Reaction: Rolex Gets Silly With Colorful New Oyster Perpetual & Day-Date Dials

Rolex is always the talk of Watches & Wonders, but this year the conversation focused on an unlikely watch: an Oyster Perpetual with a “Celebration Dial,” a colorful and playful creation that seems very, well, unlike Rolex? But is it, really? It garnered a lot of attention, was immediately memed, and generated some of the most fiery takes of the show. The Worn & Wound editorial team, as you’d expect, has thoughts, so we weigh in on the new Oyster Perpetual, and a similarly colorful and offbeat Day-Date, below. 

Zach Kazan

No matter how hard brands try to prevent them, leaks of new releases are inevitable. It happened again this year with Rolex, the biggest brand of all. And while we only had hastily shared Google search results to go off of, and no actual specs or even basic information about the watches themselves, the shuttle ride to Palexpo on Day 1 was dominated by talk of gumballs. 

The so-called “Celebration Dial” Oyster Perpetuals, along with the spiritually related “Jigsaw” Day-Date, are as whimsical as we’ve seen Rolex in recent years. Lefty GMT aside, this isn’t a brand known for its sense of humor. So a dial filled with colorful circles (51 is the official tally) that correspond with the colors of the most recent Oyster Perpetual refresh from about 3 years ago is bound to generate the hottest of takes. What I want to know from the haters is this: who decided Rolex can’t have fun?


I guess if your version of Rolex is “luxury tool watches” or something similar, this release might feel almost, I don’t know, transgressive? But the truth is, Rolex has been having fun all along, and the crowd focused like a laser beam on the current crop of sports watches to the exclusion of everything else should remind themselves of the “Beach” Daytonas, the wood dial era, and whatever it is Nic Cage happens to be wearing tonight. 

Rolex is a brand that makes an absolutely insane variety of watches for just about anybody who would like to wear something on their wrist. They serve the adventure seeker putting a Sea-Dweller through its paces just as they serve hedge fund managers buying diamond encrusted jewelry watches for their wives. Or themselves. I like the blingy stuff more and more each passing year, and I like both the Celebration Dial and the Jigsaw because it’s clear proof that human beings with real emotions and, possibly, thoughts about the human condition make these watches. It’s comforting to realize that not every Rolex is created with a custom AI program that has been loaded up with every Rolex catalog for the last 50 years. 

Despite the consternation, I have a feeling people will be desperate to have these watches, and like the Beach Daytonas and similar purely fun references before them, there’s bound to be a time decades from now when the Celebration Dial is hailed as a classic.

Zach Weiss

I don’t really spend too much of my time at Watches and Wonders pondering and debating the releases of Rolex, despite having to overhear and sit through many conversations on that topic. Nor am I personally that wrapped up in their new releases. Sometimes I like something, sometimes I don’t. Whatever. Last year, I recall being pleasantly surprised by the left hand GMT (which I still insist on calling the DestRolex). It was nothing to do with liking it, but rather it being unexpected, and somehow challenging. Two words that rarely align with “Rolex”. As we all know, the reaction to that watch was less than positive, which I always felt was a touch ironic considering the same folks who decried its creation like to point fingers at the brand for not being adventurous.

This year they were quite a bit more adventurous, in fact, but rather than being dressed down by their obsessive and hyper critical fans and foes, they were applauded. Well, for one of the releases at least. The OP Celebration, which seems to almost recognize its own appeal in its name, took the already celebrated colorful OP dials and mashed them up into one unpredictable package.

Dots. Lots of dots. Not evenly spaced, but rather piled up on the bottom half of a dial, with less above for the illusion of falling. They aren’t equally sized, nor is there any pattern or symmetry to their placement. It defies what one expects from a tidy, orderly watch by a conservative brand. They consist of the colors from other dials, rather than a new palette, which seems like some sort of easter egg though I can’t quite say why. Pale pink, deep red, baby blue, forest green, mustard yellow. It’s like the Voltron of the series, coming together to save the day.

And, it’s somehow great looking. It’s fun, and whimsical, but not silly or too childish. The colors are boisterous, but not obnoxious. I think if I could compare it to anything, it’s like a funny, but still well-made and tasteful tie. An accent that says “I’m not as conservative as I look”.

Conversely, the Jig Saw feels like opulence for the sake of it. At first glance, I liked the dial. Actually, I suppose I still do kind of like the puzzle aspect of it. The rest? Emoji dates and non-date-days feel like a novelty one would get tired of quickly. Admittedly, I like the Alain Silberstein x Louis Erard with emojis on it, but that feels tied to an artist. It’s his thing. The Jig Saw seems more about disregarding horology for amusement. But hey, not everyone has to be the customer for every product, and I suppose the fact that they made it is enough. Not everything has to be serious is the greater theme.

Blake Buettner

As one of those obsessive and hyper critical fans of Rolex that Zach Weiss speaks of, I enjoy exploring the minutiae of new releases, as banal as they may be. That’s part of the fun for me. That’s not because I’m impressed with their every move, and I’m rarely enamored with new releases, but it happens to be where my historic knowledge runs deepest so the context is built in to some extent. But I love being surprised, and this year had a few surprises in store. I cannot recall a year with as many new releases across such a broad spectrum as we got this year from the crown; it truly felt like 3 years worth of releases packed into one. 

Amongst them were two peculiar watches that felt particularly un-Rolex in nature: the Oyster Perpetual with colorful Celebration motif dial, and a jigsaw puzzle piece adorned Day-Date with …emojis in the date window. Pretty wild stuff for the typically slow moving, methodically reserved brand. While wholly surprising and unexpected, these dail (and day and date disc) configurations fall within well understood collections. I love these kinds of surprises from Rolex, but I’d prefer to have them fall into the mechanical innovation realm. Stuff like the Sky-Dweller.

This is an analogy I’ve used before, but in my view Rolex watches are at their best when approached like a Toyota Tacoma truck. Long lasting, pretty tough, utilitarian, and maybe good looking from some angles. I wouldn’t want to cruise the PCH in a Tacoma, and I don’t need flashy colorful stuff on my Rolex watches. I don’t need exhibition casebacks either, for that matter. That said, I still welcome the unexpected from Rolex, and these watches certainly qualify.

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