With ever-growing collections and a dedicated following, Rolex is a brand that we all invariably encounter. In fact, Rolex’s sponsorship of corporate and sporting events, such as their partnership with Wimbledon, make Rolex difficult (if not impossible) to ignore.
We’ve been watch retailers for many years now, and during that time we’ve gotten to know many of the Rolex collections quite well. So we want to use our knowledge to compare the history and style of these different watches to find the right one for you!
So today we’re talking about the current watches that belong to the unmistakable giant of the watch industry.
Rolex Diving Watches
To understand the history of the famous Rolex Submariner, we must travel back to the 1950’s.
During this decade, the Rolex director, Rene P. Jeanneret, advocated for the company to develop a watch tailored for professional divers. As an amateur diver himself, Jeanneret used his interest and knowledge to influence the Submariner’s creation.
After much design work, Rolex’s efforts were fruitful, and the Submariner was tried and tested. In fact, the Submariner’s tests produced such fantastic results that Rolex spent the next few years thoroughly perfecting it.
One item that makes the Submariner so popular is the cyclops magnifying lens on the date window. As a date window is a frequently used function, the inclusion of the cyclops glass can be a dealbreaker for watch-buyers. Moreover, the Submariner is practical, with the average water-resistance in the current range being 300 metres (1000 feet).
Plus, the Submariner is something of a film star. Rolex’s creation often appears on the big screen, on the wrist of the world’s most famous spy: James Bond. So if you’re looking to buy a diving watch, then the Submariner is one of the most iconic.
The Rolex Sea-Dweller is the “result of decades of collaboration with diving professionals.” As such, we can attribute the Sea-Dweller’s success to not only the Rolex watchmakers but to the diving professionals that inspired them.
Rolex released the original Sea-Dweller in 1967, after the triumph of the Submariner. This means that in 2017, the Sea-Dweller collection celebrated its 50th anniversary. Rolex marked this momentous occasion with the release of a new Sea-Dweller timepiece (pictured above), which came with a bold 43mm case.
Since Rolex purpose built the watch for deep-sea divers, the timepiece comes equipped with one of Rolex’s pioneering design features, the automatic helium escape valve. The helium escape valve regulates the pressure which accumulates in the case while preserving waterproofness.
Within the Sea-Dweller range is another particularly impressive watch: the Rolex Deep-Sea. The Deep-Sea is an ultra-robust diver’s watch, which Rolex engineered to have tremendous amounts of water-resistance, an incredible 3,900 metres (that’s 12,800 feet!).
Generally, you can expect watches belonging to the Sea-Dweller family to cost more than Submariners.
Rolex Yachting & Sailing Watches
Rolex Yacht-Master 40 (Ref: 116622)
Rolex Yacht-Master II (Ref: 116680)
As a Rolex collection dedicated to sailing and yachting, the Yacht-Master is a luxury sports watch with a classic Rolex design. As Rolex note, “The Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II models embody the spirit of the sailor”.
For the original Yacht-Master, Rolex focused on durability and luxury aesthetics. The Yacht-Master was the first ever Rolex to use a rubber strap, the Oysterflex bracelet, which is comfortable and hypoallergenic.
In contrast, Rolex utilised an abundance of new practical features for the Yacht-Master II. As a regatta chronograph, the Yacht-Master II has a countdown function created explicitly for the exact timing that boat racing requires.
Within Rolex’s current collections, both Yacht-Master watch types have an average water-resistance of 100 metres.
Rolex Aviation Watches
Rolex Air King (Ref: 116900)
Rolex’s founder, Hans Wilsdorf, created the Air King to honour the brave British RAF pilots of WWII. As such, the Air-King is a timepiece with a long legacy.
Made with pilots in mind, the Air-King features Rolex’s Oyster case and twin lock system, which ensures waterproofing up to 100m.
Although waterproofing may not seem an immediate necessity for aviation professionals, the innovative design of waterproof watches is incredibly beneficial. Any why? Because waterproof watches require a pressure resistant chamber, and such pressure-resistance keeps the Air King working while in the sky.
