Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Watches & Wonders 2022: Comments on Rolex Releases

Because I Was Inverted

My Thoughts on the

 New GMT-Master, Air-King 

and Killing the Turquoise OP


Again this year, Rolex showed the world it can release models completely (wait for it) out of the left field, but can also continue to perfect the current collection. Behind the idea of a new Air-King, for example, was the need to strengthen the model's position as a professional piece, Rolex told me. So everything about it had to be made better while keeping the dial (almost) untouched.

Rolex since 2015 has continued to refine the lines of their cases using not just thinner lugs but a play on polish and light reflection, making the watch look slimmer. The Air-King received the same treatment this year. One of the design signatures of a Rolex professional piece is a case with straight flanks — which can be observed here as well. The new Air-King is better lumed and sits on your wrist more securely thanks to the Oysterlock. The faraday cage was removed since the new movement itself is anti-magnetic making the Air-King lighter and thinner. The "0" added next to the "5" isn't just about dial balance. The dial looks more like a cockpit instrument with the two digits together. Welcome to the big leagues, Air-King, you've just made pro.


The GMT-Master II with the crown and date on the "wrong" side was a head scratcher. Most people think Rolex made a watch for left handed. But Rolex is not marketing the GMT-Master as such. As a matter of fact, none of the material about the new GMT mentions the brand built a watch for left handed. Officially, the black and green GMT is a watch with the crown on the left, that's all. Rolex didn't want to corner or label the new GMT as the watch for gauchers only. Rather, it made a watch for all who want to wear watches differently. Wearing a green and black Rolex that is inverted is the last bastion of male peacockery, Jake wrote.  

The green and black bezel will forever be reserved for the GMT "with the crown on the left," Rolex told me. No other GMT will have a black and green bezel. And conversely, the Batman and Pepsi colors will never be placed on a left-hand-drive GMT. Gotta be able to tell those peacocks apart.

Historically, I can't emphasize enough how this watch is a first for the brand: While Rolex has occasionally — and secretly — dabbled with making watches with crowns on the left, it has never done so with also the date on the same side. 

It is the first time Rolex is actively and publicly marketing such a watch, which should be admired for the engineering alone. Rolex not only had to reverse the typography of the date disc. But it also had to retool any kind of equipment that regulates time keeping for a reversed movement — and especially when the watch is simulated on the other wrist to earn its superlative rating. Maybe this watch is a flex after all: It's Rolex saying, "We know how to mass-produce the best quality watches in the world, and we can do it in reverse as well."

If you're a business man, you don't stop selling one of your most desirable products. That's why the reason for discontinuing the turquoise OP in 41mm goes beyond streamlining a collection and a production that's running full capacity. On the secondary market, the watch had reached more than five times its retail value, something no other current-production reference had achieved. 

No, in my opinion, discontinuing the OP 41 in turquoise was a flex — and a message to Patek's Thierry Stern who had stopped selling the uber-popular 5711. It's putting Rolex on Patek's level. Maybe it's a thing watch CEOs do to one another today: Watch me kill a cash cow because I'm that good. I say let them do it. After all, it's their version of male peacockery.