Rolex has upgraded and expanded a number of watch families this year including fresh additions to its Daytona line and a brand new Explorer II on the model’s 50th anniversary.
Having upgraded the Submariner and Oyster Perpetual families last year, there was less focus on Professional watches (nothing new in the Sea Dweller, Sky Dweller, Yacht Master, Submariner or GMT Master ranges) and more on new dial treatments and lots of gems on ladies’ models.
That said, the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Explorer II was never going to pass un-noticed, and there is a new reference in a 42mm steel case with steel bezel that looks remarkably similar to the existing Ref. 16570, but now houses a calibre 3285 automatic dual time movement.
Anybody hoping for a more radical redesign — those paying vastly over-retail prices for the 16570 on the secondary market, perhaps — will be disappointed.
But, as usual, authorised dealers will be delighted with a continuity classic.
The new Explorer II’s case is slightly larger at 42mm and the bracelet has been redesigned but the package is broadly the same with white or black lacquer dials contrasting with the four clearly distinguishable central hands (night or day) for hours, minutes, seconds and the 24 hour second time zone.
Explorer II watches go on sale this month for $8,550.
More of an addition to the Oyster Perpetual family launched in 2020 than a radical new explorer, the 2021 Oyster Perpetual Explorer is presented in a 36mm case as an homage to the original model that launched in 1953.
Watches are certainly trending smaller again this year, with 36mm very much considered a gender-neutral size today.
The new Explorer, which is highly legible in light and darkness thanks to an improved Chromalight lume treatment, comes in two tone yellow Rolesor gold and steel and runs on the automatic Calibre 3230.
It is on sale in April for $6,540 (ref. 124270, all steel) and $10,800 (ref. 124273, steel and Rolesor gold).
Unlike Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, Rolex is not thought to have discontinued any of its most popular watches, choosing instead to tinker with materials, dial treatments and other embellishments.
The Cosmograph Daytona family has been expanded with new dials made from slices of metallic meteorite that fell to earth having traveled through our solar system.
There are versions available in 18ct white, yellow or Everose gold, offered on precious metal bracelets or Oysterflex rubber straps.
The collection, housing Rolex’s automatic chronograph calibre 4130 go on sale in June for $34,050 (white gold), $41,000 (yellow gold) $43,700 (Everose gold).
Retailers are already calling to congratulate Rolex for new dial treatments for its Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36 line in Oystersteel and in yellow or rose Rolesor gold.
There are two dial styles: a tropical palm motif and a fluted pattern taken straight from the famous pie dish design of Rolex bezels.
Each style is offered in olive green, gold or silver.
They go on sale in June priced from $7,050 to $12,000.
Rolex is showing off its gem-setting expertise in 2021 with a range of Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 watches in 18ct yellow, white or Everose gold smothered in diamonds, and presented with eye-catching coral, turquoise or burgundy numerals with matching croc-leather straps.
They launch to the public in July with prices ranging from $83,4000 to $86,800.
Last, certainly not least thanks to its adornment with 1,089 diamonds and price tag of $132,426, is the 2021 Lady Datejust.
It is smothered in diamonds across its dial, bezel, case and 18ct yellow gold President bracelet.
Expect to see it in stores this July.