Rolex at Watches & Wonders 2024 -

Rolex at Watches & Wonders 2024

April marks the most important month in the horology calendar as Watches & Wonders Geneva flings open its doors. The week-long flauntathon gives industry insiders as well as the general public full access to the latest creations from watchmaking’s elite, with this year’s extravaganza the biggest yet as a total of 54 brands showcase their wares.

At the heart of it all stands Rolex who, with the demise of Baselworld, use W&W for their annual reveal. 2024 brought a mixed bag from the crown, with some flabbergasting new additions and equally flummoxing retirees. We’ll get into those watches which were discontinued from the catalog in our next article, but for now read on to find out what Rolex have released this year.

New Rolex Watches For 2024

The Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126710GRNR

The good news for 2024 is that, despite acres of gossipy coverage suggesting the contrary, the Pepsi GMT-Master II is still very much a part of the line-up. The bad news is, that Coke-bezeled model I and countless other Rolex fans have been after for years still hasn’t put in an appearance; that’s despite this being the 70thanniversary of the luxury travel watch’s luxury travel watch. (But well done Tudor!)

What we did get, however, is a beautifully understated steel companion for the Rolesor and full gold pieces released last year sporting the new grey and black surround. This is about as discreet as the GMT can get in the absence of last century’s all-black lunette, and has proved a huge hit in its precious and semi-precious metal guises.

It is a Rolex for those content not to make a big thing about it, with the only concession to the wall-to-wall monochrome amounting to two flashes of green—one on the additional hour hand, the other on the ‘GMT-Master II’ signature on the glossy black dial.

As with the other steel models, the manufacture offers a choice of bracelets. On the sporty, three-link Oyster the ref. 126710GRNR retails at $10,700, while the more elaborate, five-link Jubilee will set you back an extra $200 for some reason.

And I’ve no idea why I’m telling you that, because the only way you will be able to buy one at an AD is if you put your name down on a waiting list five years ago, but I like to be thorough!

The Rolex Deepsea ref. 136668LB

On the runup to Watches & Wonders every year, the internet is always aflame with prediction articles over what Rolex might bring us. I wrote some of them myself and read most of the others and if there’s one thing I can tell you it is that NOBODY saw this one coming!

The Rolex Deepsea has always been a model for the extremes. Not only is it the biggest timepiece the brand currently offers, it is also one of the most capable dive watches on the planet. Through a combination of new age materials, next generation engineering and sheer blunt force, it manages to be somehow wearable while maintaining a water resistance rating of a ludicrous 12,800ft.

So, it is a watch designed for the most punishing environments, the natural evolution of the genuine tool models Rolex once led the way in for real-world applications and meant for use by the world’s most demanding professionals.

It is, then, somewhat confusing to see a piece which could shrug off a trip to the Titanic’s final resting place rendered in full 18k yellow gold!

Now, far be it from me to second guess the mighty Crown but…come on! At 44mm in diameter and a massive 17.7mm thick, that is a lot of gold. Not only that, should you, for your own bizarre reasons, decide to take a watch costing the business end of $55,000 diving, you can at least save money on a weight belt. The ref. 136668LB weighs 320g, and that is with some titanium elements to keep things reasonable.

This is the polar opposite of the restrained GMT above. Rolex were presumably worried a standard Deepsea in gold wouldn’t draw enough attention and decided to fit it with a blue dial and bezel too, just in case you missed the roughly ¾ of a pound of shiny yellow metal dangling from a wrist.

The reference is going to have its detractors as well as its admirers, but if it proves just one thing, it is that the most famous watchmaker in the world can still surprise us all.

The Rolex 1908 ref. 52506

Ah, now we’re talking!

Rolex debuted their Cellini-replacing 1908 collection last year, an elegant gathering of 39mm dress watches with Calatrava-esque hobnail bezels and Breguet-like moon-tip hour hands.

Until this week it was a relatively underserved range, with just white and yellow gold models toting either black or white dials. Now, we have a pair of exquisite platinum additions, each with the ice blue faces Rolex reserves for their king of metal models.

The story here, in fact, is all in those dials. In contrast to the plain satin finish on the previous watches, now we get a gorgeous guilloché rice-grain pattern, lifting the ref. 52506 to another plane entirely. It is a simply stunning effect, graduated and swirling and leading the eye down to the tasteful running seconds sub dial.

