ANOTHER NEW TIMEPIECE- Rolex Oyster Perpetual 114300-39mm white dial-discontinued model

This was a watch that I’ve had my eye on ever since Stephen Pulvirent raved about it on Hodinkee since its release in 2018 (remember those good old days). I suspect he probably considers it his one watch for life and the one he wears the most often currently.

He equated its simplicity with beauty, and then watching Gary Shteyngart rave about it on their feature Talking Watches made me extremely curious as to what the fuss about this timepiece was about. Rolex’s 2018 Oyster Perpetual lineup before the white and black 114300 consisted of different coloured dials and lumed hour markers at only 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. The new black and white 2018 releases added lumed hour markers at the remaining eight missing slots except for the Rolex crown at 12 o’clock. I think that the two aforementioned fell in love with the white silvery dial, the simplicity and the completion of the hour markers which the previous coloured dials were definitely missing.

I had never put my name down on the list at an AD for this watch even though I wanted it because I thought it wasn’t as desired as the other Rolex steel sports models and would not be as difficult to obtain, so no real rush. I couldn’t have been more wrong because as of Sept 1, 2020, of course, Rolex discontinued all 39mm OP models and introduced the multi-coloured 41mm models with the new 3230 70 hr movement. Had they introduced the new OP 41 with a white dial, I would not have felt such a sense of urgency since I could have a chance to obtain a white 41. But then I pondered about whether I really wanted to wear a larger 41 mm OP and even though I had never tried an OP 41 on the wrist, I decided that I would prefer to wear a 39mm OP and specifically the white dial.

Thus, since the white OP 39 was no longer produced by Rolex and would no longer be delivering to any more ADs, I had to resort to buying my first watch from the secondary market (and these days no one is obtaining anything from Rolex ADs anyways). Luckily, I knew a reputable dealer and he managed to obtain a like new white OP 114300. Of course I paid over list but this watch has become highly sought after now that it has been discontinued.

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is not only one of Rolex’s simplest models, a time-only watch, but it is also one of their oldest models. And while the current hype is centered mostly on Rolex’s stainless steel sports models, I would argue that because the OP is one of their oldest models, they should have perfected it over the century and they most certainly did hit the nail on the head with this model. Furthermore, I will extrapolate to say that it is bound to remain one of their most enduring models.

Upon first glance, the watch itself is unremarkable and unnoticeable as the case and bezel are pretty standard and not designed to impress with lustre or contour. However what clearly defines the watch is the stunning white dial which is not quite white. It is an undefined white, mostly white but with silver tinges and ivory lustre. Not quite beige, not fully white either. It is quite a captivating and enigmatic dial and indescribable but one has to see it to understand. The stainless steel case is mirror polished but not to the extent of their more flashy professional models and the bracelet and clasp are satin finished, i.e: it is not an overwhelming watch. But I love that quality about it. Its beauty like Stephen Pulvirent alluded to, is in its bare and raw simplicity. The dial is concentrically symmetrical. There are really only two colours on the dial, white gold and that white which is not so white. Its true meaning and beauty is discovered by staring at that gravitating dial which sucks you into its vortex and this is understated elegance at its best.

The indescribable white “gleams and is gone” dial reminds me greatly of Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach, the cliffs of which are also an indescribable white:

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the (OP) light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.

Because my wrists aren’t large, I find the watch wears considerably more comfortable than any Rolex super case. The 3-9 o’clock dimension without crown guards is much thinner than a maxi case and much less bulkier and more balanced laterally. The lugs are also much more tapered and the bezel wears much flatter than the Rolex ceramic bezel. The case and dimensions make it wear very similar to the Explorer 1 and Daytona which I also hope to acquire one day. It wears similar to vintage Rolexes and dare I say somewhat similar but not quite as comfortable as the Aquanaut. The lack of the Rolex easy link is not a problem for me at all because I added another link to the 12 o’clock side and moved the clasp hinge of which there are three, to its tightest position and I actually find it more comfortable than any Rolex that comes with an easy link.

Like the Tudor Black Bay 58, this is not a watch that Rolex wannabees initially have in mind as their first or only Rolex. It is a watch for collectors who have come full circle and have owned all other Rolexes and have come to appreciate the simplicity of the little old underdog Oyster Perpetual. But having owned most hyped Rolex models with the beefed up maxi case, I advise Rolex wannabees to buy this one instead and skip the other glamorous ones. For one, it is much cheaper and probably more attainable with smaller waiting lists. However, in the current market the lowly OP has noticeably increased in value and desirability so at last, the OP may be joining the ranks of the mighty Sub and GMT.

Stephen Pulvirent and Gary Shteyngart, you both had foresight to predict the greatness of this timepiece and have propelled the Oyster Perpetual into one of Rolex’s desirable category. I think it wears too well to be so underrated. But I have seen all the other OP 39 mm models and I much prefer the white. Of course I haven’t seen the new colours, but I presume that the 39mm will still wear better and will be better proportioned.

This watch taught me or reminded me that beauty is in macroscopic simplicity and not complexity. The complexity is what is necessary to form the macroscopic beauty but it is not what constitutes our perception of beauty. And we humans have evolved to love and appreciate macroscopic beauty. When we gaze upon the white cliffs of Dover or the blue sky above it, we are mesmerized by the whole beauty and the macroscopic view with our eyes seeing farsighted, not the microscopic complexity of the molecules and interactions with light. Our eyes prefer to accommodate to far away objects and vast visual perceptions rather than reading stupid blog writings like this one, up close. Our eyes strain to read small two dimensional words. The same goes for this watch. We are awed by the collective simplistic white of the dial which is ironically a complex reflection of wavelengths of all the colours of light. It is this macroscopic white that Rolex got completely right and by right I mean, well, beautiful.

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