The new Rolex Baselworld 2019 releases were announced on Wednesday 20th March against a backdrop of fevered anticipation, arguably more heightened than any year in memory. Social media has been awash with some truly creative designs as people try to second guess the announcement with a host of potential Rolex mock ups. And then came the announcement!
The adjective used more frequently than any other to describe the announcement to us has been ‘underwhelming’. A somewhat skinny release contained within just 7 collections, (4 professional and 3 classic) left many Rolex followers feeling flat. Within the overall catalogue of Rolex releases this year there are one or two gems that are sure to get waiting lists swelling, so let’s take a look at what’s new from Rolex at Baselworld 2019.
Without doubt the standard bearer of the Rolex Baselworld 2019 releases follows on from last year’s introduction of the BLRO ‘Pepsi’. Long had the rumours of the existing BLNR discontinuation been flowing through the grapevine and as predicted by GWS the new generation calibre 3285 movement led to the end of production for the existing 116710 BLNR, and the release of a superseding model the 12670 BLNR. As well as the new movement, the new BLNR also benefits from the same refined case, and jubilee bracelet as the BLRO ‘Pepsi’. Furthermore, Rolex have discontinued all 116 series GMT-Master II’s including the black bezel 116710LN, the steel & gold 116713LN and all full yellow gold 116718’s without introducing a replacement model. What we do have as well as the white gold ‘Pepsi’ replacement 126719BLRO is the option of a new meteorite dial which is sure to spark significant interest. The 126710 BLNR has been set a retail price of £7,150, with the 126719 BLRO Blue dial at £28,250, and the meteorite dial at £29,550.
Besides the GMT, the releases that draw the most attention this year seem to indicate Rolex have a desire to move with the trend of larger watches. Taking everybody by surprise, Rolex have decided to build on the introduction of the stainless steel 43mm Sea-Dweller in 2017, by gifting us a Rolex Sea-Dweller 126303 steel & gold option larger than any other two tone watch in production by the brand. The first time we’ve seen a Sea-Dweller adorned with precious metals is sure to upset the tool watch purists but what we now have is an option for a steel & gold timepiece for those that find a standard 40mm sportswatch a touch on the small side. The Rolex Sea-Dweller steel & gold will retail at £12,400.
Maybe the biggest surprise of all, but in line with a potential shift towards larger watches by Rolex sees the introduction of a new Yacht-Master, for the first time in a larger 42mm case. A solitary introduction in the collection sees the new Rolex Yacht-Master 42 226659 only available in white gold, presented on a new larger version of the Oysterflex bracelet. A somewhat puzzling introduction seemingly out of sync with the rest of the Yacht-Master family. At this point in time it’s not clear if the Yacht-Master collection will eventually shift towards a larger 42mm case or if the new Yacht-Master 42 will sit alongside the Yacht-Master 40, and Yacht-Master 37 as part of a broader selection within the collection. Could this be a test bed to see how well the new 42mm case size is received? Will this pave the way for a new series of larger Rolex sportswatches including a new 42mm Submariner? Only time will tell. The Rolex Yacht-Master 42 has a retail price of £21,400.
Under the radar of the fanfare of Rolex Baselworld 2019 releases slipped a change in dial within the Rolex Daytona collection. In a bold move to adapt arguably the most popular of the precious metal Rolex Daytona’s, the Everose gold chocolate dial has had a change in the hour markers with the numerals being changed from Arabic, to baton, with the subdials now offering a contracting black background against the chocolate dial. The Rolex Daytona in Everose gold retail price remains unchanged at £28,850.
The 3 remaining collections containing new releases all fall into the ‘classic’ range. The Rolex Day-Date 36, Datejust 36 and Lady Datejust 31 are all to benefit from the new series of movements with a 70hr power reserve. With a few new dials to speak of and some slight refinements to the cases in all 3 models these releases generally just facilitate the rollout of the new movement across the classic estate, playing catch up with the Day-Date 40, and other parts of the Datejust, and Lady Datejust collections.
The Rolex Baselworld 2019 releases seem to be split into two clear categories. The first being the continued roll out of the calibre 32xx series movement, completing the GMT-Master II, Datejust and Day-Date collections. With this in mind, we would expect to see the new movement continue to spread into additional collections at Baselworld 2020, with the prime target being the Rolex Submariner.
The second category of releases is confined to larger than standard 40mm watches in the Professional range. The introduction of the Yacht-Master 42 certainly follows the trend, and for the first time ever, those who enjoy a watch larger than 40mm finally have a steel & gold Professional range option. We can only wonder if this is an exploratory move to test the markets reaction to a future where watches in the Rolex professional category have a larger standard size, or if it’s just an additional option in the Yacht-Master category. Could we potentially see a 42mm Rolex Submariner in future years? Let us know your thoughts.