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New case sizes and lots of glitter: The Rolex releases of 2021

New case sizes and lots of glitter: The Rolex releases of 2021

Nils Rau

The secret is out: the 2021 Rolex releases at Watches & Wonders. While a facelift of the Explorer II and some small innovations had already been announced in advance, the Geneva-based luxury manufacturer has managed a surprise coup. The Explorer 36 replaces the Explorer 39, and for the first time, the model is even available in a bicolour variant.

Rolex Explorer 36: A classic returns

While rumours previously circulated about a 41-millimetre version of the Explorer, which until recently was only available in 39 millimetres, Rolex is taking one of its oldest classics back to its origins. The 36-millimetre Explorer, Ref. 124270 or 124273, combines the traditional appearance with the most modern watchmaking art and the usual perfect workmanship.

In addition to the classic stainless steel model (Ref. 124270), the Explorer is also available in a material mix of stainless steel and yellow gold, Rolesor Yellow (Ref. 124273). This is the first bicolour version of the Explorer since the 3-6-9 dial was installed.

The new Explorer uses the 3230 calibre, which was introduced last year and is used, for example, in the Submariner (Ref. 124060). The manufacturer movement offers, among other things, a 70-hour power reserve and the patented Chronergy escapement. With the return to the 36-millimetre case, Rolex is also returning to slender proportions. In contrast to its predecessor, the new Ref. 124270 once again bears the Explorer lettering at 12 o'clock. It thus continues the harmonious and timeless design that the Explorer has been known for this since the 1950s.

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New Ref. 226570: Coherent facelift for the Explorer II

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Explorer II, Rolex has given the previous Ref. 216570 a facelift. Previous rumours speculated that the successor reference 226570 would have a ceramic bezel. However, the new watch continues to rely on a stainless steel bezel, one of the model's most characteristic features.

The Explorer II 2021 fully lives up to the Rolex-typical motto of "evolution instead of revolution". The 42-millimetre case returns to the classic proportions with narrower horns like all the most recently presented Rolex releases. Inside the Ref. 226570, the in-house 3285 calibre does its job. As before, the Explorer II will be available with the white Polar dial and a matte black dial.

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Oyster strap for the GMT-Master II, Jubilée strap for the Sky-Dweller

One of the lesser Rolex releases of 2021 is likely to cause quite a stir. The GMT-Master II models in stainless steel will now also be offered with the Oyster strap. While the sporty bracelet was initially reserved for the Bicolor and full gold models, the Pepsi (Ref. 126710BLRO) and the Batgirl (Ref. 126710BLNR) are now available with both the Jubilée and Oyster bracelets. The white gold Pepsi GMT (Ref. 126719) delineation is now exclusively through the dial. It is available in either blue or as a Meteorite Dial.

Additionally, Rolex now offers the stainless steel and bicolour versions of the Sky-Dweller with the fine-link Jubilée bracelet. This step is only logical, as the elegant Jubilée bracelet is a perfect match for the Sky-Dweller. The Sky-Dweller is not a professional model. Together with the Datejust and the Day-Date, it is one of the classic models from Rolex.

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The Meteorite Dial for precious metal Daytonas

Furthermore, the Meteorite dial is now also available for the Daytona. The material of this unusual dial is extracted from the core of an exploded asteroid. From today, it is available for the Daytona in Everose gold and yellow gold (both with the bracelet in gold) and for the white gold version (with the Oysterflex bracelet in rubber).

Discover Rolex Daytona Watches

Rolex Day-Date 36: Diamond setting and leather straps

After Rolex launched different coloured Day-Dates with matching leather straps in 2013, the colour variations on the leather strap return this year. The Day-Date 36 will be available in yellow, white and Everose gold; the case, bezel and dial are lavishly set with stones. The Roman indices, and matching leather straps, are available in an orange coral hue, turquoise or burgundy.

Discover Now: Rolex Day-Date Models

New dials for the Datejust 36

This year, Rolex continues to expand the model diversity of the Datejust 36 with three new dial types:

  • Fluted pattern

  • Palm pattern

  • Wimbledon Dial

While the fluted pattern already echoes a well-known Rolex signature and offers a harmonious aesthetic with its symmetry, the palm pattern was inspired by tropical forests. The Wimbledon Dial was previously only fitted in the Datejust 41 and is now making its debut in the classic 36-millimetre case.

Buy Now: Rolex Datejust

Lady-Datejust 28: 1,089 diamonds in a single watch

Last but not least, Rolex introduced a new Lady-Datejust 28 in 2021 with a total of 1,089 diamonds. This is a fascinating demonstration of Geneva's expertise in gemology. The luxurious ladies' watch is available in both yellow and white gold and features a full complement of precious stones:

  • Case with 158 diamonds

  • Bezel with 44 diamonds

  • President strap with 596 diamonds

  • Pavé dial with 291 diamonds

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Conclusion: The Rolex classics are better than ever

With the 2021 Rolex releases, the company continues on the path of recent years, essentially returning to classic design features. This is particularly evident when looking at the Explorer. The launch of the new Ref. 124270 brings back the timeless look of the collection, combining contemporary calibres with outstanding quality workmanship. Through the evolution typical of Rolex, the watches become more classic again and the calibres more modern. This is what the Swiss luxury manufacturer stands for, classic timepieces with robust, uncompromising movements that will not lose their timeless quality even decades from now.

Soon you can buy the Rolex 2021 releases in our online shop, completely without waiting lists and ready for immediate delivery!

Discover Rolex 2021 Watches Now