An Artisanal Rolex?: An Open Canvas For Haute Horlogerie Expression brijesh

THM Desk
20 Jan 2024 |
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With the Perpetual 1908, Rolex has more flexibility to do unprecedented things or at least tryout techniques that it hasn’t done in a long time. An optimistic (and wishful) takeaway to manifest from the Perpetual 1908 is the abundance of opportunity to re-explore haute horlogerie techniques with the forthcoming models from the collection. Currently, the Rolex handmade artisanal crafts are limited to gem settings only. I mean, what prevents Rolex from reviving enameling or miniature painting as well as engraving all while taking movement and finishing a notch up? Rolex does have a history of haute horlogerie trends and it would be wonderful to reestablish the same within the Perpetual 1908 collection.

Perpetual 1908 collection

Now that Rolex is building watches like 1908 with display case backs, it is inviting challenges and scopes for exhibiting its movement-finishing artisanal prowess. Complications are also ripe for revival within the collection. There’s definitely a hot market for those. I’m not saying that Rolex should chase complications like tourbillons, minute repeaters, or split-second chronographs as they don’t need to make a huge splash. Rather they can stick with brand-appropriate complications that have a precedent in Rolex's history.

Rolex's History

Although this would mean a commitment to a low-volume and high-skill production venture, it would favour the brand and expand the view that Rolex is not just the best-known name in the watch industry but the superlative authority in watch quality.

The New Rolex Dress Watch: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained?

We agree with the fact that Rolex has a legacy and prestige rooted in its sports watches and upgrades for the brand’s pro models are as subtle as unnoticeable. With its venture into the modern chapter of classic style dress watches, one would want Rolex to have set it apart or even built it at par with substitute market offerings of a similar price point.

For the new Perpetual 1908, what I can say is that one would take some time to warm up to them over the last Cellinis. Infact,  the Cellini’s dials were a little bit more compelling, especially when complications were offered. There remains the open question: does the Perpetual 1908 look enough like the popular mental image of a Rolex? Well, it’s not a sports watch. I feel that this is a watch that is going to come into its own with subsequent iterations when new complications emerge along with artisanal dial variants. Then only will the desirability grow.

The Idea of a Perfect Perpetual 1908: As Hot as the Pro Models

For the Perpetual 1908 line-up, alleviating the risk of oblivion would require Rolex to upgrade the subsequent offerings within the collection with better execution at the artisanal frontiers. We need a 1908 timepiece that is massively in demand.

Rolex could experiment with base metal used in dress watches. Imagine a titanium Perpetual 1908 timepiece with a sportier aesthetic subtly hinting at the pro-line models. By keeping the watches exclusive, Rolex would even be able to charge precious metal prices for a titanium 1908 if they make fewer than the market demands.

Perpetual 1908

Rolex can even market the Perpetual 1908 not only as an upscaled haute horlogerie inception but as an elevated experience. Currently, we find the 1908 model as a hindmost listing on the Rolex website. In our opinion, showcase the Perpetual 1908 as an exclusive artisanal entity within the Manufacture brimming with exclusive experiences! 

Perpetual 1908
The current genus of Perpetual 1908 cannot be a mainstream Rolex collection. Maybe sell a few to expand the scope of its prowess by treading into the realms of ultra-haute horlogerie. The collection can be economically insignificant but at the same time hugely beneficial to the image of Rolex as a universe of horological competence.

If worked right, the Perpetual 1908 will cement Rolex’s repute as a jack of all trades and definitely a master of them all.