The Rolex PRINCE is a model apart in the world of the brand.
The only rectangular watch made by Rolex, powered by a manually wound mechanical movement, this piece inspired by history is where watchmaking meets design.
A unique exercise in style, the Rolex PRINCE pays homage to a 1928 model, also called PRINCE.
Presented in 2005, the Rolex PRINCE revealed a little-known facet of the brand’s know-how and heritage.
Flagship model of the CELLINI collection, this particularly refined dress watch is distinguishable by its elongated rectangular case – atypical for Rolex – whose lines are inspired by art deco style.
The piece is offered exclusively in 18 ct yellow, white or EVEROSE gold cast by Rolex in its own foundry. EVEROSE is a pink gold alloy exclusive to the brand.
The dial features guilloche decor- ations and a special arrangement of the time display on two separate counters, one for the hours and the minutes, the other for the seconds.
The Rolex PRINCE’s manually wound mechanical movement, also rect- angular in shape, is a fine example of the traditional art of watchmaking.
Its bridges are entirely decorated and are visible through the transparent case back. The Rolex PRINCE’s design is radically different from that of the OYSTER collection models, whose characteristic cases conceal rather than reveal the movement.
A PRINCELY CHRONOMETER
The Rolex PRINCE is a contemporary reinterpretation of a model by the same name created by Rolex in 1928, which was the first wrist chronometer in the world produced in large numbers.
Everything about this watch was designed to systematically attain the precision of a chron- ometer – a designation reserved for high-precision watches officially tested according to strict criteria.
Starting with the rectangular design of the movement, which dictated the shape of the case. By arranging the watch’s organs longitudinally, Rolex watchmakers were able to use larger components for the essential functions, particularly the oscillator (balance wheel and hairspring), the true heart of the watch, and the mainspring, which supplies energy to the movement.
The size of the PRINCE’s balance wheel was comparable to that of a pocket watch, giving it greater inertia and greater oscillation regularity, which in turn improved precision.
This ingenious movement was patented by Rolex, as was the innovative placement of the hands on two juxtaposed dials, which also highlighted the model’s precision: the seconds hand, the most precise element of the watch, was displayed clearly and separately on the lower dial and never hidden by the other hands. It thus allowed the measurement of short time intervals, making the original PRINCE the ideal watch for the scientific and medical professions.
THE NEW ROLEX PRINCE: TECHNOLOGY AND AESTHETICS IDEALLY COMBINED
By reinterpreting the Rolex PRINCE, Rolex launched an extraordinary exercise in style ideally combining technology and aesthetic creation in the purest spirit of watchmaking tradition.
The development of this model is the collective achievement of creative designers and movement, case, dial and bracelet specialists. Each of these elements created specially for the Rolex PRINCE is the fruit of the know-how of an integrated watchmaking company.
A new manually wound mechanical movement, calibre 7040, was developed specifically for the new Rolex PRINCE.
Like that of the original model, it demonstrates excellent chronometric performance, and is officially certified as a Swiss chronometer. It boasts a power reserve of approximately 72 hours.
To house this technological gem’s movement, the Rolex design teams created four case styles and four different dial decorations.
The dials mark a return to traditional guilloche art to render superb relief motifs called “clou de Paris”, “godron circulaire”, “rayon flammé de la gloire”
and double “rayon flammé de la gloire”. These decorations are echoed by similar guilloche patterns gracing the bridges of the movement in a symphony of visual harmony visible through the transparent case back.
