03/30/2022
 4 minutes

Rolex Rocks Watches & Wonders With New GMT-Master II, Air-King, Day-Date 40, and More

By Thomas Hendricks
Rolex-GMT-WW-Magazin-2-1
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Rolex kicks off Watches & Wonders 2022 in Geneva with the release of six new models. The star of the show is the new Rolex GMT-Master II “Sprite” with a green and black ceramic bezel. We also have a new Rolex Day-Date 40 in platinum with a fluted bezel and ice blue dial. If you’re a Rolex Air-King fan, then there’s good news for you: The new generation has been upgraded with the caliber 3230. The Rolex Yacht-Master on an Oysterflex bracelet has expanded to include yellow gold and gem-set models. Finally, there’s a sparkly new Rolex Datejust 31 with a diamond-studded floral dial.

Let’s take a closer look at the highlights from the year’s biggest release:

Rolex kicks off Watches & Wonders 2022 in Geneva with the release of six new models.

1. The New Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126720VTNR

This watch is probably the reason why you’re reading this article right now. The ever-popular Rolex GMT-Master II just got a fresh new look with the 126720VTNR. Here, we have a green and black ceramic bezel in a 40-mm Oystersteel case and your choice of a Jubilee or an Oyster bracelet. The timepiece is powered by the 3285 caliber. In addition to the new color combo, this is also the first GMT-Master to feature a crown and date display on its left-hand side. We’ve already met the “Pepsi” and “Coke” versions of the GMT-Master, now Rolex has introduced what will be affectionately known in the collector community as the “Sprite.” 

2. The New Rolex Day-Date 40 Ref. 228236

We’ve had a Day-Date 40 in platinum before, but never with a fluted bezel. The new Day-Date 40 ref. 228236 is the first platinum Rolex to include the faceted bezel option which was, up until now, too difficult to produce in the precious metal. Platinum is notoriously difficult to work with, so the addition of a fluted bezel is big news on its own and demonstrates the ever-improving manufacturing capabilities of Rolex.

The Rolex Day-Date 40 ref. 228236 in platinum, now with a fluted bezel

We’ve had a Day-Date 40 in platinum before, but never with a fluted bezel. The new Day-Date 40 ref. 228236 is the first platinum Rolex to include the faceted bezel option which was, up until now, too difficult to produce in the precious metal. Platinum is notoriously difficult to work with, so the addition of a fluted bezel is big news on its own and demonstrates the ever-improving manufacturing capabilities of Rolex.

3. The New Rolex Air-King ref. 126900

The New Rolex Air-King ref. 126900 upgraded with the caliber 3230

The Rolex Air-King is back, now with the reference number 126900. Much remains intact from the previous ref. 116900 in terms of sizing, materials, and colors. For 2022, however, Rolex has upgraded the Air-King with the caliber 3230, bringing the power reserve from 48 hours to 70 hours and further improving the movement’s resistance to shocks and temperature fluctuations. This is the same movement housed in the latest Submariner and Oyster Perpetual models, and it’s a welcome addition to one of Rolex’s entry-level sport models.

Our Take on Rolex’s 2022 Releases

This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for over the past few months. Rolex kicks off Watches & Wonders 2022 with the release of six new models across five collections. The internet sleuths who carefully picked apart Rolex’s teaser video should be feeling quite satisfied, as many of their predictions were officially confirmed today.

We should note that Rolex made no mention of any increase to its production numbers, so these new models will be as tough as ever to find in boutiques.

The star of the show will undoubtedly be the new GMT-Master II ref. 126720VTNR with a green and black ceramic bezel, which has already been nicknamed the “Sprite.” Given the success of other green Rolex models like the Hulk, Day-Date, and Daytona, it’s not surprising that Rolex would introduce its signature color to the ever-popular GMT-Master II line. Of course, we saw a touch of green on the GMT hand of the discontinued 116710LN, but this striking new bezel is sure to gain a lot of attention.

The Air-King makes its return with the upgraded ref. 126900 featuring the caliber 3230. This follows the natural progression we are used to seeing from Rolex in terms of making incremental changes that slowly but deliberately improve the performance of their models. For those of you who’ve become a little burned out about how difficult it is to acquire a Rolex, the Air-King should be welcome news for two reasons: One, the model is still relatively affordable with a retail price of $7,400, and two, the new release will likely make the older generation ref. 116900 even more affordable.

On the more luxurious end of the scale, Rolex unveiled a platinum Day-Date 40, now with a fluted bezel. Given the difficulty of this material, a platinum fluted bezel was thought to be too technically challenging, but Rolex has conquered another hill in terms of manufacturing prowess. The new fluted bezel will add an extra dose of shine to an already white-hot timepiece.

The expansion of the Yacht-Master and Datejust collections signal a continued push toward luxury as the function-first brand adds more precious metal and gem-set options to their lineup. The Yacht-Master has always been somewhat of a grandiose model – it’s named after a yacht, after all – and now comes in a 42-mm yellow gold version and a gem-set variant in 40 mm. These two make a truly stunning his and hers combo. Finally, the Datejust 31 with a diamond-studded floral dial embarks on even more adventurous territory for the model, though in a smaller case size than the 2021 releases.

Rolex is king of the modern watch industry, and these new releases will no doubt make lasting impacts on the collector community and the watch market at large. Only time will tell how these launches and discontinuations will affect prices moving forward, but Chrono24 will keep you updated as the world reacts to Rolex’s 2022 lineup.


About the Author

Thomas Hendricks

I didn’t grow up a watch guy, but a few years after graduating from university, I landed a job at the online publication Watchonista as a writer and marketer. “Welcome to the watch world,” my colleagues told me half-jokingly, “no one ever leaves!” Now at Chrono24, I work as a private client advisor, helping people find the perfect watch for major life moments.

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