The one thing you can expect from Rolex is continuity. While less established watch brands pursue shock-and-awe tactics and change design direction at the speed of light to dazzle potential watch buyers, things at Rolex move at a stately pace. Classic models from the 1950s and 1960s, like the Oyster Perpetual, the Submariner, the Explorer, the GMT-Master and Daytona are very present in Rolex’ core collections and can trace their ancestry in a direct line to the originals.
After all, why fix it if it ain’t broke? Which doesn’t mean that Rolex is resting on its laurels: refreshed designs over the decades and a draconian quality control test – known as the Superlative Chronometer certification, which has a precision tolerance of just -2/+2 seconds per day that outdoes even the official COSC-chronometry standards – ensure that you are getting one of the finest, most resilient and reliable movements on the market with a watch that could never be mistaken for any other brand and is likely to hold its value.
New Rolex watches for 2017
This year is no exception, and Rolex has rolled out seven models for men, six from its classic Oyster line and a handsome dress watch with Moon phases from its Cellini collection.
The new Rolex Sea-Dweller: a monster of the abyss
Celebrating half a century of active service, the Sea-Dweller was built in 1967 as a professional divers’ watch for pioneers of deep-sea diving and was fitted with a patented helium escape valve to regulate the pressure accumulated in the case during the decompression phase.
Water-resistant to a colossal depth of 1,220 metres, the 2017 Sea-Dweller now features a Cyclops magnifying lens over the date window, the first time in the history of this deep diver that this has been technically possible. Housed in a larger 43mm case with a wider bracelet and clasp, the name of the watch is inscribed in red letters on the dial, a reference to the original 1967 ancestor.
The Oyster case is the very definition of robustness, and the middle case is crafted from a solid block of corrosion-resistant 904L steel with a hermetically screwed-down caseback that only Rolex watchmakers can remove. Taking into account that the watch will be worn over a diving suit, the Oyster bracelet is fitted with a double extension system that allows the bracelet to extend up to 26mm without the use of tools.
Up, up and away with the new Rolex Sky-Dweller
The watch for world travellers with one of the easiest-to-consult dual-time zone functions, the Sky-Dweller is revisited in 2017 in this yellow Rolesor version, below, a combination of steel and 18-carat yellow gold that has been a signature feature of Rolex since 1933.
Protected by no less than 11 patents, the Sky-Dweller lets globetrotters consult local time with the central hands, home time in a rotating 24-hour disc in the centre of the dial, an annual calendar with the date at 3 o’clock under a Cyclops lens, and the months by means of 12 apertures around the dial that change from white to red accordingly. Instead of having to fiddle with pushers and crowns, the functions of this watch can be adjusted with the rotating Ring Command bezel in yellow gold. The champagne-coloured dial, with an elegant sunray finish, now displays rectangular index hour markers and longer hands treated with Chromalight for long-lasting luminescence.
All hands on deck with the new Rolex Yacht-Master II
A chronograph designed for regattas, Rolex’s Yacht-Master II has a programmable 10-minute countdown function with a mechanical memory that can be synchronised on the fly. Once again, a complicated technical feature is rendered simple to use and is accessed via the Ring Command bezel making it much easier to manipulate on board.
A fresh face for 2017, the dial has been upgraded with a triangular hour marker at 12 o’clock and a rectangular marker at 6 o’clock making it even easier to consult the time during the commotion of a regatta, and the hour hand sports a luminescent disc to distinguish it from the minutes hand.
A golden age for the new Cosmograph Daytona
Immortalised by the actor Paul Newman, certain vintage models of the Daytona and the steel model launched in 2016, described by Paul Altieri of Bob’s Watches as “the hottest watch money can’t buy”, are the fantasy of many collectors and have a huge waiting list.
2017 is a golden year for the Daytona with three models launched in yellow, white and Everose gold. Emphasising its speedy temperament, the chronograph is presented on an innovative Oysterflex bracelet in elastomer, reinforced on the inside with a flexible metal blade for additional comfort and durability.
The sleek black ceramic bezel with a tachymetre scale to measure average speed per hour contrasts superbly with the gold case and dial and is a nod to a 1965 Daytona that was fitted with a black Plexiglas bezel insert. Known as Cerachrom at Rolex, the high-tech ceramic bezel is corrosion-resistant, scratchproof and won’t fade in the sun.
Classic Rolex: the new Datejust 41
Rolex, the world's foremost watch brand, founded its empire on the 1926 Oyster, the world’s first totally waterproof timepiece and the genesis of the company’s rock-solid identity. The Datejust, an Oyster model with an automatic movement first introduced in 1945, was the first watch to display the date in a window at 3 o’clock on the dial.
The archetype of the classic Rolex watch, this timeless model now comes in a white Rolesor version and in a redesigned 41mm steel case with a white gold bezel. Inside the Datejust 41 is a new-generation movement developed and manufactured by Rolex. Protected with 14 patents and a powerhouse of innovations regarding precision, power reserve, shock and magnetic resistance and reliability, this watch, like all Rolex watches, is covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification ensuring a lifetime of impeccable service.
Colourful gemstones for the new Yacht-Master 40
When they pulled this model out of the drawer for us at Baselworld 2017, we were, to put it mildly, stunned. Decked out with a rainbow of multi-coloured sapphires, green tsavorites and a large triangular diamond at 12 o’clock on the bezel, this is not your usual Rolex fare and, precisely because of its rarity, will no doubt become a coveted collector’s item.
Housed in an elegant 40mm Everose gold case, don’t worry if you fall into the water with this watch on because it is as watertight as a submarine hatch and can accompany you on dives to depths of 100 metres. Like the Daytona, the Yacht-Master 40 is fitted on an elastomer Oysterflex bracelet.
The new Rolex Cellini gains a Moon phase
The Cellini collection is Rolex’s answer to a more traditional dress watch and is enhanced in 2017 with this Moonphase model. The 39mm Everose gold case frames a white lacquer dial with a blue enamelled disc at 6 o’clock showing the full Moon with a sliver of meteorite and the new Moon in a silver ring. An indicator at the top of the blue dial lets you know the phases of the Moon, and the date, placed on the circumference of the dial, is indicated with a blue hand with a crescent moon at its tip.