Rolex just unveiled its 2019 collection at the Baselworld watch fair in Switzerland, so naturally it's the perfect time to analyze the ultimate luxury watch brand's latest line.
Rather than introducing a unique new bezel and dial colors or an all-new model, Rolex was content to make fairly subtle updates to some of its most desirable timepieces, which is likely to suit fans of the brand just fine.
The major news covers updates to the GMT-Master II, Yacht-Master and Sea-Dweller; a further refresh to the Datejust collection doesn’t offer much interest. But the big three newbies are likely going to be waitlisted for years before you even finish reading this.
Maxim.com invited two top Rolex experts – Paul Altieri, founder of online luxury watch retailer Bob's Watches and owner of one of the world's top Rolex collections; and Blake Buettner, Director of Watches at StockX, the live bid/ask luxury marketplace backed by Eminem and Mark Wahlberg – to comment on the new releases and advise whether they’re worth adding to your collection.
1. Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Batman’ on a Jubilee bracelet
“Given the insane desirability of last year's stainless steel ‘Pepsi’ GMT-Master II and the original black/blue ‘Batman’ GMT-Master, it only made sense for Rolex to bring out an alternative version,” Altieri says.
“Waitlists for the ‘Pepsi’ and ‘Batman’ are still several years long, and they’re some of the coolest Rolexes ever made. The decision to only offer stainless steel GMT watches on Jubilee bracelets – a 1950s throwback – is a great way for Rolex to help visually differentiate the GMT line from the Submariner."
"I think it’s a smart move on their part, and if you couldn’t score one of the earlier models this is a great watch to add to your collection, but you’ll need to act really fast.”
“I was never quite sold on the Jubilee's presence on the GMT,” Buettner says, “but the ‘Batman' (aka the BLNR) feels right at home with it."
"The bezel of the ‘Pepsi' GMT (aka the BLRO) is loud and colorful, and somehow competed with the intricate Jubilee bracelet – that tension is gone on the more subdued BLNR bezel. It may not be the big ‘new’ thing I had expected, but it's a welcome update and I feel it's the strongest Rolex release at Baselworld this year.”
2. Rolex White Gold Yacht-Master 42
“Personally, I love the way this watch looks,” Altieri says, “although its increased case size may be a bit too much for some wrists. Given the success of the rose gold Everose Yacht-Master with the ceramic bezel and Oysterflex strap, it only made sense for Rolex to release one in white gold; however I did not expect that they would also increase the case size to 42mm."
my favorite of the collection so far this year.”"If the size works for you, I would definitely add this watch to your collection; it’s basically the bigger, slightly more understated version of the Everose Yacht-Master that everyone has been asking for since it was first unveiled several years ago. ”
“A white gold Yacht-Master 42 on an Oysterflex rubber band was inevitable yet unexpected,” Buettner notes.
“The black and white design should do well for buyers who were really hoping for bigger Submariner, and the fully polished case gives it much more of a pop. The matte ceramic bezel is interesting and I'd love to see it used elsewhere in the Rolex professional watch family.”
3. Rolex Two-Tone Sea-Dweller 42
“This is the perfect watch for the guy who wanted a two-tone Submariner, but who felt that 40mm was just a bit too small for him,” Altieri opines.
“Although the use of precious metals on Rolex's most purpose-built tool watch is somewhat paradoxical, having another stainless steel and gold sports watch with a case larger than 40mm in their catalog only makes sense; and also proves that the two-tone aesthetic is definitely coming back in style. Personally, this watch isn't for me – I’d rather own the Submariner – but it is definitely a smart move on Rolex's part to add it to the lineup.”
“A two-tone Sea-Dweller is offensive to the purist inside me,” Buettner says, “but there is a precedent there and undoubtedly the commercial appetite was too strong for Rolex to deny it. It would also seem that the cyclops date window is here to stay on Sea-Dweller models, so count this one as furthering the divide between the old ways of the past and pushing into the future.”