Rolex Reveals New Formal Collection With 1908

Among the bevy of new Rolex watches released this year were a few unexpected watches, which isn’t a phrase we often mutter about the brand. We saw some unusually colorful dials (more on those later), and the launch of an entirely new formal collection called the Perpetual 1908, a reference to the brand’s name coinage by Wans Wilsdorf. With its introduction, the existing Cellini line has come to a close. The 1908 lives within the ‘classic’ range alongside the likes of the Oyster Perpetual and Sky-Dweller, but feels distinctly different from any existing line. Coming from a brand that’s been at the center of the sport watch craze over the past decade, the 1908 feels like a breath of fresh air.

The Perpetual 1908 is a three hand time only watch offered only in 18k white or yellow gold. The trim case measures 39mm in diameter with a divided, partially fluted bezel framing the austere dial. Within resides the Rolex automatic caliber 7140, which gets a healthy amount of decoration worthy of being presented through an exhibition caseback. This is a new move from Rolex this year, appearing on both this watch, and the 60th anniversary platinum Daytona.


The bridges of the 7140 receive a finish that the brand is calling “Rolex Côtes de Genève”, a re-interpretation of the classic technique seen often in Swiss movements. It differs from traditional Côtes de Genève in that it places a narrow polished groove between each of the parallel bands. Being a Rolex, there’s also a full balance bridge over the Syloxi hairspring equipped balance, regulated by their Chronergy escapement. The view is improved thanks to an open worked rotor rendered in yellow gold. In total the movement provides an attractive view to a uniquely Rolex movement, and provides −2/+2 seconds per day of accuracy in the process.

On the other side we find a dial with simple, well executed details. Applied Arabic numerals appear at the 3, 9, and 12 o’clock positions in a typeface not entirely dissimilar to early Explorer references such as the 6298. Indeed, there are strong mid-century vibes at play here, but the watch doesn’t look or feel like a throwback. The remaining hours get long applied indexes that rise to a peak at their center. A railroad track style chapter ring encompasses both the dial and the sub dial containing the running seconds.

The most interesting component here are the hands, which are broadsword in shape, while the hour hand receives a large circular cavity near its tip. This detail provides a distinct character to the otherwise straightforward dial, and while it’s not too far from what we see in Breguet watches, it pairs well enough with the rest of the design to set it apart.

The Perpetual 1908 will likely be just the first chapter in this new collection, and I’d suggest that it would receive some of the lovely complications we saw in later Cellini models, such the moonphase. I’d also love to see a calendar complication return in some fashion to a frame like this. As it stands, the 1908 is limited to these time only models, and will be available for CHF 22,200. Stay tuned for hands-on impressions coming later this week. Rolex.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.