new additions to the Day-Date line whose radiant dials come in finely crystalized green aventurine, orange-ish carnelian and turquoise (made, respectively, from 18 ct Everose gold, 18 ct yellow gold and  18 ct white gold). All are studded with diamond-set hour markers and Roman numerals at VI and IX.

Faithful to what wowed watch-lovers on the Day-Date’s launch in 1956 (it was the first calendar wristwatch to show not only date but the day of the week, spelt out in an arc-shaped window at 12 o’clock), the new pieces are—natch—fitted on a President bracelet, in keeping with the “Rolex President” nickname that arose from the piece being favored by Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy, who received a Day-Date as a birthday gift from Marilyn Monroe.

Case Size: 36 mm
Materials: Everose Gold, Yellow Gold, White Gold
Caliber: 3255
Power Reserve: 70 hours

Day-Date 36 With Jigsaw Puzzle Dials—and an Emoji Date Wheel

Rolex Day-Date 36 With Jigsaw Puzzle Dials

Rolex Day-Date 36 With Jigsaw Puzzle Dials Rolex

Rolex—we’re loving the new you. Created using champlevé enameling, the striking dials on these three new variants of the Oyster Perpetual line—crafted from 18 ct yellow, white or Everose gold—feature a chromatically dizzying jigsaw puzzle motif and hour markers fashioned from baguette-cut sapphires in six different hues.

As mentioned above, the Day-Date was the first calendar wristwatch to indicate the day of the week spelt out at 12 o’clock—a huge technical feat back in 1956. Here, Rolex has instead used this window, in the aperture at 12 o’clock, to project inspirational keywords (Happy, Eternity, Gratitude, Peace, Faith, Love, Hope). Oh, and instead of anything as dry as numerical digits, 31 different emojis take their turn at the 3 o’clock window.

Case Size: 36 mm
Materials: Everose Gold, Yellow Gold, White Gold
Caliber: 3255
Power Reserve: 70 hours

Related Posts