Cover The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer headlines the brand's releases at Watches & Wonders 2021

For Watches & Wonders 2021, the themes of exploration, dial art and gem-setting form the foundation of Rolex's novelties for the year

Each year, the modus operandi for Rolex with regard to its creations has stayed consistently similar. The collection architecture remains largely the same with minor aesthetic tweaks to the watches, while the performance limits of the timepieces are constantly being pushed. If anything, the key objective for the Rolex watchmakers is to ensure that their watches and corresponding movements and components become better in terms of finishing, engineering and performance—something that is totally in line with brand founder Hans Wilsdorf's vision of sustained excellence for the watches.

The year 2021 is no exception. A lot of focus is placed on enhancements and upgrades, making sure the new generation of creations are even more impressive than the existing ones. That is why we see the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer and Oyster Perpetual Explorer II collections receive a minor facelift, while the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona and Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36 get new faces—literally. Rounding off this year's novelties are two gem-set creations in the Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust and Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36, sparkling renditions of the watches that will set the hearts of men and women aflutter. 

Tribute to Explorers

It is not wrong to say that many of Rolex's timepieces are created and developed jointly with some of the world's most legendary explorers. After all, the tickers have accompanied these legends on various challenging adventures with each expedition and project serving as an opportunity to push the limits and provide further research into enhancing the reliability and robustness of the watches. And as such, Rolex consistently pays tribute to spirit of exploration and this year, it does so by re-inventing the Oyster Perpetual Explorer and Oyster Perpetual Explorer II. 

The Explorer is presented in a 36mm-wide case, which is exactly the same size as the original wristwatch launched in 1953. Clad in yellow Rolesor (a combination of Oystersteel and yellow gold), the new-generation watch features a black lacquered dial and boasts impressive luminosity thanks to its optimised Chromalight display. The blue glow emitted by the hour markers and hands is now more intense and lasts longer in dark conditions because of the innovative luminescent material applied on the elements.

Likewise, the new Explorer II is also endowed with the optimised Chromalight display. Minor design tweaks are done on the case and bracelet but the watch remains faithful to its aesthetic heritage. Its 24-hour hand retains its iconic orange hue—the same colour as the Explorer II inscription that has featured on the dial since 2011.

Let's Face It

The Swiss watchmaker demonstrates its watchmaking prowess by introducing several dial executions. For the new Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, Rolex has endowed it with a meteorite dial. Metallic meteorite, which is primarily composed of iron and nickel, is rare and tough to work with—breakage is extremely common, and only the most seasoned of craftsmen are able to master the material well. The brand works with only the sections of meteorite with a particularly well-formed surface rich in different shapes and reflections. There are three versions—white, yellow and Everose gold—of the chronograph with the meteorite dial. 

New patterned dials have also been rolled out in the Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36. Six new versions of the watch come with palm and fluted dial motifs. According to the brand, "the palm motif evokes lush, vibrant tropical forests, while the fluted motif showcases the pattern found on a range of Rolex bezels that has become one of the brand’s signature aesthetic styles". The palm motif is featured on the dial of the Oystersteel, yellow Rolesor and Everose Rolesor (a combination of Oystersteel and Everose gold) watches, whereas the fluted motif is found on the dial of the yellow, white and Everose Rolesor pieces. 

Shine Bright Like A Diamond

Not just a watchmaker, Rolex shows off its gemsetting skills with the new Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust and Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36. The former is studded with diamond on every possible surface—the case is set with 158 brilliant-cut diamonds, the bezel features 44 brilliant-cut diamonds, the dial is paved with 291 diamonds, and to finish it off, the bracelet scintillates with another 596 brilliant-cut diamonds. The latter comes in three versions—yellow gold case with a coral-coloured dial, white gold case with turquoise dial and Everose gold case with burgundy dial—and is fitted with a polished leather strap for that slightly more casual touch. The case of the Day-Date 36 is set with 254 brilliant-cut diamonds on the lugs, lug caps and case sides, while its bezel is studded with another 52 stones. Another 450 diamonds are found on the dial.