If you thought Rolex was conservative, think again. With this year's releases, unveiled at Watches & Wonders Geneva, the brand resoundingly rebuffed its reserved reputation. It introduced major new products that broke with the codes we've come to expect from the brand — thrusting into 2023 with new materials, movements and colorways. Catch up on the most important announcements below.
This story covers watches that Rolex either launched or discontinued in 2023. For a full breakdown of the all the Rolex watches still in production, read our other guide, updated for 2023.
The Yacht-Master 42 is the titanium Rolex we were waiting for
The new Yacht-Master 42 is a big deal: it's not the first serially produced Rolex watch in full titanium but it's the first one meant for the masses — that is, that's sized to be wearable as an everyday watch rather than affordable or necessarily easy to actually buy.
Monochromatic like a Submariner and on a full titanium bracelet, it also makes the Yacht-Master collection feel more like the true, purpose-built sport watches for which Rolex is most loved. Now that the brand has broken the seal on titanium, other favorites could be in the pipeline, too.
The Perpetual 1908 is a completely new line (replacing the Cellini)
The Cellini is dead; long live the Cellini. Seemingly in its place is a new, much simpler collection called Perpetual 1908. That's right, an entirely new Rolex collection — and yet, it's clearly replacing the Cellini with a very similar case and bezel.
Its dial is simple with a seconds subdial at 9 o'clock recalling some the brand's earliest models, and its movement is completely new — and visible through a display caseback, another departure for the brand. It has an observatory or Breguet-style hour hand, a 39mm case and only comes in precious metals with a couple different dial options. This is now easily Rolex's dressiest watch.
The Daytona got redesigned details and a new movement
The Daytona is one of the most hyped watches in the world, and it turns 60 this year. Something special to mark the occasion was expected, and that turned out to be some subtle but substantive tweaks. The new generation has a completely new movement, the first time the brand has updated the Daytona's movement since it went in-house in 2000.
At first glance, it looks the same as the outgoing generation, but on closer inspection you'll see some differences. The case is still 40mm but has updated details, and the dial has a "new graphic balance." Like the new 1908 watch, the platinum version features a display caseback. And, yes, there are also new steel versions with black and white dials.
The Explorer now also comes in a 40mm version
First it was 36mm, then it was 39mm, then it was 36mm again — and now it's 40mm. The 36mm version introduced only two years ago isn't going away, but the new watch is simply adding more options.
Based on Rolex's teaser video, we thought we might be getting an entirely new case design or might even come in titanium, but this really is the familiar Explorer in Oystersteel in a slightly bigger case. We're okay with that.
The new GMT Master II introduces a completely new bezel color combo
The GMT Master II now comes with a new bezel combo of black and gray. This kind of thing might be Rolex's big release in a typical year, but the brand has really gone all out for 2023.
The new GMT Master II references only come in two-tone ("Rolesor," or a steel-and-gold combo) and full yellow gold. Many GMT Master II watches get nicknames based on their bicolor bezels; for this one, we humbly suggest "Dark Knight."
The Sky-Dweller got a movement upgrade
The Sky-Dweller got some new variants and a movement upgrade with the Calibre 9002 (featuring minor updates from the 9001). That's it; nothing major for this line, but we do like the way it looks with a green dial in Rolesor Oystersteel and white gold, as shown above.
Wild Dials on Day-Dates and Oyster Perpetuals
Rolex often includes a few exotic dials in the mix of its releases. This time the brand got a bit artistic with some of very colorful executions in the Oyster Perpetual and Day-Date families with dials executed in lacquer. The colorful circles on the dial, which Rolex calls "bubbles," can be found on versions of the Oyster Perpetual in 31mm, 36mm and 41mm models. The Day-Date got a similar treatment but with puzzle pieces instead of bubbles and goes a step further in playfulness incorporating emojis into the date display (like hearts) and positive words ("Happy," "Eternity," "Gratitude," "Peace," "Faith," "Love" and "Hope") instead of the day of the week.
Cellini, Yacht-Master II and Milgauss are discontinued
Rolex giveth and Rolex taketh away. You don't need to shed a tear for these long neglected and somewhat overshadowed collections. They're gone for now, but that just leaves room for the possibility that they'll return in the future with the likes of new generations. Well, that seems like a possibility for the Milgauss, anyway; the Cellini seems to have its replacement in the 1908, as mentioned above. As for the Yacht-Master II... who knows? A watch being discontinued can even lead to a boost in interest for it, after all.