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Watches & Wonders 2024: Timeless Rolex designs get timely refreshes

Watches & Wonders 2024: Timeless Rolex designs get timely refreshes

Rolex invests in the technology of today to turn classics and collectors’ watch dreams into real-life grails for 2024.

The name responsible for giving some of the richest watch collectors a run for their money at every Watches & Wonders is back, complete with another set of releases that have left many realising that an itch for certain colour combinations they never knew they had were all being, satisfyingly, scratched. Here’s a report of the highlight adjustments that this year has brought to Rolex’s repertoire, spanning the classic, the resplendent, to the downright suave.

Perpetual 1908

Introduced last year, the Perpetual 1908 — an ode to the year Hans Wilsdorf coined, filed and registered “Rolex” — is back, but with a new look Rolex describes as “visual masterpiece”. This is no exaggeration, for the dress watch now comes with the fierce chill of 950 platinum (or 95 percent purity platinum), and an ice-blue dial textured with a real guilloche, rice-grain motif. Mounted on a matte brown alligator leather strap, there’s no doubt this version is less soft-spoken than its 2023 counterparts; but only the second release of this family’s debut, there’s definitely a lot more to look forward to for those who favour the understated aesthetic, embodied by this simple yet undeniably exquisite horological proposition.

Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II

Fans of Rolex’s service to sentiment will be delighted to see that the Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II will be coming in two more casual Oystersteel versions — one with the Oyster bracelet and the other with the Jubilee. Complete with the 24-hour graduated two-colour Cerachrom bezel inserts in grey and black ceramic that were released last year, these Oystersteel pieces are probably going to be bookmarked by those who thought last year’s all-gold iteration a tad too opulent. Otherwise, things are kept pretty monochrome with the black lacquer dial, save for the triangle-tipped 24-hour hand and the inscription of ‘GMT-Master II’ — both in a bright, Rolex green.

Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea

If the former two spoke the language of “stealth wealth”, the unexpected transformation of the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea this year will not. The specialty sport watch is now outfitted entirely in an almost-glowing 18-carat yellow gold, sporting a Cerachrom bezel for the first time, and freshly in a league of its own — separate from the Sea-Dwellers. While the rich blue lacquer makes this dive watch quite an unforgettable sight, it’s true marvel lies in its ceramic compression ring within the Ringlock system; the Cerachrom contributes to the waterproofness that allows the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea to safely plunge to depths of 3900m with its compression resistance and anti-deformation properties. Couple that with all the extra legibility touches of care (the Chromalight display and contrasting shapes of hour markers that are filled with the luminescent Chromalite), and you get a majestic tool watch perfect to bring out to all kinds (and depths) of sea.

Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona

Following along this more lavish leaning is the jewelry-biased iteration of the multifarious Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona. Here, its very clear this model has now been retro-fitted not just for racing on tracks, but for racing through life as a lap of luxury — behold, the “Pearl Pandas”: two new “pearlized” versions of the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, each crafted in 18-carat white gold and crowned with a bezel set of 36 brilliant-cut diamonds that replace the once-useful tachymetric scale. The first, which features a white mother-of-pearl dial and chronograph counters of black mother-of-pearl, wears an Oysterflex bracelet, while the second reverses the colours of the mother-of-pearl features, fitted instead with an Oyster bracelet. This is the first time Rolex has done this graceful, yin-yang interchange of mother-of-pearl colours, but this hopefully won’t be their last.

Once you are done with this story, click here to catch up with our April 2024 issue.