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Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Predictions for the Watches that Rolex Could Launch in 2020

The MONOCHROME team delivers its yearly forecast on the potential novelties that Rolex could unveil at Baselworld 2020.

| By Brice Goulard | 10 min read |
Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex Predictions 2020 - Rolex Novelties 2020

It’s that time of the year again. Despite the fact that watch fairs are facing multiple threats, Baselworld 2020 is (for the moment) still planned, fast approaching and will come with its array of new collections. Without surprises, the most anticipated novelties of the year will again be the new Rolex watches. This also means that it’s time for MONOCHROME to make our yearly predictions. Just like we did in 2014 – 2015 – 2016 – 2017 – 2018 – 2019, we’ve been working hard to guess and design what the Rolex Baselworld 2020 Collection might be like. And here are the watches that we think Rolex could potentially launch at Baselworld 2020.

Please note that this article is a figment of our imagination. These are just predictions. Nothing is official. It is based on our own expectations and analysis.

Guessing what Rolex will launch has become a kind of ritual for us – and yes, we love to do it as much as you enjoy reading this article. This tradition started as a joke some years ago but today the MONOCHROME team is taking it very seriously. We certainly have good fun discussing, predicting and designing these potential novelties, but it also requires research and a lot of time in Photoshop to bring you these visually realistic renders. Still, as we said in the past, Rolex has become less predictable and can even surprise us with some unexpected watches. While the Daytona Steel/Ceramic was relatively easy to guess, some others, like the Two-Tone Sea-Dweller, were clearly less conservative. Think about the totally unpredictable Air-King 116900.

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But enough about how we deal with these predictions. Let’s have a look at what we think could be the Rolex Baselworld 2020 Collection.

Why not a new Explorer II?

We’ve seen multiple websites and forums predicting an updated Rolex Explorer II. In a way, this is easily understandable, since the current Ref. 216570 has been in the collection for some years now and isn’t really successful – it is one of those steel professional Rolex watches that can be found relatively easily at retailers, or without premium on the second-hand market.

However, we didn’t include an updated Explorer II in our Rolex Baselworld 2020 Predictions. Why? The reason is pretty simple – at least, in our opinion. This model was created back in 1971, with the Ref. 1655. As such, it will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year and we think this could be the perfect moment for Rolex to include this watch in the 2021 collection.

Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Submariner Date with Calibre 3235, Ref. 126610LN

Let’s start with the most obvious, the watch that everybody is waiting for; an updated Rolex Submariner Date with the new Calibre 3235. Following the integration of the new generation of movements into the collections (like it did with the GMT-Master, the Day-Date, the Datejust), Rolex will inevitably update its signature dive watch with modern mechanics. The question isn’t about if, but when Rolex will do it.

Rolex Submariner Date Calibre 3235 - 126610LN - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

Now that the GMT-Master collection has been fully revamped, we think it is time for the brand to update the Sub. Knowing that this watch already incorporates most of the brand’s technologies (Cerachrom bezel, Oyster bracelet with fine adjustment, etc.), we don’t expect massive changes to the Submariner soon. In this instance, we think the updated Submariner Date 2020 will evolve on the movement front, the rest remaining identical. Maybe Rolex could get rid of the maxi case and offer something a bit slimmer, with more tapered lugs, like it did on the Datejust 41? But otherwise no major updates.

Rolex Submariner Date Calibre 3235 - 126610LN - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

We don’t believe in Rolex launching a larger Submariner model since the brand already has the Sea-Dweller and its 43mm case in the collection. Keeping the Submariner at its classic 40mm case makes sense, commercially speaking.

As for the design, we’ve imagined three versions of the Baselworld 2020 Rolex Submariner Date. The first one is an evolution of the classic steel model – Ref. 126610LN – which only changes its mechanics. The other two are straight out of our imagination… but who knows. One is a steel model with a blue bezel – Ref. 126610LB – and the other is a yellow gold version with a green bezel – Ref.126618LV – a new and luxurious take on the Hulk. Although we doubt these last two versions will materialise, Rolex will certainly update the Submariner in the coming years, if not this year.

