After exploring the sensible lightness of titanium in dive watches with the Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium, Rolex does the unexpected and presents the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea 136668LB in 18k yellow gold. It is unexpected for a number of reasons, so let’s dig right in.

First, Rolex watches, especially those from recent years, have positively drifted from the showy approach the brand, and the larger watch industry, presented in the ’90s and ’00s, and refocused on inherent functionality and conceptual integrity. Yes, all that happened well within the realms of poseur luxury products, so do take that statement with a pinch of salt — but it was a positive and tasteful development, nevertheless. We started seeing new watches in RLX Titanium, or when in gold, they were fitted with comfy and durable Oysterflex elastomer straps, and we discovered impressive advancements in movement technologies and durability, too. It felt like Rolex was on its track back to its roots, which would be beautifully made, functional, robust tool watches — albeit without removing the thick veneer of luxury it has put on over the last seven decades.

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The new-for-2024 Rolex Deepsea in yellow is unexpected because it flies in the face of that approach by being a 3,900m (12,800ft), 44mm wide dive watch wrapped in 18k yellow gold, with an absolutely massive 18k yellow gold bracelet attached to it. For those who are yet to wear a solid gold watch on a gold bracelet: These things are shockingly heavy. Ridiculously so. Uselessly so  That’s a utilitarian approach, and there is a more subjective one: Taste. A simple description, I’m sure, would suffice, but looking at the new 136668LB will convince you that this well and truly is what Stallone would have worn in 2004 — but, thankfully, we are in 2024, not 2004, and watch collectors seem to have changed their reference point since then.

Meeting Rolex during our presence here at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2024 we learned that the Yacht-Master II — the entire collection — has been discontinued from 2024. It goes without saying that there still is a strong market for large gold watches, and this highly unlikely configuration would be it for Rolex. Yes, the Submariner has been around for over 50 years in gold, but it has always been a lot narrower and thinner than the Deepsea, making it that much more wearable.

In other news, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea is called just that, gone is the Sea-Dweller designation. The inner Ringlock high-performance compression ring system is now crafted from Cerachrom ceramic — it is basically that flange ring that frames the dial and lies under the crystal. As such, it perfectly matches the blue Cerachrom bezel, which is reserved exclusively for gold and two-tone Rolesor watches, it’s never on an Oystersteel piece.

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The massive Oyster bracelet in 18k yellow gold also relies on ceramic, ceramic inserts to be specific, which isn’t new from Rolex — it debuted in 2015 on the Day-Date — and makes the bracelet that much more supple and yet resistant to stretching. The bracelet is equipped with the Oysterlock safety clasp which, in turn, features a Rolex Glidelock tool-free 20mm extension system crafted from solid 18k gold — probably the coolest, most covetable component of the new Rolex Deepsea in yellow gold.

The movement that enjoys the 3,900m (12,800ft) water resistance is The Rolex Caliber 3235 which will be familiar to those with a date-equipped, larger Rolex watch. It runs at 4Hz over the course of its 70-hour power reserve and is equipped with the highly efficient Chronergy escapement, Parachrom hairspring, and Paraflex shock absorbers. The caseback is in RLX Titanium, which is not something one would expect to see paired with 18k yellow gold from Rolex’s own gold foundry.

A bonkers watch front to back, the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea 136668LB in 18k yellow gold is priced at CHF 49,900 Swiss francs. You can learn more at the brand’s website.

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