Vintage Yellow Gold Rolex GMT-Master with Bakelite Bezel

Yellow Gold Rolex GMT-Master (Reference # 6542)
With Rolex placing an emphasis on the GMT-Master II BLNR in recent marketing efforts, it is as good a time as any to take a look at early GMT-Master models, like the Reference 6542 shown in the photo. This yellow gold configuration dates back to 1959, just a few years after the first GMT-Master was introduced. Developed by Rolex in association with Pan Am Airlines, this watch harkens back to the golden age of aviation, when trans-continental travel was made possible by jet engine technology.

The GMT-Master 6542 features an 18k gold case that measures 38mm in diameter and houses an automatic Caliber 1006 with 25 jewels. The yellow gold material makes this reference particularly rare given the fact that most tool watches of this period were manufactured in stainless steel, not precious metals. Another interesting material feature is its Bakelite bezel tinted in cognac brown. Bakelite was used to minimize the reflection on the bezel to make it easier for pilots to read the time while flying. The date wheel has a cream color that adds another interesting element to this unique piece.

vintage rolex gmt master yellow gold brown bakelite
Rolex GMT-Master 6542 (photo: Phillips)
This particular 6542 was put up for auction by the original owner at Phillips in Geneva last year selling for approximately $139,000 US. Many Baselworld 2017 rumors indicate that Rolex may be releasing a new GMT-Master II configuration based on the heavy attention the model has been getting in recent weeks. The consensus is that a 'Coke' configuration will be released in stainless steel. I think it would be interesting to see a new yellow gold GMT as well.

The combination of brown and gold evokes the aesthetic of the bronze models that watchmakers like Panerai and Tudor have released in recent years. The only reason I don't think Rolex will release a new stainless steel GMT is that they have invested so much in promoting the BLNR in recent months that I don't think it makes sense to cannibalize those sales with a competing steel configuration. In a few weeks all of our conjectures will be either confirmed or dispelled. I will be sure to post all of the new Rolex configurations from Baselworld 2017 as soon as they are revealed. For now, check out my predictions here.

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Federer Wears a Rolex GMT-Master II to Celebrate Australian Open Win

Roger Federer Wins Australian Open for Fifth Time Wearing Rolex GMT-Master II (photo: ATPworldtour.com)
While the world waits to see what Rolex will present at Baselworld 2017 in March, the watchmaker is already making international headlines with their association with the world of sports. The Rolex 24 at Daytona took place this weekend at the same time the Australian Open came to a close. Roger Federer made a huge career comeback after an injury to win the men's final against Rafael Nadal yesterday, his fifth win at the Grand Slam tournament.

Rolex took full advantage of the exposure, with Federer wearing a GMT-Master II BLNR and the watch being featured prominently on screens at the event and on the homepage of their official website. This publicity may lead some to think that they will be releasing a new GMT configuration this model year. However, it mainly just seems like the watchmaker is wisely promoting one of their most popular stainless steel models at a time when precious metal configurations aren't selling as well on the international market.

Closeup of Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR (photo: Rolex)
The positioning of the BLNR at the beginning of this year (just after SIHH 2017) reinforces the strength of Rolex's international branding efforts centered around the Testimonee concept. Introduced by their founder, Hans Wilsdorf, almost one hundred years ago, this concept uses the achievements of public figures like Federer to catapult their timepieces into the spotlight. While there are other brands that have gained prominence in this century, very few have the amount of name recognition that Rolex does worldwide.

In a few weeks we will see what model configurations the watchmaker will be updating this year at their stand at Baselworld 2017. Federer was photographed wearing the Daytona 116500LN for their website after its introduction last year. Regardless of which models will get attention at the trade show, it is clear that Rolex is focusing on their most beloved model configurations, like the BLNR, for now. For more information on the Australian Open, visit atpworldtour.com.