Rolex Baselworld 2020 – A New Rolex Milgauss, Back to Roots of the model

Looking at the current Rolex collection, there are a few models that have been around now for some years, without updates or new models. One of them is the Milgauss. In addition to that, while the Milgauss made a lot of sense in the past, it is less relevant these days, especially since the introduction of the modern calibres 32xx and their anti-magnetic properties. As such, the Milgauss is not only slightly outdated visually, but also technically. It is also one of the only Professional watches that doesn’t really perform commercially.

Rolex Milgauss Ceramic Bezel - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

It is time for a change. But how to update this watch? Will a new dial be enough? The current Ref. 116400GV is a mix between classic watches – with its polished centre links and its old Datejust-like case – and sporty elements, but without enough boldness to make it stand out. Our Rolex Baselworld 2020 version of the Milgauss is a clear departure from the current model and at the same time, it returns to the roots of this model.

Rolex Milgauss Ceramic Bezel - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

We’ve imagined a watch that takes some elements of the inaugural 1956 Milgauss, the reference 6541. This means the comeback of a bi-directional bezel with a single-digit scale and triangular indexes, a clean black dial, modernized for the occasion, a larger 42mm case to make the watch stand out, and the mandatory “lightning” hand, so typical to this watch.

Technically speaking, we know that Rolex is running slightly behind on magnetism compared to Omega, for instance. The Biel-based brand has now deployed its Master-Chronometer movements, with 15,000-gauss resistance, in almost all collections. The Milgauss, with its 1000-gauss resistance, needs to react. The main question is whether Rolex will get rid of the soft-iron cage and offer a slimmer watch with a highly amagnetic new movement instead of relying on an external (and heavy) protection? And maybe demonstrate this with a see-through caseback?

Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Stainless Steel Rolex Yacht-Master 42, with Blue Bezel & Oyster Bracelet

The main issue with the Rolex Yacht-Master is that it has always lived in the shadows of the Submariner. Same dimensions, few differences in terms of design, but not the same water-resistance or the same iconic aura. For this reason, Rolex decided to update its nautical-inspired watch in 2019, with the new Yacht-Master 42, with a larger case, a cleaner dial and a matte ceramic bezel. Following the inaugural white gold model, we believe in a new version for Baselworld 2020, in stainless steel.

Rolex Yacht-Master 42 Steel - 226600LB - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

If we follow the rules, the Yacht-Master collection offers steel watches on Oyster bracelets and precious metal versions on Oysterflex rubber straps. For our new Rolex Baselworld 2020 Yacht-Master 42 Steel, we have imagined a full-steel model worn on the classic brushed and polished Oyster bracelet. The 42mm case remains the same as last year’s white gold model.

Rolex Yacht-Master 42 Steel - 226600LB - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

What changes are the bezel and the dial. In order to distinguish this model from the white gold version Ref. 226659, we’ve imagined this Yacht-Master 42 Steel Ref. 226600LB with a matte blue ceramic bezel and some light blue accents on the dial – a reference to the existing 40mm steel watch.

Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Daytona Rolesor with ceramic update (ref. 116503LN)

This is a model that we think has got to be introduced… Honestly, it looks stunning. And, in fact, it is quite realistic too. Now that the Daytona has proved to be the most successful of all Rolex watches since it received a ceramic bezel, the brand has started to introduce it on most metal combinations. We think it’s time for the least attractive model, the Rolesor, to get its black ceramic bezel.

Rolex Daytona Rolesor Ceramic Bezel Two-Tone 116503LN - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

It is impressive how a different bezel colour can change a watch… By substituting the gold bezel for a black polished ceramic one, the watch looks like an entirely different timepiece. Will this Rolesor/Ceramic model be part of the Rolex Baselworld 2020 collection? We clearly hope so.

Rolex Daytona Rolesor Ceramic Bezel Two-Tone 116503LN - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

This specific combination here is just one example of what a Rolesor Daytona with ceramic bezel could look like. Since the watch is available with multiple dials – including champagne, grey, white, mother-of-pearl with diamonds – we believe that both the gold bezel version and the ceramic bezel version could coexist.

Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Explorer 1 Polar White

If you’ve read our predictions in the past, this one won’t be a surprise for you. Is this Polar Explorer 1 really a prediction? No, it is more a wish, something we’d like to see – and I quote our founder Frank here while he was looking at the Photoshop mock-ups “mate, if Rolex does that white Explorer, I’m buying one immediately“. So once again this year, the 39mm Rolex Explorer 1 Polar White is on our list of potential watches, and we sincerely hope that Rolex will finally make it. Because… It looks great

Rolex Explorer 39 Polar White Dial Oyster Bracelet - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

This year, we’ve imagined two versions of the Polar Explorer. The first one is worn on a classic Oyster bracelet and, apart from its white dial, remains entirely equal to the current black dial version – movement included. The second model is here because we’ve seen multiple petitions to know what an Explorer 1 would look like on a Jubilee bracelet… Obviously, our choice here, at MONOCHROME, goes to the Oyster model.

Rolex Explorer 39 Polar White Dial Jubilee Bracelet - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Daytona Full Everose with Ceramic Bezel

Rolex, in addition to its main novelties, always introduces discreet evolutions of watches at Baselworld. For instance, the Steel Datejust 36 in 2019 (after the two-tone models in 2018), or small updates on the Deepsea in 2018. In order to make the Rolex Daytona collection more consistent, the brand could launch its full Everose version in 2020 with an updated bezel, in black ceramic.

This certainly isn’t revolutionary but all novelties don’t need to be. Still, the addition of the black bezel works great with the full rose gold case-bracelet and gives more contrast for the dial. A simple update, but a good looking one.

Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Daytona Rainbow White Gold 116599RBOW

Meet Rolex’ most sought-after model in white gold. It might be hard to believe, but the Rolex Daytona Rainbow Ref. 116595RBOW in Everose is the watch that is currently commanding the largest premium on the market – it usually sells for about EUR 250,000 or more, while the retail price is below EUR 100,000. Rolex produces this watch in extremely low quantities and the demand remains high.

Rolex Daytona Rainbow While Gold 116599RBOW - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

Rolex Daytona Rainbow While Gold 116599RBOW - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

For this reason, and since it has already existed in the past (under the same reference 116599RBOW), we think the Rolex could unveil a new white gold version of the Rainbow, with the same updated dial as the Everose 2018 model. A new addition to the Rolex Baselworld 2020 collection? This would make sense.

Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Air-King 116900 Discontinued

For once, we’re not going to make a prediction on what Rolex will launch but on what Rolex will discontinue. Unveiled in 2016, the Rolex Air-King 116900 was the result of a partnership with Bloodhound (formerly Bloodhound SSC, now Bloodhound LSR) in its attempt to set a new world land speed record.

While in development since 2008, the project proved difficult and changed ownership in December 2018 – after going into administration in late 2018. Since then, Rolex is no longer a partner of the project. In addition to that, this colourful Air King had difficulties to find its market. This could be the end of the model – or at least of this specific reference, with a dial inspired by the gauges of the supersonic car.

rolex air king 116900 discontinued 2020 - Rolex Baselworld 2020 - Rolex 2020 Predictions

Note: this article is based on our own Photoshop mock-ups, nothing has been provided officially from Rolex. These are predictions, based on our imagination and expectations. All images are under license of MONOCHROME and should not be used without agreement or copyright (©Monochrome-Watches, 2020).

If you liked this Rolex Baselworld 2020 – Rolex Predictions 2020 article, we would love to hear your thoughts and reactions. Please use the comment box below. You can also share via our Facebook page, our Instagram account (@monochromewatches) and our Twitter page (@monochromewatch).

21 responses

  1. Hmmm. I do not think Rolex will introduce as many new models as are set out in this article. In particular I cannot see a Rolex updating the Submariner simply because there is a supposed (read artificially manufactured) shortage leading to waiting lists. Why spend money updating something that commands premiums and waiting lists? Rolex is nothing if not parsimonious. The assertion that Rolex is “slightly behind Omega” when it comes to anti-magnetic watch movements is like saying that the Apollo program computers are “slightly behind” a modern super computer. Rolex will not introduce a new anti-magnetic movement as they do not have one to introduce. Very much like most years I expect Rolex to introduce some new bicolour variations of existing watches like the Daytona and a few new colours for existing watches so the Yachtmaster looks like a good bet as does the white dial Explorer. I tend to agree Rolex ought to discontinue the Air King but I suspect they will not as long as it is selling.

