Even more than previous years, the early buzz surrounding Watches and Wonders 2023 novelties has been centered around a single brand – Rolex. While Rolex dominating the enthusiast conversation is nothing new, the Swiss giant’s offerings are more adventurous and diverse than we’ve come to expect from the famously conservative marque. There are plenty of the usual minor tweaks and line extensions that we see from the brand every year (this is still Rolex, after all), but interspersed with these incremental shifts are a handful of models that show off a more playful, vibrant side of the brand. The clear standout among these wilder visual experiments is the new “jigsaw puzzle dial” Rolex Day-Date 36, which combines a rainbow of champlevé enamel dial colors with vibrant applied sapphire indices, complex gold inlays, and a funky, offbeat date wheel that replaces the traditional date numerals with a set of 31 unique emojis. Our team had the opportunity to take some time with the new Rolex Day-Date 36 “Jigsaw Dial” in white gold, and this design smartly mixes familiar Rolex elements with a youthful, funky character that isn’t typically associated with the Crown.
At 36mm-wide, the 18K white-gold case of the Rolex Day-Date 36 “Jigsaw Dial” is very much the same dressy take on the Oyster case design that enthusiasts are used to seeing. Everything from the trademark fluted bezel to the slab case sides and simple tapering lugs is pure traditional Rolex. In white gold, however, this ultra-familiar form takes on a brightness and charismatic heft that instantly sets it apart from a stainless steel Rolex case at the same size. Of course, this is still a far stealthier option than the available yellow gold or Everose models, but that may be the only element of this watch that can rightly be called “subtle.” Like the rest of the Day-Date series, Rolex rates this watch for a solid 100 meters of water resistance.
Of course, the real centerpiece of this new Rolex Day-Date 36 is its dial. While the case is standard Rolex fare, there’s no mistaking this dial display for any other Day-Date, even across a room. The base dial color is a bright turquoise blue enamel, complemented by a vibrant and cheerful puzzle-piece motif with segments in orange, yellow, green, purple, and a surprisingly muted red. In between each of these puzzle piece segments is a narrow white gold inlay, which catches the light dramatically at varying angles and acts to emphasize the raised, glossy texture of the surrounding enamel. It’s not a layout that immediately speaks to visual depth, but with a closer look, there is a subtle sense of verticality at play here. The baguette-cut sapphire hour markers add even more brightness and color to the layout here, while the faceted baton handset keeps the classic Day-Date look instantly recognizable on the wrist.
Even more than the rainbow-hued dial, however, the day and date displays are what truly take this model out of the brand’s staid, traditional comfort zone. For the 12 o’clock day display, Rolex abandons the days of the week in favor of an array of seven positive, uplifting words printed in various colors, including “Happy,” Eternity,” “Gratitude,” Peace,” “Faith,” “Love,” and “Hope.” The 3 o’clock date window is even wilder, replacing each day of the month with a corresponding emoji. This is truly out of the traditional Rolex comfort zone, especially considering the mixed enthusiast reaction when far more adventurous Richard Mille created an emoji-themed design in 2022. With that said, if you can look past the need to learn each corresponding word and emoji for each day and date, this is as bold and as playful a statement piece as we’re likely to see from Rolex for quite some time. Enjoying this piece is all about detaching oneself from the pomp and circumstance surrounding a brand like Rolex — it doesn’t all have to be deadly serious tool-watch horology here, and in the words of Gene Wilder, “a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”
Rolex powers the Day-Date 36 “Jigsaw Dial” with its in-house 3255 automatic movement. This powerplant conforms to the brand’s stringent Superlative Chronometer standard for accuracy, while also offering a hefty 72-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. The 3255 is chock full of modern innovations as well, including a blue Parachrom hairspring, the Paraflex shock absorption system, and the brand’s super-efficient Chronergy escapement design. Naturally, no flashy Day-Date design is complete without a matching three-link President bracelet, and Rolex obliges here with its familiar bright, half-rounded links and hidden clasp design.
Amid an ocean of buzz for the brand’s Watches and Wonders 2023 novelties, the new Rolex Day-Date 36 “Jigsaw Dial” in white gold stands out as one of the brightest and most significant departures for the generally hyper-conservative Swiss brand. The new Rolex Day-Date 36 “Jigsaw Dial” also stands as potentially the brand’s most enigmatic release of the show, as an off-catalog model without a confirmed reference number to its name. Likewise, the brand was unable to provide pricing information as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.