Everyone was expecting Rolex to introduce a new Submariner for 2020, and while most people didn’t expect that its case size would be increased to 41mm, the most unexpected release came in the form of the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches that joined the lineup for 2020. As Rolex’s entry-level line of watches, the Oyster Perpetual collection is typically among the last to receive updates. New dials color options were added in 2019, and many people thought that it would be at least a few years before the collection would receive a major overhaul, and Rolex’s new generation of movements would be added to the collection.
Despite being known for the consistency (and often predictability) of its designs, Rolex showed us all that it can still surprise everyone and rolled out a number of updates to the Oyster Perpetual collection. Here is everything that you need to know about the new 2020 Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches.
New Rolex Oyster Perpetual Watches for 2020
2020 Oyster Perpetual Collection Updates:
– New 41mm model introduced (ref. 124300)
– 39mm size option discontinued
– New generation of the 36mm model (ref. 126000)
– New 28mm model introduced (ref. 276200)
– 26mm size option discontinued
– New generation of the 31mm model (ref. 277200)
– New generation of the 34mm model (ref. 124200)
– Caliber 3230 movement introduced
– Caliber 2232 movement introduced
– Vibrant new dial colors
While nearly all modern Rolex watches have the words “Oyster” and “Perpetual” printed on their dials, this is often simply a designation that the particular watch is both water-resistant and self-winding. With that in mind, there actually is an entire collection of Rolex watches known simply as the “Oyster Perpetual” and it represents the brand’s most simple and straightforward line of timepieces.
Offering the time of day and no additional features or complications whatsoever – not even Rolex’s signature Cyclops-magnified date display – the Oyster Perpetual has a rich history that dates all the way back to the brand’s very first self-winding watches from the 1930s. The core design of the original Oyster Perpetual has served as the foundation for nearly every single Rolex watch that has followed, and although the collection sometimes gets overshadowed by some of Rolex’s other high-profile models, there is no denying that the Oyster Perpetual is a true industry classic.
In the past, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection was offered in both solid gold and two-tone configurations; however, at the present time, it is only available in Oystersteel (904L stainless steel), and fitted with a smooth bezel and an Oyster bracelet. Although the current collection lacks options in regards to materials, bezels, and bracelets, Oyster Perpetual watches are often available with a number of different dials and the collection represents the point of entry into Rolex ownership.
New Stella Dials for the Oyster Perpetual?
In more recent years, Rolex has had a bit of fun with its Oyster Perpetual collection, rolling out a number of more colorful dial options such as “red grape” and a bright blue dial with neon green accents. However, no one predicted that 2020 would see the introduction of a whole assortment of vibrant and vivid dial colors that echo the aesthetic of the vintage “Stella” dials from the 1970s.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Rolex produced a series of brightly colored dials for select Day-Date and Datejust watches. Originally intended for the Middle East market, these dials were made from lacquered, multi-layered enamel and were offered in a range of vibrant and unusual colors. Nicknamed “Stella Dials” – either in reference to American artist Frank Stella and his choice of extremely bright colors or after the Latin word for ‘star’ (no one seems quite sure), these brightly colored dials were not all that popular among buyers at the time, leading to a relatively short-lived production run.
To call them “brightly colored” is a bit of an understatement. Rolex Stella dials are insanely vibrant, and they are about as “un-Rolex” as any dial that the brand has ever produced. Most people thought that the colors featured on the vintage Stella dials were simply representative of an experimental time in Rolex’s history and that we would never see anything like it from the brand again. However, the new dial colors that Rolex added to the Oyster Perpetual line for 2020 are more than reminiscent of the ones featured on the vintage Stella dials from the 1970s.
These new vibrant Oyster Perpetual dials are not actually Stella dials – that name specifically applies to the ultra-collective, brightly colored dials found on vintage Day-Date and Datejust watches. However, some of the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual dial colors are nearly spot-on matches with their vintage Stella counterparts. Additionally, it is also worth noting that while the original Stella dials from the 1970s and 1980s were exclusively fitted to premium options within the Rolex lineup, these new brightly colored dials are only offered on Rolex’s most affordable and accessible collection of timepieces.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 Discontinued, New Oyster Perpetual 41 Introduced
Previously, the largest case size available within the Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection was 39mm. Measuring the same size diameter as the current Rolex Explorer (and even powered by the same movement), the Oyster Perpetual 39 was a fan-favorite among collectors. However, Rolex has discontinued the 39mm version of the Oyster Perpetual entirely for 2020 and replaced it with an all-new 41mm model that is powered by Rolex’s new-generation Caliber 3230 movement.
There are a number of collectors who are upset the 39mm model is no longer available, as many believed it represented a sweet-spot as far as case sizing. However, the new 41mm model makes sense within the context of the rest of Rolex’s modern collections, and it does broaden the overall range of sizes available for the Oyster Perpetual collection. With the new 2020 update, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is available in 28mm, 31mm, 34mm, 36mm, and 41mm sizes, guaranteeing that there is a model to suit every possible wrist size and aesthetic preference.
