After months of speculation, Rolex – the undisputed titan of the watch world – just announced their new timepieces for 2020.
The big-ticket items this year are the new steel Oyster Perpetual Submariner and Oyster Perpetual Submariner Dates. The ‘Sub’ has long been one of the Swiss brand’s most popular offerings: a hardy diving watch with a clean, much-emulated design. Indeed, if you’re thinking of a watch, there’s a good chance you’re thinking of a Sub, or one of the hundreds of watches it has inspired.
In line with current tastes, the new Sub features a larger 41mm case. It’s the first time the iconic timepiece has been offered in this size, yet the subtle redesign actually makes the 2020 Sub look slimmer than previous models, thanks to its slightly narrower lugs. The steel bracelet of ‘The Diver’s Friend’ has also been tweaked with slightly larger, yet thinner links.
From a technical perspective, the new Sub is equipped with Rolex’s new in 2020 Calibre 3230. According to Rolex, this new automatic movement delivers “fundamental gains in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability,” and has a power reserve of around 70 hours (almost three days – a huge increase over the 40hr reserves of previous models). Additionally, the new Submariner Date will be fitted with the still-fresh Calibre 3235, the first time this movement’s been used in the Submariner range as well.
While the classic black on black makes a return, the two new colourways that most fans will be after are the black dial, green bezel and black dial, blue bezel offerings, although the blue on blue two-tone Sub has also got tongues wagging. More to the point, two-tone watches don’t tend to shift as quickly as straight steel or gold models, so you might have a better chance of picking that one up.
Rolex is a heritage brand that’s more about iteration than revolution, so that these Submariner releases feel somewhat tame is to be expected. Rolex was not particularly subtle in hinting at a new Sub this year, and watch insiders predicted that the green and blue bezels would drop well in advance of this morning’s announcements.
The black/green has already been dubbed by Rolex fans as the ‘Hermit’, a portmanteau of ‘Hulk’ and ‘Kermit’ and a clear reference to those hugely popular Rolex ‘grails’. It’s sure to be a popular model, as it’s larger than the Kermit and fills the green-coloured void that’ll be left by the Hulk’s discontinuation.
Let’s not let the Submariner / Submariner Date distract from Rolex’s other announcements, however.
Rolex released another four new 18ct white gold versions of their classic Datejust 31. The headliner features a bezel set with 46 brilliant-cut diamonds and an aubergine, sunray-finish dial, adorned with a diamond-set Roman VI. The three other models with a mint-green sunray-finish dial, white lacquer dial, and dark grey sunray-finish dial respectively all feature a classic Rolex fluted bezel – in 18ct white gold, naturally.
The Sub’s not the only Rolex classic that’s seen a size upgrade. New for 2020 is a 41mm version of the entry-level Oyster Perpetual, available with either a silver or black sunray-finish dial. In addition, the smaller Oyster Perpetual 36 has been blessed with a new range of colourful and playful lacquer dials: candy pink, turquoise blue, yellow, coral red and green. The yellow in particular looks very 90s (in the best way possible) and is easily our pick of the bunch.
The haughty Sky-Dweller has also been refreshed with an Oysterflex bracelet – an innovative design constructed from flexible titanium-nickel alloy blades over-moulded with a high-performance black elastomer. It combines the weatherproof, flexible advantages of a traditional rubber strap with the durability of a metal bracelet.
Perhaps what’s more surprising about this year’s releases is what hasn’t been announced. There’s been speculation that Rolex was going to discontinue their Air-King model line, but that seems not to have eventuated. The other rumour was that Rolex was going to re-release the 36mm Explorer this year – the focus of a ‘Rolex conspiracy‘ that’s seen 36mm Explorers from the 90s been bought up en masse in the UK and elsewhere. That too seems to have been rubbish, or maybe there’s something else at play…
With Rolex (alongside other big names like Patek Philippe, Chopard and Chanel) having pulled out of Baselworld, this might be all we hear from the ‘Golden Crown’ this year. We’ll be sure to keep you updated with any new Rolex news in any case.