After two long years of Zoom calls, the annual Watches and Wonders Conference is back in person! For those of you that are new to the incredible world of luxury timepieces, the Watches and Wonders Conference is a massive show where some of the largest and most prestigious timepiece brands in the world come together to present their new releases for the new year. To use a sports analogy for our football readers out there, think of it as the Superbowl of luxury timepieces. With over 40+ brands in attendance such as Rolex, Patek Phillippe, Tudor, IWC, and many more, it can be overwhelming to follow everything that happens, especially for people new to the industry. That’s why in this article we’re going to break down some of the new releases, specifically Rolex, that were introduced and what this means for the Rolex brand.
Rolex GMT Master II 126720
To start, we will move onto the new Rolex GMT Master 126720. Undoubtedly, this new model has drawn a lot of attention, both good and bad, due to its peculiar design choice. The design changes here are obvious, the crown and the date wheel are placed on the left side of the timepiece, which you can argue is an odd decision given only 10% of the population is left-handed. Understandably, the internet has had some very unkind reviews of this. Many critics have poked fun at the timepiece claiming it looks like the person who made the watch did it hanging upside down, and that the GMT Master II is one of Rolex’s serious timepieces and that it didn’t make sense to why they would try to make a “fun” model by making it look like a watch for a left-handed. In an attempt to see things from Rolex’s point of view, some people may like the design if they aren’t left-handed because the crown won’t be pushing on the top of their hand. Depending on how many people end up liking the fact that they no longer have a crown pushing up against their hand, this new design could actually end up being a huge hit and could influence the way watch designs are produced going forward. Every weird fashion trend that ever went mainstream started with a bold designer who wasn’t scared to question the status quo. However, the innovation of the GMT Master II 126720 doesn’t stop with the crown and the date wheel, there’s also a brand new color combination of black and green. Previously, the color combinations saw the Rolex “Pepsi” with the red and black combo and the Rolex “Batman” with the black and blue combo as shown in the above pictures. While it remains to be seen how the watch community will react to the new color choice, if history tells us anything, it should be well received, although it might be hard to tell due to the fact the design will cause many watch enthusiasts to avoid this timepiece altogether.
Rolex Day-Date 228236
To continue, we’ll cover the new Rolex Day-Date 228236. Here, the biggest change that was made was it featured a 950 Platinum fluted bezel, which was the very first time this had ever been done by Rolex. It is a big change when compared to the previous year because the prior Day-Date featured a round bezel even though both casings were still made of platinum. Outside of the bezel, there’s not really too many changes to the Day-Date: it still has the icy-blue dial, the roman numeral dial numbers, and it’s the exact same size as the previous model. Given how similar the new model is to the previous year’s model and how successful the previous year’s model was, it’s expected that the new 2022 Day-Date should be extremely successful for Rolex.
Rolex Yacht-Master 226658
Next, we have the new Yacht-Master 42. This new model contrasts with last year’s model in that it is made out of yellow gold as opposed to the white gold of the previous year. Outside of a color change, there’s not really too much else to talk about in terms of changes as everything else is pretty much unchanged. It still features the same 3235 caliber movement, a 42 millimeter casing, and the Oysterflex rubber bracelet, ect. The Yacht-Master has historically done extremely well in the luxury timepiece industry so there’s no reason to think that this year’s model will be any different.
Rolex Air-King 126900
To wrap up, we will break down arguably the most popular of all of the new Rolex releases, the Rolex Air-King 126900. The biggest change that everyone is talking about is the decision to change the design of the dial numbers. In the prior year, the number five on the dial was shown on the timepiece as just “5”, while this year it is shown as “05”. Now you may wonder why Rolex would do that and why does it even matter, and while the extra “0” seems so insignificant, there are significant reasons Rolex made this change, and that was for the sake of symmetry. In design, it’s a widely accepted principle that symmetry equals beauty, so it makes perfect sense why Rolex would go this route. It also serves as a differentiator for Rolex because this design is not common in the watch world, so it will be interesting to see if this new symmetrical dial design ends up being copied by many other watch markers similar to how other famous Rolex designs such as the Submariner have been copied.
Which Models will be Discontinued?
The important thing to understand here is that Rolex doesn’t formally announce what is going to get discontinued, so therefore that creates speculation in the watch community of which models will be discontinued. If you’re new to the world of luxury timepieces, the reason that trying to figure out which models will be discontinued is such a big deal is because whatever models that get discontinued are going to spike in value, so it becomes a game of speculation similar to speculating in the stock market. So in this section, we will speculate ourselves which models we think could be discontinued, but it’s important to note this is all speculation and is NOT meant to be taken as advice. To start off, the first model we will speculate on is the GMT Master II “Batman”. The reasoning behind this is that since Rolex introduced the new GMT Master II with the green and black dial, this could theoretically be discontinued because Rolex is limited to how many units they can manufacture at the moment. Another model we speculate will be discontinued is the Oyster Perpetual Tiffany dial. The reasoning behind this hypothesis is Rolex has already reduced their offering of their 41 millimeter Oyster Perpetual, particularly of the Tiffany dial. If Rolex continues this trend and discontinues the Oyster Perpetual Tiffany dial, you can expect the price to skyrocket on this timepiece even more than it already did following the auction sale of the Patek Tiffany dial for $6.5 million.
Now that we have covered the new Rolex releases for this year, we now know what the new models and how they differ from previous models. Going forward, we will get to see if our speculation over which models will be discontinued. While the new models have been released, much is left to be seen as to how these models are received and which models do and do not get discontinued.
Until Next Time,
Matthew Thomas Pourroy
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