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Top or flop? The Rolex innovations 2020 at a glance

Top or flop? The Rolex innovations 2020 at a glance

Nils Rau

Officially since the 1st September 2020: Rolex has revealed one of the best-kept secrets of the Swiss watch industry with this year's new products. After months of uncertainty as to whether any new models will be presented this year, the Geneva-based manufacturer has launched watches that were both expected and surprising. Whether Oyster Perpetual, Submariner, Datejust or Sky-Dweller – let us reveal the novelties to you.

The unusual watch year 2020

The most defining event of 2020 is without doubt COVID-19. Not only was our daily life influenced and disrupted by it, but also the trade customs and habits of the watch industry. After jewellers had to temporarily close their shops and halt watch production, the major watch fairs, Baselworld and Watches & Wonders - previously known as SIHH, were cancelled. Smaller events such as the Swatch Group's Time To Move event were also cancelled.

Due to closed shops, some manufacturers developed alternative strategies to sell their watches. While retailers in the watch industry have always followed predominantly conservative - namely stationary - preferences, H. Moser & Cie. quickly set up an online shop for new and used models, which is still accessible. Patek Philippe temporarily allowed their concessionaires to sell the watches online.

Where to present?

The prime location to showcase new models has been at watch fairs for decades but now the entire watch industry was suddenly faced with the question of how to present new products. The procedure was - and still is - very different: while some manufacturers - including TAG Heuer, Breitling and Audemars Piguet - presented their new releases on their own initiative at short notice, the rumour mill was bubbling with regard to other manufacturers, as official statements were initially lacking. This hesitancy reveals the uncertainty that seems to have been triggered by the temporary discontinuation of the watch fairs.

The speculations led not least to the assumption that instead of new models, the most sought-after models of the respective collections would increasingly be produced. However, there were two errors of reasoning with regard to this rumour: firstly, production of the new models was almost certainly already in full swing in the March and April months; secondly, production was temporarily halted in some manufactories during this period due to health precautions.

Rolex and Patek Philippe go the same way

After Patek Philippe had postponed the presentation of the new models until 2021 and Rolex initially made no statement, it was assumed that both manufacturers would not present any new models this year. On 6 April 2020, Rolex issued a press release announcing that it had decided to "postpone the announcements to a later date".

However, things were to turn out differently: After the stainless steel Calatrava 6007A, Patek Philippe introduced three Grandes Complicationes in July, the 5270J, 5303R and 5370P. As far as Rolex is concerned, it became clear in July 2020 that a press event would be held in early September. It didn't take long before it was clear what the event was all about: the presentation of the long-awaited new releases. So in this respect the strategies of Rolex and Patek were similar.

Since 1 September 2020 the Rolex innovations have been officially announced. In contrast to the trade fair presentations, the new models will be available at short notice. Soon the watches will also arrive in our online shop - without any waiting lists. Be quick before the models are sold out.

Rolex Innovations 2020

1. Revised Submariner collection

After a large part of the Rolex collection has already been revised and partly equipped with the new calibres, this year Rolex has given the Submariner a facelift. The diameter of the Submariner has been increased from 40 to 41 millimetres, with the horns of the case being slimmed down. They now once again correspond to the classic proportions.

In addition to the classic Submariner (No Date) Ref. 124060 and the Submariner Date Ref. 216610LN, there are still the full gold and bicolour models with black and blue bezels and dials (Ref. 126618LN/LB, Ref. 126613LN/LB), whereby the dial lettering of the full gold and bicolour models is now white/silver instead of gold.

There are new features on the white gold Submariner (Ref. 126619LB) and the green stainless steel Submariner (Ref. 126610LV): while the previous models had a blue or green dial, on the new references only the bezels are blue or green - the dials remain black. The white gold Submariner, previously known as Smurf, has thus been made simpler, while the green Submariner now corresponds visually to the five-digit LV reference - Ref. 16610LV.

All Submariner models feature the latest calibres (3235 with date, 3230 without date).

Shop Rolex Submariner

2. Datejust 31: four models with new calibre

After Datejust 41 and 36 have already received a model update, Datejust 31 has now also been revised. The models are available in four versions, each in the Rolex stainless steel alloy Oystersteel. Three of these models feature the classic white gold fluted bezel and are each available with dials in green and dark grey (both with line indices) and white (Roman Dial). The fourth version has an aubergine dial (Roman Dial) with Roman diamond numerals and a white gold bezel set with 46 diamonds.

Rolex has also incorporated the latest generation in the new Datejust 31 models with calibre 2236.

Shop the Rolex Datejust now

3. Expansion of the Oyster Perpetual collection

The Oyster Perpetual is the simplest watch in the entire product portfolio, reduced to the essential Rolex characteristics. While the model was previously available in 28, 31, 34, 36 and 39 mm, Rolex has now replaced the 39 mm version with the two millimetre larger Oyster Perpetual 41. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 naturally features the new Rolex calibre 3230, which is also used in the new Submariner Ref. 124060.

A historical reminiscence can be observed on the new dials: For the 31, 36 and 41 millimetre versions, colourful dials in coral red, yellow, green and turquoise are (among others) available. These are reminiscent of the rare "Stella Dials" - colourful enamel dials for the Rolex Day-Date, which were produced in small numbers in the 1970s and are now highly sought after.

Shop the Rolex Oyster Perpetual now

4. Sky-Dweller with Oysterflex-Band

A small update has also received the most complicated model in the Rolex collection, the Sky-Dweller: The full gold models of the GMT watch with annual calendar are now available with the Oysterflex strap. Rolex is thus following its previous maxim of only equipping solid gold models with the modern rubber strap.

Buy Now: Rolex Sky-Dweller