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A Closer Look at 3 of Rolex's Coolest 2023 Releases

Jun 21, 2023Jun 21, 2023

All hail the king.

When founder Hans Wilsdorf came up with the name “Rolex” in 1908, he couldn’t have known the resonance that otherwise meaningless word would have a century later. By 1931, when the brand registered its iconic crown logo, he probably had some idea. Wearing those five points on your wrist is a sign, for many, that you’ve made it. And every new Rolex is a potential way to realize the dream. This year, the company introduced nine watches at Geneva’s annual Watches and Wonders show. Here are the three we’re most keen to wear, each guaranteed to capture a place in your imagination—and maybe your collection, too.

Rolex has a long history of experimenting with materials, creating its own proprietary (and jealously guarded) recipes for the platinum, gold, and steel it uses for most of its watches. Yet surprisingly, titanium joined the roster only late in 2022, when the brand introduced the Deepsea Challenge, tested and rated to an unfathomable 11,000 meters (or 36,090 feet). With the Yacht-Master 42 in RLX titanium—which is 30 percent lighter than the 904L stainless steel the brand uses elsewhere—Rolex offers a watch for those of us who prefer paddling about on the surface but still appreciate the combination of robust looks and an uncannily weightless feel.

Folks were shocked when Rolex announced in 2022 that it was eliminating a handful of dial colors it had introduced in its Oyster Perpetual just two years earlier. More shocking: the new Oyster Perpetual “Celebration Dial,” which brings back all those colors and throws them together on a dial made from fifty-one individual circles of enamel applied on a light-blue background. It comes in three sizes—31 mm, 36 mm, and 41 mm—and, like most fan favorites, has already earned an unofficial nickname: “Bubbles.” Rolex debuted a number of playful watches this year, but this one is the life of the party. And if you’re worried it won’t match your clothes, you’re thinking about it the wrong way. It goes with everything.

The dressiest of Rolex’s releases this year is also one of the most surprising. While the “Bubbles” Oyster is bold but grounded in a classic design, the Perpetual 1908—a 39 mm certified chronometer available in white or yellow gold and with black or white dials—is something else entirely. It feels distinct, a notable departure from the tooly aesthetics of the brand’s mainstream lines. If this signifies a new family of watches to come, that’s even more major. Rolex is not known for following trends, but the 1908’s restrained design language feels like a sage and, er, timely nod to the rising interest in subtle, superlative dress watches—even among those for whom a nicely tailored suit is a dim and distant memory.

Photography by Ryan SlackStyling by Nick Sullivan

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of ESQUIRE magazineSubscribe

Nick Sullivan is Creative Director at Equire, where he served as Fashion Director from 2004 until 2019. Prior to that, he relocated from London with his young family to Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. He has styled and art directed countless fashion and cover stories for both Esquire and Big Black Book (which he helped found in 2006) in exotic,uncomfortable, and occasionally unfeasibly cold locations. He also writes extensively about men’s style, accessories, and watches. He describes his style as elegantly disheveled.

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Photography by Ryan SlackStyling by Nick Sullivan