    As Monochrome Watches used to offer Omega predictions but has recently not bothered my predictions for Time to Move from Omega are: Diver 300M GMT (probably a white dial/white bezel “Great White” and a black dial with a divided two colour 24 hour bezel); a 36mm Diver 300M mid-size; a wholly revamped/redesigned De Ville Prestige range using Cal.8800 movements; a Speedmaster Professional “Sapphire Sandwich” using the METAS Cal.3861 Co-axial, a ceramic bezel and an upgraded bracelet with an adjustable clasp; Planet Ocean with an orange ceramic bezel and a black dial; Seamaster 300 with the METAS Cal.8912 (no date) movement and a redesigned bracelet; Aqua Terra 43mm Cal.99xx chronograph. Let’s see how many we get right.

  2. unfortunately you guys are mostly wrong, although that Milgaus is awesome

  3. I agree with Jason on the Milgauss.

    (The link to your 2019 predictions is broken. It’s got the preview tags for WordPress in it.)

  4. “it is one of those steel professional Rolex watches that can be found relatively easily at retailers, or without premium on the second-hand market….” and this is a problem? Actually being able to pay retail price and purchase an item ‘that day’ is a blessing NOT a curse or an issue.

  5. I have been using Rolex watches for almost 40 years…I .Have big respect to the brand… Trying to come up every year at Basel with some “somethings” different is, in my humble opinion, useless.
    Why a Milgauss on 2020? Why a blue bezel for the Yacth Master?
    Being from the old school….why a Jaguar or Bentley or even a Lamborghini SUV….well time changes…what should not change is the ethics behind a product. Two years ago, Rolex presented its GMT Master using our beloved…miscalled “Pepsi” with ceramic red blue bezel…. Thi watch it’s overpriced for no reason what’s so ever. Same goes for the “Batman” “Coke” or even “Root Beer” … Come on Rolex is a Swiss brand.

  6. If that blue bezel steel Sub Date gets released, I’m getting it. But it won’t cos you’re always wrong. Damn you and those beautiful photoshops.

  7. Mostly right or mostly wrong, I don’t care. You do a great job imagining what could be and a superb job bringing it to life in photoshop. I look forward to this article every year and this year’s effort was worth the wait.

  8. Why do the official Rolex Service Center in Makati, Manila, Philippines refuse to service the Rolex Explorer II? Don Black

  9. In my opinion, as a designer… The models that need attention are the sky-dweller and explorer ll

  10. Great entertainment these articles but I always laugh when Rolex reveal the new models and no one is remotely close. That Milgauss looks a cheap copy from the country the watch industry seems to pander to.

  11. A few years back I decided I would like a Rolex, the only one I liked was the millgaus. Your version also looks great but I would buy the explorer polar white.
    I’m with your founding father on this one I’d definitely buy it in a heartbeat

  12. I love the completely random comments here.

    Anyway. Thanks for the fun predictions. Great mock-up skills. The fun of predicting Rolex is that, as mentioned, they are supremely Swiss. For those of you non-Swiss who have lived or traveled there, this will make sense.

  13. I say Rolex is going full retro this decade.
    They have resisted the trend long enough.
    New mechanicals with retro designs is the winning combo.

  14. What Baselworld? The 126610LB would knock it out of the park. I’ve been wanting a blue bezel sub for 8 years. It would be dubbed “The Shark”

  15. Your render of the 116503 is showing a ceramic bezel with rose gold colored indices from a 116515 instead of the correct matching yellow gold indices from the 116518……

  16. Explorer in polar white must be made, I will it so and would buy it immediately. Jokes aside I’m glad this was included again in the predictions, as it should be on the list forever or until it is made. As Rolex is departing from Baselworld the title will have to change to “Watches & Wonders Geneva Predictions”.

  17. I think many of these predictions cam happen except the YM in SS. I don’t see a reason for Rolex to do this. I think this way is meant to compete with the AP and PP at similar price points and by introducing it in SS it will no longer be in the same category as those 2 brands. A SS YM would likely be priced in the range of $15,000 – a category that Rolex has enough watches in. If Rolex wanted to sell more in this range, then would just produce more Subs and GMT but they want (I think) to be competing in the luxury sports category with the other big players.

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