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Watches And Wonders 2022: Rolex

A new GMT-Master II, a blinged-out Yacht-Master 40 and artisanal Datejusts steal the show.

Take a deep breath now. As with all new Rolex drops each year, the world’s most famous and coveted watch brand has that uncanny power to send the Internet into a meltdown. 

Rolex GMT-Master II

So, of course, a new GMT-Master II offering is going to get watch lovers all excited – what more, a new GMT-Master II that looks as unusual as the latest Ref. 126720 VTNR. Framed by a green and black Cerachrom bezel with 24-hour scale, and anchored by a black lacquer dial with additional 24-hour hand for second-time zone indication, the watch would’ve been a pretty straightforward addition to the collection until one notices the obvious: the crown and crown guard have been relocated to left of the case, along with the iconic Cyclops lens, which now sits at nine o’clock, instead of at three.

We are not quite sure why this is so: Is the switch up for folks who wear watches on their right hand? Or that Rolex simply wants a new and novel look for the GMT-Master II? The brand even explains that the watch, powered by the automatic Calibre 3285, has to go through new precision tests as a result of the movement’s new architecture. So really, quite a lot has gone into making the leftfield flip work. Admittedly, the new layout will take some getting used to. But as it is with any headline-grabbing Rolex watch, after the dust has settled on this one, we are putting our money on new waiting lists for this GMT-Master II for its sheer, storied stature, which is now amped by indelible whimsicality.

Rolex Air-King

Elsewhere, we see the return of the Air-King and Yacht-Master 42 with decidedly more subtle cosmetic changes. The new-generation Air-King now comes with a redesigned case, sporting crown guards and straight case sides, new Oyster bracelet with wider middle links, and slight tweaks to the dial with the addition of a ‘’ before the ‘5’ on the minutes scale (so all five-minute interval markers feature two digits). The Yacht-Master 42, on the other hand, continues to look every bit the regal seafaring accompaniment, clad this year in a luxurious 42mm yellow gold case.

Rolex Yacht-Master 42

Speaking of regality, two dazzling decorative models that caught our eye this year are a bejewelled Yacht-Master 40 and an artisanal Datejust 31. The new Yacht-Master 40 begs for a party on the high seas with its spectacular display of colourful sparkle. Its white gold case is set with 46 brilliant-cut diamonds and the bezel is festooned with trapeze-cut diamonds, pink, blue and purple sapphires, and capped with a triangle-shaped diamond at 12 o’clock. The captivating, gradated hues are said to be inspired by the aurora borealis and the “glow of dawn”. 

Rolex Yacht-Master 40

Meantime, the new Datejust 31 features a floral motif that demonstrates Rolex’s mastery with decorative dials.

Rolex Datejust 31

Available in white Rolesor, Everose Rolesor with diamond-set bezel, and yellow gold with diamond-set bezel, all three models display memserising floral patterns on the dials; each petal finished with either grained, brushed or lacquered surface, and complemented by a diamond on every pistil. These lovely Datejust 31 models not only showcase Rolex’s impressive suite of artisanal know-how and techniques, but they also brim with a sense of unabashed liveliness and fun, which really, isn’t what discovering new watches ought to be about?  


Ex Editor-In Chief

Alvin promises not to be a douche when talking about watches. He may have scoured the Basel and Geneva watch fairs for the past 15 years, and played an instrumental role to the growth of Singapore's pioneering horological and men's lifestyle publications, but the intrepid scribe seeks to learn something new with each story he writes.

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