Article: Our Rolex 2024 Predictions
Our Rolex 2024 Predictions
As the excitement of the new year fades and we start to sink our teeth into 2024 as the months begin to roll around, one question begins to make its way into the minds of watch dealers, industry professionals and the greater watch-collecting public alike: what will Rolex do this year at Watches & Wonders, In the Salon in Geneva, which takes place from the 13th to 15th of April 2024. What will they release, what will they discontinue, and what will avoid the chopping block for one more year as it clings to its place in Rolex’s catalogue? While it might be boring for some, there is no doubt that these are important questions in the watchmaking industry, as Rolex often leads the line for other brands.
Just look at the fall-out from the Oyster Perpetual collection in 2020 and the number of colourful collections that they spawned as brands like Omega and others tried their best to respond to the Crown. There is no doubt that this year will be different, so let’s cast our mind’s eye into the halls of Watches & Wonders and try to predict what Rolex will or won’t do this year.
Pepsi and Batman out as the Coke enters the stage.
With the 2022 launch of the Sprite variant within the GMT-Master II collection and the 2023 addition of the grey-on-black bezel in both full gold and two-tone, it is no secret that the GMT-Master II collection, as a whole, is beginning to get a bit bloated. Additionally, ADs have been very upfront that Rolex delivered very few Pepsis and Batmen/girls in the last 12 months. The Pepsi is said to have a manufacturing issue whereby the blue and red colours in the bezel bleed together and the failure rate on the bezel is upwards of 90%. As a result, its discontinuation is heavily rumoured.
On the other hand, the Batman has been in near constant production since 2013 (out of production between Baselworld 2018 and 2019). So it has been in the catalogue for ten years in 2024. Thereby, its discontinuation wouldn’t be a surprise if Rolex decided to take it out and replace it with the hotly anticipated black and red bezelled Coke variant. On the other hand, the Pepsi would probably be reintroduced after a few years once Rolex fixes the bezel issue, if that is why they take it out of production. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Rolex expanded the grey and black bezel to the stainless steel GMT-Master collection as an homage to the all-black bezel that has intermittently been in production in both aluminium and ceramic. However, that is definitely less anticipated than the Coke, given the Coke's cult following amongst Rolex collectors.
Milgauss Makes a Comeback
In what was a surprise to precisely 0 people, Rolex finally discontinued the last variant in the Milgauss collection in 2023. However, that probably won’t be the last we see of the iconic collection. After discontinuing the Air-King in 2021, Rolex reintroduced the collection in 2023 with some subtle changes, such as crown guards, an Oysterlock clasp and an updated dial design – all of which would not be a surprise for Rolex to do if they reintroduced the Milgauss this year.
There are hopes that Rolex would take inspiration from the original Milgauss ref. 6541 and give the new model a rotating all-black ceramic bezel and a waffle dial, but that is a pipedream, in my opinion. After the launch of the 1908 collection, Rolex is beginning to open to the idea of taking vintage inspiration, so let’s hope I am wrong on that. Time will tell, but don’t be surprised if the changes are minimal.
Yacht-Master II Turns into Yacht-Master III
Launched in 2007, the Yacht-Master II is perhaps the greatest “love it or hate it” watch that Rolex produces to this day, and maybe ever. With its large 44mm case, equally busy dial and bezel combo, hard-to-figure-out command bezel operations, and unpopular yacht timing functions, it is a watch that doesn’t get much love on social media or in collectors circles. As a result, its discontinuation would upset about 15 people, of which 13 were on the team in Rolex who worked on releasing it. Confirmed by some ADs as being discontinued already, this is supposedly a foregone conclusion.
However, not all is lost for the Yacht-Master II, as we might see a new reference join the collection or even the introduction of a Yacht-Master III join Rolex’s catalogue if the new model is sufficiently different. This idea is supported by the new patent Rolex filed in late 2023 that pertains to a new and easier-to-use Yacht-Master II movement that will trade its command bezel functions for simple pusher-operated functions instead. What that looks like in a watch, we will have to wait and see.
Alongside the almost-confirmed Yacht-Master II discontinuation, another discontinuation has been confirmed by some ADs over the last few weeks, and it is the Palm Fronds Datejust Dial. Introduced in 2021, it became a favourite for the summer months with its shades of green and palm-inspired motif, but Rolex has decided to remove it. What replaces it is anyone’s guess, but it will probably be an equally fun and quirky design.
Speaking of fun and quirky designs, the Celebration dial in the Oyster Perpetual collection might be on the way out. With four of the five colours used in it already out of production, I think Rolex will use the Celebration dial as a way of giving the stella-inspired OP colours their final goodbye and thus discontinue it alongside the green dial option that remains and the other colours that still remain in the smaller size variants – this is purely my own thinking though. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were wrong and the Celebration dial hung on for a few more years, but it just feels too different for Rolex to keep around for all that long.
Lastly, another hotly anticipated discontinuation is the Paul Newman-inspired Le Mans 100th anniversary Daytona that was launched in July of 2023, thus keeping its place in production for less than a year. With its extreme rarity, collectability and heritage-inspired design, I can’t see Rolex wanting to milk this watch like they probably could. It is a special edition anniversary watch, and I think it will be discontinued in 2024 as a result, thus maintaining its anniversary status. To be fair, an example that was produced more than a year after the collection was introduced wouldn’t really be an anniversary watch, would it?