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Rolex 24 at Daytona 2017 Kicks Off This Saturday

Rolex 24 at Daytona (photo: Stephan Cooper)
Rolex's Cosmograph Daytona model is a grail for many watch enthusiasts, but even more so for participants in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the first major motorsports event of the year. The winner will walk away from the 24 hour endurance race that begins Saturday at 2:30pm at the Daytona International Speedway with a Daytona from Rolex in addition to a glorious career milestone.

Five time winner Scott Pruett will be racing again this weekend, this time with a new Lexus entry. “The Rolex 24 At Daytona is magical for drivers, teams and fans alike because of its rich history and the level of performance it demands from all those who compete. It is the ultimate race against time in challenging conditions, we drive for long hours in darkness, and I’m extremely proud to be racing again this year,” says Pruett of the circuit. 

Daytona International Speedway, 2016 (photo: Rolex/Stephan Cooper)
Rolex has been the Title Sponsor and Official Timepiece of the 24 at Daytona since 1992. The winners receive a Cosmograph Daytona as part of their rewards, something that has cemented the wristwatch model to the legacy of Daytona for 25 years. For more information on this year's event, including tickets and schedule, visit Daytona International Speedway's official event page. To check out the 2016 Cosmograph Daytona model, click here

Vintage Rolex Sea-Dweller Double Red Reference 1665

Rolex Sea-Dweller Double Red Reference 1665 (photo: phillips.com)
Rolex's Sea-Dweller model celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and Baselworld 2017 predictions all point to a new configuration for this classic diver's watch. The 'Double Red' Sea-Dweller (Reference #1665) shown above dates back to 1977. It features a Mark IV dial and the name of the model in two lines colored red, the origin of the nickname it is known by today.

The impressive depth rating of this timepiece (610 meters or 2000 feet) is the result of technology developed by the watchmaker and COMEX, the Compagnie Maritime d'Expertise, a French diving company. Rolex made many non-commercial timepieces for COMEX before creating one offered to the general public. One of the innovations of this 38 millimeter stainless steel diver's watch is the helium escape valve that is still part of the model to this day. This allows tiny helium molecules to escape the case without damaging the crystal due to the pressure during decompression after a dive.

The 1665 above was auctioned by Phillips last year in Geneva for approximately $27,500 and is preserved in its original condition. Some have speculated that the 50th anniversary edition of the Sea-Dweller 4000, should an anniversary model be released this year, will have the name colored in blue. I created a blacked out concept of the Sea-Dweller 4000 with the name in red to honor the double red shown above.

We will have to wait and see what Rolex does with this model at Baselworld in March. Regardless of what new configurations they release, though, the 'Double Red' will always be a favorite amongst collectors. The absence of the Cyclops magnifying lens, the depth rating and the simple display of the 1665 accentuated by the red lettering creates an irresistible combination for fans of brand. For more information on this and other vintage Rolex watches, visit phillips.com.

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Every Rolex Tells a Story: Garbiñe Muguruza

Every Rolex Tells a Story: Garibeñe Muguruza (photo: Rolex)
Current French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza will not be advancing to the Australian Open semifinal after a loss to American Coco Vandeweghe this week. However, the Venezuelan-born Spanish tennis star has much to be proud of in her career. In 2014, after defeating Serena Williams in the fourth round of the Australian Open, she decided to honor the milestone with the purchase of a Rolex watch.

"Since I was a kid, my father and my mother both had a Rolex and I always wanted to have one as well. But my father always told me, 'You have to earn it, you have to work hard and one day you will have the chance to buy one yourself.' At the end of that year I felt that that moment had finally come, that it was a great reward for what I achieved," says Muguruza on her Every Rolex Tells a Story page at rolex.com. 

The athlete chose a 36 millimeter Datejust with diamond hour markers and a pink dial, worn in the photo above. The size of the case looks perfect on her wrist, though some enthusiasts may shudder at the thought of calling a 36 millimeter timepiece a women's watch. The timing couldn't have been better for Rolex to add this story to their website, with the Australian Open and demonstrations from women's groups around the world occurring simultaneously last weekend. For more information on the tennis star, check our her Facebook page

Do Apple Wearables Spell Doom for Rolex Watches?

