20 years ago, the biggest horological statement you could make about your taste and affluence came in the shape of a Rolex. Models like the Date-just, Day-Date and Submariner were the hallmarks of a man who knew bespoke from tailored.
However, in terms of modern day interpretations, most long-lived models made by the brand are left seeming naff and undersized. This begs the question; has the Swiss giant lost its touch? Their attempts at revitalising the older models were obvious, including a flat bezel added to the new, much larger Date-just II, and more square-shaped lugs on the new Submariner to make the 40mm case wear larger on the wrist. Despite this, attention and business previously directed at Rolex has been refocused between classical brands like IWC, A. Lange & Söhne, and more contemporary brands such as AP and Hublot. From this, it is fair to assume that the aforementioned models have failed to maintain the limelight.
Yet, there may have been an oversight by the average consumer. While models like the Date-just may not have been modified thoroughly enough to suit the demands of a modern and striving watch market, there have been some new models that serve as recompense for a heavily outdated product line. These come in the shape of the GMT Master II, and the Yacht-master II.
The new GMT Master II comes equipped with an aesthetic similar to the Submariner, but with a more modern and appealing two-tone ceramic bezel. Additionally, its handsome exterior houses the brilliant Caliber 3186 movement, which allows both a quickset date and jumping hour complication, to allow changing time zones as swiftly as possible.
The Yacht-master II, in somewhat stark contrast, includes a complication that for most customers will go un-utilised, the 10-minute regatta timer. Despite being less useful than the complications of the GMT, it has the advantage of being incredibly well designed. The proportions of both the face and the bezel are perfect; the only criticism might be the inclusion of “Yacht-Master II” on the bottom of the bezel.
These new models represent somewhat of a change in direction for Rolex, and a departure from the older styles of their design. It’s hard to decide whether these new timepieces can fill the boots of the likes of the Submariner, but they serve to wet the appetite of those who desire new, mould breaking designs that once helped Rolex hold a strong market majority.
It’s difficult to imagine that Rolex will enjoy continued popularity without executing more drastic updates to their product line, or if they will simply lose their crown.
Feature Image: Rolex Passion Report