Live Pics: Rolex’s Watches & Wonders 2022 Novelties

Live Pics: Rolex’s Watches & Wonders 2022 Novelties

Among the surprises, there is a dial and case redesign for the brand’s Air-King pilot’s watch, while the GMT-Master II gets a left-sided crown plus a green and black bezel.

By Steven Rogers

Well, the guessing game is finally over: Rolex announced its novelties for 2022 and officially marked its participation at this year’s Watches & Wonders fair, which kicked off this morning. While the titanium models that some hoped for didn’t materialize, the brand has served up some pleasant surprises, some more out of left field than others.

Despite speculation, the Air-King has not been discontinued. In fact, to the surprise of many, it has been updated with a redesigned case and dial. And catching many off-guard, the GMT-Master II is now available with a left-sided crown and green and black bezel.

Additionally, the 950 platinum Day-Date 40 gets a new fluted bezel (also done in this noble metal), while the new Yacht-Master 42 looks even more stunning in 18K yellow gold. There are also fresh, eye-catching floral-motif dials for the Datejust 31.

New-Generation Air-King

First up is the updated Air-King, Rolex’s professional tool watch aimed at contemporary aviators.

Inspired by the golden age of aviation in the 1930s, the Air-King was reimagined in 2016 with a distinctive black dial. Now, for 2022, that dial has once again been refreshed, with an optimized Chromalight display as well as the addition of “0” before the “5” on the minute scale. Moreover, the 40mm Oystersteel case has been redesigned and now features a crown guard.

This new-generation Air-King is equipped with the automatic Calibre 3230. The movement, first launched by the brand in 2020, features a patented anti-magnetic Chronergy escapement with a blue Parachrom hairspring and approximately 70 hours of power reserve.

Priced at $7,400, the 2022 Air-King Reference 126900 essentially replaces Reference 116900.

The GMT-Master II with Left-Sided Crown & Green and Black Bezel

The GMT-Master II has been flipped! No, not in the profiteering sense (at least not quite yet). We mean that the GMT-Master II now comes with a left-sided crown and date aperture at 9 o’clock, rather than at 3 o’clock.

What’s more, the rotating bezel of this new Reference 126720VTNR is also outfitted with a green and black Cerachrom insert, marking the first time this color combination has been seen on the GMT-Master II.

Inside, we still find the Calibre 3285, again with a Chronergy escapement. However, interestingly, Rolex needed to adapt its process for measuring the precision of the watch during final testing, presumably because of the new, inverted elements.

Featuring a 40mm Oyster case in Oystersteel on an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet, the new GMT-Master II Reference 126720VTNR is priced at $11,050.

A New Day-Date 40 in 950 Platinum with Fluted Bezel

We have seen the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40 in 950 platinum with an ice-blue dial before (Reference M228206-0044), but that had a smooth bezel.

Now, the new Reference 228236 gives us more of the same goodness but with the addition of a classic Day-Date trait: A fluted bezel made out of 950 platinum, a first for the Rolex.

According to the brand, it required years of research to get the aesthetic and technical attributes of the fluted bezel just right; such are the demands of working with this, the noblest of metals.

It is equipped with the automatic calibre 3255 with Chronergy escapement, first used for the Day-Date 40 in 2015. Finally, the new Day-Date’s 40mm Oyster case comes on an iconic President bracelet, also, of course, in platinum. Price is on request.

The Yacht-Master 42: Now in 18K Yellow Gold

Rolex’s Yacht-Master has been available in a 42mm case since 2019. And while it was already easy on the eyes in 18K white gold, the new 18K yellow-gold Reference 226658 looks even better. 

This warm, precious metal – created and cast at the brand’s foundry in Geneva – contrasts brilliantly with the black lacquer dial, black Oysterflex bracelet, and the bidirectional rotatable bezel with matte black Cerachrom insert.

Priced at $28,300, it is equipped with the Calibre 3235 – again with Chronergy escapement – which has powered the Yacht-Master 42 since its launch three years ago.

And the Yacht-Master line also welcomes a spectacular new Yacht-Master 40 featuring colorful sapphire- and diamond-set bezel as well as dazzling diamond-set lugs and crown guard.

Floral Motif Dials for the Datejust 31

Finally, Rolex has used what it calls: “high-technology finishing techniques” to create some striking new floral-motif dials for its Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31.

Available in azzurro blue, olive green, and silver, the dials feature 24 flowers, with the edges of their petals in subtle relief. Sunray, matte, and grained finishes add further texture while a diamond lights up the center of each flower.

Priced at $10,050, the azzurro blue dialed edition (Reference 278274) is matched with a 31mm “white Rolesor” (Oystersteel and 18K white gold) case.

Meanwhile, the silver dialed edition (Reference 278381RBR) comes with a diamond-set Everose Rolesor (Oystersteel and Everose gold) case and priced at $19,400. Lastly, the olive-green dialed edition (Reference 278288RBR) is paired with a diamond-set 18K yellow gold case and priced at $41,400.

For more information, please visit the Rolex website.

(Photography by Pierre Vogel)

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