Originally, Rolex created the Air King as it’s own entity. Later on, however, the timepiece became part of a line which included other watches such as the ‘Rolex Air Lion’, ‘Rolex Air Tiger’, and the ‘Rolex Air Giant’. Despite this, it was only the Air King that Rolex continued.
Although Rolex briefly discontinued the Air-King, 2016 saw the renewed Air King making its debut at Baselworld. This updated version (pictured above) has military-style numbers, anti-magnetic capability and is considerably larger than its ancestors (the case now measures 40mm compared to the original 34mm).
Rolex unveiled the highly anticipated Sky-Dweller at Baselworld in 2012. The Sky-Dweller's introduction saw the timepiece to be Rolex’s first new watch collection in almost two decades.
For the Sky-Dweller, Rolex developed compelling aesthetics alongside state-of-the-art design features. One such feature is the simultaneous display of two time zones.
The Sky-Dweller also has an advanced, covert feature named the ‘Ring Command.’ The ring command is a discrete bi-directional fluted bezel which is the control centre for the date, 12 and 24-hour displays.
For Rolex devotees, the engineering of the Sky-Dweller proved that the wait was worthwhile. Overall, the Sky-Dweller is a current and intelligent collection, a trailblazer within contemporary watchmaking.
GMT Master II (Ref: 116713LN)
A quintessential tool watch, Rolex released the first GMT-Master in collaboration with Pan American World Airways. Focusing on the needs of commercial airline crews, Rolex designed this tool to be the ultimate travel companion for workers on long-haul flights.
As you may have guessed, the name ‘GMT-Master’ originates from ‘Greenwich Mean Time’. The inclusion of GMT enabled the crew to track two different time zones.
In 1983, Rolex released the GMT-Master II. The GMT II allowed the wearer to track a third-time zone and the bezel on the GMT II is available in a variety of colours, some of which are becoming highly desirable, including the 'Coke' (red and black), 'Pepsi' (blue and red), 'Root Beer' (brown and gold) and 'Batman' (blue and black). Despite the colour variations, both the GMT-Master and GMT II are visually similar.
Although the original focus of the GMT-Master was on providing a practical tool for airline crews, the GMT-Master is a fantastic accessory for any dedicated air traveller.
Rolex Explorer II (Ref: 216570)
Rolex’s concept for the Explorer was to create reliable adventurers watch, capable of reaching the ends of the earth. More specifically, Rolex made the Explorer in homage to the first men to reach the summit of Mt. Everest: Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay.
The 1953 introduction of the Explorer saw it become a part of the Rolex fleet. With the capability to withstand temperatures as low as -20c and as high as +40c, the Explorer is one of the most robust Rolex collections.
In 1971, Rolex introduced the Explorer II, the direct descendant of the original model. The Explorer II boasts a 24-hour timing bezel and a date window with cyclops lens.
The Explorer II also comes equipped with a single devoted hand that circles the dial to indicate the time on the 24-hour bezel. For those who spend a lot of time in dark places such as caves, this function is essential as it differentiates day and night.
Other Rolex Tool and Sports Watches
Rolex Milgauss (Ref: 116400GV)
Rolex introduced the Milgauss in 1956, as a new take on the traditional tool watch. With a highly sought after piece amongst Rolex collectors, the rarity and technical ingenuity of the Milgauss make this an especially unique collection.
The Milgauss name derives from the Latin word ‘Mille’ (1,000) and the unit of measurement ‘Gauss’. As the name signifies, the Milgauss is an anti-magnetic timepiece.
Rolex’s invention of the Milgauss saw a practical watch reach the market; a perfect accessory for those exposed to electromagnetic fields. The creation was a significant technological advance because electromagnetic fields usually disrupt timekeeping.
Rolex’s development meant that people could safely wear and rely on their timepiece in surroundings affected by up to a 1000 Gauss magnetic field. As such, the watch became especially popular with those who worked in the industrial, medical, and scientific industries.
