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Why Rolex’s new model is set to make a splash

HighLifeChannel November 5, 2019

Rolex doesn’t really do big new designs, and hardly needs to. It’s a policy that works, but does mean that the annual unveil at the watch industry’s spring trade fair, Baselworld, is a focus on very slight evolutions in design.

The single biggest story this year was that there was a new ‘Batman’ version (ie blue/black bezel) of the GMT-Master II, to join the upgraded ‘Pepsi’ (red/blue) of last year. So, when Rolex does reveal something that feels genuinely new, it’s almost unsettling.

The Yacht-Master 42mm, rolling out across stores this month, is only new in Rolex terms – there have been 36mm and 40mm predecessors – but it isn’t really the case shape, movement or functions that catch the attention . Instead, it’s the combination of the white-gold case, black dial and strap that is so monochromatic as to give the watch a stark, deliberate character, which the smaller, rose-gold versions just don’t have.

Part of the effect comes from the contrast between the matt of the bezel inserts (Rolex’s patented ceramic, Cerachrom, since you ask) and the synthetic-rubber Oysterflex strap with the gloss of the hands and case. All far more directional than you would ever expect from this brand.

The biennial Only Watch sale – in aid of the Monegasque Association Against Muscular Dystrophy – returns to Christie’s next month with another series of one-offs from the great and the good of horology.

It’s a traditional that Patek Philippe dominates the headlines, unsurprising in that it offers high-complication watches in steel or titanium that otherwise only appear in precious metals. This year, there’s a steel Grandmaster Chime with its 20 complications and five chiming modes. Expect it to soar above €2 million with ease.



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