Rolex has come back to the Watches and Wonders show with a bang. The Swiss watchmaker unveiled no less than six new watches at the 2022 show. Here’s what’s new.
It’s the first in-person Watches and Wonders show in Geneva, Switzerland since the pandemic, and watch brands aren’t wasting any time. New models are everywhere, and these horological masters haven’t missed a single detail.
Rolex has come to play with six new watches. None of them are new models, but many are new twists on old favourites.
I should note: while we’ve listed retail prices for these watches below, don’t expect to get your hands on these any time soon.
Steel Rolex sport watches like the ones released this year have been notoriously difficult to cop in previous years. To the point that watches retailing for $9,000 are going on the aftermarket for up to $30,000.
Get in the queue, folks. And maybe bring a magazine or something comfy to sit on. You’ll be here a while.
Let’s get into it.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air King 2022
You aren’t meant to pick favourites, but I’ve always loved the Air King. It’s an incredibly weird watch that almost shouldn’t exist.
Previously built from parts of other watches (see: Oyster Perpetual and Datejust), with a face stolen from Rolex’s time in land speed record racing, it’s meant as an homage to aviation.
Flight watches feature big dials, large numerals and the ability to use it as gauge you wear on your wrist. In fact, the Air King is inspired by pilots like Owen Cathcart-Jones and Ken Waller who flew from London to Melbourne in record time with an Oyster on their wrist.
The new Air King may look the same as previous models, but under the surface, Rolex has been tinkering.
The case has actually been completely redesigned. It’s more of a tool watch, with straight sides and a new crown guard. Comfort has also been taken into account, with a new wider centre link.
Mercifully, the Air King now also has a glorious lume. Previous Air King models saw the numbers carved out of 18ct white gold. Now you lose precious metals in favour of a new luminescent Chromalight material for night use.
Those numerals are now all also marked in double figures. Previous models featured single digits in some places. Now the Air King features all double digits thanks to the addition of a ‘0’ before the ‘5’ at the 1 o’clock position. Which is good for my OCD.
The 3230 automatic-winding movement is new for the Air King, but has been in service on Rolex watches since 2020.
How much is the new Rolex Air King?
Despite the gold-shedding, Rolex has given the Air King a price hike for 2022.
You’re looking at a retail price of $10,350 for the 2022 Air King. That’s a hike of around $950 compared to the previous model.
Even over the $10,000 mark, it’s still not the cheapest Rolex. It’s second cheapest next to the Oyster Perpetual. It’s a cool $150 cheaper than the cheapest, unfluted Datejust.
Keep that cash and buy yourself something nice.
Rolex Datejust 2022: new faces for old tricks
The Datejust continues to push the boat out for Rolex. Instead of subtle-enough new colour ways and the odd new bezel, the Datejust goes eclectic every year.
2022 is no exception, with new faces in the 31mm flavour. For those playing at home, the Datejust comes in the dainty ladies’ 31mm, as well as a 36mm and the recently introduced 41mm.
Three new colourways have crept into the Datejust 31 lineup this year.
You get an Azzuro blue dial flecked with diamonds on a steel bracelet/case. Or there’s the olive green floral motif dial featuring 24 inset diamonds on 18ct yellow gold with a gold President bracelet. And finally, there’s the on Everose gold/Oystersteel combination Jubilee bracelet.
How much is the new Rolex Datejust 2022?
It’s a sliding scale with this one. Each model is more expensive than the last depending on how much bling you want.
The fluted Oystersteel model starts at $14,500. The Everose gold model will run you $18,500. And finally the 18ct yellow gold model starts at $58,500.
For illustration purposes, we’ve used the 18ct gold model below. Be assured, however, that under the fancy new surfaces, these models are all powered by the Calibre 2236 movement.
Rolex GMT Master II 2022: The Ned Flanders
Typically, if you put green anywhere near a Rolex bezel, it earns the some variant of the “Hulk” moniker. The new GMT Master for 2022 is a little different.
It’s a little green, sure, but it’s meant for the left-handed community. That is: it’s meant to be worn on the right wrist.
