Editor’s note: There comes a point in every collector’s journey where they wish, even if only for a moment, that they had only one watch. That all of their learning, discussing, buying and selling in the world of horology could be focused into a single piece that they could wear every day for the rest of their life. Never again would they hesitate in the morning as they decide what to wear that day, and never again would they wonder where part of their collection was. For many, that watch could be the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ref. 114300.
The story in a second:
This could well be the only watch you’ll ever need.
There’s a concept in the world of watch enthusiasts that’s referred to as ‘only one watch’. For the majority of the population, this concept is better known as ‘normality’. But if you’re the sort of person who has a watch for work, one for the weekend as well as a dedicated timepiece for special occasions, there’s a good chance the thought of committing to just one will fill you with dread. How could you choose? Can you live without a chronograph? And do you go for fine finishing or bulletproof reliability? Well, allow us to humbly suggest that all you really need a watch to do is tell the time. Everything else is superfluous. We’d also argue that you need a watch that can handle the daily rigours of regular wear and still scrub up OK. It also needs a timeless style that won’t look out of place on your wrist in 50 years’ time. Not an easy set of criteria, but the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 more than nails it. If you could only ever have one watch, you could do a lot worse than one of these.
This is the first thing you notice about the new Oyster Perpetuals, offered in three sunburst dial variants. The dark rhodium dial is the most conservative option (and we suspect the most popular), while the red grape and blue are bolder, more youthful options.
Rolex have pulled off an impressive feat with this dial. It’s supremely simple, but far from boring. In fact, the purity of this dial – and the watch as a whole – may well be its greatest strength. No date or cyclops distract from the clean lines. The hands are simple sticks, and the applied gold indices have enough height to ensure legibility, without dominating. Only the hands and the three, six and nine are filled with luminous material – this isn’t a diver after all.
Naturally, there’s the applied Rolex crown and signed rehaut, but it’s the printed hour markers that we’re most interested by. In an uncharacteristically playful move from the Swiss giant, these are a breath of fresh, colourfully contrasting air. The rhodium dial gets bright blue details, the grape comes with reddish-orange highlights and the blue’s markers are Kawasaki-green (which looks to be the same tone as they used on the Deepsea D-Blue dial text). These 12 plots of colour, combined with the wonderfully reflective sunburst finish, make for a surprisingly fun time-only watch.
Rolex’s Oyster case is legendary, first developed in 1926 as the world’s first waterproof watch. And while these days many people are wary of going for a swim with anything rated less than 500m, the 100m water resistance on the Oyster case is more than enough for a casual dip. Meanwhile, aesthetically, it sits in the perfect middle ground between dressy and sporty, with a timeless style that means it will never look out of place. While there’s nothing novel about the style or construction of the case, what is new is the size. Previously available in 34mm and 36mm cases, this is also offered for the first time in 39mm. And while the two larger sizes are both quite unisex, the Oyster Perpetual 39 is a winning size for a men’s watch.
The Oyster case is part of a classic double act, working best when paired with the (equally timeless and iconic) Oyster bracelet. The broad brushed links of this comfortable steel bracelet are one of the many, instantly recognisable calling cards of Rolex, providing the perfect accompaniment to the case’s tapering lugs and mirror-finished bezel. Again, there’s nothing particularly new or innovative, but let’s be honest, at this point in the Oyster bracelet’s 80-odd years of life, there’s not too much you could improve on.
Powered by the proven Calibre 3132, this features Rolex’s Parachrom hairspring, the Paraflex shock protection system, and has around 48 hours or power reserve. It’s not Rolex’s most cutting-edge movement but, then again, it’s a perfectly appropriate choice for this entry-level, time-only piece
On the wrist
This a paradox. It’s discreet while being distinctive, simultaneously timeless and on-trend. It’s also comfortable to a fault. It’s classic Rolex. Fastening the clasp, you know that every detail has been pained over, and that nothing about this watch has been left to chance. But more than that, you know you’re wearing the latest evolution of a watch that’s still very clearly related to its 80-year-old ancestor — a style of timepiece that for many is the canonical definition of a wristwatch. And that’s why the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is the best contender for the only watch you’ll ever need.
I’ve got the perfect watch for EVERY occasion.
Who’s it for?
Anyone. This watch will look great on literally anyone.
What would we change?
While the look and design of this is as close to perfect as you can get, it would be nice to see the Oyster Perpetual powered by a more modern calibre.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 (ref. 114300) Australian pricing
The Oyster Perpetual 39 has an RRP of $8000 in all the dial colour options.