Do Apple Wearables Spell Doom for Rolex Watches? (photo: Rolex/Alain Costa) 
A new wave of alarmist headlines pinning Apple wearable products against luxury Swiss watches from Rolex has appeared on the internet this week. This time it is the result of a report recently made available for purchase by data company RE-Analytics. The description of the report posits that there is a segment of Rolex watches that is at risk with the rise of Apple's wearable technology.

Publications have picked up the story using headlines insinuating that the rise of the smartwatch has a causal relationship with the decline of the Swiss watchmaking industry in past years. They compare it to the so-called 'Quartz Crisis' of decades past based on the rise of quartz movements from Seiko. Both Seiko and Rolex are still selling watches side by side, though, so I'm not sure that argument holds water today.

The reality is that while the rise of quartz movements put many traditional mechanical watchmakers out of business, they also made wristwatches more accessible to the masses.  It was a net positive for the wristwatch industry in the long run and companies like Rolex released their own quartz watches in the years that followed Seiko's innovation. Without quartz movements we wouldn't have decent watches priced under $100 US today from watchmakers like Timex.

Another aspect of this argument I find questionable is the idea that the more modestly priced Rolex watches would be most at risk. Based on annual reports from the top Swiss watchmakers (as a private company, Rolex is not required to report figures to the public), stainless steel watches have been outperforming precious metal configurations in recent months. So, even though sales have been stagnant for many watchmakers, the segment identified by the report seems to be doing better for them than any other.

I would be interested in browsing the report in depth to draw my own conclusions, but I can't justify spending €1,500 to indulge my curiosity on the subject. I welcome wearable technology into the world, even though I'm not personally interested in staying connected enough to buy an Apple Watch.  I use many other Apple products, though.

The only reason the media pits Apple against Rolex is because Rolex has the most name recognition of the larger Swiss watchmakers. This makes the headlines more attractive from a public relations standpoint, but it doesn't give credence to the assertions. As with everything else regarding the world of watchmaking, only time will tell what becomes of the ostensible battle between Rolex watches and wearable technology.

(I previously posted about whether Apple Watch sales would affect Rolex's bottom line here.)

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Rolex GMT-Master II is the Official Selection for Australian Open

2016 Australian Open (photo: Rolex/Gianni Ciaccia)
While some have speculated that Rolex will be introducing a new GMT-Master II configuration this year based on the model's prominence on their official website, it seems that the reasoning is tied to the Australian Open, not Baselworld 2017. The watchmaker has been a partner of the first Grand Slam tournament of the season for ten years and they honor the 2017 tournament with the GMT-Master II as a special selection.

In addition to being a partner to the tournament, Rolex is also tied to one of it's biggest stars and four-time champion, Roger Federer. The Swiss tennis legend refers to the Australian Open as the 'happy slam,' a sentiment shared by many due to the summer weather in Australia while the northern hemisphere deals with the cold of winter. Federer beat American Noah Rubin this week and will advance to the third round to face 10th seed Tomas Berdych.

Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR (photo: Rolex)
Their official website links the colors of the GMT-Master II to the Australian Open, something that is evident when looking at the photo of the tennis court above. Considering that sales of stainless steel wristwatches were much stronger than precious metal sales last year, it makes sense for them to push a configuration like the BLNR in the beginning of this calendar year. With Baselworld 2017 around the corner, it will be interesting to see if the GMT will continue to be featured prominently.

For more information on the Australian Open, including schedules and standings, visit ausopen.com. For more information on Rolex and their ties to the world of professional tennis, visit rolex.com.

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Is There Room for Women in the World of Watches?

