During Baselworld 2018—amidst big attention getters such as the steel Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi on Jubilee, the Tudor Black Bay 58 and BulgariOcto Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic—one model stood out for its removal of color. In the Rolex display case wrapped around their booth sat a Oyster Perpetual 39mm model with a black dial and white dialwith the brightly colored accents featured in the previous generation.
Photo courtesy of Monochrome Watches
Before the new model of announcement of 2020, Rolex sold its most basic watch in26mm, 31mm, 34mm, 36mm, and 39mm. But this year, the 39mm model was discontinued and a new 41mm Oyster Perpetual model was introduced with double baton markers on the dial at 3, 6, and 9.
The 39mm version featured a single baton at 3, 6, and 9, a shared trait with the 34mm version, but not in the 36mm, which have the double batons. It’s a small change that makes a difference to watch enthusiasts who desire symmetry. There’s just something about the Oyster Perpetual—with no date complication, sober Oyster bracelet, and very balanced dial configuration with matching stick hands—made for a perfect watch for minimalists. The current version of the 34mm Oyster Perpetual is still available with single batons all the way around the dial, so those with smaller wrists or people who prefer the vintage watch proportions have a very attractive option with that complete symmetry. Hodinkee senior editor Stephen Pulvirent even declared that the white dial version could be the one watch he could wear for the rest of his life.
Hodinkee reported that the omission of the 39mm OP leaves only the Explorer I as the sole current production 39mm sport watch from Rolex. Take in consideration that these case size labels are only on paper. The Maxi Case ceramic Submariner, for example, wears a lot bigger than its five-digit aluminum incarnation but both are listed at 40mm.
Photo courtesy of Time and Tide
It gets a bit ridiculous to break down 1mm, but the 39mm OP as a whole was, for many, a really good fit across a range of wrist sizes and shapes. By modern standards it can be considered a unisex model and the white and black dial options provided a watch that could be worn with most outfits. The smooth bezel and simple dial combined with a water resistance rating of 100 meters made the case for a single watch that could truly be worn in a dressier or sportier manner depending if the wearer was putting on a blazer or swim trunks.
WHAT'S THE FUTURE FOR THE OP 39MM?
Not that long after Rolex announced the discontinuation of the 39mm version in its lineup, prices did rise on the secondhand market with listings for white dialed versions showing closer to $10K where the retail price was just under $6K.
Photo courtesy of A Blog To Watch
We believe that the 39mm version, especially in the plainer black or white dial, will become a very desired model, especially since the new versions of the OP released this year stand out for their brightly colored dials.
Once again, Rolex has shown it clearly knows what it’s doing when it comes to keeping consumers intrigued while staying true to its core values. If you’re lucky enough to have an OP39 and you want to keep the bracelet in tip top shape, swap it out for an Everest Band, and keep that beauty safe in an Everest watch roll.