Watches & Wonders 2023 is kicking off next week and it’s about to be the largest watchmaking gathering to ever take place in Geneva, Switzerland. The popular watch event will host 48 exhibiting Maisons, including big players in the watchmaking industry that will unveil their novelties and exciting new launches.
While we don’t know what’s going to be announced or revealed just yet, I spoke to Danny Shahid, Rolex and luxury watch expert from DWL about his predictions for the event. Shahid, who’s flagship DWL shop in Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade has over 16 years of experience in sourcing rare and big name watches, explores which novelties Rolex and other big brands are likely to showcase at Watches & Wonders 2023.
The Daytona revival
As we discussed in our 2023 Rolex leaks ranking, one of the most anticipated novelties from Rolex this year is predicted to be a new Daytona collection, to celebrate the model’s 60th anniversary. “The Daytona’s current cal. 4130 movement has been in service since 2000 so while the new cal. 4230 movement looks likely, aesthetic updates are harder to forecast,” says Shahid. “We may well see new dial variants for the steel models, ceramic bezels added to the precious metal variants or an expansion of the collection into titanium.” Regardless of what’s announced, it’s likely that models in the new collection will be difficult to acquire, as despite it getting easier to buy a new Rolex, it’s not happening just yet.
A new Submariner
In addition to 60 years of Daytona, this year also marks the 70th anniversary of the Submariner. Fans and watch experts are expecting Rolex to celebrate this anniversary with a new commemorative model, and Shahid predicts this, too. “A new green dial variant is expected as this is often used by Rolex to mark anniversaries and the Hulk’s discontinuation left a big green gap in the Submariner collection. The green dial will likely be added to a precious metal model, perhaps a yellow gold green dial variant like the GMT-Master II ref. 116718LN that was launched in 2005.”
For several years, it’s been rumoured that Rolex will launch a titanium version of the Yacht-Master. As the latest titanium Deepsea Challenge launched at the end of 2022, Shahid thinks it looks like Rolex will finally start offering titanium. Having said that, Shahid says “Rolex probably won’t launch a titanium Yacht-Master as the prototype has been around for a while now.” This is in reference to Ben Ainslie’s titanium prototype no-date Yacht-Master which had everyone talking. But as “Rolex launched a teaser video on their Instagram a few weeks ago showing a metallurgist working in a forge just before cutting away to a blurry shot of a Sea-Dweller, it looks as though something is definitely in store for that model.”
Discontinue or update the Milgauss?
The Milgauss ref. 116400 was discontinued last year, which many expected to happen due to the model’s long production and old-generation movement. This and the ref. 116400GV Z-Blue being the last Milgauss remaining, “it seems likely that Rolex will discontinue the ref. 116400GV and kill the Milgauss entirely before reintroducing it in 2026.” Alternatively, Shahid thinks Rolex could update it like it did with the Air-King by giving it “a slightly refreshed dial, crown guard and Oysterlock clasp”.
Shake up the GMT-Master II
This next Rolex prediction is a bit of a wildcard, but Shahid thinks there could be a “reintroduction of the GMT-Master II fan-favourite ‘Coke’ variant, as the famed red and black bezel was part of Rolex’s launch of the GMT-Master II in 1983.” In keeping with the fizzy drink theme, “there are also rumours that Rolex might make a right handed version of the Sprite and either discontinue the Pepsi or make it precious metal only.”
Finally, Shahid’s last prediction addresses one of the largest trends seen from watch brands recently which is moving away from using stainless steel. However, ignoring this and embracing stainless steel could be popular with collectors, predicts Shahid. “As the new Vacheron Constantin 222 and Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5811 are offered only in gold at the moment, the time may be right for them to be manufactured in stainless steel. Vacheron, will want to cash in on the 222’s popularity, and Patek is doing the Nautilus a disservice by offering the time and date variant only in white gold.”
Will these predicted releases make their way on to our list for the best watches in 2023? We’ll have to wait until next week to find out…