Rolex: Details of Difference

by Dr Kenny Pang

The latest watches by the world’s most famous watch brand are a masterclass in subtlety and surprise.

There are a few things in life we can be certain of: death and taxes; while for horology buffs, a yearly eruption of opinions about Rolex’s latest watches. It is no different as the brand rolls out its new creations at Watches And Wonders 2022. Of the six new Rolex models released this year, two aviation-inspired references had armchair observers rushing to their keyboards.

An iconic two-time zone watch which would likely incite long waiting lists, the GMT-Master II returns to the spotlight with an atypical look. Housed in a 40mm steel case, the new GMT-Master II boasts, for the first time in the collection, a new green-and-black 24-hour bezel that is unique to this model. But that’s not the biggest surprise.

The new version literally demands second takes as the crown, crown guard and date display with cyclops lens are all relocated to the left. That said, it isn’t ‘just’ about shifting the components to the left. Rolex had to re-engineer the new GMT-Master II’s automatic movement – one that allows you to tell the time in two places at a single glance – and devise new precision tests for the watch. We have yet to hear an official reason for the novel appearance – it may be simply because Rolex does what it wants, because it can – but the configuration is certainly well-suited for lefties who wear watches on their right, or “righties” who still prefer to wear their watch on the right wrist (like myself).

The second aeronautically inspired watch that generated a fair bit of talk is the new Air-King (which I totally get). Billed as Rolex’s horological homage to the 1930s golden age of aviation, the latest variant comes with several blink-and-you’ll-miss-it upgrades.

The case, for instance, is redesigned with the addition of crown guards and straighter sides for a look that is more in line with Rolex’s range of Professional models (like the GMT series). And on the dial – arguably the Air-King’s most captivating feature – a ‘0’ is added before the ‘5’ on the first digit of its five-minute scale marker. As a result, all five-minute interval markers now feature two digits. It might not seem like much, but compared to the previous Air-King model, the dial on the new version benefits from the tweaked symmetry and looks more balanced (perhaps too subtle to notice, for some). Last but not least, the watch is powered by a new automatic movement, the Calibre 3230 with 70-hour power reserve, to fortify its precision and reliability.

Besides the GMT-Master II and Air-King, the Rolex class of 2022 comprises timepieces in regal finery that are also enhanced with subtle switch-ups. There is a new Day-Date 40 in platinum with ice-blue dial, featuring a fluted bezel in the precious alloy for the first time in the collection.

There are also new Yacht-Master variants (my personal favourite range) – the Yacht-Master 42 in 18 ct yellow gold that adds to the existing white gold model, and a lovely, bejewelled Yacht-Master 40 in white gold set with brilliant-cut diamonds, as well as blue and purple trapeze-cut sapphires, arranged in a gradated sequence that evokes the calming hues of dawn.

But if you asked me, the decorative creations that captivate most are the new Datejust 31 models with artisanal dials. Similar in spirit to last year’s Datejust 36 models with decorated dials that flaunt foliage motifs, as well as patterns inspired by Rolex’s fluted bezel, this year’s Datejust 31 models again showcase Rolex’s decorative savoir faire with an artful depiction of flowers on their dials.

Conjuring summery vibes, the dials of this year’s Datejust 31 watches are lavished with floral motifs – 24 flowers on each dial, to be exact, each sporting a diamond-set pistil and petals bearing sunray, matte or grained finish. There are three versions to choose from: white Rolesor (Oystersteel and white gold) with azzuro blue dial; Everose Rolesor (Oystersteel and rose gold) with silver dial; and yellow gold with olive green dial. Regardless of one’s preference for colours or alloy, you are promised a conversation starter with any of these beauties.

Like the rest of Rolex’s offerings for the year, the new Datejust 31 models are best enjoyed up close to fully appreciate the brand’s exacting attention to detail. For a marque that excels in the subtlest of refinements, your closest scrutiny is the least the watches deserve.

Images courtesy of Rolex, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.

Related Links:

Rolex: Time Travellers

Face Value


You may also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Continuing to use the site means you accept the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Accept Read More