Despite the cancellation (or rather, nine-month postponement) of Baselworld 2020 due to a certain global health scare, Rolex is still expected to announce a range of new watches in the coming weeks.
As is tradition, the Swiss firm may also kill off some of its older and less popular models, making way for updates to various watches across its sports and classic collections.
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Rumours of what Rolex might do next are as prevalent in some corners of the internet as gossip about the latest iPhone. Safe to say, there’s an awful lot to digest. But with little concrete evidence to go on until the Rolex press releases drop into our inboxes, we’ll have to make do with well-informed speculation for now.
Such insight comes from Tom Mulraney, 10-year watch industry veteran and editor of The Watch Lounge.
Writing on Watchpro.com, Mulraney points out how, in a bid to curtail the grey market of watch-flippers seeking quick profits from popular models, Rolex last year removed four versions of GMT-Master II, freeing up capacity to produce something new and different.
Mulraney also questions whether Rolex still needs to offer the remarkably similar Sea-Dweller and Deep Sea, whether two different dial colours of Milguass are needed, and if there are too many variations of Daytona. All of these could be culled to make way for something new.
As for what that might be, there is speculation of Rolex updating the Submariner Date from the 32-year-old self-winding 3135 calibre to the newer 3235 with longer power reserve and improved performance. Whether Rolex fits the new movement into the existing case, or reveals an updated case - likely in precious metal first with steel coming later - remains to be seen.
Mulraney suggests a larger case of Submariner Date, up from 40mm to 42, or the potential for slimmer lugs with the case size unchanged. The Submariner Date Ref 116610LV, better known as the Hulk and offered since 2010, could be culled ahead of a new model to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Submariner in 2023.
Rolex could use the void left by Baselworld 2020 to announce a full yellow gold Sea-Dweller, Mulraney speculates.
Another addition to the Rolex collection could be a new steel Submariner with blue dial to replace the poor-selling white gold and blue ‘Smurf’ model, Ref 116619LB.
Far more affordable, a stainless steel Smurf would prove widely popular, but has potential to fan the flames of the watch-flipping Rolex, and the industry as a whole, seeks to avoid. As desirable as this model might be, Mulraney says it is unlikely for 2020, given Rolex’s current struggles to keep up with steel sport watch demand.
As for Rolex’s classic models, Mulraney predicts new dial variations for the Datejust and Day-Date 40, and potentially a yellow gold version of Cellini.
Baselworld 2020 was due to take place between April 30 and May 5, so we can expect to see major announcements from Rolex and many others in just a few weeks’ time, albeit without the glitz and glamour of a trade show.