Hands-on

The New Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 Ref. 114300 with a White Dial

A good alternative to our long-desired "Polar Explorer 1"

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Brice Goulard | ic_query_builder_black_24px 4 min read |
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ref 114300 White Dial - Baselworld 2018

When it was launched at Baselworld 2015, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ref. 114300 was widely greeted as a winner. Its winning recipe was the combination of a simple, clean, perfectly proportioned Rolex watch, manufactured according to the crown’s high-standards, with a twist in the form of four coloured dials and, best of all, an accessible price. Although there were no further developments for three years, the Oyster Perpetual 39 made a very discreet comeback at Baselworld 2018 with the introduction of two new models with black or white dials – and in a way, the latter could be an alternative to our long-desired “Polar Explorer” (see our Rolex 2018 predictions here), so let’s zoom in on this one today.  

In the introductory article we wrote three years ago, we, at MONOCHROME, said this about the OP 39 (the unofficial name for the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 Ref. 114300): “a perfect daily-beater for those seeking a quality, robust and discreet watch. As the diameter and thickness are reasonable, it feels comfortable and it looks good in every situation. It is the definition of a casual watch.” And after three years, our opinion hasn’t changed a bit. With its time-only display, its clean design, its mix of elegant proportions and sporty/casual attire, it is one of the best options for a single-watch-collection. A true horological SUV, capable of handling most terrains.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ref 114300 White Dial - Baselworld 2018

Neither a true sports watch nor a proper dress watch, it is the very ambivalence of the OP 39 that makes it so versatile. Believe it or not, but most watch buyers need only one watch in their lives. This means that they need a watch that will look appropriate with a suit, a pair of sneakers or swimming trunks. And if you think about it, it is not an easy thing to find. Yet, the OP 39, with its modern proportions, its clean dial, its robust but discreet case/bracelet and its no-nonsense display does the job – perfectly actually.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ref 114300 White Dial - Baselworld 2018

In 2015, Rolex relaunched the Oyster Perpetual collection – which has always been the entry-level watch for the brand – with four different sizes: two ladies’ versions in 26mm and 31mm, a unisex option at 34mm (the historical diameter for the OP) and a masculine, yet still balanced 39mm variant – the one you can see here and the one that we, at MONOCHROME, recommend for daily use. Three different dials were offered at that time: Dark Rhodium with light blue accents, Red Grape with red accents and Blue with light green accents. This year, we have two new, monochromatic and rather classical editions showing up: one in black, one in white – and the latter was clearly the most attractive of the two.

The dial of this new version is, on the contrary of the four other available editions, matte and slightly textured – the others have a brushed dial with a sunray pattern. Here, it’s all about simplicity and restraint. On this white dial, we have the usual Rolex suspects: baton hands filled with Rolex blue “Chromalight” luminous paint, applied baton indices for the hours (also luminous) and a black minute track and 5-minute markers. And even if this Oyster Perpetual 39 Ref. 114300 is the brand’s entry-level watch, the hands and indices are crafted in 18k white gold and made with the exact same attention to detail as a 30K full gold Day-Date.

The case and the bracelet have not been altered and stick to the pure Rolex design: a rather squarish case with brushed flat surfaces and polished sides, relatively thin case bands, a domed polished bezel, a 3-link Oyster bracelet with brushed flat surfaces (and no polished centre link). All in all, a watch that is solid, water-resistant, robust enough for sporty gentlemen, yet perfectly proportioned for office use.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ref 114300 White Dial - Baselworld 2018

Nothing has changed inside the case either. Rolex maintains the previous generation of movement and has not updated the model with the 32xx series – which in fact isn’t a bad thing since no one has ever complained about calibre 3132 powering this watch. As solid as a rock, it features several modern parts, such as the anti-magnetic blue “Parachrom” hairspring. As a Superlative Chronometer – meaning that the movement is certified by the COSC first and then tested and certified a second time, internally, after casing the movement – it is extremely precise. This means a -2/+2 second per day accuracy and a 5-year warranty.

With this new white dial and its matte finishing, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ref. 114300 gains a slightly more “Professional” look. This doesn’t mean it can’t be elegant either, but it gets closer to the rest of the Oyster collection and is a good substitute  – in our hearts and fantasies – for the non-existing white-dial Explorer 1 (with which it shares case and movement). Certainly not the main novelty of the year for Rolex, but still an interesting watch that has to be considered. Price: EUR 5,200 for both the white and the black dial versions. More details on rolex.com.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ref 114300 Black Dial
The Black Dial edition of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ref. 114300, also new to the collection

7 responses

  1. Nice entry level for a serious watch aficionado. Simple, elegant. and classy but has to be the one with the polar dial..

  2. Perpetual without a date, chrono without a chrono, this watch is a combination of keywords that impress those who don’t really know, by those who don’t really know. Rolex is a marketing machine, not a watch maker. This is a brand that stamps out a million watches a year, and these barely get looked at by human eyes, much less assembled by hand. Yet they can be ridiculously expensive, “rare”, and somehow in spite of the top to bottom automation of there manufacture, high horology. This king has no clothes. I never liked the dial or the bezel, since it was knocked off so completely by Japan and China and good facsimilies could be found at Kmart and Walmarts.

  3. On this and other watch sites, this new Rolex is getting absolutely panned! I’m not sure why, unless the absence of 3 Arabic numerals and the too-small “Mercedes” hands has suddenly allowed some people to see the watches for what they always were. The previous OP models gained general approval; this model is suddenly a con, an insult etc. One person even asked the general assembly why anyone would even consider this watch when an Explorer I could be had for just a little more.
    Can someone please tell me exactly what they’ve been missing?
    We have all known exactly what Rolex is for a very long time; a fantastic marketing machine which has somehow managed to make a product which is available in every single moderately prosperous population centre on Earth appear simultaneously exclusive. A company which produces watches which are simultaneously boring and iconic. A company which uses materials and technology which are no better than the competition while simultaneously advertising their materials and technology as proof of their superiority to those who know no better.
    A company which produces watches which have been gussied-up and marked-up mendaciously for decades until they are practically unrecognisable from those which made their name despite looking almost exactly the same!
    This is what you buy into when you buy a Rolex, whether it is a no-date Sub, an Explorer I or a (shudder) Pearlmaster.
    In my opinion, the OP line is the nearest thing to an honest watch this company has produced for a very long time.

  4. Brice, a good article on the progression of the brand. Agree with most points, especially making an everyday or special watch for someone that only wants or can only afford that one special timepiece. One could do much, much worse in the marketplace. Can one do better? That’s up to the public to decide. THANKS

  5. Great read and well done fotos. Are the hands of modern Rolex watches made of gold as well or just the indices? Rolex officially only mention the indices made of gold. There is no mention of the hands specifically…

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