Review : Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 (black dial) – Is this the perfect all-rounder from Rolex?

I’ve owned my Rolex Submariner 114060 for some time, and as much as I love it, something isn’t quite right. It’s a fantastic watch but I’ve struggled with the maxi case and the large lugs that come with it (first world problems). As someone who loves all things ‘classic’ looking, this was an issue. I had purchased one of the most iconic watches in history, but I couldn’t get used to the proportions enough for it to be my everyday watch.

I was always put off by the Oyster Perpetual range due to the unappealing ‘Entry Level’ tag that it’s associated with, plus the fact that the original dial colours being Blue, Red Grape and Dark Rhodium (all with odd colour hour marker pips) were not ‘classic’ enough for my taste. This all changed at Baselworld 2018.

Rolex introduced both Black and White dial options to their Oyster Perpetual 39 range and kept the hour markers to a simple white on the black dial version and vice-versa for the white dial.

Even though I had my heart set on the white dial to compliment my Submariner, I decided to take a look at the black dial as I found it to be more of an all-rounder. The biggest selling point of this watch has to be the proportions. Rolex have NAILED it when it comes to the 39mm diameter, 48mm lug-to-lug and 11mm height of this watch.

Martins of Glasgow Watch Servicing and Repair

Next comes the simple, classic Rolex look. This is a brand new watch that looks as though it could’ve been made 50 years ago. Notice how I keep using the word ‘classic’ as opposed to ‘vintage’ – there’s no fake patina and it has a very classy presence on the wrist.

The 3132 calibre is a tried and tested movement that is backed up with a respectable 48-hour power reserve. Another nice touch is that the new black dial differentiates itself as it has a slight sunburst effect as opposed to the solid/glossy dials used in most other models.

This isn’t a loud flashy watch and for some people, it may be too simple in design, but it really does work on all occasions. I am a city worker who wears a suit every day – Tick.

Does this also work at the weekend in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt? Tick.

Could I even wear this on a beach? – Tick (unfortunately, Watchfinder will not buy it back for the RRP after my summer holidays). ((Editors note – Glad you are listening to the podcast! , Rick)

The watch is also waterproof to 100m so you won’t have any issues swimming either.

Whilst this falls into the Rolex Classic line of watches, it has a sporty feel to it (let’s not forget that the Oyster Perpetual was the original explorers watch). Perhaps not the dial or hands but the brushed Oyster bracelet with polished domed bezel really works.

No watch is truly perfect so what would I change about this watch? As comfortable as the bracelet is, the Oyster Perpetual range doesn’t come with the easy-link clasp adjustment as per the very similar 214270 Explorer. I can live with this as I dislike the 3,6,9 font and the flat bezel (this makes a huge difference in the flesh) used on the Explorer, but the option to replace the factory bracelet with the Explorer bracelet is possible (both watches share the same case and lug width of 20mm).

To summarise, I couldn’t be happier with this watch and it’s perfect for me. It’s rich in Rolex heritage, simple in design but executed incredibly well, a home run in terms of its proportions, classy and understated.

If anyone reading this is seriously considering this watch, I challenge you to view one and tell me you walked away from buying it. Entry-level? I don’t think so.

Joe Francescotti (instagram: @britalian_joe)