Protected by 14 patents, the Sky-Dweller is the first all-new Rolex to be introduced for a long while, and certainly the most complicated Rolex for even longer. Sharing similar styling to Rolex’s flagship Day-Date, the Sky-Dweller is unmistakable with its cut away sub-dial and apertures at each hour marker used in its dual-time and annual calendar functions. If these two features aren’t enough, the impressive command ring allowing the date, reference time, and local time to be set with the crown by rotating the bezel to select each.
Alongside the Sea-Dweller, the Rolex Yacht-Master II is the largest of Rolex’s watches at 44mm, bringing us into Hublot territory. The Yacht-Master II is a statement watch that is meant to be worn to be seen but also has a function. It features a programmable, 1-to-10-minute flyback regatta timer which is set using the rotatable command bezel, similar to that found on the Rolex Sky-Dweller.
The original GMT was launched in the mid-1950s with the current generation launching over 60 years later. The GMT has always had a two-tone bezel to differentiate between day vs night. The model on offer is the SARU 18ct gold with a bi-directional rotating bezel set with 18 baguette-cut sapphires, 18 baguette-cut rubies, 22 baguette-cut diamonds and a trillion-cut diamond. Its case is set with 76 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Leaving arguably the best until last… Debuted at Basel World 2013 by Rolex for the 50th anniversary of the sacred Cosmograph Daytona, the first Daytona to be crafted in Platinum. It features a superb ceramic bezel to combat those pesky scratches, making it the second Daytona to feature Rolex’s “Cerachrom” technology.
The Rolex Day-Date had always been the most elegant, refined and luxurious watch of the Oyster Collection by Rolex – that also has elegant watches in its Cellini collection. Exclusively made in precious metals – gold or platinum – it was available for years in 36mm and more recently in 41mm (with the Day-Date II), but still with the same complication: a 3-hand timepiece showing the date and the day in a unique (but now iconic and highly copied) way. For Baselworld 2015, this luxury Rolex receives a serious update, not only by getting new colours but also by coming with a new case and, mostly, a brand new movement. Here is the Rolex Day-Date 40 with the new Rolex Calibre 3255.
THE NEW ROLEX DAY-DATE 40
Together with the new dial colours, the main novelty concerning the Rolex Day-Date 40 is of course its new size – and thus meaning a new case. But first, let’s go back on what is, since 1956 (the year of its very first introduction), the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified. This long name is important to understand all about this luxury watch.
It is said to be an Oyster. In Rolex’s nomenclature, it means that this timepiece is part of the sports watches collections and that it comes with a relatively high level of water resistance – 100 meters here to be precise – and is also a reference to the world’s first wrist watch with a water resistant case, the 1926 Rolex Oyster. Nowadays, this name is stamped more to allow the watch to protect its movement from humidity rather than to define a proper dive watch.
It is said to be an Oyster Perpetual. For Rolex, Oyster Perpetual means automatic / self-winding movement by the mean of a central oscillating weight also called rotor. Patented in 1931, this mechanism was, at that time, a real innovation, preventing the owner to actuate the crown and thus, to let humidity and dust enter the movement – thereby participating to the legendary robustness of the Rolexes.
It is said to be a Day-Date. The Day-Date is Rolex’s interpretation of a calendar watch, a timepiece that shows the date (classically by a window at 3, just like in the Datejust) and the day by the mean of a rotating disc with a large aperture at 12, letting the owner have a clear view on the day of the week – entirely written. This disc was – and still is – available in 26 languages and makes, together with the date disc, an instant jump at midnight.
It is said to be a Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified. As every movement made by Rolex, the calibre of the Day-Day is highly tested and certified by both internal controls and by the COSC (and even beats the COSC standards).
The new Rolex Day-Date 40 is respectful of this 4 pillars, a water resistant, automatic chronometer watch that displays both the date and the day, together with a luxurious and refined feeling – as this timepiece is still only available in precious metals (yellow gold, white gold, rose gold or platinum). The case of this new edition shows new dimensions and new proportions. The diameter is reduced to 40mm and both the case-bands and the lugs are slimmer – something that collectors were highly expecting, as the previous editions were a bit too bulky.
The other novelty is the arrival of the President bracelet on every editions – this typically Rolex bracelet with 3 rounded links that is now fully integrated to the watch and comes with a new end-links design. This bracelet was introduced first in 1956 and made exclusively for the Rolex Day-Date and is still in good position here, in the context of the new Rolex Day-Date 40. Its solidity and its comfort are now fully admitted, as well as the quality of the hidden clasp. This new Rolex Day-Date 40 is available in a variety of materials and dials (excluding the editions with diamond settings):
Yellow gold with a sunburst yellow gold dial, with raised applied Roman Numerals and a fluted bezel.
White gold with a guilloché sectorial dial in silver, with raised applied Roman Numerals and a fluted bezel.
Everose gold (rose gold) with a stripped ‘Sundust’ dial, with raised applied batons indexes and a fluted bezel
Platinum with a squared sky blue dial, with raised applied batons indexes and a flat polished bezel
These new combinations, together with the new dimensions and proportions, are not totally renewing the concept of the DD. However, the new Rolex Day-Date 40 is more elegant, slightly more refined and still totally versatile – easily wearable with a weekend outfit or with a suit. Once on the wrist, the use of precious metals creates a quite heavy timepiece – especially in platinum – but the reasonable diameter, the slim profile and the comfort of the president bracelet are never debatable. The classic is revisited, not changed.
For this 2016 edition of Baselworld, fans of Rolex are – with good reasons – mainly focusing on the introduction of a new Daytona in steel, now with a black ceramic bezel. However, there’s more from Rolex to this year (in fact, there’s a lot). Rolex will indeed discreetly correct some of the aspects people complained about on the Rolex Explorer 214270 (the 39mm with 3-hands), mainly focusing on a more relevant display. New hands, new indexes, all with improved proportions; this is what you’ll have with the 2016 Rolex Explorer 214270. And here is our hands-on.
Some collectors complained about the increased size of the Rolex Explorer, when it moved from 36mm to 39mm with the ref. 214270. However, this diameter remains reasonable and elegant enough – and after a few years, people get used to these 3 extra millimeters. The main problem that collectors saw with this reworked Explorer 1 was the size of the hands. Both were too short compared to the dial and mainly, the minute hand was not relevant, as the tip of the hand wasn’t touching the minute track.
Same treatment has been applied on the hour hand, which is now a little bit longer. Both hands are also slightly larger. Overall, even if the dial looses some lightness with these fatter hands, it also becomes more convenient and more rational, as the hands are now long enough for the diameter of the dial.
The second evolution concerns the iconic 3 – 6 – 9 indexes – certainly the most important part of the Explorer – that are now also coated with blue Chromalight luminous material, just like the rest of the indexes and the hands (as a reminder, the previous edition of the Rolex Explorer 214270 was featuring plain steel, polished 3 – 6 – 9 indexes). If the day-time look will remain close, it will on the other hand bring a better legibility in low light conditions – then again with the idea of a more rational display in mind.
The rest of the watch remains similar, meaning that the 2016 Rolex Explorer 214270 still features its 39mm Oyster case, in 904L stainless steel, water resistant to 100m, with flat and polished bezel and a 3-link Oyster bracelet with brushed surfaces and the Oysterlock clasp, with Easylink adjustment.
Finally – and this shouldn’t be underestimated – the 2016 Rolex Explorer 214270 features the same improvements than the 2016 Rolex Daytona in terms of precision of the movement, meaning that it has the Superlative Chronometer certification, done in-house by Rolex and with stricter criteria (-2/+2 seconds per day). It also is guaranteed for 5 years.