Rolex is certainly not a brand to follow trends. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that while many other top luxury brands are focused on offering unisex timepieces and smaller men’s watches, Rolex is going in the opposite direction by making bigger watches for men. Let’s have a closer look at how Rolex men’s watches are getting larger, and how the brand is positioning more classically sized timepieces.
Explorer I/II, Air-King, and Sea-Dweller All Got Larger Case Sizes
Since its debut in the 1950s, the Rolex Explorer watch always featured a 36mm case. And because of this, it was always a solid option for men with smaller wrists looking for a sportier Rolex watch. However, this all changed in 2010, when Rolex unveiled a larger Explorer 39 and discontinued the Explorer 36. What’s more, just one year later, Rolex also increased the case size of the Explorer II from 40mm to 42mm with the introduction of the Explorer II ref. 216570 at Baselworld 2011.
Fast-forward to 2016, and Rolex launches a bulked-up Air-King – a watch that has consistently donned a conservative 34mm Oyster case throughout its long history. The Air-King’s growth was significant, growing by 6mm to now sport a 40mm case (not to mention the completely redesigned dial and anti-magnetic properties too).
Then things got really wild at Baselworld 2017, when it was the Sea-Dweller that beefed up, shedding its previous 40mm case size for a new 43mm one. And it looks like the Sea-Dweller 43 is here to stay given that Rolex just released a two-tone version this year at Baselworld 2019.
Rolex Offers Larger Options of the Datejust, Day-Date, and Yacht-Master
Besides the outright discontinuation of smaller editions in favor of bigger models, Rolex also now offers larger options to sit alongside traditional sizes. For example, there are the Datejust 41 and Day-Date 40 collections with bigger versions of the classically proportioned Datejust 36 and Day-Date 36 watches. And let’s not forget the short-lived Day-Date II and Datejust II lines, which were 41mm men’s watches.
It’s interesting to note that Rolex took a more feminine approach to the new Day-Date 36 watches showcased at Baselworld this year, with plenty of diamonds and precious stone dials. Is this a way for Rolex to push the larger (and more expensive) Day-Date 40 models for men?
The Yacht-Master 42 made its debut this year, and is now the largest Yacht-Master in the Rolex catalog. Thankfully, Rolex kept the Yacht-Master 40 and Yacht-Master 37 as options for those who do not necessarily want bigger men’s watches.
More Options for Larger Men’s Watches Options Than Ever Before
Prior to the introduction of the 44mm Yacht-Master II collection in 2007, the biggest Rolex watches available were 40mm and they all belonged to the various collections within Rolex’s “Professional” series. These days, there are many more options for men’s watches larger than 40mm, and they are available in both the dress watch and sports watch categories.
Rolex Watches Larger than 40mm
- Datejust 41 (41mm)
- Datejust II (41mm)
- Day-Date II (41mm)
- Sky-Dweller (42mm)
- Yacht-Master 42 (42mm)
- Explorer II (42mm)
- Sea-Dweller (43mm)
- Yacht-Master II (44mm)
- Deepsea (44mm
It will be interesting to see how Rolex will approach sizing over the following years. Will the brand continue to go bigger with other models, or will things remain the same as far as sizing for the foreseeable future? We will just have to wait and see.