As expected the 2023 offerings from Rolex may not look fundamentally different but there are a couple of standout models which do merit a closer look and bring to the brand some design characteristics we have been seeking for years.
The sales phrase is “an icon defying time”. To mark the 60th anniversary of the watch, Rolex ensures the legend lives on by revisiting the entire range, through high-precision reworking that concerns the case and face as well as the movement. The numerous adjustments and evolutions are a reminder that the pursuit of excellence is a race with no finish line.
The dial receives new balance with resized and restyled hour markers and counter rings. New colour and finish combinations accentuate the contrast between the dial and the counters.
We also have a new Platinum Cosmograph Daytona with a – wait for it - display case back. Yes, a Rolex where you can see the movement for the first time! Recognizable by its ice blue dial, the oscillating weight is made from 18 ct yellow gold. The display allows you to enjoy the new Calibre 4131 movement which boasts a Chronergy escapement to reduce energy loss (among other advantages); Paraflex shock absorbers to protect the heart of the movement; and an optimized ball bearing to enhance self-winding.
This calibre features a new aesthetic for the brand: a cut-out oscillating weight and, on the bridges, an exclusive Rolex Côtes de Genève decoration – a reinterpretation of an iconic finishing in traditional Swiss watchmaking.
We are told the Perpetual 1908 immortalizes Rolex’s age-long daring spirit. Inspired by an Oyster Perpetual from 1931, with a 3, 9, 12 dial, this completely new timepiece responds to the challenge of a slimmer watch according to the Rolex canon. The name ‘1908’ is a reference to the date the ‘Rolex’ trademark was officially registered in Switzerland.
Powering the 1908 is the new Rolex Calibre 7140. A self-winding movement, with two centre hands and a small seconds at 6 o’clock. Five patent applications have been filed for this slim movement, entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. Fitted with the Syloxi hairspring, Chronergy escapement and Paraflex shock absorbers, it guarantees a power reserve of approximately 66 hours and offers outstanding chronometric performance (–2/+2 seconds per day).
The 1908 also comes with a new strap set up. Fashioned in 18 ct yellow or white gold, the new Dualclasp offers enhanced comfort in wear by adapting to the shape of the wrist. Consisting of two folding, symmetrical blades, it affords easy operation of the opening and closing mechanism, while guaranteeing secure closure of the alligator leather strap.
A one-off titanium Yachtmaster was famously made for the elite yacht racer Ben Ainsley. Many of us dreamt of a titanium Oyster and now with the recent Deep Sea and this new Yachtmaster those dreams have become reality.
The new Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 42 is in RLX titanium. RLX is a grade 5 titanium alloy selected by Rolex due to its particular light weight, mechanical strength and corrosion resistance. Its use for the case and bracelet has reduced the weight of the watch by around a third compared to a similar model in steel. RLX titanium is complex to work and has required the introduction of special production processes.
The combination of polished, high-sheen and technical satin finishes illustrates the brand’s acknowledged excellence in finishing techniques.
The GMT‑Master II is now available in two new versions – 18 ct yellow gold and yellow Rolesor – with a Cerachrom bezel insert in grey and black ceramic.
For 2023 18ct white gold makes a comeback to the Sky-Dweller range. This alloy is combined with a bright black dial and, for the first time, with an Oysterflex bracelet. Equipped with an Oysterclasp and the Glidelock extension system, this bracelet brings enhanced comfort on the wrist. New dial colours are also available on the Sky-Dweller: mint green offered on the white Rolesor versions, and a blue-green exclusively on the 18ct Everose gold fitted on an Oyster bracelet.
Arguably Rolex’s best watch is back yet again in a larger size. The watch remains technically the same but after a brief foray into larger watches a fanfare was made about going back to the classic 36mm. Now we are back again to 40mm.
To many of us this will always be the quintessential Rolex and it is sure to find favour in this more contemporary case size.
Other new models.
2023 brings us new dial variants of the Oyster Perpetual 31, Oyster Perpetual 36 and Oyster Perpetual 41.
He new dials are divisive at best with the "star" being a multi-coloured bubble design. The movements remain of the highest standard although it is unlikely anyone who wants the bubbles dial will want to know that the 31 is equipped with calibre 2232, while the Oyster Perpetual 36 and Oyster Perpetual 41 are both fitted with calibre 3230.
Fitted with the Syloxi hairspring and a paramagnetic escape wheel in nickel-phosphorus, the 2232 movement guarantees a power reserve of approximately 55 hours. Calibre 3230, on the other hand, includes a blue Parachrom hairspring and Chronergy escapement extending the power reserve to approximately 70 hours.
Finally the new Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 brings us dials made of decorative stones. Green aventurine, carnelian and turquoise are paired with watches in 18 ct Everose, yellow and white gold respectively.
WatchGecko first observations:
There is always anticipation at the release of new Rolexes. And after the poor selection unveiled at the last W&W they had a point to prove. Have they swung us back? Yes and no. To those of us who have a certain memory and view of Rolex (see recent opinion piece on the WatchGecko Magazine) the introduction of the Titanium Yachmaster is pure joy. This truly is a contender for the perfect tool watch and we applaud Rolex for making it.
Equally the new 1908 is sure to be a popular model as it gives us a much more aesthetically appealing, and historically interesting, choice over the outdated Cellini. Could be a surprise winner for the brand.
As for the “bubble” Oyster. Well its bound to appeal to someone. However, a 40mm Explorer? Its very difficult to get excited about this or a gold GMT Master. Hardly original creations. And last but not least, a Rolex with a crystal display back. Not exactly reinventing the wheel but about time we all say!
STOP PRESS NEWS: As part of their 2023 announcements Rolex have confirmed the demise of the venerable Milgauss. That's a shame as as it was a much revered tool watch which has participated in some great adventures. Let's hope is just a temporary absence.
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