In addition to a case that is now 2mm larger, the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 does offer a few benefits over its 39mm predecessor. Dial selections are vast and offer everything from more restrained options like black and silver to more outlandish options like coral red, turquoise blue, and candy pink – among a number of other equally-vivid options.
Additionally the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 ref. 124300 is powered by Rolex’s new-generation Caliber 3230 movement. Built around Rolex’s proprietary Chronergy escapement, the new Cal. 3230 is brand-new for 2020, and like other movements from the 32xx series, it promises timekeeping precision of -2/+2 seconds per day (after casing) and offers users an increased power reserve of approximately 70 hours (compared to the 48-hour power reserve of the previous generation).
The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 has an official retail price of $5,900, which represents a mere $200 increase compared to the retail price of the now-discontinued 39mm model. What this extra couple hundred dollars get you is an additional 2mm of case size, a handful of new vibrant dial options, and an extra 22 hours of power reserve due Rolex’s latest-generation of in-house movements.
New Generation of Oyster Perpetual 36 Watches
Aside from the new vibrant dial colors, the 39mm model getting discontinued in favor of the new 41mm version has been the most discussed update to the Oyster Perpetual collection for 2020. However, there is also a new generation of 36mm Oyster Perpetual watches in the form of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 ref. 126000, and these models represent a significant step forward for the collection as a whole.
Just like the all-new Oyster Perpetual 41 watches, the new 36mm models are powered by Rolex’s all-new Caliber 3230 movement. Consequently, the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 watches offer the same timekeeping performance of -2/+2 seconds per day with an increased power reserve of approximately 70 hours. Additionally, just like with the 41mm models, the new 36mm version is also available with a range of vivid dial colors; however “candy pink” is also available for the Oyster Perpetual 36, while it is not an option for the 41mm variant from the new 2020 collection.
Aesthetic options aside, the decision to include the brand-new Caliber 3230 movement in the Oyster Perpetual 36 is a detail that should not be overlooked. While timekeeping performance remains the same between the new model and the previous generation (Rolex’s Superlative Chronometer standards), the new series of movements does offer a noticeably longer power reserve. Compared to the previous generation of 36mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches, the new 36mm models promise significant increases in performance for a relatively negligible increase in price.
The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 reference 126000 is accompanied by an official retail price of $5,600, while the previous generation of the 36mm model retailed for $5,400. This difference of $200 is the exact same as the difference in retail prices between the new 41mm and now-discontinued 39mm models. Similarly, that additional $200 buys you an all-new selection of bright new dial colors and significantly longer power reserve compared to the previous generation of Oyster Perpetual 36 watches.
One last interesting detail to note about the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection is that while the new 36mm and 41mm models are powered by the new-generation Caliber 3230 movement, the 28mm, 31mm, and 34mm versions are all powered by the Caliber 2232. Both the Cal. 3230 and Cal. 2232 are new for 2020; however, while the Caliber 3230 features a Blue Parachrom hairspring and a 70-hour power reserve, the Caliber 2232 features a Syloxi hairspring and power reserve of approximately 55 hours.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Collection 2020 Price and Availability
Following the brand’s September 2020 announcement, the current Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection is available in the following sizes: 28mm, 31mm, 34mm, 36mm, and 41mm. Additionally, since all models are crafted entirely from stainless steel and fitted with smooth bezels and Oyster bracelets (regardless of case size), pricing is incredibly consistent across the collection, with all models having retail prices that sit between $5,000 and $6,000 – regardless of the specific dial option fitted to the watch.
The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches were available almost immediately following their announcement, and the very first examples have already started to make their way into the hands of the public. Retail pricing for the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection appears below.
– Oyster Perpetual 28 (ref. 276200; 28mm) = $5,100
– Oyster Perpetual 31 (ref. 277200; 31mm) = $5,200
– Oyster Perpetual 34 (ref. 124200; 34mm) = $5,300
– Oyster Perpetual 36 (ref. 126000; 36mm) = $5,600
– Oyster Perpetual 41 (ref. 124300; 41mm) = $5,900
Historically, the Oyster Perpetual has always been one of the more readily available Rolex collections. While certain stainless steel models from the brand’s catalog such as the Daytona, Submariner, and GMT-Master II are virtually unattainable at a retail level, the Oyster Perpetual has never really suffered from the same extreme shortage in supply. In more recent years, certain popular dial variations of the 36mm and now-discontinued 39mm model did start to experience waiting lists, but they never reached anywhere near the same length as those for the latest stainless steel “Pepsi” GMT.
With that in mind, these new brightly colored dials and the all-new 41mm case size may be the updates that change the retail availability of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection. Without a doubt, some dial options will be more desirable than others, and while it is unlikely that the Oyster Perpetual collection as a whole will suddenly become unavailable (as will likely be the case with the new Submariner), you can almost guarantee that certain dial colors for the larger models will be hard to acquire without at least some time spent on a waiting list.
*All images are courtesy of aBlogtoWatch.