Garbiñe Muguruza (photo: Rolex)
The New York Times interviewed Hodinkee staff writer Cara Barrett recently to discuss what its like to be a woman working in an industry that's dominated by men. In it, she comments on instances when she was confronted by readers about gendering watches as female. She also touches upon the fact that most executives in the watchmaking industry are older males, making it even more difficult for women to break into the world of watches.

Hodinkee has a most male readership, but they ostensibly cater their content to a younger demographic than Baby Boomers. One would think that this would make room for a more nuanced approach to gender. However, the anonymity of commenting on the Internet allows for trolls to take on antiquated positions without accountability. This presents a challenge for writers like Barrett, but it is nice to see that there are women willing to put up with discrimination in order to advance the cause of gender equality in horology.

UPDATE:
Rolex has recently added more women to their Every Rolex Tells a Story section. Click here to check out Sylvia Earle's story or visit the watchmaker's official website at rolex.com to browse the entire section.

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An Ultra-Rare Asymmetrical Yellow Gold Triangular Rolex

Asymmetrical Yellow Gold 1960s Rolex 79412 (photo: Phillips)
A watch that looks like it came straight out of a 1960s science fiction movie, the asymmetrical yellow gold Rolex in the photo above is an ultra-rare example of the watchmaker stepping out of their classical aesthetic. This creation came at a time when watchmakers were experimenting with modern designs. Due to a lack of commercial success, they have become anomalies as far as vintage Rolex watches go. 

In the catalog entry for the Phillips auction where it was up presented last year in Geneva, this piece and the three others in this collection (shown below) were described as unicorns. Designed and executed by a French goldsmith, this group of watches was auctioned in Geneva in 1987 and were presented for auction again last year. Their futuristic lines and unique shapes are not for the timid, catering to the sensibilities of artists and those with an affinity for modernity. 

Set of 4 Asymmetrical Yellow Gold Rolex Watches (photo: Phillips)
What I find interesting about this lot of vintage Rolex watches is that they still appear futuristic even half a century after their creation. They came to the world during the space race of the 1960s, when countries were racing to get to the moon and beyond. What these watches lack in practicality they make up for in charm, evoking an era when society was focused on achieving the impossible. They may not have been a commercial success, but these unique wristwatches prove that companies like Rolex are willing to take risks. We will have to wait for Baselworld 2017 to see what risks they are willing to take in this century. 

Rolex Cracking Down on Counterfeit Watches Sold Online

Rolex Cracking Down on Counterfeit Watches Sold Online (photo: Nico Beard)
If you have your eye on a Rolex being sold on Craigslist, you may want to think twice about making that purchase. The World Intellectual Property Review posted an article about how Rolex is cracking down on counterfeit watches being sold online in the US. Naturally, these pieces violate the watchmaker's trademark and the sale of these items is illegal in the United States.

Going all the way back to 2015, an investigator hired by Rolex made contact with a seller online to inquire about timepieces posted for sale. They met in the parking lot of a grocery store where the seller showed a variety of counterfeit luxury watches for sale at just over $100. The seller's wife worked for an airline and was smuggling the watches in from trips to China. After confirmation, the investigator set up a meeting with the seller again and brought a police officer along to arrest him.

The case resulted in a conviction in April of 2016, creating a cautionary tale for anyone trying to sell counterfeit Rolex watches online or otherwise. With the amount of counterfeit luxury goods flooding into the black market through unscrupulous sellers, it is good to know that watchmakers are investing in protecting their trademarks and brands. This protects the value of their watches and protects consumers from getting swindled.

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Excellent Advice for Preserving the Value of Your Rolex

When it comes to assessing the value of a vintage timepiece, some of the contributing factors to current market price can seem counterintuitive at first. Is a banged up vintage Rolex more valuable than one of the same reference that has been polished? Is a cracked original bezel better than one that has been replaced? Christie's provides wonderful insights into how to preserve the value of your timepiece in a Q & A with their watch specialist on their official website

Stainless Steel Rolex Submariner Date
The first piece of advice they offer is not to polish the case of your watch. Though most watches that are actually worn will develop scratches and dings over time, the polishing usually dulls the angles of the case. In terms of value retention, the most important factor for any watch is the preservation of its original parts. So, even though it may be the original case, the polish will lower its value over time as compared to one that hasn't been polished. Even though it may look unsightly and even develop stains or oxidation, an unpolished case is always favored.

