Rolex perfectly melds the classic with the current in the Perpetual 1908, which made its debut at Watches and Wonders 2023. Its smart looks herald the launch of the new Perpetual line (supplanting the well-known Cellini) with a vintage-inspired dial and updated 39mm case. And for all you watch buffs who may not be concurrent history fans, “1908” refers to the year Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf registered the brand name in Switzerland.
Details of the Rolex Perpetual 1908
Let’s start with the case, which is 39mm polished yellow or white gold. The architecture of the bezel combines fluting on the lower part, while the upper part is domed. I think this dual effect adds elegant interest—particularly when viewed head on—and the curve of the lugs is highlighted by the subtle chamfering at their top edges. The new transparent caseback, like the domed front crystal, is treated with an anti-reflective coating. The case is waterproof to 50 meters, and it is set with the customary Rolex emblem-embossed crown.
Mention of the transparent caseback leads me straightaway to the automatic Caliber 7140, unveiled this year. It comprises the patented Chronergy escapement that combines high-energy efficiency with dependability, thanks in part to its nickel-phosphorus construction that makes it resistant to magnetic fields. And its Rolex-produced Syloxi hairspring ensures regularity in any position. The oscillator is mounted on the patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, also designed by Rolex.
This self-winding movement’s decoration is admirable—and visible—with bridges featuring Rolex Côtes de Genève, distinguished by the polished groove between each decorative band. The oscillating weight is 18-karat gold.
The Perpetual 1908 is Superlative Chronometer-certified, a designation reimagine by Rolex in 2015 signifying that every watch has undergone a series of tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories according to its own criteria. This rigorous testing follows the official certification of the movement by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).
The dial, available in white or black, has sans-serif Arabic numerals at 12, 3 and 9 o’clock, and the small seconds subdial, also with Arabic numerals, resides at 6 o’clock. “Superlative chronometer” is written in black or white on the white or black dial, respectively, in a sans-serif font in an arc on the upper part of the subdial. The dial’s clean look adds to the overall dressiness of the watch, I think, with just enough going on to keep things interesting.
Alligator leather straps are in matte black or matte brown, with tone-on-tone stitching and a “Rolex green” calfskin lining on each. The straps are fitted with a Dualclasp, a double folding clasp, in 18-karat yellow or white gold.
This flight of watches is available in October, I’m told, and will run $22,000 in yellow gold and $23,000 in white gold.