If Rolex is good at one thing, it’s making incremental improvements to its existing collections. Watches that have been in the catalog for decades — you all know them. It’s also exactly this strategy that sometimes earns Rolex negative feedback from the watch community. With the introduction of the new Rolex Perpetual 1908, the brand shows that it can do something new.

Rolex Perpetual 1908

Perpetual 1908

This new Rolex model is a homage to the year when founder Hans Wilsdorf started to use “Rolex” as the brand name on his watches. The 39mm Perpetual 1908 is a dressier watch that shows some similarities with the famous Rolex Cellini collection. It’s an elegant-looking piece with a height of just 9.5mm, and it is only available in precious metals.

Rolex Perpetual 1908

The bezel on the Perpetual 1908 is partly domed and partly fluted. And did you see the hour hand on these watches? Instead of the “Mercedes” logo, it is now a plain circle, which gives it a distinctive look.

Rolex Perpetual 1908

See-through case back

Rolex is on a roll with its see-through case backs. Not only did the Daytona receive one, but so did the Perpetual 1908, which allows its owner to admire its 7140 movement. Caliber 7140 is a new Rolex movement that has all of the brand’s watchmaking technology on board. Chronergy escapement, Syloxi hairspring, and Paraflex shock absorbers? Check, check, and check. Unlike the hidden caliber 3xxx series that Rolex uses, this new caliber 7140 has wonderful decoration. This includes beautiful Côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges and a skeletonized 18K gold rotor to make you smile.

The Syloxi hairspring has a patented geometry, which ensures that it performs equally well in any position. It is made of silicon, of course, and fully developed and produced in-house. Rolex does not disappoint when it comes to movement development in recent times. Last but not least, the Rolex caliber 7140 has a power reserve of 66 hours.

Rolex Perpetual 1908

Four versions of the Perpetual 1908

There are two Rolex Perpetual 1908 watches in 18K yellow gold, and two in 18K white gold. Of each version, there is a watch with a black or white dial. All four references come with an alligator strap with a matte finish and a double-folding clasp in the corresponding gold material.

The white-dial models come with a brown alligator strap, and the black-dial versions with a black alligator strap. Although you should avoid water with an alligator strap, the watch does have a water resistance rating of 50 meters.

Impressive dials

The yellow gold models have the same reference 52508, despite the dial variation. The white gold models have reference 52509. All dials have beautiful gold numerals and hour markers. At 6 o’clock, there’s the sub-dial for the small seconds, and above it, you’ll find the words “Superlative Chronometer” written. Both the minute track and seconds track give the watch a vintage vibe.

Initial thoughts on the Perpetual 1908

Now, this is a watch that I did not see coming from Rolex. I’ve enjoyed looking at the Cellini models but have never really warmed up to them myself. The Perpetual 1908 looks different and is a bit more toned down, making it a perfect candidate for a Rolex dress watch.

The Rolex Perpetual 1908 is a pretty nice dress piece at first glance. Some might feel that 39mm is a bit too large for a dress watch, but it looks sleek and has a relatively thin case, and I guess it’s something you need to try first. If possible, that is. The yellow gold versions (ref. 52508) have a retail price of CHF 21,000, while the white gold versions (ref. 52509) have a price tag of CHF 22,200. For a gold Rolex with a gold folding clasp, that doesn’t sound like it is overpriced.

Watch specifications

Perpetual 1908
52508 (yellow gold) / 52509 (white gold)
Black / white with applied Arabic numerals and stick markers
Case Material
Yellow gold (52508) / White gold (52509)
Case Dimensions
39mm (diameter) × 9.5mm (thickness) × 20mm (lug spacing)
Case Back
Rolex 7140 — self-winding movement, chronometer-certified, 38 jewels, 28,800vph (4Hz) frequency, 66-hour power reserve
Water Resistance
5ATM (50m)
Alligator strap (20mm) with a matte finish and double-folding clasp in gold
Time only (hours, minutes, small seconds)
CHF 21,000 (ref. 52508) / CHF22,200 (ref. 52509)
International warranty of five years