Baselworld 2017 may be over, but the excitement around new models is still going strong. Over the coming weeks, One To Watch will bring you some of the highlights from the biggest watch houses. We start with the ever-popular Rolex. Its vintage timepieces remain some of the most collectible on the market, but with the brand’s stand four or five people deep throughout the watch fair, the buzz around the new models was palpable. David Duggan shares his top picks from this year’s Rolex offering. And why not check out David Hagon’s top five highlights from the show as well.
Since its introduction in 1967, the Oyster Perpetual Sea Dweller has become the professional diver’s go-to timepiece. So, it’s not surprising that Rolex would choose its 50th anniversary to revisit this classic. The new model features a 43mm case – the largest ever – and the new calibre 3235. Controversially, it is also the first Rolex sports watch to feature a Cyclops lens – more usually seen on the Datejust and Submariner. The dial also bears the name Sea-Dweller picked out in red, in a nod to the first ever model. The 2017 model is waterproof to depths of 1,200 metres (4,000 feet) and comes with the iconic helium escape valve, which regulates the pressure accumulated in the case as deep-sea divers return to the surface.
David says: “I’m a bit of a traditionalist and would have preferred the new Sea-Dweller without the Cyclops lens. That said, it’s a beautiful piece and I particularly liked the red detailing – it looks even better in the flesh. The bright scarlet really pops out. It’s a nice nod to the vintage model. It used to pop off under the water pressures and I think Rolex are quite proud that they’ve fixed that.”
Launched at Baselworld back in 2012, the Sky-Dweller was the first completely new Rolex in 20 years and the first to boast a new complication in more than a generation. It is that complication – an annual calendar with dual timezones – that has made this timepiece the ultimate travel watch for many collectors, and the technology that powers it is protected by 11 patents. Updates at this year’s Baselworld saw the introduction of a 904L steel and 18ct gold or white gold combination. The dials feature rectangular index hour markers and longer hands, as well as a Chromalight display with long-lasting luminescence.
David says: “They’ve really gone to town with the new Sky-Dweller, with a fair few variations and dials. We loved it in the stainless steel with electric blue dial. It’s also exceptional value for money. The standard Datejust is around £6,000, so for an extra £4,000 you get an annual calendar movement on a great looking watch.”
The Yacht-Master has been a regular part of Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual collection since it was first introduced in 1992, but there’s never been a Yacht-Master quite like this. With 32 sapphires, eight tsavorites and one diamond set into the rotating Everose bezel, it’s easy to see why it has been dubbed the ‘Tutti Frutti’. It’s not the first time that the watchmaker has used gems in its Yacht-Master bezel, but never quite to such colourful effect. It’s also the first 40mm model to feature gems at all. Despite the bling, this is still very much a sports watch and the strap is an Oysterflex rubber band.
David says: “This is a fun watch – something to wear for dinner. A bit of glitz. The Oysterflex band is becoming very popular as it gives a great alternative look to a typical bracelet. You wouldn’t want to wear it every day, but it has definitely got people talking.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise from Rolex was the arrival of its first moonphase function since the 1950s. Set within the stylish Cellini, this is no ordinary moonphase, however. Rolex says it can go a whopping 122 years before it needs adjusting and the moon itself is made out of a sliver of Gibeon meteorite. It also has a white lacquer dial and blue enamelled disc, which displays both a full moon (meteorite) and new moon (a slim ring of silver). There’s also a date function laid out around the dial and picked out with a blue, moon-tipped hand.
David says: “The Cellini Moonphase is a fine example of how the watch houses revisit past models. The last Rolex Moonphase – the 8171 – now sells for more than £200,000 and I think this one will sell well. The meteorite moon with applique is a lovely touch and it has a lacquered dial, which is very pleasing. Enamel dials take a lot longer than any other because they often crack when you start to apply heat. They’re incredibly time-consuming, which is why they tend to be so expensive. There’s not a great deal of difference when you see an enamel dial next to a lacquer one, but the Cellini lacquer dial is beautiful.”
David Duggan is now one of the few Authorised Rolex Repair Centre in the country, following Rolex-approved upgrades to the workshop. Get in touch if you are looking to have your Rolex serviced, interested in the latest trends, or looking to buy a vintage piece.