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Introducing the Perpetual 1908 with Rolex’s First Guilloche Dial

Rolex Perpetual 1908 52506

Emojis aside, probably the biggest Rolex news last year – or at least, the one with the most long-term impact – was the Crown’s new, classically-inspired 1908 collection. With only two watches though, we kind of knew more were coming. While we initially thought that would mean a calendar, the initial Rolex tease told us precisely what it would be: a new guilloche dial. And now it’s finally here and it’s pretty much exactly what it says on the beautifully engraved tin.

First and foremost, this is a new dial not just for the 1908 but for Rolex. Consisting of a repeating, geometric series of raised peaks, almost like scales, it makes the most of the gorgeous, icy blue colour. It’s three-dimensional, eye-catching and possibly the loveliest dial Rolex has done for a very, very long time.

Rolex Perpetual 1908 52506
Rolex Perpetual 1908 52506

While the brand may have dabbled in engine-turning in the misty past, it’s not something they’ve done in recent memory, so I’d happily go out on a limb and say this is a first for Rolex. It also might just be one of the least Rolex dials I’ve seen for a while (again, emojis aside). Indeed, the beautiful light blue grains of rice pattern looks more like something I’d expect from the Czapek & Cie Antarctique, which is no bad thing. I adore that watch, and this has the same, ultra-precise, ultra-deep engine-turned guilloche.

Rolex Perpetual 1908 52506

It might seem like a bit of a curveball from the Crown, but at the same time it fits with the new direction of the 1908. It’s not just a replacement for the now-defunct Cellini dress watch, it’s an ode to the kind of proper, traditional watchmaking that Rolex left behind when their sports watches became archetypal luxury wristwear. And other than the guilloche, it has the same hands and Arabic numerals as last year’s yellow gold versions.

Rolex Perpetual 1908 52506
Rolex Perpetual 1908 52506

That specific icy blue colour should be enough of a giveaway, but the 39mm case is in 950 platinum and is particularly slim, in keeping with the dress watch character. As is the norm for the collection, it also has an exhibition caseback, something that Rolex is apparently getting more and more comfortable with.

Rolex Perpetual 1908 52506

That’s all for the good as the calibre 7140 is a handsomely finished movement. Not as handsome as that dial, but still cote de Geneve embellished – Rolex’s own version of it that is, with polished grooves between the arch bands. It also houses all the current high-tech quirks of Rolex’s in-house movements, like the Chronergy escapement, Syloxi balance spring, Paraflex shock absorbers and I’m sure other sci-fi sounding chronometric performance enhancers. It of course meets Rolex’s own Superlative Chronometer specification of +/- 2 seconds a day, because it would be incredibly strange if it didn’t.

Rolex Perpetual 1908 52506

Finished on a dark brown leather strap, the Perpetual 1908 with its shiny new guilloche dial is a beautiful dress watch that, with a platinum case, was always going to command a substantial price tag. That price specifically is £26,600. Which in case you were wondering is around 5K more than the Czapek equivalent.

Price and Specs:

Model: Rolex Perpetual 1908
Ref: 52506
Case: 39mm diameter x 9.5mm height (lug width: 20 mm), 950 platinum, domed and fluted bezel
Dial: Ice blue, rice-grain motif
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Rolex calibre 7140, in-house, automatic with bidirectional winding via perpetual rotor, Superlative Chronometer (COSC + Rolex certification after casing), oscillator with Syloxi hairspring in silicon with patented geometry, high performance Paraflex shock absorbers, −2 /+2 sec/day accuracy
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 66h
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds hand at 6 o’clock
Strap: Matt brown alligator leather with double folding Dualclasp
Price: £26,600

More details at Rolex.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.