Rolex Kills the Oyster Perpetual 39

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Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 on wrist (courtesy thetruthaboutwatches.com)

There it is: the only Rolex I own. It’s a white-ish dial Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 with white/blue indices, known as the OP39 to its many admirers. To my mind, and to many of its owners, it’s the only Rolex worth having. It’s elegant, subtle, perfectly built and right-sized. And it’s gone. Rolex is discontinuing the OP39 in favor of an upsized $5900 Oyster Perpetual 41, with some new colorways. Like this . . .

New Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41

For my fellow red-green color blind readers, the lacquered dials above are tangerine, powder room pink, red, dark green and cyan. If you find those dial colors a bit shocking, you’re not alone.

Focusing on unsubstantiated – and unrealized – rumors the Rolex would condemn the Sky King to the history books – my  horology-minded colleagues didn’t see this one coming. Not from sensible old Rolex.

Osyter perpetual 34

Rolex is still selling Oyster Perpetuals in smaller “ladies” sizes: 28mm, 31mm, 34mm and 36mm. (The chart above shows all the sizes now available.) Not all the sizes offer all the funky colors. (You could say Rolex’s decision not to sell the candy pink watch in 41mm is sexist, but I couldn’t possibly comment.)

Oyster Perpetual 41 silver and gold

The refreshed Oyster Perpetual selection introduces the Superlative Chronometer-rated (+/-2 seconds a day) Calibre 3230 to the line. There’s also the never-done-befoa’ 41mm gold dial Rolex Oyster Perpetual with silver indices (ref. 124300).

The newbie looks a bit weird to my eyes, maybe even a bit Seiko. I’m sure it’s better in the flesh. No doubt it will sell. Aside from some of the two-tone models and small, overpriced diamond-y things, what Rolex doesn’t? But spare a moment for the dearly departed OP39 . . .

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39

The Oyster Perpetual 39 had the distinct advantage of being a unisex watch. It is, in fact, the only watch I own that my ex-wife covets – and believe you me, that’s saying something. More generally, 39mm is the “Goldilocks” watch size. It looks good on all wrists, including our man Luke Ibis’ 8″ wrist.

Why not leave the 39 in the catalogue? I guess Rolex’s marketing mavens saw some sort of problem with the 39’s sales – despite the fact that Rolex dealers don’t have much of anything to sell.

Rolex OP39

On the upside, experience tells us that discontinued Rolex models have a way of appreciating. And even if that doesn’t happen, Rolex just gave OP39 owners a reason to appreciate their watches even more. I know I do.

18 COMMENTS

  1. The 39 was a Goldilocks size – not too big or small. I don’t know why the world needs an OP larger than a GMTII and only 1mm smaller than an Explorer II.

    And those colorways scream “WE NEED TO DRIVE SOME SALES, NOW”. Things that make you go hmm.

  2. My recommendation to someone that wants to get some of these wild colors at a more appropriate price for a wild color watch would be to check out the Doxa Sub 200.

    Rolex does have a bit of a history here with the “Stella” watches.

    There is a lot of speculation/wishing that Rolex will do a white dial Explorer, and the Explorer is due for an update since it still uses the old movement, so that might be the Rolex strategy here. Or not.

      • Yep. And I do recommend that anyone really into watches get a Rolex at some point. But with the asset bubbles the Fed has created to bail out the rich and upper-middle-class (thanks for thinking of me guys) it is not the right time. Never pay over retail, and with the good fakes out there (everyone with a YouTube channel is doing a fake comparison with a fake that is highly accurate down to the movement) best to buy from an AD. There will be a point in the future that one can buy from an AD at retail, without being on a fake waitlist, and the smart buyers will wait for that point. Even this OP is going over $8k on Chrono24 and that is nuts. Although I’m not going to lie, if I had FU money and a Strong AD “relationship” I would be picking up the red dial tomorrow.

        • I agree: the Rolex shortage will ease over the next year. (Wrote about that somewhere.) I also agree that there are too many fakes out there to buy privately. But I can’t see the point of a technicolor OP41. I don’t see Rolex as “fun” watches – more as tool watches. But then, I’m not your typical Rolex buyer.

  3. I think you and the other content producers who are talking about the new OP line up as the real story in this week are on to something. Subs will be Subs and the small population of fanboys will always follow them. But Rolex knows what they need to do to defend against the Apple Watch, and it doesn’t involve innovating with likes of the Sub, GMT, Explorer, etc. Rather it’s making interesting, “affordable” pieces that have a (slim) chance of keeping the long tail customers in the fold.

    BTW – congrats on the 1 year of TTAW.

    • Excellent analysis. Didn’t think about it that way. Looking for writers who can think these things through – and review watches. Ping me on Instagram if you’re interested.

    • Great point. Those colorways definitely have a feel of “needing to broaden the demographic” rather than “appeal to our core base”.

          • @Robert Farago
            That would by ultra outré. I like how your mind works. Let’s see what the future brings in wrist-shots on Insta not counting exhibition stock which may well be vaporous. Interesting indeed.
            @Will – see below – Brilliant answer blah blah..

        • Brilliant answer. December delivery for these in The Lands Down Under and all allocated stock already sold 3 weeks ago now. Stock allocations by Rolex in Switzer, not by numbers requested by the local AD’s.

  4. Somehow, while watch owners are clamoring for more under 40mm choices, Rolex decided the wind was blowing in the other direction. An indication of the sclerotic nature of decision-making in big corporations?

    • I think that it is more of the direction Rolex has moved over the past 20, 30 plus years. The transformation from a true tool watch to a watch most buy to signal wealth and success.

      A larger watch makes it easier to show off and signal to others; and these new bright colors will likely be a hit with “fun” and “quirky” nouveau riche. I agree with some of the comments above, that these will attract a new group of customers that wanted more of a fashion piece, and to make a more bold statement. Watches are less of a needed tool and more jewelry nowadays, and this goes with that.

      That white dial OP is beautiful and one that I considered the best of the bunch. I will eventually buy a Grand Seiko, but for the time being I’ll stick to growing my retirement fund and watching my peers around me live a little too much in the moment with their nice cars and toys.

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