EDITOR’S PICK: An owner’s guide on whether the Rolex Oyster Perpetual deserves the hype EDITOR’S PICK: An owner’s guide on whether the Rolex Oyster Perpetual deserves the hype

EDITOR’S PICK: An owner’s guide on whether the Rolex Oyster Perpetual deserves the hype

Luke Benedictus

EDITOR’S NOTE: Around the watch world, there was a collective “WTF” exhalation this week at the news that two colourful dialled Rolex Oyster Perpetuals had each sold at Christie’s for over CHF 50,000 apiece (read Zach’s story about it all here). Hand-wringing over the prices of such hype pieces is understandable. But if you managed to jump on the bandwagon early, what’s it like to actually own one of these pieces? How do they actually fare on the wrist? To find out, let’s revisit this review from Jason Marsden about why he absolutely loves his yellow-dialled Rolex Oyster Perpetual.

When most people think of Rolex they think serious luxury. Traditional designs that have become the very definition of aspirational watch style. Their iconic designs such as the Submariner are copied by many, so much so that they have almost become a parody of themselves.

Rolex has had some fun with its blue and green colour options on the Submariner but the watches still retained their serious style. Not until you first see the polarising Rainbow Daytona or Eye of the Tiger Daytona do you start to get a glimpse of just how far Rolex is capable of pushing aesthetics. These gem-set watches are not only massive style statements but come with a massive price tag and exclusivity, too.

At the entry level of the Rolex offering sits the Oyster Perpetual. This time-only watch is all the Rolex quality you would expect but in the very pure and uncluttered dial format that forgoes the date window and thus the somewhat iconic cyclops magnifier. In truth, I do not like a magnifier on any watch crystal so this limits which Rolex models appeal to me. For many, however, it is not a Rolex unless it has the iconic date window magnifier sitting like a droplet of spring water on the crystal.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

Rolex launched a new range of Oyster Perpetual in 2020. Oyster refers to the case-sealing technology that Rolex made famous in 1926, pioneering the truly waterproof watch. Perpetual refers to the rotating winding mass that powers the main spring. It can swing perpetually in a circle, without stop or pause as long as the watch is subject to movement.

The biggest reveal of these watches was the bold dial colour options. Turquoise, baby pink, forest green, coral red and mustard yellow sit alongside more traditional blue, silver and black dials. Offered in 31mm, 36mm and a new 41mm to replace the previous 39mm. It is worth noting that not all colour options are available in all sizes.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

These models have proven very popular with the turquoise the most sought after. The similarity to Tiffany blue may go some way to explain this, however, it is not quite the same colour when viewed in person. Next, and my choice, is the yellow. Whilst not a primary bright yellow, it is more a mustard, almost egg yolk yellow. I would also draw a comparison with F P Journe, it is similar to the yellow featured on some of his iconic dials. The popularity of these new Rolex models has seen the secondary prices far exceed the retail price, especially for the two most sought after colours in the 41mm variant.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

As a child yellow was my favourite colour and this perhaps goes some way to explain why I was attracted to this option straight away. Whilst such a bold colour may not instinctively go with many outfits it’s actually very wearable, from suits to casualwear. Maybe the fact that it does not typically match any one colour means it works with so many others. The black polished indices and yellow dial also give the watch a slight comic book/computer game graphic style, while it also references perhaps yellow fibreglass furniture and kitchenware of the 1970s. To achieve these colours the dial has six layers of lacquer applied then a clear top coat before the text is pad printed ready for indices and logo to be applied.

Personally, 41mm is a great size for me but many others may prefer the 36mm which is truly unisex these days, however no one is going to fault someone’s choice to wear the 41mm independent of wrist size. At just 12mm thick it slides easily under a cuff, aided by the smooth polished bezel. The 41mm and 36mm both feature the new 3230 movement, with an amazing accuracy of +/- 2 seconds per day. A power reserve of around 70 hours means you can take it off over the weekend with the confidence that you will not have to reset it on Monday. The Oyster construction with screw-down crown provides a genuine 100m water resistance, meaning this is definitely a watch you can take swimming should you so choose.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

The bracelet clasp is well crafted and machined out of a solid block of stainless steel, and incorporates an Easylink 5mm extension link. Normally I would have to remove a link or two from a new bracelet with my 18.5cm wrist but with the Easylink extension closed the factory length bracelet was the perfect fit.  Anyone with a larger wrist may well need to purchase additional links for a comfortable fit whilst retaining the option for an extra 5mm with the extension link. I don’t know if this is a cost-saving exercise by Rolex in what is, after all, their entry-level model. Maybe they know their customers so well that they figure everyone has one or two spare links sitting in the box, so they may as well just produce a shorter bracelet to start with to suit most of the population.

Overnight the lume in the indices remains visible but this is in stark contrast to the very thin strip of lume in the minute and hour hands which is almost invisible compared to the indices. Don’t count on an easy read in complete darkness.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

Overall however, this is a great watch and after a few weeks on the wrist it quickly became one of my most worn.   Whilst this watch may not be the Rolex you buy if it was to be your only luxury watch, for those Rolex fans looking for a simple, fun statement piece then these new Oyster Perpetual are well worth considering. If you can get your hands on one that is…