The Daytona is a sports watch which Rolex designed specifically to partner professional drivers on the racetrack.
This dependable chronograph has a tachymetric scaled bezel, a feature that permits drivers to measure their average speeds (either in kilometres or miles per hour). After its launch in 1963, the Daytona quickly garnered a reputation as a watch which is superb for precision timekeeping.
The Daytona collection will always retain a close association with the famous actor and racing driver Paul Newman. Paul Newman was the Oscar-winning performer who starred in films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Color of Money.
Did you know?
- Newman’s Rolex Daytona sold for a record $17.75 million, making it the most expensive wristwatch ever sold.
- In 2016 Rolex introduced a new steel Rolex Daytona with a black Cerachrom bezel. This is possibly the most sought after Rolex watch.
Rolex Jewellery and Dress Watches
The Rolex Pearlmaster is one of the brand's most renowned jewellery watches. A slightly newer collection compared to many others, Rolex first introduced the Pearlmaster in 1992.
The alluring curves of the Pearlmaster compliment any wrist, however the distinguishing feature of this timepiece lays elsewhere: in its materials.
Since the Pearlmaster is only available in various precious metals and includes exquisite gem settings, this collection is highly desirable. Such gems include diamonds, sapphires and rubies.
FASHION AND DRESS WATCH
Rolex Cellini Moonphase
The Rolex Cellini collection pays homage to the Italian sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini. Cellini was a prominent artist of the late Renaissance period (also known as the Mannerism art movement of the 16th century).
To create the Cellini, Rolex focused majorly on aesthetic beauty. The Cellini has an elegant design and soft silhouette, which means that it is a beautiful addition to any outfit, be it formal or informal.
It is quite challenging to find a pre-owned Cellini watch, which makes these timepieces a sought-after collectable. Therefore, if you have or wish to buy a pre-owned Cellini, it makes for a superb investment.
Moreover, within the Cellini range, there are many other models. These include:
The classic Cellini model, complete with Roman numerals at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock positions.
Cellini Dual Time
Similar to the Cellini time, but also includes a date sub-dial at 6 o’clock.
The Cellini Date showcases a 24-hour rotary date display at 3 o’clock.
The Cellini Moonphase has a beautiful blue enamel disc at 6 o’clock, complete with two moons. This indicator illustrates the new moon and the full moon, displaying the movement of the lunar cycle.
Classic Rolex Dress Watches
Rolex Oyster Perpetual
The Oyster Perpetual is a pioneering waterproof watch with both practical design and functioning. These timepieces are available in an assortment of coloured dials and with a variety of case sizes.
It is the classic and timeless style of the Oyster Perpetual which maintains its fan base; the collection continually signifies the power of simplicity. Proof that originals should not be underrated.
Furthermore, due to its success, the Oyster Perpetual collection influenced the creation of other collections, too. For example, the Rolex ‘Date’ was introduced as part of the Oyster Perpetual collection.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust
The Rolex Datejust is a classic Rolex model, which has undergone minimal changes across its lifetime. The successor of the 1926 Oyster timepiece, Rolex released the Oyster Perpetual Datejust in 1945.
The Datejust was the first watch to showcase an automatic changing date display. This date window feature is still present in today’s modern-day collections and makes the piece one of the most recognisable watches of all time
What’s more, these technological advances went on to the standards for many watches manufactures and even future Rolex collections.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
To add to their long list of achievements, Rolex claimed another first with their invention of the Day-Date. The Day-Date timepiece was the first model to display the full written calendar day on the watch dial.
Rolex initially invented the Day-Date in 1956, and since then, Rolex designers have altered the model to become more slender. Despite this change, Rolex has, of course, maintained the original day and date windows.
There are many variations of the Day-Date timepiece, ranging from fully platinum models to 18K gold.
The Day-Date has adorned many notable and authoritative wrists throughout its history and is arguably one of the most famed Rolex collections. In fact, the Rolex Day-Date even became nicknamed as ‘the President’ after people spotted the US President Dwight Eisenhower wearing one.
Do you Have any More Questions?
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