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Baselworld 2019: Rolex

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Despite its significant production, Rolex presents finally few novelties every year. The ratio of number of novelties / annual overall production must be among the lowest in the industry. A sign doesn't deceive: when I leave Basel, I have a clear vision of what Rolex has presented. On the other hand, I find it difficult to recall with the same precision what the other actors with important production volumes presented. The brand with the crown can afford it: its flagship models are clearly identified and its novelties are among the most awaited. Other brands are looking for the magic formula, trying to multiply the references to cover several geographical markets or price segments and in the end, give more a feeling of restiveness than control. For me, there is a significant gap between the brands' vision of the customers' expectations and their real expectation. Customers don't expect loads of novelties. They want standards and icons. And Rolex brings standards and reassures them at the same time.

Every year, it's the same story. In 2019 as before. Many comments argue that Rolex is not surprising, that there aren't any truly amazing novelties and that the brand doesn't innovate very much. It is a bad trial and especially a bad understanding. Rolex innovates continuously and above all in a useful way. And then in the end, some of the novelties of this year are truly surprising since no one had seen them come during the pre-Basel game of predictions. In any case, you should never approach Rolex with the same grid of reading as for any other brand. Rolex is different. Period.


So I propose you to browse the  2019. It includes a new model: the Yacht-Master 42. The other novelties are evolutions of existing references with new dials, colors or the use of newer calibers.

Yacht-Master 42


I really like this watch, I even think it's my favorite novelty from Rolex this year. It has several assets. First of all, it introduces a new diameter (42mm) in the Yacht-Master line. This diameter suits it perfectly. Taken in account its dial and its black bezel, its perceived size is smaller. Then Rolex has totally preserved the balance of the 40mm model despite the increase in diameter. Finally, thanks to its white gold case and the Yacht-Master inscription in white, the watch becomes more discreet and more refined (in my opinion) than the 40mm version. The overall quality of the execution, the efficiency of the 3235 movement and the comfort of the Oysterflex strap finally convince me. A versatile watch of great elegance.

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Sea-Dweller Rolesor (Oystersteel and Yellow Gold)


I was less seduced by the Rolesor declination of the Sea-Dweller. It's more a story of taste than an objective criticism of the watch. Indeed, Rolex has a real know-how in two-tone watches and expresses it again. Only one detail demonstrates this: the yellow Sea-Dweller inscription, which contributes to the overall harmony. Similarly, it doesn't fall into a too ostentatious style. However, I was not convinced. I think it's related to the purpose and style of the Sea-Dweller, the ultimate instrument watch. Its size (43mm) and thickness go for me in contradiction with this more elaborate and dressed two-tone approach. This is the reason why I was not seduced despite the intrinsic qualities of the watch. From a commercial point of view, it will fulfill its mission since it will allow people with large wrists to take advantage of this classic style from Rolex.

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GMT-Master II Oystersteel blue and black Cerachrom bezel

This new GMT-Master II steel was obviously one of the stars of Baselworld 2019 even if it didn't cause the same surprise effect as last year's model that reintroduced  the Jubilee bracelet in this collection after several decades. It is obviously in line with the 2018 version and I therefore find the same qualities: a superb rendering, excellent finishes and the elegance of the Jubilee bracelet. The GMT-Master II Oystersteel models are now only available with this bracelet. I have a preference for the colors of the blue and red bezel because they bring a touch of fantasy and a more casual style. This year's GMT-Master II may be slightly more discreet, more elegant. But these differences are quite shy. In any case, I consider this watch as the epitome of Rolex excellence. It is comfortable, convenient to use, its complication is useful and it is versatile. The 3285 caliber offers a generous 70-hour power reserve and is therefore the ideal engine. The only downside is obviously its extremely limited availability given a demand that greatly exceeds the offer and the speculative context that surrounds it.