Inside, the in-house Cal. 7140 provides the power, visible through the display case back, Superlative Chronometer-rated and providing 66-hours of autonomy.

What’s more, these new pieces might well be more attainable than you think. Available on either a black or brown alligator strap, lined with green calfskin and fastened with a platinum Dualclasp, both retail at around $32,700.

The Rolex Daytona

We all lamented the demise of the meteorite dial Daytonas when they were ignominiously retired last year, leaving the GMT-Master II ref. 126719BLRO as the sole sports models with a cosmic frontage.

Now, Rolex have fired back with a whole raft of new designs of their legendary Cosmograph with, among them, two white gold editions wearing mother of pearl dials.

The 126589RBR and 126579RBR both have eight diamond hour markers and bezels set with a further 36. The former reference has a Panda dial setup, with a lighter main face and darker chrono counters, all sitting on an Oysterflex strap, while the latter is a reverse Panda on an Oyster bracelet. It is the first time Rolex have mixed mother of pearl colors, with the brand maintaining that the totalizers’ discs are all cut from the same piece of the semiprecious stone to retain consistency. So, while they might not be quite as otherworldly as the meteorite models, they are all one-offs nonetheless.

There were other heavily-bejeweled Daytonas unveiled too. A pair of yellow gold and Everose models, on either the Oysterflex or standard Oyster, both with diamond-set bezels as well as jewel-encrusted lugs, with more conventional dials; champagne on the yellow gold (with diamond markers), ‘sundust’ on the Everose (sort of a sparkling grey, again with diamond indexes). And there was one final white gold example released as well, on the Oysterflex, with diamond lugs, bezel and markers, with a steel dial.

The Rolex Sky-Dweller

Residing in the Classic collection, the Sky-Dweller received a sort of update this year.

Rolex’s most complex creation, the model houses the only annual calendar the manufacture makes, its Saros system compensating for the differing number of days in the month. Not only that, but the central disc acts as a dual time zone display, making the Sky-Dweller perhaps the most opulent travel companion of them all.

This time around we get the ref. 336935 and ref. 336938, an Everose example with slate dial and a yellow gold piece with white dial respectively. Nothing too out of the ordinary there, but these watches mark the first time full-gold Sky-Dwellers have been available on a Jubilee bracelet.

The intricate band adds an extra touch of flamboyance to the watch, as if it needed any, and makes it very much a dress-tool model; stylish enough for the most sophisticated occasions, while still holding a genuinely useful set of practical skills.

With prices at around $57,000 for the Everose and $54,000 for the yellow gold, these are in no way cheap, but as an example of what Rolex can do when they set their minds to it, they are tough to beat.

The Rolex Day-Date

There were, as always, a whole slew of fresh Presidents unleashed for 2024 too.

It’s credit to Rolex’s designers that they still manage to dream up new concoctions for their flagship model, now nearing its seventh decade of production, in what must be among the most well-populated collections from any brand.

Some standouts among the 100+ models released this year are the ref. 228235 and the ref. 228345RBR, both 40mm Everose models (the former with a fluted dial, the latter with a diamond surround) with a superb ombré slate dial—a vignette effect which darkens to black at the perimeter. Once reserved for the 36mm models and only ever set with diamond indexes, this dial also features a new type of faceted and deconstructed Roman numeral hour marker.

Another Everose piece, this time in 36mm, has been given the blue-green dial debuted on the Sky-Dweller last year. The ref. 128235 comes in two versions; both with diamond indexes and either with or without a diamond bezel. A further variant, the ref. 128345RBR, takes that a step further by adding a diamond-encrusted bracelet as well.

And mother of pearl gets a look in here too. There are several models given the unique dials, a personal favorite being the 40mm platinum ref. 228396TBR. The light, almost white dial has been taken from the oldest, thickest part of the oyster shell containing the most intricate patterns. It lends the watch a nuanced, natural beauty that cannot be replicated; the perfect accompaniment for the watch of the elite.

As we said, it is what Rolex have taken away this year that is almost as interesting as what they have introduced, and we’ll cover that in our next post.

Featured Photo: BKT Archive.

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