By Jason Marsden
When most people think of Rolex they think serious luxury. Traditional designs that have become the very definition of aspirational watch style. Their iconic designs such as the Submariner are copied by many, so much so that they have almost become a parody of themselves.
The popularity of Rolex stainless steel professional sports models is well documented. If you are not familiar with just how popular (and hard to get) these models are, then just check out my previous Palmary article “Rolex and why you probably can’t buy the one you want”. A quick Google should see the article at the top of the search results.
Rolex has had some fun with its blue and green colour options on the Submariner but the watches still retained their serious style. Not until you first see the polarising Rainbow Daytona or Eye of the Tiger Daytona do you start to get a glimpse of just how far Rolex is capable of pushing aesthetics. These gem set watches are not only massive style statements but come with a massive price tag and exclusivity.
At the entry level of the Rolex offering sits the Oyster Perpetual. This time only (no date window) watch is all the Rolex quality you would expect but in the very pure and uncluttered dial format that forgoes the date window and thus the somewhat iconic cyclops magnifier. In truth I do not like a magnifier on any watch crystal so this limits what Rolex models appeal to me. For many however it is not a Rolex unless it has the iconic date window magnifier sitting like a droplet of water on the crystal.
2020 saw Rolex launch a new range of Oyster Perpetual. Oyster refers to the case sealing technology that Rolex made famous in 1926, pioneering the truly waterproof watch. Perpetual refers to the rotating winding mass that powers the main spring. It can swing perpetually in a circle, without stop or pause as long as the watch is subject to movement.
The biggest reveal of these 2020 watches was the bold dial colour options. Turquoise, baby pink, forest green, coral red and mustard yellow sit alongside more traditional blue, silver and black dials. Offered in 31mm, 36mm and a new 41mm to replace the previous 39mm. It is worth noting that not all colour options are available in all sizes.
These models have proven very popular with the Turquoise the most sought after. The similarity to Tiffany blue may go some way to explain this, however it is not the same colour when viewed in person. Next, and my choice, is the yellow. Whilst not a primary bright yellow, it is more a mustard, almost egg yolk yellow. For those familiar with F P Journe watches, it is similar to the yellow featured on some of his iconic dials. Already the popularity of these new Rolex models has seen the secondary prices far exceed the retail price, especially for the two most sought-after colours in the 41mm variant.
As a child yellow was my favourite colour and this perhaps goes someway to explain why I was attracted to this option straight away. Whilst such a bold colour may not instinctively go with many outfits it does seem very wearable, from suits to casual wear. Maybe the fact that it does not typically match any one colour means it works with so many others. The black polished indices and yellow dial also give the watch a slight comic book/computer game graphic style, it also references perhaps yellow fibreglass furniture and kitchenware of the 1970s. To achieve these colours the dial has six layers of lacquer applied then a clear top coat before the text is pad printed ready for indices and logo to be applied.
41mm is a great size for me but many others may prefer the 36mm which is truly unisex these days, however no one is going to fault someone’s choice to wear the 41mm independent of wrist size. At just 12mm thick it slides easily under a cuff, aided by the smooth polished bezel. The 41mm and 36mm both feature the new 3230 movement, with an amazing accuracy of +/- 2 seconds per day. A power reserve of around 70 hours means you can take it off over the weekend with the confidence that you will not have to reset it on Monday. The Oyster construction with screw-down crown provides a genuine 100m water resistance meaning this is definitely a watch you can take swimming should you so choose.
The bracelet clasp is well crafted and machined out of a solid block of stainless steel, and incorporates an Easylink 5mm extension link. Normally I would have to remove a link or two from a new bracelet with my 18.5cm wrist but with the Easylink extension closed the factory length bracelet was the perfect fit. Anyone with a larger wrist may well need to purchase additional links for a comfortable fit whilst retaining the option for an extra 5mm with the extension link. I don’t know if this is a cost saving exercise by Rolex in what is, after all, their entry level model. Maybe they know their customers so well that they figure everyone has one or two spare links sitting in the box, so they may as well just produce a shorter bracelet to start with to suit most of the population.
Overnight the lume in the indices remains visible but this is in stark contrast to the very thin strip of lume in the minute and hour hands which is almost invisible compared to the indices. Don’t count on an easy read in complete darkness.
Overall however, this is a great watch and after a couple of weeks on the wrist, I can see this watch becoming one of my top four. Whilst this watch may not be the Rolex you buy if it was to be your only luxury watch, for those Rolex fans looking for a simple, fun statement piece then these new Oyster Perpetual are worth considering.
Price: NZ$9150 retail for the 41mm
Availability: Scarce. Highly sought after so may not be available to first time Rolex buyers. Even customers with established purchase history may not be able to secure their preferred model in the immediate future.
If you want to start your Rolex journey or to check out some other great luxury watch brands, pop in and see Harley and the team at Partridge Jewellers on Cashel St and tell them Jason sent you.
About the writer:
Jason Marsden is a Retail Property Manager for Colliers International and an avid watch collector. His collection includes not just some famous Swiss luxury watch brands but also a number of vintage Seiko.