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GMT-Master II White Gold meteorite dial

 
This GMT-Master II is beautiful. It may be for me the most beautiful GMT-Master II of the current catalogue. Its meteorite dial is superb and gives an even more sophisticated dimension to the watch. In this context, white gold is proving to be an ideal material. The heavy weight of the watch further strengthens the perceived quality. The simpler Oyster bracelet also makes the dial's complexity easier to enjoy. A very beautiful watch.

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Day-Date 36


 

The Day-Date 36 is one of the cornerstones of the Rolex catalog. The new generation takes advantage of yellow gold, white gold or Everose cases and new dials in the great tradition of elegant and elaborated Day-Date dials. This new generation now uses the 3255 caliber and so features a  70 hour power reserve. I must admit that I was seduced by the yellow gold version and turquoise dial whose marbled effect reminds me of the famous references of the Day-Date. In daylight condition, its rendering is superb.

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Datejust 36 and 31

New versions (in Rolesor (Oystersteel and white gold) for the 36) are introduced. One of them represents for me the best of the Datejust by combining a black sunray-finished dial, the fluted bezel and the jubilee bracelet. The watch is elegant, obviously recognizable but without ostentation. This Datejust 36 is for me one of the very rare watches to be considered as a very dressed timepiece while remaining extremely versatile, that is to say that can be worn in all circumstances. Finally, the 3235 caliber's performance offers a 70-hour power reserve.

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Daytona pavé dial and set bezel with Oysterflex bracelet

This kind of piece is part of the Rolex legend. The rendering of the lacquered and pavé dial is superb and each of us will bring his own interpretation. Is it a kind of tiger? A mysterious animal? What does it matter after all? This Daytona, which is offered off catalog, is a captivating piece and will seduce the amateurs of the genre by its flawless execution.

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Beyond these novelties, it is important to underline the constant integration of the latest generation calibers in the collections. The proportion of models that reach 70 hours of power reserve is now important and this constant desire to offer consistent quality across the entire catalog is one of the fundamental characteristics of Rolex.

So I really liked this 2019 collection because it effectively covers the different dimensions of the catalog. Rolex doesn't go astray, goes to the basics and that's what I particularly like.

Fr.Xavier

Comments:
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amanico May 19th, 2019-12:30
Your first shot of the GMT MASTER WG Meterorite is convincing! The one which intrigues me the most. Thanks for the presentation, Fx.  
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Izhik May 19th, 2019-13:26
that daytona pave dial reminds a Konstantin Chaykin Joker watch...  
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Cpt Scarlet May 19th, 2019-14:40
+1 👍 No message body
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FabR May 19th, 2019-13:33
Thanks for a nice review and for what are, in my opinion, some excellent considerations regarding the Rolex production (and philosophy). Let me only add here that some of the general points you make also apply to Patek, and that these two brands are indeed unique in having achieved such a clear, successful, and time-tested identity. As you say, a strategy to constantly improve without ever... 
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BMR May 19th, 2019-13:41
I have to say, the meteorite GMT is growing on me. My biggest criticism is the use of white gold vs. steel. The positioning in the market in WG puts it against some very intense competition. In steel, and the assumed positioning that would imply, would make it much more convincing, in my opinion. In steel... 
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COUNT DE MONET May 19th, 2019-13:54
Thank you for this summary I am sure the SD 43 will look more convincing with a blue sunburst dial and much more maritime. The Meteorite GMT is like strawberries and cream: delicious!
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centurionone May 19th, 2019-14:08
A new moniker for the GMT Meteorite, love it 😍  
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Cpt Scarlet May 19th, 2019-14:41
I totally agree 🥂  
remarque May 19th, 2019-15:48
Most insightful comments about the brand. Rolex has become a caricature of itself in the past several years: To the non-WIS, it once represented the pinnacle of a "nice" watch acquisition if one wanted to treat or award oneself with a nice watch, for any or no reason at all, since, assuming one l... 
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Bruno.M1 May 20th, 2019-00:07
That steel gmt BLNR is fantastic the meteorite dial is nice but I prefer a simple black dial Love my Pepsi GMT and this BLNR will be a great companion
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