Thursday, April 15, 2021

Hideki Matsuyama: First Japanese to Win The Masters




Hideki Matsuyama is the pride of the Land of the Rising Sun as he is the first Japanese man to win a major golf tournament. 

Hideki's journey that led to victory last Sunday started a decade ago with his first appearance at the Masters in 2011 after an earthquake struck his home in Sendai, Japan. He recalled walking off the 18th hole when veteran pro golfer Steve Stricker complimented his game. 

 "That's a memory I'll cherish," he said. "Because of that round, it gave me the confidence that I could play here. I could play professional golf as a career."

Since that day he has celebrated numerous victories on the PGA Tour and Japan Golf Tour. By tying for second at the 2017 U.S. Open, he moved to No. 2 in the world rankings, the highest place achieved by a male Japanese golfer, making history with a Rolex on his wrist.

Hideki, 29, is seen wearing his trusty Rolex Submariner two-tone with blue bezel. He is sitting next to the 2020 winner of the Masters, Dustin Johnson (Hublot on his wrist). I can't tell if Hideki has upgraded to the new Submariner reference 126613, shown below, which is 41mm, but I have a feeling he is wearing the Submariner that has accompanied him throughout his career victories.

We often take for granted that it's a Rolex-wearing player who wins the Masters, the likes of Woods and Spieth winning in recent years or "The Big Three": Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer. 

But Dustin Johnson won the Masters wearing a Hublot in 2020, as did Patrick Reed in 2018. And an Omega-wielding Sergio Garcia won in 2017, while Audemars Piguet was on Danny Willett's wrist in 2016. But thanks to Hideki, Rolex is back on top—and worn with a green jacket.

Before Hideki's win, Tiger Woods was the most recent winner of the Masters wearing a Rolex. He won in 2019.

When Tiger Woods won in 2019, it was his 81st Career PGA Tour Win (2nd Most of All-time). Woods had broken the record for most year between Masters' wins at 14 years in-between!

Tiger wore his Rolex DEEPSEA SEA-DWELLER D-Blue after he won the Masters Tournament in 2019, as we see on his wrist in the videos above. 

The D-Blue SEA-DWELLER features an unusual horizontal gradient to faces from blue above to black below, and it also has the DEEPSEA dial designation in a large green font. It is kind of profound if you think about it that the only two brands that didn't abandon Tiger after the challenges he went through years ago were Rolex and Nike.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

WatchAdvisor: Hands-on with the Two-tone Explorer



First Hands-on 4K Video


Austrian watch enthusiast Alexander Linz, who co-founded the Youtube channel WatchAdvisor, drove from his home in Vienna and made the more than 1000-km journey around and across the mountains to Switzerland.  

He is the first in the world to bring a hands-on video straight from Rolex headquarters of the new two-tone Explorer, and he brings it in 4K quality. He told me he will soon be posting more Rolex content on his channel from the afternoon he spent at headquarters.  

I was impressed by the video—and the watch (check out my article here). The two-tone seems more subtle in the metal than I expected, at least under that lighting. See for yourself.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Pepsi GMT-Master Ceramic Bezel Insert


...Rolex Macro Shot of the Day...

Pepsi GMT-Master

Ceramic Bezel Insert

The level of detail, quality and sophistication in Rolex watches is truly amazing as we see with this close-up shot...

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Watches and Wonders: New Datejust 36mm Palm Motif Dial


If you ask me what among Rolex's new releases will emerge to be the hot piece of 2021, the way the turquoise-dialed Oyster Perpetual drove the market crazy last year, I'd say the 36mm Datejust with the palm motif dial. 

While most of the press watch world wonders every year how Rolex will update its sports line—especially what is discontinued—I enjoy watching the brand display expertise in other areas of watchmaking, such as dial-making or gem setting. (In my opinion, Rolex's mastery in gem setting is unparalleled.)

Rolex is finding ways to use reflection—or "play of light," as one Rolex rep told me—to make a watch look naturally more lustrous. The latest Explorer's case has been redesigned, for example, to make better use of reflection in order to highlight the case profile.

While some demure the lack of anti-reflective coating on crystals in Rolex watches, I like how light bounces off the crystal and makes the dial gleam. I can sometimes spot a Rolex watch wearer in a store or restaurant by the small flashes of glint from the watch's face. 

The laser-etched palm motif dial on the 36mm Datejust released this year is the latest example of Rolex playing with light to enhance a watch's appeal.

The 36mm size has always been a key size at Rolex. I joke that 36mm Datejust is Latin for "timeless." Rolex watch expert and collector Eric Ku calls it the golden size—and a reason why Rolex has never stopped making the 36mm Day-Date. "Any [size] that they do subsequent to that is to capture another piece of demographics," he said. Besides, a 36mm Datejust can still be pulled off by most men and women both.

