Baselworld, the world’s biggest watch fair, is an annual platform for hundreds of watchmakers to show their new wares, but it is Rolex that is the most hotly anticipated presentation at the event. And this year the Geneva-based brand didn’t disappoint, introducing a slew of innovations, significant alterations and the company’s first moonphase watch in well over half a century. As expected the three new iterations of the iconic Daytona were worthy newsmakers, but Rolex gave their other collections a chance to shine this year, illustrating once more the depth and variety offered by the storied Swiss watchmaker.
It took almost 70 years for Rolex to reintroduce a moonphase complication, but it was certainly worth the wait, as the new Cellini Moonphase was a showstopper at Baselworld, wowing the critics and collectors alike. The Rolex moonphase watches from the early 1950s – the incredibly rare references 6062 and 8171 have been sold for millions of dollars at auctions in recent years – were an elegant adjunct to the company’s more masculine professional tool watches. The Cellini Moonphase recreates that sense of timeless élan, offering something entirely different yet still unmistakably Rolex.
The eye is immediately drawn to the moonphase indicator, which, given the time that has elapsed since it last appeared, is somewhat surprising but equally feels entirely natural. In a subtle nod to watchmaking’s past, Rolex has rendered the moonphase disc in fired blue enamel, a rather age-old and incredibly esoteric method with the full moon coming in a striking meteorite and rhodium plating. White lacquer enlivens the dial, the glossy sheen offers sophistication but also accentuates the moonphase indicator, which is read via the indicator set at 12 o’clock on the subdial. The moonphase complication itself is set via a pusher placed on the outer side of the case at 8 o’clock.
Juxtaposed to the throwback elements, Rolex being Rolex, the company has added a wealth of innovation to the Cellini Moonphase, making it more than just a moonphase indicator. The watch is astronomically accurate to 122 years, which may seem excessive but is undoubtedly impressive. The calibre 3195 automatic movement inside is typically robust with a 48-hour power reserve and is also chronometer-certified with the accompanying five-year guarantee.
The watch is sized at 39mm, and the dial is awash with numerals and 18k pink gold markers as well as an inner minute track, yet the design never feels cluttered. The outer numerals mark the date, another deliberate callback to the 6062 and 8171 watches from the ’50s, which will surely please Rolex aficionados, and is indicated by the slender blued hand. Reinforcing the classical and dressier credentials of the watch are the 18k Everose gold case with a fluted bezel, the brown alligator leather strap and the 18k Everose gold Crownclasp, the first time this has appeared on a Cellini.
The Sky-Dweller is among the newer of Rolex’s collections, but since its launch in 2012, the brand’s most complicated watch has become a firm favourite with the buying public. Previously only available in precious metals, the audience for the Sky-Dweller is about to get much larger as the company launched more wallet-friendly iterations in 2017, with the watch now coming in white Rolesor and yellow gold options.
Rolesor is Rolex’s patented union of steel and gold first introduced in 1933. On the two-tone yellow Rolesor Sky-Dweller, the bezel, the inner links of the bracelet and the crown come in 18k yellow gold with the rest in steel, while on the white Rolesor Sky-Dweller the bezel comes in 18k white gold with the rest of the watch coming in tough steel.
The new materials are the biggest, and most welcome, change but there are few more tweaks to the 2017 Sky-Dweller. Most notably, Rolex has made the hands longer and updated the dial with rectangular markers replacing the Roman numerals of previous models giving the watch much bolder and fresher look.
Not to be overlooked, Rolex did something special with the Datejust 41 this year too, introducing an all-steel version of this iconic timepiece. The introduction of the Datejust 41 last year was huge news in itself, as Rolex revamped an icon – making it larger for a modern audience. However, it was only available in yellow and Everose Rolesor.
Rolex fans have been clamouring for an all-steel – and thus more affordable – version of the Datejust 41 and their wish has been answered. The watch has all the same refinements of last year’s game-changing model, including the slimmer profile and smoother lugs as well as the new calibre 3235 chronometer-certified movement with its stellar 70-hour power reserve, but now with all-steel case, bezel and bracelet the audience for the watch should grow immeasurably.
As well as the all-steel Datejust 41, Rolex added more variety to the collection, with the introduction of a white Rolesor version of the watch, featuring an 18k white gold fluted bezel.
The Lady-Datejust 28 also gets the much-wanted all-steel treatment this year. The popular Lady-Datejust 28 Rolesor versions introduced in 2015 and 2016 were a taster of a move towards an all-steel version, and so here we are, with Rolex correctly reading the way the market is moving.
As well as the headline-grabbing steel version, there is also a white Rolesor version of the Lady-Datejust 28, with
the fluted bezel coming in 18k white gold. As with all Lady-Datejust 28 models, there are a number of dial colour options available.
Much like the Datejust 41, the Lady-Datejust 28 has all the features that helped the watch make its mark when it was first introduced. The watch includes the new generation chronometer-certified calibre 2236 movement that features a 55-hour power reserve and all of Rolex’s cutting edge technology, including the patented Syloxi silicon hairspring that offers greater protection against shock, magnetism and variations of temperature.