Watches & Wonders 2023 will be dominated by two luxury watch brands: Rolex and Patek Philippe. While many other watchmakers will be present, the two Geneva-based powerhouses will command more attention from journalists and watch collectors than all of the other brands combined. In this episode, Tim forecasts the 2023 Rolex Cellini and 2023 Patek Philippe watches likely to debut at Watches and Wonders.
This year, Rolex celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Submariner dive watch and the 60th anniversary of the Daytona chronograph. But the fate of the Rolex Milgauss, the 90th anniversary of the Oyster Perpetual, and the relaunch of the Rolex Cellini dress watch collection loom in the background. The longtime struggles - failure, even - of the Cellini line has been a rare sign of weakness from the Rolex marketing juggernaut. Despite competent watches and reasonably attractive designs, the Cellini watches consistently fail to match the appeal and market success of Rolex's many sports watches.
For 2023, Tim would love to see Rolex relaunch the Cellini watch collection with an all-new focus. Rolex should give serious consideration to branding precious metal versions of its sports watches as "Cellini." In other words, gold versions of the Daytona, Submariner, and GMT-Master II would be offered with Cellin sub-branding and high-luxury features such as alligator leather straps, deployant clasps, quick-release lugs, and possibly different case shapes better tailored to refined attire and company.
Moreover, Rolex should give consideration to a Cellini collection that embraces unprecedented or long-discontinued features such as titanium and steel cases, displays casebacks, complicated movements, and artisanal crafts. Rolex could revive the vintage calendar chronograph "Datocompax"Jean-Claude Killy as a Cellini model. The legendary Rolex 4113 split seconds chronograph could return as a Cellini. And Rolex could take a page from Les Artisans de Geneve to feature watches with enameled dials, engraved and skeletonized movements, and significantly higher price points to support these luxury upgrades.
Patek Philippe enters Watches & Wonders 2023 with an aging Aquanaut sports watch collection. The core 5167A launched in 2007, and the Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A launched in 2011. With the Nautilus collection limited by low production of the white gold 5811/1G, the Aquanaut model line needs to carry Patek Philippe until a stainless steel 5811/1A arrives. This would require, at a bare minimum, a redesign of the basic Aquanaut automatic and the travel time model. The Nautilus, on the other hand, likely is a few models years away from offering a steel "jumbo," but a rose gold, yellow gold, or mixed-metal Nautilus 5811 could arrive this year.
Elsewhere in the Patek Phiilippe catalog, the 5270 perpetual calendar chronograph and Calatrava 5227 are aging; the former launched in 2011, and the latter in 2013. Patek Philippe's perpetual calendar chronograph is a legendary series dating back to 1941's reference 1518. Many of the brand's most valuable and collectible models hail from this line. Today's 41mm 5270 has been iterated many times, and it is one of the oldest references in the collection. A new generation of Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph likely will be smaller than the 5270, and it might follow the template set by 2022's 5373P; gradient dial, 38.3mm case, and channeled case flanks to add visual refinement.
The Calatrava 5227 remains appealing, but its decade on the market means a redesign can't be far off. Patek Philippe redesigned the manual-wind hobnail bezel Calatrava 5119 with 2021's 6119, so 2023 may witness the automatic winding 5227 retired to make room for a successor.
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