Rolex expert reacts to new Watches and Wonders releases

Which Rolex will be the most popular? And which models have been discontinued?

Close up of the blue floral Rolex Datejust dial
(Image credit: Rolex)

Watches and Wonders 2022 has begun, with all of the watch brands looking to steal the limelight from the MoonSwatch. It's the largest watchmaking summit ever held in Geneva, with 38 brands all vying for attention.

You can read about all of the latest new releases from all of the brands in our Watches and Wonders 2022 Live Blog.

But as the biggest Swiss watch brand in the world, all eyes will be on Rolex, and its new watches for 2022.

Danny Shahid, whose flagship DWL boutique is in Mayfair’s exclusive Burlington Arcade, examines the Rolex novelties unveiled at Watches and Wonders in Geneva:

“While some will be happy with the additions to Rolex’s line-up, it’s a bittersweet moment for others thanks to some unexpected discontinuations. Some of the teaser videos were dissected accurately, with a few releases rather left-field."

Below are his takes on the new Rolex releases:

Rolex GMT Master II

(Image credit: Rolex)

A new GMT-Master II

Interestingly, Rolex has announced its first-ever left-handed model, a variant of the GMT-Master II, the ref. 126720VTNR. Featuring its winding crown at 9 o’clock instead of 3 o’clock like every other watch, this exciting “destro” variant shakes up Rolex’s collection. Featuring a black and green Cerachrom bezel, this watch introduces an entirely new colour combination to Rolex’s repertoire and has fittingly earned the nickname “Sprite”. Made of stainless steel and sporting a black dial like the “Pepsi” and “Batman” variants of the GMT-Master II, this will undoubtedly be a difficult watch to get your hands on, with long waiting lists and a hefty secondary market premium.

Rolex Air King

(Image credit: Rolex)

A new Air-King

The new Air-King was teased with the “Be prepared to move skyward” slogan. Originally made for pilots, the Air-King is a tool-watch and its upgrades are in line with its heritage. Among its changes are luminescent Arabic numerals, an upgraded Glidelock clasp, a larger dial and guards to protect its crown from impact. Inspired by the dials that Rolex produced for the Bloodhound LSR, a failed land-speed world record attempt, it was assumed that the Air-King would be given a new dial, but apparently not. Instead, it has changed slightly so the “5” at the 1 o’clock position has a “0” before it, for improved symmetry and not much else.

Rolex Watches and Wonders 2022

(Image credit: Rolex)

The Day-Date gets a new bezel

Aside from the long list of fascinating new dial variants that have previously been added to the Day-Date collection, like the onyx or stunning green dials, Rolex has finally added the option of a fluted platinum bezel to its most luxurious model. While it shouldn’t be a big deal given the fluted bezel’s long history in Rolex’s catalogue, the platinum Day-Date was previously offered only with a flat bezel due to the difficulty of working on platinum. Rolex has created a slew of platinum Day-Date variants in 36mm and 40mm that will undoubtedly be some of the brand’s most popular to date.

Rolex Watches and Wonders 2022

(Image credit: Rolex)

Yacht-Master 42 is expanded

While it was predicted that Rolex would introduce a new variant of the Yacht-Master 42, Rolex has unveiled a new construction material for the collection but it’s not the titanium that fans were hoping for. Instead, Rolex has expanded the collection into the realm of 18kt yellow gold, which joins white gold in the 42mm variant’s ranks. In addition to the new material, the Yacht-Master has been given a new “Falcon’s Eye” dial that features a stunning grained effect and a vibrant array of trendy blues and greens.

Rolex Watches and Wonders 2022

(Image credit: Rolex)

The new Datejust dials

Rolex has launched a crowd-pleasing array of dials for the Datejust. Alongside the expansion of the Palm and Fluted motif dials into the 41mm collection, there is a new sunburst green dial across the entire size range and a new floral motif that is available only on the 31mm variant in stunning shades of blue, silver or green.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36

(Image credit: Rolex)

The Discontinuations

Shock is setting in that Rolex has discontinued the three most popular dial variants for the 41mm Oyster Perpetual: coral red, “tiffany” turquoise and yellow. In 36mm, the coral red and yellow variants were discontinued but turquoise was kept– an interesting and very surprising move given the short lifespan of these dials and their incredible popularity.

Beyond the Oyster Perpetual, Rolex has also discontinued the entire Cellini collection except for one variant, the moon phase. Offered as the only dress watch collection, it is hard to imagine that Rolex doesn’t have updates in mind, but that is for another time.”

Danny Shahid

(Image credit: Danny Shahid)

DWL has more than 14 years of experience in sourcing rare and big-name watches, some of which are subject to lengthy waiting lists elsewhere. Staff are often asked for their expert opinion by fellow jewellers and retailers.

Spencer Hart
Spencer Hart

As the Style and Travel Editor at T3, Spencer covers everything from clothes to cars and watches to hotels. Everything that's cool, stylish, and interesting, basically. He's been a part of T3 for over seven years, and in that time covered every industry event known to man, from CES and MWC to the Geneva Motorshow and Baselworld. When he's driving up and down the country in search of the greatest driving roads, he can be found messing around on an electric scooter, playing with luxury watches, or testing the latest fragrances.