Here They Are: The 2022 Rolex Novelties — GMT-Master II, Air-King, Yacht-Master, And More
The 2022 Rolex Novelties are here! For many watch fans, this announcement is one of the most anticipated events of the year. Aside from the reality that none of these watches will be easy to obtain at retail (or from your retailer), it’s still fun to look and see which prognostications were realized. Hint: none of them!
I’ll admit that I put very little thought into predicting the 2022 Rolex novelties. I’m always wrong, and I definitely would have been this year! Still, there are some relatively interesting updates here. I say, “relatively,” because it’s foolish to think that Rolex is going to surprise with something wildly outlandish. Slow and steady wins the race with this goliath, but there was one wild card that I don’t think anyone saw coming. We’ll start with that one.
The GMT-Master II “LHD”
The first of the 2022 Rolex novelties is the new GMT-Master II ref. 126720VTNR. It’s new because, and I’ll use a Tudor Pelagos term here, it comes in “LHD” or “left-hand diver.” That’s right, there’s now a Rolex built for lefties with its crown on the left side of the case at 9:00. Seriously, no one saw this coming! The watch also debuts a new color combination for Cerachrom — green and black. The 24-hour arrow hand also comes in green, which represents a bit of a return to the departed 116710LN. Everything else remains the same as the current GMT-Master II models, and that includes the use of the automatic caliber 3285. One nice tidbit is that the watch can be had on either the Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. The retail price is set at €10,300.
Quick thoughts: As I said, this one was the big surprise amongst the 2022 Rolex novelties. It has been said that Rolex did produce left-handed models such as the GMT back in the ’50s, but they’re extremely rare. I predict that folks will go ga-ga over this model because it’s a little weird and because the colors are vividly fantastic. Is this the new “Green Lantern”?
The Air-King — now with crown guards
Just six years after the introduction of the funky ref. 116900 Air-King, a replacement is here as one of the 2022 Rolex novelties. This previously controversial model has struck a chord with some while falling flat with others. Now, it has returned as ref. 126900 with some significant differences that just might make it more of a mainstream hit. Importantly, this watch has a brand new case! I’m not sure if we’ve seen a Rolex sports watch without a functional bezel that has crown guards (100 meters is still the water-resistance rating).
Now we have one, and I personally think it does wonders for the 40mm watch! Furthermore, Rolex added a “0” to the “5” marker to bring in some balance with the rest of the indexes. Chromalight is the lume of choice, which should brighten things at night. Inside, the 3230 automatic movement runs the show (an upgrade over the prior 3131 and now with 70 hours of power reserve). A newly proportioned Oyster bracelet with wider center links is used and fitted with an Oysterlock safety clasp. The retail price will be €6,850.
Quick thoughts: OK, a left-handed GMT was a surprise, but an Air-King with crown guards? Maybe it’s the more subtle moves that are the real difference-makers. I won’t say that I love this dial, but I’m used to it, and I really like this new 40mm case. Rolex didn’t need any help moving watches, but I think these changes have the chance to turn the Air-King into more than a cult favorite.
The Yacht-Master 42 in yellow gold
Next up in the 2022 Rolex novelties is a 42mm Yacht-Master in 18K yellow gold. The new ref. 226658 joins an already-available ref. 226659 in white gold. This yellow gold version brings a black dial, black Cerachrom bezel insert, and black Oysterflex rubber bracelet. Rolex also tells us that the Chromalight lume has been improved. Inside, the 3235 automatic caliber powers this watch. It will retail for €26,450.
Quick thoughts: While I’ve always been confused about the Yacht-Master in general, I’ve never had any questions about how these watches look on an Oysterflex bracelet. Bottom line: I love them and would love to wear one of these. They’re sporty, classy, and comfortable looking all at once. This was an easy addition for Rolex and I’m glad the brand chose to do it.
The Day-Date 40 in platinum
We finish the 2022 Rolex novelties on a fancier note with a new 40mm Day-Date in platinum. Previously, the 40mm version of this watch in platinum came with a smooth bezel. Now, we have a fluted variant on offer as well. Reference 228236 is currently available with an ice-blue dial and Roman numerals. Note the lovely darker blue sweep seconds hand. Rolex uses its 3255 automatic and fits the watch with a President bracelet that includes the concealed clasp. Price is on request, so, yes, this one is expensive.
Quick thoughts: You’ve noticed that we’re becoming bigger and bigger fans of the Day-Date here at Fratello. In fact, 2022 just might be the year that one or more of us land one of these Texas Timexes. Sadly, it probably won’t be the new platinum version! Still, this is a lovely addition to that rare air space and I love the blue dial.
Final thoughts on the 2022 Rolex novelties
Well, now that you’ve seen the 2022 Rolex novelties, what do you think? A left-handed model and crown guards on an Air-King strike me as the two “big” moves for the evolutionary brand. I’m no longer expecting wild things and there wasn’t a model in need of a major redo, so I’d say that this was a fine, somewhat quiet year. Will I be rushing to my AD to put my name on the list for anything? I’m not so sure, but I’d like to see the Air-King in person. We’ll be excited to hear your thought in the comments section below.
For more information on the 2022 Rolex novelties, visit the official Rolex site.