Out of the many Swiss watchmaking brands out there, very few have as many iconic models as Rolex. From the very apex of their collection with models like the Day-Date to the Oyster Perpetual as their entry-level piece, they are all equally iconic. Often overlooked throughout its history, the Oyster Perpetual has escaped the same intense hype that other Rolex models have experienced, but in 2020 this all changed. So, what happened to the Oyster Perpetual collection? Why has it become so popular, and what does this mean for the current Oyster Perpetuals?
History and Relevance
To see what the Oyster Perpetual has evolved from, we must examine its history amongst Rolex’s collection. Starting with a movement instead of a watch, our story begins in 1931 when Rolex introduced the world’s first self-winding mechanism with a free rotor – the Perpetual movement. Placed inside a new watch, the resulting model was the Oyster Perpetual, marking a new era of convenience, functionality and sparking a revolution in watchmaking unlike anything experienced before. Thanks to this, the Oyster Perpetual lead to Rolex’s now-iconic crown being seen as a symbol of excellence.
Eventually, the Oyster Perpetual began to give rise to other models, such as the Oyster Perpetual Datejust in 1945, the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date arrived in 1956 and so on. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual was slowly becoming the basis of Rolex’s entire catalogue. It was quickly becoming the foundation for everything they made. Worn by some of the most high-profile individuals, it was also put to the test in the most extreme situations. Sir Malcolm Campbell wore one while breaking land speed records in Bluebell in 1935, as did the first pilot to break the sound barrier in 1947. In 1953, Tenzing Norgay wore an Oyster Perpetual when he and Sir Edmund Hillary summited Mount Everest for the first time.
Ever since these events, the Oyster Perpetual has existed as the purest distillation of what Rolex stands for. Capable, elegant and fashionable, the Oyster Perpetual has everything a Rolex needs, and it has finally gotten the recognition it deserves.
The Oyster Perpetual Today
Before the launch of the latest collection of Oyster Perpetuals in September of 2020, the entire family was overlooked in every regard. Not distinctive enough to form its own aesthetic identity, Rolex collectors would avoid the historic model favouring other, more recognisable timepieces such as the GMT-Master II Pepsi, Daytona and Submariner Hulk.
In 2020, Rolex recognised this and revitalised the Oyster Perpetual collection in what has become one of the most successful relaunches of a timepiece in modern history. Never before has an entire collection been reinvented like the Oyster Perpetual. Provided with the incredible in-house Rolex cal. 3230 movement, the Oyster Perpetual was immediately brought up to the mechanical standard we expect of Rolex. With 70 hours of power reserve, COSC certification and Rolex’s own “Superlative Chronometer” certification, the latest family of Oyster Perpetuals are accurate to within 2 seconds a day.
Beyond just its movement, the Oyster Perpetual was given a new aesthetic identity. Increased from a 39mm case to 41mm, the Oyster Perpetual now exists as a fully-fledged Rolex sports model. However, in the most critical change, the Oyster Perpetual was given a whole slew of new immediately recognisable dial options. From turquoise blue to black to green, these new dials caused the massive shift in public opinion of the Oyster Perpetual.
The Dial and its Importance
Reminiscent of the Stella Dials from the ’70s, these dials have separated the Oyster Perpetual collection from every other current collection. While most other stainless steel Rolex sports models have dark dials, these dials have allowed collectors to wear their watch as a more accurate representation of their personal style. Not something Rolex typically creates, these dials are immediately distinctive, vibrant, and directly responsible for Oyster Perpetual’s incredible success.
With a retail price of £4,700 and a market value exceeding £12,000 for specific dial options, these new Oyster Perpetuals have become increasingly viewed as legitimate investment vehicles. So, that begs the question, what dial might be able to generate the best return and acquire legendary status in years to come?
The Power of Green
One colour has always harboured extreme importance for Rolex, and that is green. It is the colour of their boxes and their accessories, the colour Rolex gives their anniversary models and is present in the majority of the market’s favourite sought-after models. From the green dial yellow gold “John Mayer” Daytona, to the olive green 60th-anniversary Day-Date, or the green dial yellow gold 50th-anniversary GMT-Master II to the three incredibly popular green Submariners references, the Kermit, Hulk and Starbucks; green is the one colour that continues beyond any trends that might flash from the pan of Rolex hype.
With its lasting popularity and importance to Rolex’s own identity, the green dial Oyster Perpetual ref. 124300 looks like it will be the model that performs the best in the long term. With its incredible ability to transform from bright shades of emerald to dark shades of forest green and everything in between depending on the light, this dial provides incredible depth, variety and intrigue. With a current market value of around £9,500, the green dial ref. 124300 still has some room to go before it catches the most hyped variant, turquoise blue, with a value of around £12,000. Providing immediate value compared to its sibling, and considering green’s ability to ensure long-term popularity amongst Rolex collectors, the green dial ref. 124300 looks to be the best value investment amongst the entire Rolex catalogue at the minute.
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