It’s that time of the year again. Despite the fact that watch fairs are facing multiple threats, Baselworld 2020 is (for the moment) still planned, fast approaching and will come with its array of new collections. Without surprises, the most anticipated novelties of the year will again be the new Rolex watches. This also means that it’s time for MONOCHROME to make our yearly predictions. Just like we did in 2014 – 2015 – 2016 – 2017 – 2018 – 2019, we’ve been working hard to guess and design what the Rolex Baselworld 2020 Collection might be like. And here are the watches that we think Rolex could potentially launch at Baselworld 2020.
Please note that this article is a figment of our imagination. These are just predictions. Nothing is official. It is based on our own expectations and analysis.
Guessing what Rolex will launch has become a kind of ritual for us – and yes, we love to do it as much as you enjoy reading this article. This tradition started as a joke some years ago but today the MONOCHROME team is taking it very seriously. We certainly have good fun discussing, predicting and designing these potential novelties, but it also requires research and a lot of time in Photoshop to bring you these visually realistic renders. Still, as we said in the past, Rolex has become less predictable and can even surprise us with some unexpected watches. While the Daytona Steel/Ceramic was relatively easy to guess, some others, like the Two-Tone Sea-Dweller, were clearly less conservative. Think about the totally unpredictable Air-King 116900.
But enough about how we deal with these predictions. Let’s have a look at what we think could be the Rolex Baselworld 2020 Collection.
Why not a new Explorer II?
We’ve seen multiple websites and forums predicting an updated Rolex Explorer II. In a way, this is easily understandable, since the current Ref. 216570 has been in the collection for some years now and isn’t really successful – it is one of those steel professional Rolex watches that can be found relatively easily at retailers, or without premium on the second-hand market.
However, we didn’t include an updated Explorer II in our Rolex Baselworld 2020 Predictions. Why? The reason is pretty simple – at least, in our opinion. This model was created back in 1971, with the Ref. 1655. As such, it will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year and we think this could be the perfect moment for Rolex to include this watch in the 2021 collection.
Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Submariner Date with Calibre 3235, Ref. 126610LN
Let’s start with the most obvious, the watch that everybody is waiting for; an updated Rolex Submariner Date with the new Calibre 3235. Following the integration of the new generation of movements into the collections (like it did with the GMT-Master, the Day-Date, the Datejust), Rolex will inevitably update its signature dive watch with modern mechanics. The question isn’t about if, but when Rolex will do it.
Now that the GMT-Master collection has been fully revamped, we think it is time for the brand to update the Sub. Knowing that this watch already incorporates most of the brand’s technologies (Cerachrom bezel, Oyster bracelet with fine adjustment, etc.), we don’t expect massive changes to the Submariner soon. In this instance, we think the updated Submariner Date 2020 will evolve on the movement front, the rest remaining identical. Maybe Rolex could get rid of the maxi case and offer something a bit slimmer, with more tapered lugs, like it did on the Datejust 41? But otherwise no major updates.
We don’t believe in Rolex launching a larger Submariner model since the brand already has the Sea-Dweller and its 43mm case in the collection. Keeping the Submariner at its classic 40mm case makes sense, commercially speaking.
As for the design, we’ve imagined three versions of the Baselworld 2020 Rolex Submariner Date. The first one is an evolution of the classic steel model – Ref. 126610LN – which only changes its mechanics. The other two are straight out of our imagination… but who knows. One is a steel model with a blue bezel – Ref. 126610LB – and the other is a yellow gold version with a green bezel – Ref.126618LV – a new and luxurious take on the Hulk. Although we doubt these last two versions will materialise, Rolex will certainly update the Submariner in the coming years, if not this year.
Rolex Baselworld 2020 – A New Rolex Milgauss, Back to Roots of the model
Looking at the current Rolex collection, there are a few models that have been around now for some years, without updates or new models. One of them is the Milgauss. In addition to that, while the Milgauss made a lot of sense in the past, it is less relevant these days, especially since the introduction of the modern calibres 32xx and their anti-magnetic properties. As such, the Milgauss is not only slightly outdated visually, but also technically. It is also one of the only Professional watches that doesn’t really perform commercially.
It is time for a change. But how to update this watch? Will a new dial be enough? The current Ref. 116400GV is a mix between classic watches – with its polished centre links and its old Datejust-like case – and sporty elements, but without enough boldness to make it stand out. Our Rolex Baselworld 2020 version of the Milgauss is a clear departure from the current model and at the same time, it returns to the roots of this model.
We’ve imagined a watch that takes some elements of the inaugural 1956 Milgauss, the reference 6541. This means the comeback of a bi-directional bezel with a single-digit scale and triangular indexes, a clean black dial, modernized for the occasion, a larger 42mm case to make the watch stand out, and the mandatory “lightning” hand, so typical to this watch.
Technically speaking, we know that Rolex is running slightly behind on magnetism compared to Omega, for instance. The Biel-based brand has now deployed its Master-Chronometer movements, with 15,000-gauss resistance, in almost all collections. The Milgauss, with its 1000-gauss resistance, needs to react. The main question is whether Rolex will get rid of the soft-iron cage and offer a slimmer watch with a highly amagnetic new movement instead of relying on an external (and heavy) protection? And maybe demonstrate this with a see-through caseback?
Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Stainless Steel Rolex Yacht-Master 42, with Blue Bezel & Oyster Bracelet
The main issue with the Rolex Yacht-Master is that it has always lived in the shadows of the Submariner. Same dimensions, few differences in terms of design, but not the same water-resistance or the same iconic aura. For this reason, Rolex decided to update its nautical-inspired watch in 2019, with the new Yacht-Master 42, with a larger case, a cleaner dial and a matte ceramic bezel. Following the inaugural white gold model, we believe in a new version for Baselworld 2020, in stainless steel.
If we follow the rules, the Yacht-Master collection offers steel watches on Oyster bracelets and precious metal versions on Oysterflex rubber straps. For our new Rolex Baselworld 2020 Yacht-Master 42 Steel, we have imagined a full-steel model worn on the classic brushed and polished Oyster bracelet. The 42mm case remains the same as last year’s white gold model.
What changes are the bezel and the dial. In order to distinguish this model from the white gold version Ref. 226659, we’ve imagined this Yacht-Master 42 Steel Ref. 226600LB with a matte blue ceramic bezel and some light blue accents on the dial – a reference to the existing 40mm steel watch.
Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Daytona Rolesor with ceramic update (ref. 116503LN)
This is a model that we think has got to be introduced… Honestly, it looks stunning. And, in fact, it is quite realistic too. Now that the Daytona has proved to be the most successful of all Rolex watches since it received a ceramic bezel, the brand has started to introduce it on most metal combinations. We think it’s time for the least attractive model, the Rolesor, to get its black ceramic bezel.
It is impressive how a different bezel colour can change a watch… By substituting the gold bezel for a black polished ceramic one, the watch looks like an entirely different timepiece. Will this Rolesor/Ceramic model be part of the Rolex Baselworld 2020 collection? We clearly hope so.
This specific combination here is just one example of what a Rolesor Daytona with ceramic bezel could look like. Since the watch is available with multiple dials – including champagne, grey, white, mother-of-pearl with diamonds – we believe that both the gold bezel version and the ceramic bezel version could coexist.
Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Explorer 1 Polar White
If you’ve read our predictions in the past, this one won’t be a surprise for you. Is this Polar Explorer 1 really a prediction? No, it is more a wish, something we’d like to see – and I quote our founder Frank here while he was looking at the Photoshop mock-ups “mate, if Rolex does that white Explorer, I’m buying one immediately“. So once again this year, the 39mm Rolex Explorer 1 Polar White is on our list of potential watches, and we sincerely hope that Rolex will finally make it. Because… It looks great
This year, we’ve imagined two versions of the Polar Explorer. The first one is worn on a classic Oyster bracelet and, apart from its white dial, remains entirely equal to the current black dial version – movement included. The second model is here because we’ve seen multiple petitions to know what an Explorer 1 would look like on a Jubilee bracelet… Obviously, our choice here, at MONOCHROME, goes to the Oyster model.
Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Daytona Full Everose with Ceramic Bezel
Rolex, in addition to its main novelties, always introduces discreet evolutions of watches at Baselworld. For instance, the Steel Datejust 36 in 2019 (after the two-tone models in 2018), or small updates on the Deepsea in 2018. In order to make the Rolex Daytona collection more consistent, the brand could launch its full Everose version in 2020 with an updated bezel, in black ceramic.
This certainly isn’t revolutionary but all novelties don’t need to be. Still, the addition of the black bezel works great with the full rose gold case-bracelet and gives more contrast for the dial. A simple update, but a good looking one.
Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Daytona Rainbow White Gold 116599RBOW
Meet Rolex’ most sought-after model in white gold. It might be hard to believe, but the Rolex Daytona Rainbow Ref. 116595RBOW in Everose is the watch that is currently commanding the largest premium on the market – it usually sells for about EUR 250,000 or more, while the retail price is below EUR 100,000. Rolex produces this watch in extremely low quantities and the demand remains high.
For this reason, and since it has already existed in the past (under the same reference 116599RBOW), we think the Rolex could unveil a new white gold version of the Rainbow, with the same updated dial as the Everose 2018 model. A new addition to the Rolex Baselworld 2020 collection? This would make sense.
Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Air-King 116900 Discontinued
For once, we’re not going to make a prediction on what Rolex will launch but on what Rolex will discontinue. Unveiled in 2016, the Rolex Air-King 116900 was the result of a partnership with Bloodhound (formerly Bloodhound SSC, now Bloodhound LSR) in its attempt to set a new world land speed record.
While in development since 2008, the project proved difficult and changed ownership in December 2018 – after going into administration in late 2018. Since then, Rolex is no longer a partner of the project. In addition to that, this colourful Air King had difficulties to find its market. This could be the end of the model – or at least of this specific reference, with a dial inspired by the gauges of the supersonic car.
Note: this article is based on our own Photoshop mock-ups, nothing has been provided officially from Rolex. These are predictions, based on our imagination and expectations. All images are under license of MONOCHROME and should not be used without agreement or copyright (©Monochrome-Watches, 2020).
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This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.