Live Pics! Rolex Updates the Daytona, Introduces a Dressy Perpetual, and so Much MORE at Watches & Wonder 2023
With savvy updates to its icons and a new dress watch sure to become a modern classic, Rolex shows it’s still at the top of its game in Geneva.
Buckle your seatbelts; it is going to be a busy year for Rolex as it unveils its largest raft of new releases in recent memory at Watches & Wonders 2023. Between the refinements made to well-known models and the number of novelties it has introduced, there are no fewer than 18 releases, showing that the Geneva-based brand is still at the top of its game.
So, while the phrase “everything changes but nothing changes” remains an apposite description for some of the new pieces, that in and of itself is an indication of the sensitive task at hand: How does Rolex manage the evolution of a watchmaking icon without risking its status?
And since we’re speaking of icons, that’s where we’ll start.
To mark the 60th anniversary of the Cosmograph Daytona, Rolex has refined its dial and case and equipped it with the new calibre 4131. The latter can even be admired through the transparent display caseback of this new platinum piece.
Unfortunately for some, the new Cellini model that many hoped for didn’t materialize, but it was for a good reason: Today, Rolex introduced its first dress watch in a long time. Specifically, we mean the all-new Perpetual 1908 collection, with a versatile 39mm gold case and sapphire display caseback.
There was little chance Rolex would develop its own robust, lightweight “RLX” titanium alloy and only reserve it for the Deepsea Challenge, which launched last November. And so, we now welcome the sailing-ready Yacht-Master 42 in RLX titanium.
Finally, Rolex’s latest additions to the GMT-Master II family are sure to catch the eye. First, we have a new Rolesor edition with a two-tone Jubilee bracelet, and second, there is the new all-yellow gold edition. Both sport a bicolor Cerachrom bezel in black and grey.
60th Anniversary Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Leading up to Watches & Wonders, “Anniversary Daytona” had been the watchword on many a collector’s lips, which is unsurprising given that the brand’s most sought-after timepiece, the Cosmograph Daytona, is celebrating its 60th birthday this year.
What’s more, having helped change the sports watch landscape when it was introduced in 1963, the Daytona has never gotten a significant update – neither aesthetically nor mechanically – since the turn of the millennium. Well, now we have that long-awaited update.
To mark six decades of the Daytona, Rolex has breathed new life into the legend by not only reworking its dial and case but also equipping the new Cosmograph Daytona with a new automatic movement.
The dial now boasts a new visual balance and more modern look with resized and restyled hour markers and counter rings, while the brand has used a subtle mix of colors and finishes to play up the contrast between the dial and the counters.
The mid-section of the 40mm case has also been redesigned with more refined lines. And on the versions with a ceramic Cerachrom bezel, the bezel is edged with the same material as the case.
And ticking on the inside is the new calibre 4131 chronograph movement. An evolution of calibre 4130, this new calibre includes a number of Rolex innovations, including a Chronergy escapement to reduce energy loss, Paraflex shock absorbers, and a ball bearing designed for optimal self-winding.
On the new 950 platinum Daytona with an ice-blue dial, this movement’s 18K yellow gold oscillating weight and Geneva wave-decorated bridges can be admired thanks to this edition’s transparent sapphire display caseback, a first for the Oyster Perpetual collection.
With a variety of dials available, the new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona starts at $15,100 for the stainless steel versions – available in October 2023 – and goes up to a purported $80,750 for the platinum version (all Rolex’s website says about the cost is, “Price on request”).
Dressed for Success: Perpetual 1908
From a sports watch icon to a stunning new dress watch: The Perpetual 1908. And while this numerical moniker takes us back to the early 20th century (and the year when Rolex registered its trademark in Switzerland), so too does this new collection’s eye-catching aesthetics.
With the numerals 3, 9, 12, and the small seconds hand at 6 o’clock on an “intense” white or black dial, the 1908 revisits the style of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual from 1931, the year the latter was conceived.
That vintage vibe is continued with a minute hand shaped like a two-edged sword, an hour hand with a pierced circle, faceted gold hour markers, and a railroad minute track around the dial periphery.
Featuring a domed sapphire crystal, the 18K yellow or white gold case has a sweet-spot size of 39mm and is said to be 20% slimmer than any other Rolex watch boasting the same diameter.
That slimness is achieved thanks to the new compact calibre 7140, a newly developed automatic movement for which five patent applications have been filed. It is fitted with the Syloxi hairspring, a Chronergy escapement, and Paraflex shock absorbers and boasts impressive chronometry: –2/+2 seconds per day over its 66-hour power reserve.
As with the new 950 platinum Daytona, a transparent caseback allows for observation of the movement, including its cut-out gold oscillating weight and Geneva Wave-finished bridges.
The yellow gold Perpetual 1908 is priced at $22,000, while the white gold edition lists for $23,300. Its alligator leather strap features the new Dualclasp buckle in yellow or white gold to match the case.
Yacht-Master 42 in RLX titanium
In the past, we have seen a prototype titanium Yacht-Master 42 on the wrist of top sailing pro Ben Ainslie. But now Rolex is treating us to its first serially produced edition made from this material.
What’s more, the new Yacht-Master’s 42mm case and Oyster bracelet are made from RLX titanium, making this the second watch Rolex has released in this lightweight material, following the launch of the Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge last November.
Complex to produce, this grade 5 titanium alloy is noted for its mechanical strength and resistance to corrosion. By using it to make the case and bracelet of the Yacht-Master 42, Rolex has managed to reduce the weight of the watch by about a third compared to the same model in stainless steel.
Moreover, the brand has complemented this technical material with a technical look, deploying satin and polished finishes to reflect and absorb light. Plus, returning from previous models, the new Yacht-Master 42 has a bidirectional bezel with a Cerachrom insert in matte black ceramic with raised and polished numerals and graduations, which neatly complements the matte black dial.
Finally, set to be made in a limited production, the Yacht-Master 42 in RLX titanium is priced at $14,050.
GMT-Master II in Yellow Gold
Last but not least, Rolex has released two new 40mm editions of its GMT-Master II. The first is in Rolesor – Oystersteel and yellow gold – with a two-tone Jubilee bracelet and a price of $16,450. The second is in yellow gold with a yellow-gold Jubilee bracelet $38,900 price tag.
The “Rolesor” stands out as Rolex’s only current steel and gold watch presented on a two-tone jubilee bracelet, while the all-yellow gold edition adds a bright new hue to the GMT-Master II line-up.
Both editions feature a Cerachrom bezel insert in grey and black ceramic, an entirely new color combination of which the dark, muted tones match superbly with the black lacquer dial.
For more information about all of Rolex’s new releases, please visit the Rolex website.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell & Pierre Vogel)