This year, from March 21st – March 26th, the industry’s biggest event is being held in Basel, Switzerland. Every year, brands come together at Baselworld to show off their newest novelties and releases, and few brands draw quite the crowd and attention that Rolex does.
Last year, Rolex introduced a number of exciting models, which we covered on an episode of Liquor Run, and which included the relaunch of the Pepsi GMT in steel (on an updated Jubilee bracelet), along with the return of a pseudo-Root Beer GMT, and new Oyster Perpetual models as well. It becomes a bit of a game, each year, to determine what Rolex might release next, since they are notoriously secretive about it, and I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to throw my two cents into the mix. Let’s start with an easy one.
Something New for the Milgauss
Mock-up of New Milgauss Design
Credit to Monochrome Watches for not only the nifty mock-up design above, but also the basis for this one, because really, it’s something people have been expecting for a couple of years now. It’s been a while since Rolex gave the Milgauss a proper update of any kind, and lately the brand has been showcasing the existing model more and more on their social media. With a new series of movements also introduced over the last couple of years, it seems only fitting that one of the final holdouts of the line gets the update, and that it does so with the visual update to match.
This update could come in the form of a bezel (ceramic, naturally), to pay tribute to the original Milgauss 6541, or perhaps just a return to the more understated look of the 1019 (similar to Monochrome’s look above). While the rest of Monochrome’s predictions don’t necessarily work for me, this one seems like a shoo-in.
A New Submariner…sort of
Tudor Baselworld 2019 Tease
Last year, when Rolex re-released the Pepsi in steel, Tudor released the Black Bay GMT, a steel GMT watch with a Pepsi bezel. Given the relationship between Rolex and Tudor, the move was a bold one, but it definitely seems to have paid off. That being said, I think Tudor is going to try and make lightning strike twice with a kind of Rolex homage release this year, too.
Tudor has been teasing the return of their own version of the Submariner for a month or two now, and to my mind, it would be super bold of them to release one that also comes equipped with Mercedes style hands, just like the Rolex counterpart. However, the fact that they’re leaving the hour hand very intentionally shrouded in mystery, along with the unlikely nature of Rolex actually letting them use the Mercedes hands, leads me to one, singular conclusion: The Black Bay Military, a Tudor version of the Rolex Milsub, using the classic sword style hour hand and classic Tudor Sub dial. It’s the ultimate homage without being a copy I can think of, and bridges the heritage of the two brands beautifully if you ask me, kind of the same way the Black Bay GMT did.
Now, I think that the Rolex Submariner is also due for an upgrade, but I’m not convinced it’s going to be necessarily all that substantial. Well, not to some, anyway.
Oysterflex on Steel
Rolex Yachtmaster 40 on Oysterflex Bracelet
Source: Fratello Watches
People have been begging for this for a while, and Rolex keeps toying with us over it, releasing it originally on the Everose Gold Yachtmaster 40 originally, and then adding it to some of the precious metal Daytonas later on. But they’ve been tactfully avoiding any indication that it will be seen on a steel model anytime soon. However, I think this year might change that.
I can’t shake the feeling, after doing what nobody expected them to with the Pepsi GMT last year, that Rolex is getting into the idea of subverting our expectations to some extent. Nobody expected Rolex to just go for releasing the Pepsi in steel last year, and they certainly wouldn’t have imagined they’d keep the white gold model (with the addition of a blue dial). And I think that this year, they’re not just going to introduce the Oysterflex on a steel model…I think they’re going to introduce it on the Submariner. It is rumored that Rolex will bring it to the Sea-Dweller, or the steel Daytonas, but something in me just can’t escape the feeling that Rolex is going to be bold and give their most popular model their most funky strap/bracelet option. There’s really no justification beyond an inescapable gut feeling for this one, but hey, total gut feelings can still be predictions, right?
And now for some things I don’t expect we’ll see…
For nearly two or three years now, there have been a couple of persistent predictions that never fail to make it onto lists the Internet over, and I still don’t think they’re going to happen. These include:
Mock-up GMT Master II Coke ceramic
This has been the most suggested release for arguably longer than the steel Pepsi has been requested with the ceramic bezel. It’s honestly a watch I would like to see, but I think Rolex is holding off on it for a bit. The Coke bezel was introduced in 1983, making 2023 the 40th anniversary of the original reference. We know Rolex is big on anniversaries, and while I don’t think they’d intentionally hold off another four years to release the Coke in ceramic, I still don’t think this will be the year. Who knows, though? I was saying the same thing about the Pepsi this time last year…
I should mention that I expect something to happen with the Datejust, Day-Date, and maybe even Oyster Perpetual lines (maybe a new dial color or something), but nothing terribly substantial since they got a significant redesign last year.
I’m excited to hear your predictions about the watches Rolex is going to release at this year’s Baselworld – comment them below. Whatever happens, though, it’s Rolex, and you know that they’re going to keep it classy, watchfam.
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