41 is the new 20 – Going hands-on with new Rolex Submariner 41 and Oyster Perpetual 36/41

41 is the new 20 – Going hands-on with new Rolex Submariner 41 and Oyster Perpetual 36/41

We figured given there was so much talk about the increased 41mm sizing for both the new Rolex Submariners and the Oyster Perpetuals, this was a good time to look at them in person and see what we felt. We also wanted to check out our two favourite colours from the newly revamped collection. So here’s a brief rundown of our showdown when we went hands-on with new Rolex Submariner 41 ref. 126610LN, the OP 36 Turquoise Blue & Yellow ref. 126000 and the OP 41 Black ref. 124300. 

Always Was, and Still Is, the Original Legend

What is it: The new Rolex Submariner 41

Why: Updated movement in a redesigned body and a larger case — for the first time — because it’s 2020 and anything is possible

When released: September 01

Where: Hopefully available through your AD at some point, sadly already available on Chrono24 for almost thrice the price

Who is it for: On one hand, for those who truly love the brand, respect what the watch stands for, and want this handsome time-less classic with an updated movement and longer power-reserve; and on the other hand unfortunately for the grey market sellers, the flippers and for those who aren’t comfortable in their shoes

How does it do: Born in 1953, the Submariner is an icon of the horology world. When we went hands-on with new Rolex novelties, we looked at the classic black bezel on the black dial Sub version. First reaction: its slimmer, tapered lugs help keep the on-wrist feel and sizing in check. In fact, it wore very similar to the discontinued version. 

hands-on with new Rolex

Five things stood out to me the most: 

  • one, the change on bracelet, with the lug interhorn width now being 21mm, and the very visual taper it has towards end meeting the clasp; 
  • two, the thinner case profile of the monobloc middle case which I reckon will look better with suit cuffs now; 
  • three, the weight, it feels more hefty; 
  • four, the highly legible Chromalight display with long-lasting blue luminescence;
  • five, the symmetry of the dial face – I didn’t know Rolex could make it even more symmetrical, it just seems more balanced and works for me. 
hands-on with new Rolex

In terms of what’s kept the same, well it’s got the same presence, same triple lock screw-down crown, same 300m water-resistance, unidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated, scratch-resistant Cerachrom insert bezel in ceramic with numerals and graduations coated in platinum; and one of my favourite features of the Rolex watch face, the quirky use of three deferent types of markers – triangular, circular and blocky rectangular.

The movement as we know has been updated to sit in line with the likes of Datejust and Sea-Dwellers. The calibre 3235 movement is the same as the current Sea-Dweller ref. 126600. Personally, for my money, I prefer the new Submariner no date ref. 124060 with its updated calibre 3230 that it shares with the entry-level OPs in 41.

Missing: In my personal opinion, I have no qualms in Rolex increasing the size of the Submariners with Date. But the base model, the no-date Sub, I reckon they should have retained in the old 40mm diameter case. It’s the classic size, unchanged through history — correct me if I am wrong here — and for my money, it is still the best, understated Rolex Sub on the market. It’s a tool watch that is not pretending to be anything else. It’s a rare mix of both ‘form follows function’ and ‘function follows form’. 

I also feel that given the plethora of comments on forums critiquing the move to a larger size, this retention of the base model as a 40mm option would have helped Rolex play both sides of the field, cater to those who wanted a new look and to those who wanted to retain the traditional appeal. 

Tiffany called…

What is it: The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm in ‘Turquoise Blue’

Why: Updated movement in a new larger case and part of the revamped ‘Stella’ dial style colourful watches because this year needs any help it can get to infuse some enthusiasm in general

When released: September 01

Where: Probably available through your AD at soon-ish, sadly already available on Chrono24 for almost twice the price 

Who is it for: Anyone and everyone who came afford it; on a personal note I simply love it. I would pair it with a Tiffany blue deployant buckle and strap combo if available. 

hands-on with new Rolex

How does it do: There’s no point in beating about the bush, I find it simply irresistible. In person it is a very neutral, unisex colour and when we went hands-on with new Rolex OPs 36 Turquoise Blue, on wrist somehow they wore smaller than the same sized Yellow versions. After trying them on, I would say that even people with smaller wrists should go for the 41mm diameter if they want this blue version. Owing to the fact that it is a lacquered dial, there is no sun-ray or multi-hued pattern to the dial; it’s a flat blue, that doesn’t appear to change under different lighting conditions. The overtly shiny and polished bezel adds a nice bit of contrast and depth to the watch face. With the new movement offering an increased ~70-hours power reserve, the words entry-level don’t seem to apply here anymore. 

Missing: It is born on the ashes of the much loved 39mm OPs. Nothing I can falter the 41mm with, though would have loved if Rolex hadn’t discontinued the 39mm versions so soon after releasing them a couple of years ago. 

Healthy Turmeric 

What is it: The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm in ‘Yellow’

Why, When released, and Where: Same as above

Who is it for: For someone who would like to really stand out, or someone who likes bright colours. I don’t foresee it being everyone’s cup of turmeric though 

hands-on with new Rolex

How does it do: Personally my favourite of the 2020 Rolex offerings, though I can see how the bright yellow colour might be polarising for some. I think this would either sit well with some or just seem jarring to others. It’s a happy bright, that’s literally sunshine for your wrists. The double baton markers feel more at home on this version as well, and reminds me of a less cluttered, better executed versions of the Chopard Mille Miglia Racing Colours from a couple of years ago. I know they are two very different watches but the bright colours are a sure shot bridge here, and the only feature I could falter with Chopard when I first saw them was that the dial was a bit busy. If I am buying a bright coloured watch, I want the colour to get premium parking space. Rolex here rules with the lacquered yellow.

Missing: In the pictures the colour can appear to be a bit too bright but when we went hands-on with new Rolex OP Yellow, nothing really stood out that works against it. 

hands-on with new Rolex

Reference Wrist Check 

For reference wrist check, 41mm vs 36mm on my 16cm wrist, we also photographed the OP 41 in black. Given in my opinion this year’s OPs are all about colour, I wouldn’t pick this black version myself, though that said, anyone looking for an under the radar, classic, timeless piece, will find the black version to be a strong contender for a lifelong wrist companion.

I said this earlier when I looked at the press photos of theses watches, and now that I have seen them in person, I would like to say it again: Time will not tell whether this update on the new Rolex Submariner is worthwhile; or whether the new colours are instant classics. The new Rolex 2020 novelties were a success even before they were announced. Such is the power of the brand. And deservingly so. After all, how can you question perfection? 

For more information on these and other Rolex watches, please head to their website here. All images are Copyright © Watch Ya Gonna Do About It unless otherwise stated.

hands-on with new Rolex