When it comes to the bezel and the dial, the same logic is applied. The bezel of a vintage watch may fade over time, creating a 'ghost' effect, which is actually sought after by collectors. The same goes for watches with faded dials, known as 'tropical' dials, like the one on the Paul Newman that sold in Hong Kong last year. If any dial or bezel is replaced, the Christie's watch expert recommends replacing it with one from the same period.

When it comes to the movement, it is recommended to have the watch in working condition. However, replacing original parts to get the watch to work may not be favorable in some cases, depending on the function you are trying to fix. If it tells time, it may not be worth replacing parts to get secondary functions to work, as some collectors will analyze every element of the movement before purchasing.

What this article shows is that care and maintenance of the original timepiece is paramount to any aesthetic or function upgrades or repairs. While you may own a watch that is not yet considered vintage, it is good to know what best practices to follow to maintain the value of your watch. While scratches and dings may bother you when you look at your watch now, it may be worth ignoring them if you plan on keeping the watch for fifty years. It may be worth a lot more in the long run than having a perfectly polished timepiece now.

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Is Rolex Listening to Our Baselworld 2017 Predictions?

Rolex Baselworld 2016 Conference Room (photo: Rolex/Cédric Widmer)
As a daily lurker on watch forums, I enjoy reading threads like this one with speculations about Rolex's Baselworld 2017 new model lineup. There is always someone claiming to have inside information direct from the watchmaker. The information posted (and the original poster's creditability) is then analyzed by forum members, with opinions and conflicting theories adding pages and pages to the thread.

I highly doubt that any definitive information would be leaked considering the amount of buzz they need to generate at the event to sustain sales in the year to come. However, I have spent enough time on Reddit and forums to know that marketers do seem to use these platforms as a virtual focus group for their products. I wouldn't doubt it if they give some misdirection to keep people guessing while also leaking certain details to gauge a reaction. Even though the trade show is only a couple months away, the watchmaker can certainly tailor their presentation based on the moods and expectations of their customer base before the show.

When I think of how much time they need to prepare for Baselworld 2017, I remember reading that Rolex created the Deepsea Challenge watch that went down with James Cameron into the Mariana Trench in 2012 with only four weeks' notice before the dive. If they had the capacity to create that watch within weeks, they can certainly prepare marketing materials and display models by March 2017 for any new model. It's not like they will be fulfilling orders at the event. They have months to produce the timepieces, but the show is a way for them to set their sales and marketing in motion for the year to come. They most likely have most of the updates set in stone, but I wonder if they have decided which configuration will be the breakout star, like the Ceramic Daytona of 2017.

As I mentioned in the last post of 2016, I think it's always a good idea to indulge in rumors and predictions. It's like fantasy football or a virtual soapbox for collectors and enthusiasts to express their desires and expectations from the watchmaker. While I'm sure the company spends money on formal marketing research, there's no reason for them not to put their ear to the ground and listen to the rumblings on the internet as well. What would they have to lose?

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The Bottom Line on Rolex Pricing

Rolex Explorer I from Baselworld 2016 (Reference # 214270)
The pricing of Rolex watches varies from year to year and place to place, but there are some resources that can help you pinpoint the suggested retail price for the model configuration you are interested in. I have posted about Rolex pricing in the Shopping Guide section of this site, breaking down which models are available for around $5,000, $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000 US.

