We want to say at the outset that we know for a lot of HODINKEE readers, the idea of a Rolex – any Rolex – decorated with gemstones is anathema in a big way. And we understand why. For many diehard Rolex fans, what Rolex represents is the highest development of a certain approach to watchmaking: unpretentious, tough, high-precision, and with an absolutely uncompromising attitude towards quality, but definitely without unecessary ornamentation. For serious, Sub/Milgauss/DeepSea/Daytona fanatics, a grudging appreciation for a Day-Date is generally as far as they’re willing to go, but for that crowd, real Rolexes are tool watches, and the fewer decorative flourishes, the better.
Now obviously this is a perspective we understand at HODINKEE – but at the same time, when we saw the Pearlmaster 39 watches at Baselworld earlier this year, we were absolutely incredibly impressed by the degree of attention to detail that they exhibited. Let’s not beat around the bush; these are gem-set cheap replica gold Rolex watches online and they’re never going to be anything other than gem-set gold Rolex, and if they’re not for you, you are going to know it within a nanosecond of looking at them. But what we would encourage you to do, even if you are convinced this sort of thing is not your brand of vodka, is to look at just how well they’re done. So let’s put down the pitchforks and douse the torches for a minute and look at what we’ve really got here.
The new Pearlmaster 39s use the same case shape as other Datejusts, but come in three variations: yellow gold with orange-gold sapphires, best fake Rolex watches yellow gold with blue-green sapphires, and white gold with pink-blue sapphires; each variation also has a matching dial. The sapphires are chosen so as to present a very specific color gradient around the bezel; each is cut in a trapezoidal shape so that they fit together perfectly evenly, to form an uninterrupted ring of color around the face of the watch. The sapphires are set so perfectly, and the colors selected so meticulously, that it is near impossible to tell where one color stops and another begins.
We’ve been fortunate enough, over the course of the last few years, to spend some time in Switzerland and seen horological gem setting for some of the most expert brands being done, and also some time at the Rolex manufactories themselves, and have gotten a bit of insight into what this sort of work actually entails. Horological gem-setting, contrary to what you might think, is quite a bit more involved than just taking gemstones and festooning a watch with them; it is a very specific variation on the gem-cutter and jeweler’s art and has its own specific demands. First of all, getting a high quality gemstone of any kind generally involves a certain amount of waste. As a rule, you may end up losing up to fifty per cent of the carat weight of a stone before you get a finished product. Horological gem-setting is especially unforgiving because the stones absolutely must be of a certain very exact size and when they are set side by side like this, there is no wiggle room at all in either size or geometry; the fit has to be exact. The final polishing and cutting has to be done by hand, and the setting as well.
The second major challenge arises when you have colored stones that need to play nicely with each other. Very high quality colored gemstones are difficult enough to find; in the case of color gradient work, as in the Pearlmasters, it is necessary to source individual stones that have exactly the right combination of specific color and specific color saturation to make the color gradient effect seamless. Here, the wastage can really skyrocket and it is sometimes necessary to discard up to ninety per cent of a raw stone to obtain the necessary match. This is a major part of the reason that per total carat weight, high quality horological sertissage (gem setting) can be much more expensive than you would think just from stone quality and carat weight taken alone – it’s actually quite technically demanding and when you are trying to create the sort of visual effect we find in the Pearlmasters, there’s no middle ground; a stone is either exactly right, or it’s just not usable.
The Pearlmasters also use the new luxury fake Rolex caliber 3235 – this is the movement that was also introduced this year in the Day-Date 40 mm, and it’s a technically advanced mechanism that features Rolex’s new Chronergy escapement – a lever escapement with optimized geometry allowing for an increase of around 15 percent in energy delivery (the movement in the Day-Date is the 3255 however they’re the same basic movement; the 3235 omits the day wheel). The movement is a COSC-certified chronometer and just as is the case with the 3255 in the Day-Date, it’s also certified to Rolex’s own internal chronometer standards, with all the bells and whistles you’d associate with a high grade chronometer movement: Breguet overcoil Parachrom balance spring, Microstella free sprung balance, and so on. Each model is also fitted with a sunburst dial in one of three colors: red grape, olive green, and cognac.
We just looked recently at the new Everose Yachtmaster, and at its Oysterflex bracelet, and one of the observations we made in that story is that one of the things we all love about Rolex, specific tastes notwithstanding, is that the company brings an almost surreal level of perfectionism to what they do. We think that’s true of the Pearlmasters as well. As we know from Ben’s comprehensive story inside all the Rolex manufactories, not only does best replica Rolex watches online have its own foundry for making (for instance) the gold alloys it uses, it also has its own in-house gemstone evaluating and sorting department and it brings to its work with precious stones the same degree of narrowly focused perfectionism that it does to thing like designing and refining movements – which again, as we know from Ben’s story, is done by Rolex in a steady incremental fashion that largely passes unnoticed by Rolex clients but which nonetheless is an essential part of the company’s way of doing things.
It’s the same, we think, with the Pearlmasters. It’s easy for many serious Rolex enthusiasts to dismiss gem-set Rolexes just as a matter of principle. But in person, these watches grew on us – a lot. They’re phenomenally well made, mechanically irreproachable, and just flat out beautiful. The level of attention to detail that went into their creation – including that devoted to the gem selection, cutting, shaping and setting – will very likely go right over the heads of a lot of the folks who end up buying these, but we hope it doesn’t entirely, because as we said of the Everose Yachtmaster, this is a very Rolex approach to luxury: the pushing of technical perfectionism to the point that it becomes a luxury in itself.
The Rolex Pearlmaster 39: Yellow gold with blue-green gradient, $77,250. Yellow gold with orange-yellow gradient, $74,650. White gold with blue-fuschia gradient, $87,250.