Rolex | Collections 2021
The Rolex 2021 watch collection brings with it subtle updates to both the Explorer and Explorer II watches, as well as a host of beautiful new dials to enjoy across the Cosmograph Daytona, Datejust, and more. Here's everything you need to know…
The Rolex 2021 watch collection has officially dropped, which means it's time for ardent fans to lose their collective minds over the smallest of details!
We say this with tongue planted firmly in our cheek, of course, however it's true: Rolex has perfected the marginal gains model in watchmaking, and its ever-attentive audience love to mull over the considered tweaks the watch giant makes to its models year on year.
Us pesky journalists might beg Rolex to release a totally new collection or watch design every once in a while, but why should it? With a whole host of icons in its arsenal, it's perfectly entitled to spend its time making the best better; "evolution rather than revolution" as the brand tells us in its press conferences.
So what does 2021 offer? In a nutshell: more of what we've come to expect. The Explorer and Explorer II models (the latter celebrating its 50th birthday) get their turn in the spotlight this year, while elsewhere Rolex is showing off a selection of beautiful artisanal dials across the Datejust and Cosmograph Daytona line-ups.
Without any further ado…
Rolex Explorer 36mm
Rolex might not have invented the tool watch, but the watchmaker certainly paved the way for much of the popularity it enjoys in the modern era. You might think of the Daytona or the Submariner when you think of these highly specialised timepieces, but it was the Explorer that kicked off Rolex’s professional-grade watch lineup.
Hot on the heels of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reaching the summit of Mount Everest in 1953 (naturally wearing Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches on the ascent), the watchmaker released the Rolex Explorer in the very same year to commemorate the success. Suffice it to say, it became an icon overnight.
History lesson over, let’s fill you in on the new update: out goes the 39mm Explorer first released in 2010, and in comes a more historically accurate 36mm addition. It’s not just a new size, mind, there’s new mechanics making this beauty tick. The automatic 3230 calibre – a movement we’ve recently seen in the new no-date Submariner and Oyster Perpetual models of 2020 – that features a Chronergy escapement, proprietary Rolex tech that boosts movement efficiency and reliability over an extended time.
There’s two variants in this new 36mm, an all-steel version for the minimalists and, perhaps more exciting, a steel-and-gold version Rolex refers to as Rolesor (a term it first coined in 1933 to indicate two-tone models incorporating gold).
Anyone else picking up Wolf of Wall Street energy from the new Rolesor? Old school is firmly back in the new school.
Rolex Explorer II
It’s perhaps no surprise to anyone that Rolex should celebrate the 50th birthday of its oft-underappreciated Explorer II model (famous siblings and all that…) with a bit of an upgrade. We say a bit of an upgrade because, in truth, this is ostensibly the same Explorer II we’ve known and loved for decades – white dial, brushed steel bezel, and handy GMT complication – it’s just received a technical update under the hood that brings it in line with many of the other models in Rolex’s arsenal.
Now, rumour has it that the case proportions in person do indeed appear to be slimmed down considerably, especially the lugs which do appear thinner, though it’s very difficult to tell from pictures alone and Rolex hasn’t given anything away in their press junket. We’ll reserve judgement on that point until we see one in the metal.
Anyhow, the caliber 3285 is currently ticking away inside the latest iteration of the GMT-Master II, and now it has a home inside the Explorer II as well. We’ll spare the details, but assume the new movement receives the full “Rolex treatment”, including that very clever Chronergy escapement we’ve already mentioned once in this article.
So, happy birthday Explorer II. Here’s to 50 more.
Rolex Datejust 36mm
Rolex is dialling up the, er, dials of its Datejust collection in 2021, with a smorgasbord of funky options designed to showcase the skills of its in-house metier d'art department.
The 'palm' motif option is sure to get the most coverage – intended to denote tropical rainforests, according to Rolex, but definitely gives off a bit of jazz cabbage vibe, if you catch our drift – but we love the fluted motif on the Oystersteel and yellow gold model [pictured]. Inspired by the distinctive fluted bezel of the Datejust, the dial design is a lovely refrain.
Fun fact: the new patterns are created using a Femto Laser, usually utilised for cataract surgery. Such is the delicate disposition of these watch dials, the laser is perfectly suited to the job.
Anyway, the Datejust has previously been a canvas for some of the artier Rolexes released in the past, and again here it has served its purpose excellently. These are most enjoyable, eccentric expressions of the Datejust.
From £5,650; rolex.com
Rolex Daytona with Meteorite Dial
It's not just the Datejust that's received special dial treatment in 2021, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is the recipient of a simply stunning meteorite dial that adds an otherworldly effect to its iconic chronograph.
This isn't the first time Rolex has played around with meteorite, the GMT Master II featured a similar dial in 2019, but the novelty hasn't worn off yet. The watch looks absolutely fantastic.
If you were wondering: the meteorite dial is very much the real deal. It comes from an asteroid found in the Namib Desert, with each carefully sculpted dial featuring totally unique Widmanstätten patterns. No two watches are the same.
Add this rare material to the already much-lauded Daytona, and you have a watch that is destined to be a must-have for collectors around the world.
From £27,350; rolex.com