Alongside the news that Rolex is increasing the size of its new-generation Submariner models, the horology house has also decided to go large on its 2020 Oyster Perpetual watches, which are now available in 41 mm for the first time. What’s more, Rolex has made space for the seven sizeable new watches by bidding goodbye to its 39 mm models. Finally, the icing on the top of the cake is the inclusion of a vivid and upbeat new range of dial colours.
Rolex’s decision to make its entry-level watch 2 mm larger certainly responds to the current demand for larger watches. Furthermore, it’s possible that, similar to the new 41 mm Submariner editions, Rolex is exploring how to improve wearer comfort. In any case, men who like to wear watches measuring no less than 40 mm will likely welcome this change.
The first thing to acknowledge is that Rolex is clearly hopping onto a trend with the models’ brightly coloured dials. We’ve seen them numerous times in the past few months, most recently from Carl F. Bucherer presenting a whole new range of colorful watches. As well as more conservative silver, blue, or black sunray dials, the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 mm is also available with lacquered dials of coral red, turquoise blue, green, or yellow dials. They’re beautiful colours – some of which we’ve seen before – that sit well with the Oystersteel case and matching Oyster bracelet.
While the idea is not exactly unique, the appeal of this bright collection is that they are Rolex Oyster Perpetuals. The array of fun, cheerful dials is, after all, much-needed. Furthermore, it may create a wider audience by appealing to those wanting a less traditional-looking Rolex. Finally, the fact that the majority of the Oyster Perpetual 41 mm watches are more quirky in colour – and have switched to blue Chromalight – brings a more eye-catching touch to the brand’s least conspicuous but much-loved line.
Indeed, as with the increased case size, it is surprising that the Oyster Perpetual watches are becoming more conspicuous. Hopefully, this does not affect the line’s more modest feel. On a separate note, all of the dials of the 2020 Oyster Perpetual models (in all sizes) incorporate a design feature that definitively distinguishes them from the Datejust; double-dash indices at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock.
An Altered Dial Design
By contrast, the now-extinct 39 mm models had only single indices. Indices can be a real point of contention. Rolex made the change to double indices to set this line apart from the Datejust models. It also clearly marks the Oyster Perpetual as its entry level watch. However, the double indices arguably diminish the Oyster Perpetual’s markedly elegant design.
Powering the 41 mm Oyster Perpetual models are Rolex’s calibre 3230, in action since earlier this year. It is already a very important movement for the brand. The self-winding mechanical movement led to the filing of several patents, and offers a solid 70-hour power reserve.
Furthermore, the calibre 3230 incorporates the horology house’s patented Chronergy escapement. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is insensitive to magnetic fields, enhancing the movement’s reliability. Also, the movement is fitted with an optimized blue Parachrom hairspring. This is up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in the case of shocks. Additionally, the hairspring is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring regularity in any position. Finally, the calibre’s oscillator is fitted on the brand’s in-house, patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, thus increasing shock resistance.
The inclusion of this movement is highly significant, given that the Rolex Oyster Perpetual hasn’t seen a calibre update in years. Furthermore, the Oyster Perpetual is ultimately an entry-level Rolex model. This makes it an incredible bang for the buck given the watch’s comparatively low price and high quality movement.
Ultimately, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 mm models really do bring a new feeling to the line. Not only are they bright (as are the new 36 mm models), but also, they incorporate an excellent movement for an entry-level model. The controversy primarily lies in the size, which, like the dial colours, seems to be a premeditated, financially motivated decision to follow current watch trends.
However, the watches do somewhat transform the Rolex Oyster Perpetual line from being almost enchantingly low-key and elegant into a something much more noticeable. While the noticeably different new design and calibre of the 41 mm models create both eye-popping and overall more contemporary pieces, they do undoubtedly diminish the charm of the horology house’s classic entry-level watch. Nevertheless, there’s certainly no doubt that the ambitious new models will sell – and fast.
Price: 5,350 euros for all new 41 mm models.