The design of the four rectangular cases takes its inspiration from vari- ations on the original PRINCE in the 1930s. The design, with its different combinations of 18 ct yellow, white or EVEROSE gold and guilloche decorations, endows each piece with a unique personality:
1. Rolex Prince ref. 5442/5 in 18 ct eVerose gold, rectangular case with lateral buttresses whose profile forms a gentle arc with rounded ends, black “rayon flammé de la gloire” guilloche pattern on the dial, two circular counters in pink gold with Arabic numerals, hands in 18 ct pink gold, flange with horizontal fluting, transparent case back, movement bridges featuring “rayon flammé de la gloire” guilloche pat- tern, remborded alligator leather strap with a butterfly clasp in 18 ct Everose gold;
2. Rolex Prince ref. 5440/8 in 18 ct yellow gold, rectangular case with lateral sunbeam decorations whose profile forms a gentle arc with rounded ends, champagne dial with “clou de Paris” guilloche pattern, two white counters with a combination of Roman numerals and markers for the hours and minutes and Arabic numerals for the seconds, hands in 18 ct yellow gold, transparent case back, movement bridges featuring “clou de Paris” guilloche pattern, remborded alligator leather strap with a butterfly clasp in 18 ct yellow gold;
3. Rolex Prince ref. 5441/9 in 18 ct white gold, rectangular case with vertical relief decoration between the lugs, silver-coloured dial with “godron circulaire” guilloche pattern, two white counters with a combination of Roman numerals and markers for the hours and the minutes and markers for the seconds, hands in 18 ct white gold, transparent case back, movement bridges featuring “godron circulaire” guilloche pattern, remborded alligator leather strap with a butterfly clasp in 18 ct white gold. Also available with a diamond-set dial with “godron circulaire” guilloche pattern in the centre;
4. Rolex Prince ref. 5443/9 in 18 ct white gold, rectangular case with lateral curved “brancard” rails, bicolour black and silver coloured dial with double “rayon flammé de la gloire” guilloche patterns, two black rectangular counters with red markings, Arabic numerals for the hours and minutes and markers for the seconds, hands in 18 ct white gold, transparent case back, movement bridges featuring double “rayon flammé de la gloire” guilloche pattern, remborded alligator leather strap with a butterfly clasp in 18 ct white gold.
For more information you can go to www.Rolex.com
This might be the wrong thing for a friend of Rolls-Royce to say, but: I never aspired to owning one.
Don’t get me wrong, I love everything Rolls-Royce stands for: The luxury, the fine attention to detail, the brand, the exclusivity. It is all desirable. Highly desirable. But I never wanted to buy a car that I had to be driven in. As a motor-sport enthusiast it’s important for me to be behind the wheel.
It is funny how wrong one person can be. At the unveiling of the new Ghost Series II I had the rare chance to drive a Phantom Drop Head. Rolls-Royce played their trump card and ordered the rare UK sun to come out just as I got the keys to the car (for want of a better word).
The moment I sat in the driver’s seat I realised my perceptions were very wrong. The ergonomics were clearly set out for the driver. The driving position worked. A few swift smooth adjustments and I felt totally at home.
The key pushed in and the stop start button jumped the Phantom into life. The door closed at the touch of a button. And off I went, effortlessly gliding out of the grand Chichester driveway at the home of Rolls-Royce in West Sussex.
Power was on tap but, as expected, was deliverable in the smoothest, most linear way possible. No clunking, no stutters, no torque steer. Just automotive perfection. The side roads were no issue. A large car, yes, but even in the face of oncoming traffic, including all manner of lorries, it was not daunting. I felt a sense of purpose, even a sense of authority. The rutted side roads of the West Sussex countryside may as well have been the smooth race surface of the Goodwood motor circuit.
The quality of the leather was unparalleled, the noise was heavenly in its nonexistence, the clarity of the sound system was crystal clear even with the roof down, the power was smooth and ample, acceleration rapid yet subtle, the controls perfectly placed both visually and functionally. But the breaks were the most surprising aspect of the car. The car stopped. It really stopped. Given its size and ease of acceleration, I feared it would struggle to put down the anchors. But it really excelled without making you feel like you were going through the windscreen, it just gracefully came to a very quick stop.
The driving experience is parallel to the chauffeured experience, except you actually get to enjoy the ecstasy of driving the finest automotive machinery in the world. I only drove for seven miles, but those seven miles were life changing.
I have to now go back and re-evaluate my top 5 dream car list. I can assure you a Rolls-Royce is now high up in that list. I now just have to drive the Wraith and the Ghost to decide which one I want! I look forward to it with great excitement.
Ollie Hulme for Scaleogy