Rolex Oyster Perpetual New models released 2020
Watch & Bullion13 August 2020 | 3 min read
The new Rolex release for 2020 came and went, and its path left a lot of disappointment from people who apparently never experienced Rolex at Baselworld before. They are known to underperform, to play it safe, and risk nothing. This year being crazy already it really wouldn’t make sense for the Genevan watchmaker to reinvent the wheel, and so the big news was a face-lift to the Submariner coupled with it receiving the new generation movement.
Some people believe 1mm changes everything (you keep telling yourself that) while others feel betrayed (not that they will be able to buy a watch anyway) and I personally didn’t really care. My focus was on something completely different instead. Like a fly I flew to the bright colours, I flew straight to the Oyster Perpetuals.
I have to give credit at this stage to the people that saw this coming. The main indicator for this was when Rolex first sued La Californienne last year over trademark issues which they won in May of 2020. Now La Californienne was mainly known for taking old Rolex models and repainting the dials with bright modern colours before reassembling them. These watches were not only attractive for a new generation of collectors but also offered cheap alternatives to the now very collectable Stella dial day-dates. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these customs pieces inspired Rolex, not that they would ever admit it anyway, I am very confident in saying that the timing was no coincidence.
Jump forward to the first September of 2020 and hidden a few clicks behind some trivial millimetre increment changes on the front page we find what I believe is the real highlight: The new Oyster Perpetual collection. Gone are the old 39mm versions as well as the somewhat pale sun-burst dials. In their place we welcome a new 41mm version and a bunch of lacquered dials available now in bright black, silver, bright blue, coral red, turquoise blue, green, yellow, and candy pink.
The reception to this new release was spectacular, that is to say spectacularly entertaining. YouTube “experts” threw out all the adjectives they had, calling them hideous, loud, and obnoxious. Comment sections were lamenting after the old models with their “classical size” and “refined“ dials, how Rolex was losing their identity and chasing trends. A whole load of rubbish if you ask me.
First thing people forget is that the Oyster Perpetual was never an enthusiast’s watch. They are entry-level timepieces, meant to be an affordable way to experience the brand for people who had little to do with Rolex before. The question here then is not would a watch nerd enjoy these, but would these watches be able to lure somebody into the AD who happens to have five grand burning a hole in their wallet.
The second thing is that the colors are unlike Rolex. Now I have already mentioned that in my mind these are the heirs of the original Stella dials made in the 70s. Add to this that as much as people, myself included, say Rolex is a conservative brand we tend to forget that they regularly do really crazy things that nobody seems to understand. The best example for this is a watch people like to forget, the Yacht-Master 2. As much as it might burst the bubble of some, Roles is more than just the Explorer and Submariner.
Now I personally do agree that I miss the 39mm version, not because 41mm is too large but rather the jump between the two sizes being too big. I do believe though that this is Rolex adapting to the current times. If we think back to who this watch is most likely designed for, the fact is that the vast majority of people really like big watches, and a 41mm Rolex probably looks tiny compared to their 60mm Diesel disaster.
I feel very confident that these watches will be a hit, and introduce a new wave of people into this hobby. At 5050 euro for the 36mm model they offer fantastic value. Included is the new generation Rolex movement with the 70 hour power reserve, caliber 3230, as well as the easy link extension which allows for a 5mm adjustment in response to changing wrist sizes in different climates. This new range reminds me a lot of when Apple first introduced the colorful iPhones, and the impact that had in attracting people looking for an entry ticket as well as a product that allows individuals to identify themselves with.