The Rolex Pearlmaster is the jewel in the watchmaker’s crown, at least in terms of gem-setting and the realm of horology where watchmaking and haute-jewellery collide. Using the foundation of the Datejust, Rolex has built a series of watches that showcase the brand’s legendary gem-setting and offers some of the most precious set pieces in Rolex’s history. In 2015 the Pearlmaster spread its shimmering wings and ventured out from its default position as a ladies proposition, with the Pearlmaster 39. Like the Day-Date, Datejust and Oyster Perpetual lines that had been beefed-up for the noughtie’s desire for bigger case sizes, the Pearlmaster was supersized. Whilst meeting the needs of ladies who liked it bigger, it also catapulted the range into the realms of possibility as a choice for men. And if the success of the Rainbow Daytonas and other limited-release gem-set sports watches has taught us anything, it’s that the gentlemen of style and substance love nothing more than an opportunity to wrist-peacock!
The Pearlmaster 39’s debut in 2015 was heralded by three variations in yellow and white gold; two in the former and one in the latter. I have written about the artistry involved in the manufacturing of the gradient colour bezels when focusing on Daytona. Rolex are considered the masters when it comes to creating the graduated coloured bezels, as seen on the Rainbow Daytona and also the first series of Pearlmaster 39. Each bezel requires a colossal amount of know-how and the selection of stones is painstaking with more stones being rejected than are accepted. To put this in to perspective, each bezel takes two weeks to produce! The maiden voyage collection of the Pearlmaster was thus:
Reference 86349 SAFUBL with Red Grape Dial (SAFUBL – Sapphires Fuschia Bleu)
Reference 86348 SABLV with Olive Green Dial (SABLV - Sapphires Bleu Vert)
Reference 86348 SAJOR with Cognac dial (SAJOR – Sapphires Jaune Orange)
The graduation between the colours on the bezels is stunning, flowing effortlessly and seamlessly between hues as easily as Puligny-Montrachet swirled around a glass. The dials are very specifically chosen to compliment the colours of the bezel. Note compliment – they’re not too matchy-matchy but bring out the best in the stones with an overall aesthetic that is stunning. These examples were short lived and whilst the Pearlmaster 39 is very much alive and kicking, these iterations disappeared quickly from the catalogue. Whilst this might not be unusual in gem-set pieces aimed at the lady market, with the Pearlmaster 39 I believe that the shortness of life that the launch collection experienced could make them a future collectible for gentlemen who like to flex their wrists with something a little more off-the-beaten-path than a steel sports.
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