Rolex’s latest pieces: from Baselworld to Manila

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Rolex’s latest pieces: from Baselworld to Manila
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, a Baselworld 2016 sensation, this year is updated with gold versions and fitted with Oysterflex. -- BRIAN M. AFUANG

IF Rolex devotees can’t come to Baselworld, Rolex brings Baselworld to its faithful.

The Swiss luxury brand has done exactly this for its followers in the Philippines as it opened an exhibit featuring watches it introduced in March during this year’s edition of Baselworld, the annual watch and jewelry expo held in Basel, Switzerland. The exhibit, ongoing until Oct. 22, follows similar events mounted in Shanghai and Hong Kong, China, which in recent years have served as the Asian gateways for Rolex’s Baselworld releases, or “novelties.”

Also, the exhibit hypes the Sept. 21 inauguration of the new Rolex Boutique — which Philippine luxury watch retailer Lucerne has quietly been operating since early this year — at High Street Central in Bonifacio Global City.

Comprising the displays, which occupy a dedicated space fronting the boutique, are the updated versions of Rolex’s Yacht-Master II, Cosmograph Daytona, Sky-Dweller, Datejust models and Cellini, as well as the completely new Sea-Dweller — all of which sport changes that range from subtle to significant.

In its latest form the Yacht-Master II gains “Mercedes” hands, and its markers for 12 o’clock and six o’clock have turned into a triangle and a rectangle, respectively, while new to the Cosmograph Daytona are a bracelet option — Rolex’s Oysterflex made from titanium spines wrapped in elastomer — and cases fashioned from 18-karat yellow or white gold, or two-tone Rolesor.

View of the Rolex Baselworld 2017 exhibit space fronting the newly inaugurated Rolex Boutique in Bonifacio Global City. — BRIAN M. AFUANG

Also now offered in Rolesor (a mix of steel and either yellow or white gold) cases is the Sky-Dweller, which wears a tidier dial characterized by thick stick markers rather than the previous model’s Roman or Arabic numerals, and which now comes in a steel case with a blue dial version, too. Added to the Datejusts are steel-case options while the Cellini this year furthers its classical dress-watch aesthetics via a moonphase complication. Embellished on the Cellini novelty’s dial is a disc that revolves to mark the phases of the lunar cycle — a feature Rolex has not used since the mid 1900s.

Like in the last Baselworld and succeeding exhibitions, Rolex at the Manila event trains the spotlight on the new Sea-Dweller, which this year celebrates a half-century of existence. Assigned with reference number 126600, the new piece hides Rolex’s caliber 3235 beneath a 43-millimeter case that’s reckoned to be capable of immersing into waters more than a kilometer deep — 1,220 meters, to be exact. Besides size, easily marking out the 50th year Sea-Dweller is Rolex’s Cyclops magnifying glass bubble over the crystal and a line of red text on the dial that pays homage to the piece’s prototype version.

During the exhibit opening and boutique’s inauguration program, Lucerne and Rolex officials bared that their partnership extends more than half as long as the Sea-Dweller has been in production. Ivan A. Yao, managing director at Lucerne, said the company is “especially proud to be expanding Rolex’s presence in the Philippines and to have represented the brand for over 30 years.”

“We are delighted to collaborate [with Rolex] in bringing to the Philippines Rolex’s newest concept store,” Mr. Yao said.

Chances are Filipino Rolex devotees are just as pleased that Baselworld has come to them as well. — Brian M. Afuang