As a result, the crown and crown guard are situated on the left side of the case.
Rolex has also moved the date aperture and Cyclops glass lens to the 9 o’clock position on the face to accommodate the change.
Rolex calls it a “novel and unexpected” version of the GMT-Master II. We call it the Ned Flanders: it’s left, and a little bit green.
That colour-way is protected by new ceramic technology that Rolex says is “virtually scragtchproof”. It’s also reported to be resistant to corrosion and other environmental effects.
The case measures 40mm, and is still waterproof to 100m/300ft. You get the choice of the Oyster, Oystersteel (with polished centre links), and Rolex is even showing it off on a Jubilee bracelet at its Watches and Wonders stand.
The movement is an in-house Perpetual 3285, which Rolex has been using in the GMT Master II since it was introduced in 2018. The self-winding movement and 31 jewels will nab you a power reserve of 70 hours or so.
It’s also worth pointing out that – unlike previous models of the GMT-Master II – the 2022 variation with its leftie-configuration doesn’t come in a precious metal flavour. If you’re into this model, you’re stuck with steel.
How much is the new Rolex GMT Master 2022?
Retail price for the new model GMT Master II with the green and black dial starts at $15,500 in Oystersteel. The Jubilee bracelet adds $300 to that price, for a retail price of $15,800.
That’s around $700 to $1000 more expensive than the previous model of GMT Master II, which is still available to spec out on Rolex’s website.
Rolex Day Date 40 2022: Tiffany Blue debut
You can’t turn your head in the hype-watch world these days without clocking something that makes you think of the signature Tiffany Blue.
Indeed, Rolex has now fallen for the spell, casting a version of the new Day Date 40 for 2022 in the platinum/satin blue hue.
The newest version of the “President’s watch” comes in a signature Ice Blue colour, powered by the automatic-winding 3255 movement. That’s the same movement the Day Date has featured since 2015, and it features a power reserve of around 70 hours.
It’s cast in 950 platinum – reminiscent of previous models that have only ever been cast from precious metals. No steel to speak of here.
Don’t let the elegance fool you, however: it’s still waterproof to 100m/300ft.
The new President bracelet is more flexible than previous models, Rolex says. That’s thanks to folding Crownclasp and ceramic inserts on each link to make it wear easier.
How much is the new Rolex Day Date 40?
If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. The platinum Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day Date 40 in Ice Blue is price on request.
To give you an idea, the 18ct gold Day Date 40 retails for around $60,000 on a good day.
Rolex Yacht Master 42 2022: Oysterflex for the weekend
For the first time, the Yacht Master is in 18ct yellow gold for your voyages across the seven seas.
You still get the 42mm case with Chromalight lume for night flights, which now also features a whiter hue for better daytime visibility too.
It’s still through-and-through a Yacht Master designed for skippers. The addition of the Oysterflex rubber strap means it’s as at home at the yacht club as it is on the water.
Indeed, the presence of Oysterflex marks you as a recent, cashed-up and tasteful horological A-lister.
How much is the new Yacht Master 42 Oysterflex?
For the new 18ct gold model, you’ll be looking at a retail price of $39,950. It’s still around $2000 cheaper than the white gold variant of the 42mm Yacht Master, so technically, you’re still saving money.
Rolex Yacht Master 40 2022: From the water to the bar
If the new Yacht Master 42 is for the yacht club, the new Yacht Master 40 is for the night club.
But it’s more than just precious metal: it features a bunch of precious stones too. You get Pink,, light-blue, diamond, purple and dark-blue sapphires in the bezel.
Rolex continues to play to the OCD crowd by making sure that these colours repeat 8 times over in a “harmonious sequence”.
You also get 46 diamonds around the lugs and crown guard for added shine.
Interestingly, the sparkly case is paired with the Oysterflex bracelet. It’s luxury meets comfort in the most glamorous way possible.
If Rolex isn’t you’re thing, but you still want something adventurous, maybe try a Mont Blanc that can make it up Everest with no oxygen.