Pricing For New Rolex Models
If you do not have the watchmaker's latest catalog that includes the suggested retail prices for all models manufactured this year, you can find a list of 2016 Rolex prices across countries on rolexforums.com. I have compared the prices they list with the prices listed in the official catalog and have found that they add up based on exchange rates. They updated their list of prices as recently as November 2016 and will likely be the first ones to post prices for the new models after Baselworld 2017.

Pricing For Vintage or Pre-Owned Rolex Models
While the watchmaker's suggested retail price guide is available for configurations in the current model year, there is no set price for vintage and pre-owned models. Prices for these watches are dictated by the market, so if you would like to research pricing on a particular reference, I would recommend checking out current listings on forum classified sections or on websites like watchrecon.com. For high priced vintage pieces, I would recommend checking pricing from auction houses like Phillips and Christies. They publish their lots on their websites with pricing information most of the time.

Factors That Go Into Rolex Pricing
The best way to gauge pricing on any wristwatch model is to pay attention to three factors: material, model and market. As is logical, a precious metal configuration will run you more than stainless steel. The same thing goes for a rare or limited model. However, the market ultimately dictates the pricing for these and all other commodities. Exchange rates also come into play, with sales in countries like China and the United Kingdom benefitting from currency fluctuations in 2016.

While establishing a long term relationship with a Rolex Authorized Dealer is usually the best way to get discounted pricing on certain models, knowledge of the market and the model you are interested in will allow you to be sure that the pricing you receive is worthy of the configuration you are looking for.

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The Rolex Oyster Case in the Words of Hans Wilsdorf


Early Rolex Oyster Ads 
“In those days, the idea of a watch impermeable to water appeared quite utopian and without future to the majority of manufacturers and technicians who did not, in fact, see its necessity or utility. At trade congresses and meetings, the ‘waterproof’ watch was held to scorn by specialists and a discussion of the problem provoked sarcasm rather than useful and objective arguments.” Speaking in 1945, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf looks back at the reception his Oyster innovation received in the watchmaking community of the late 1920s. 
First Rolex Oyster, 1926
“Other manufacturers had to follow the movement which was to exercise an enormous influence on the entire Swiss watchmaking industry... Statistics show that since 1927 waterproof wristwatches, to a value of more than one thousand million Swiss francs, have been exported throughout the five continents. Another and no less tangible result of the development of the waterproof watch is the profound modification it has brought to the manufacture of watch cases generally in Switzerland. Old machinery, incapable of turning out such delicate work, had to be replaced by new and more accurate machines. Millions of francs were invested in this modern technique and the machine industry entered a new era of prosperity. The Swiss watch-case industry itself regained its position as the first in the world and this at a time when it seemed to have most serious foreign competition to face.” 

Hans Wilsdorf Quote, 1927
“The fact that, like an oyster, it can remain an unlimited time under water without detriment to its parts, gave me the idea of christening it the ‘Rolex Oyster’, the name under which it has become famous throughout the world.” 

Vintage Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675

Rolex GMT-Master (Reference # 1675) (photo: Phillips)
The GMT-Master, the predecessor to the GMT-Master II, is a beloved model amongst Rolex enthusiasts. The vintage 1675 reference shown in the photo above dates back to 1964 and has a few rare features that makes it highly valuable to fans of the model. Fitted with a D83761 movement with its original stainless steel jubilee bracelet and a bezel that has turned light blue and orange over the years.

One of the characteristics of this model that stands out is the pointed shape of the crown guards, referred to as 'El Cornino' by watch collectors. This particular 1675 retains their pointed shape, which is unique considering its age. It also features a lacquered black dial with gilt graphics and a small-tipped 24-hour hand. The hour markers and hands have aged, giving them a cream color that pairs charmingly with the aged bezel.

This piece went for approximately $25,790 US at a Phillips auction in Hong Kong. For more information, visit phillips.com.