A Rolex rep told me that the green of the palm motif dial is darker in real life than in the digital presentation, making the watch more masculine. A Youtuber with close to 20,000 subscribers, who comments almost daily about all things Rolex, said the palm motif dial appeals to his tree-hugger side. 

In my opinion, this year's releases showcase Rolex's expertise in dial making in two extremes: a dial that is inspired from deep within Earth's ground—a palm tree; and a dial from outer space, the new Daytona's meteorite dial. The very trendy green color, combined with the timeless and universal 36mm size of a classic Datejust, the reflection from its dial pattern, all are making this watch the sleeper hit watch of 2021.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Watches and Wonders: New Explorer 36mm




Explorer Returns to 36mm Size


To me the biggest surprise of this year's Rolex announcement is the Explorer's return to 36mm. A reduction in size of three millimeters in such an iconic model is not something I would have expected from Rolex, especially not less than a year after it had made both the Submariner and Oyster Perpetual larger.

What made the announcement even more stunning to me is that you rarely see Rolex create a design change to only walk it back a few years later. But this is Rolex saying fashion trends can change fast, and we are not shackled by past decisions.

What we learned also from the Rolex announcement this week—or were reminded rather—is that Rolex is the Michael Jordan of two-tone. After all, it invented two-tone, a signature feature of the brand since 1933, and it's often said that Rolex's number-one selling watch in the world is a two-tone Ladies Datejust.

What is different today is that more and more sports watches are getting the bi-metal treatment—to Rolex purists' chagrin—watches that have long been a staple of their Professional collection. While we take for granted the brand's full-gold Submariner, GMT or Daytona, I could almost feel a collective gasp from the watch community at Baselworld 2019, as if feeling betrayed, when the brand unveiled the two-tone Sea-Dweller. Et tu, Rolexus?

Jose Pereztroika, who has done amazing horological forensic research both for these pages and his blog, Perezcope, pointed out to me after the 45-minute Webex conference with Rolex that we actually have historical precedence: A two-tone Explorer can be traced back to the brand's two-tone Bubbleback.

All watches have their origin story and Rolex’s can be traced back to the so-called Bubbleback. It wasn’t Rolex's first timepiece, but it was quite probably their first breakthrough best-seller, a cornerstone of sorts in the quest to associate the Rolex brand with terms such as reliability, toughness, precision. The Oyster Perpetual is an evolution to the Bubbleback. And of course, the Explorer is an homage to the Oyster Perpetual worn during the numerous Himalayan expeditions and the conquest of Mount Everest.

But for me, the return to the 36mm size, the same size as the original Explorer of 1953, is checking two boxes for Rolex: 

1) Adding a vintage flair to a modern watch, a strategy other brands have long adopted. (Keen eyes will notice the move of the "EXPLORER" text from 6 to 12 o'clock, like in vintage Explorers.)

2) Creating a watch that can be worn both by men and women. (A Rolex rep told me that when it comes to fashion in watches "there is no gender anymore" though she could envision women being drawn to the two-tone Explorer while some men might favor the Explorer II.)

Finally, the last thing that struck me during the Explorer's announcement is that Rolex continues to make improvement because, well, it is Rolex even though no one asked for them. No one complained about the Chromalight, yet Rolex decided to improve it with this generation of the Explorer and going forward with new models. The new Chromalight makes the blue intensity last longer at night, while during the day the markers and hands will show a brighter white hue. 

A two-tone Explorer at 36mm is so unique in the Rolex line-up that for me it is a watch I will be looking for when it hits the stores as early as April in the U.S. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

New Daytona with Meteorite Dial




New Daytona With Meteorite Dial


"It's really a pity you have just the digital presentation this year," a Rolex rep in Geneva told me via Webex on the first day of Watches and Wonders. "When you have a chance to see the watch in real, the dial is amazing." 

My love as a pilot for the Cosmograph Daytona has been quite chronicled on Jake's Rolex World, including here, here, here, and here

When you take a watch that is the ultimate watch for those with a passion for driving and speed and put in a dial that is made entirely from an asteroid that exploded millions of years ago, how can the pulse of a pilot not quicken? Is there a faster watch out there?

This latest release demonstrates once again Rolex's expertise in developing and manufacturing dials. This is not the first time Rolex offers a meteorite dial on the Cosmograph Daytona. The picture of the 2008 Rolex Daytona 116509, below, comes courtesy of Amsterdam Vintage Watches. However, it is the first time the meteoric dial is offered with a ceramic-bezeled Daytona.

The meteorite metal is not just a layer on the dial, the entire dial is made out of meteorite. It will be available for precious metal versions of the Daytona (18 ct yellow, white and Everose gold).

So let's recap, shall we? The most reputable watch brand in the world just took the rarest sports reference and, after casing it in a precious metal, added a dial that—oh, I don't know—took millions of years to create a unique crystallization pattern that is impossible to re-create on Earth. 

If you want something très rare and très fast, mon ami, but also extremely good looking, then this Daytona will be your pick of Watches and Wonders 2021!