Watches And Wonders 2021: Rolex
Rolex’s latest watch releases span evergreen refurbishments to sparkling showstoppers.
The world’s most famous watch brand clearly doesn’t shy away from extremes. For its latest novelties, Rolex is equally at ease reminding us that it is the undisputed OG when it comes to hard-wearing tool watches, as it is dazzling us with its deft gem-setting mastery on timepieces that demand you put on your shades when perusing them at close quarters.
Rolex’s pedigree in making watches for the world’s pioneering adventurers and explorers once again comes to the fore with the introduction of the new-generation Explorer (top) and Explorer II this year. The storied Explorer, which was launched in 1953 and gained prominence as the watch worn by Sir Edmund Hillary when he scaled Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay, gets refreshed in a new 36mm case - down from 39mm in previous models. While this is the same case diameter as the 1953 original, the new variant is evidently luxed-up in yellow Rolesor with black dial. Naturally, performance specs for the new Explorer have also been enhanced, thanks to its powerhouse engine in the Calibre 3230 with proprietary Chronergy escapement.
The watch’s adventure-seeking sibling, the Explorer II (above), also gets a run-in this year with some tweaks. Introduced in 1971, the Explorer II is distinguished by its 24-hour bezel and an additional arrow hand that points to the second-time zone. Updates on this watch, while practical and useful, however, are less pronounced than those on the Explorer. The Explorer II’s case and lugs have been redesigned for a more harmonious silhouette and comfortable fit for the wrist, while its hands and markers are now imbued with Chromalight display that glows blue in low light conditions. Inside the watch is also a new engine, the Calibre 3285 that was launched in 2018, which promises improved shock-resistance and anti-magnetism.
At the other end of the spectrum, Rolex appears to have spared no expense in pimping its new Cosmograph Daytona (above), Datejust 36 and Lady Datejust creations. The race-inspired Daytona and legendary Datejust are lavished with decorative dials that take both collections out of their comfort zones with unabashed showiness.
The new Daytonas, available in yellow gold, Everose gold or white gold with Cerachrom bezel and Oysterflex bracelet, rock meteorite dials that are unique as they are rare. The Datejust 36 models, on the other hand, rock either a palm motif (above), inspired by tropical forests, or a fluted motif (below) that recalls Rolex’s signature bezel, elevating the iconic timepieces with a touch of artisanship.
Last, but certainly not least, we have possibly Rolex’s most high-wattage creation of the year in the bejewelled Lady-Datejust. A diminutive dazzler festooned with a whopping 1,089 diamonds on its case, dial and bracelet, this 28mm yellow gold watch is certainly loaded on glitz and glamour – and a reminder that while Rolex’s arsenal of tool watches like the Explorers, Submariners and GMT-Master IIs have been grabbing column inches of late, the brand is equally adept at making collectors swoon with unapologetically ravishing objects of beauty.
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