By Dave Kloss
The watch world was its usual giddy self this year in the lead up to Watches and Wonders, with enthusiasts trying to out-predict each other on what new Rolex 2023 releases would hit the market (and of course we did, too). Rolex delivered, to say the least. There was the new platinum Cosmograph Daytona featuring a see-through case back, for the first time ever on this model. The completely new (and gorgeous) Perpetual 1908 came out of nowhere, and will be sure to wow dress watch fans. The 40-mm Rolex Explorer speaks for itself. And the GMT-Master IIs in Rolesor and full yellow gold? It seemed like there really was something for everyone with these new Rolex 2023 releases, and plenty to discuss. But the watch that got every Rolex fan talking was, well, puzzling.
Rolex did what?
The colorful puzzle pieces on the Rolex Day-Date’s champlevé enamel puzzle dial are meant to represent life and its different moments. The dial also features ten applied sapphire indices of varying hues, and is complemented by a fluted bezel. Now, Rolex is pretty notorious for their glacial change-making pace, so by their standards at least, this unexpected design and combination alone would have been enough to last for at least the next Watches and Wonders or two.
Where this Day-Date gets even more interesting is with its two complications. Gone are the day and date, with the arc window at twelve o’clock instead displaying the positive affirmations HAPPY, ETERNITY, GRATITUDE, PEACE, FAITH, LOVE, and HOPE. The window at three o’clock reveals 31 different emojis which, along with some smileys, also include a four-leaf clover, playing card, ladybug, peace sign, and panda face (this is Rolex after all, so we knew they’d go with a panda as their animal of choice, right? Would a reverse panda maybe have taken it too far?). It’s a different take on how a watch tracks time, that’s for sure. It’s like this Day-Date is saying “Forget about the day and date for a minute, how do you feel on this weekday, on this day of the month, at this minute? And how would you like to feel?”
The Rolex 2023 Day-Date Pieced Together
This Day-Date is available in white or yellow gold on a turquoise dial base, or in Everose gold with an orange dial base. Stop for a moment, and you’ll realize that Rolex is also piecing a second puzzle together with different Rolex elements, combining a Day-Date 36 platform, including its presidential bracelet and precious metals, and the colorful sapphires you’ll find on the Rolex Daytona Rainbow. And the colors of those puzzle pieces? You haven’t forgotten the release of those fun, bright Oyster Perpetual dials in 2020, have you?
At the heart of this timepiece is the caliber 3255, delivering a 70-hour power reserve at a rate of 28,800 vph. What’s more, this movement uses Rolex’s proprietary blue Parachrom hairspring, Paraflex shock absorption system, and highly efficient Chronergy escapement.
The Rolex Day-Date puzzle dial is one of the brand’s “off-catalog” pieces, which will probably only add to its mystique (and unfortunately its lack of availability and pricing information). There are currently no listings for it on Chrono24.
Why We Like It: Changing Time
This is a fun, rule-bending new release, with Rolex inviting the wearer to look at time differently. Think of the myriad of permutations the caliber 3255 lets you create as you select your combination of words of affirmation with your emojis. There’s no wrong way to do it. With this Day-Date, Rolex is breaking out of the day of the week/month grind of time, giving us a chance to instead explore more: How do you feel about life? How do you feel about you? Set these on your puzzle dial. Change them throughout the day as much as you want, and enjoy the Rolex haptics while doing so. Or let the watch run, and be greeted the next day with a fresh affirming word/emoji combo. And speaking of fun, because these apertures no longer display the day or date, we’re hereby calling upon Rolex watch community members to christen these complications with clever monikers.
This is an amazing foray into something new and different for Rolex, as the Swiss brand takes another step forward in its watchmaking and innovation heritage.
Before I sign off, let’s take a closer look at the Day-Date’s dial: the puzzle pieces spread across its surface have yet to entirely cover it. In other words, we’re witnessing an ongoing process. What other timepieces like this will Rolex present in the coming years? Most importantly, what about you, and your continuing process? What words of affirmation and emotions, ever-changing as they are, will be with you as you experience the color spectrum of your life?