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A Look Back at Rolex's Baselworld 2016 Model Releases

As Baselworld 2017 approaches, predictions about model updates have dominated the chatter amongst Rolex enthusiasts. While I have already posted my predictions and desires for this year's releases, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at which models were updated at Baselworld 2016. I covered last year's event on this blog, but I went back to their press release to get an idea for how they introduced each update to get a feel for what we might expect to see this year. 
Rolex Daytona, Air-King and Datejust Models from Baselworld 2016 (photo: Rolex)
The image above shows the star of Rolex's Baselworld 2016 stand, the Cosmograph Daytona 116500LN. This model update dominated coverage of the brand for months after the trade show and still demands a waiting list to get your hands on one. Next to it is the Air-King, which was re-introduced in a larger size with a unique logo with a yellow crown and green lettering. The Datejust received an upgrade in terms of size, with a 41 millimeter case this time around fitted with the new 3235 movement.

Everose Gold Rolex Models from Baselworld 2016 (photo: Rolex)
Everose gold was a common theme last year, with the Lady-Datejust 28, Pearlmaster and Yacht-Master getting rose gold configurations. The Lady-Datejust features a 2236 movement that is powered by the watchmaker's patented Syloxi silicon hairspring. The Pearlmaster above offers a blinged out watch for women that surely had their gem-setters busy for some time. The Yacht-Master 40 received an Everose Rolesor configuration with a chocolate dial. The combination of a chocolate dial with rose gold is a common theme in the Rolex Oyster collection.

Rolex Explorer and Cellini Models from Baselworld 2016 (photo: Rolex)
At first look last year, I wasn't sure what the update to the Explorer I was. Over time I discovered that they actually added luminescence to the large characteristic Arabic 3, 6, and 9 and also elongated the minute hand. Rose gold once again is featured, this time on the Cellini model shown above. Based on hindsight, it is likely that Rolex will stick to this method for their Baselworld 2017 model releases. They will likely feature one of their materials, like the Everose gold was features in 2016. All bets are on the Sea-Dweller 4000 receiving a full update for its 45th anniversary and the watchmaker will likely take advantage of the press from the show to introduce small but meaningful updates to existing models, like they did with the Explorer and Datejust 41 last year.

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Rolex and the World of Yachting

With the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race coming to an end a few days ago, the watchmaker once again cemented their relationship with the sport. Though the Yacht-Master model wasn't introduced until 1992, the watchmaker has been a sponsor of yachting since the 1950s, when they began their relationship with the New York Yacht Club. Today, they sponsor over 15 races throughout the year and around the world and have introduced the robust Yacht-Master II model equipped with a regatta timer complication. 

Rolex Fastnet Race 2009 (photo: Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)
The relationship between Rolex and the world of yachting began naturally, with yachtsmen wearing Oyster Perpetual watches on the water due to their hermetically sealed Oyster cases and the reliability of the certified chronometers. British yachtsman Sir Francis Chichester wore a Rolex on his voyage around the world in 1966 and later remarked that the watch was ticking happily at the end of the voyage, despite being banged up and splashed with water. 

Since the 1950s, Rolex has tied itself to many yacht clubs and races across the globe. They sponsor the Rolex Fastnet Race out of the Royal Ocean Racing Club in England, photographed above. They are also title sponsors of the Circuito Atlántico Sur Rolex Cup out of the Yacht Club Argentino, the Rolex Middle Sea Race out of the Royal Malta Yacht Club, Les Voilles de Saint-Tropez and the Rolex China Sea Race. 

Perhaps the most visible symbol of the watchmaker's ties to yachting is their Yacht-Master II model introduced in 2007. Featuring on the fly synchronization, this formidable nautical watch allows skippers to keep time in sync with the official race time. The regatta timer functionality is made possible with the 4161 movement, manufactured in-house by Rolex specifically for the YM2. With a case size of 44 millimeters, its display is highly legible with a flair that attracts even those who may never use the skipper's watch on the high seas. 

For more information on Rolex's Yacht-master and Yacht-Master II models and its ties to the yachting world, visit their official website at rolex.com.

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