Rolex 2021 Recap Plus Our Top Predictions for 2022


Despite being famous for having models that remain in production for years or even decades at a time, Rolex is constantly evolving its illustrious catalog and every single year, new Rolex watches are unveiled to an ever-growing audience of passionate collectors and enthusiasts. With 2021 now drawing to a close, it’s time to look back on this past year and also think about the future. So, here is your official Rolex 2021 recap, along with some of our top predictions about what we might see from the iconic Swiss luxury watch manufacturer next year in 2022.

First, let’s get into a brief overview of our Rolex 2022 predictions.

Rolex 2022 Predictions

Our Top Rolex Predictions for 2022:

  • A new generation of Rolex Milgauss watches
  • Rolex Daytona watches in Everose Rolesor
  • New dial options for the Rolex Sky-Dweller
  • An update to the greater Rolex Yacht-Master collection

Rolex 2021 Recap 2022 Predictions Yacht-Master 42 White Gold Oysterflex 226659
We have been saying this now for several years but the Rolex Milgauss is due for an update, so a new Milgauss will continue to stay on our list of top Rolex predictions until we finally see one. Beyond that, we still think that two-tone Rolex Daytona watches in Everose Rolesor are an inevitability, and we also wouldn’t be surprised to see some new dials added to the Sky-Dweller collection since 2022 will be its 10-year anniversary. Lastly, it has been a number of years since we have seen an update to the Yacht-Master II collection, and between this and the fact that British sailor and Rolex ambassador Ben Ainslie has recently been spotted wearing a no-date Yacht-Master 42 in titanium, we feel that there is something brewing within Rolex’s greater collection of sailing watches.

Rolex 2021 Recap

New Rolex Explorer Watches

Rolex 2021 Recap 2022 Predictions Explorer 124270 36mm

2021 Rolex Explorer Collection Key Details:

  • Reference Numbers: 124270 or 124273
  • Case Size: 36mm
  • Materials: Oystersteel (904L Stainless Steel) or Yellow Rolesor (Stainless Steel & 18k Yellow Gold)
  • Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds
  • Dial: Black w/ Luminous Hour Markers
  • Luminous Material: Chromalight
  • Bezel: Fixed, Stainless Steel or 18k Yellow Gold, Smooth Style
  • Crystal: Sapphire (Flat)
  • Movement: Rolex Caliber 3230
  • Water Resistance: 100 Meters / 330 Feet
  • Strap/Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

Rolex Explorer

Everyone was anticipating that Rolex would release a new Explorer II in 2021 to celebrate the model’s 50th anniversary, but it was arguably the updates to the classic time-only Rolex Explorer that were the most significant new releases from the brand this year. It was almost a given that the new watch would feature the updated Caliber 3230 movement, but there were two major surprises that accompanied the launch of this new generation of Rolex Explorer watches.

The first big surprise was the return of the model’s historic 36mm size (compared to the 39mm cases of the previous generation), which represents one of the very rare instances of Rolex actually decreasing the case size of one of its watches. The second big surprise (and arguably the most shocking for long-time Rolex collectors) was the addition of a two-tone model, which was something that almost no one predicted and was arguably the most controversial and discussed new Rolex release of the year.

Rolex Explorer II Reference 226570

Rolex 2021 Recap 2022 Predictions Explorer II Polar 226570

Explorer II 226570 Key Features:

  • Reference Number: 226570
  • Case Size: 42mm
  • Materials: Oystersteel (904L Stainless Steel)
  • Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, GMT Functionality
  • Dial: Black or White w/ Luminous Hour Markers
  • Luminous Material: Chromalight
  • Bezel: Fixed, Stainless Steel w/ Engraved 24-Hour Scale
  • Crystal: Sapphire (Flat w/ Cyclops Lens)
  • Movement: Rolex Caliber 3285
  • Water Resistance: 100 Meters / 330 Feet
  • Strap/Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

Click here for our Ultimate Buying Guide on the Rolex Explorer II.

Rolex Explorer II 226570

Given that the previous Rolex Explorer II had been in production for a full decade and 2021 marked the 50th anniversary of the Explorer II, it was almost a given that we would see a new generation of Explorer II watches this year. Rolex certainly did deliver on these expectations and unveiled the Explorer II reference 226570. However, the new watch was not as radical of an aesthetic update as many people were expecting.

Internally, the new 2021 model features the updated Caliber 3285 movement but at a quick glance, the new generation of Explorer II watches looks near-identical to its predecessor. There have been some small updates in regards to both the case/bracelet proportions and also the finishing on the dials/hands, but the new Rolex Explorer II 226570 is still 42mm in diameter, still crafted exclusively from stainless steel, and still available with the option of either a black or white “Polar” dial – with both options still featuring the collection’s signature bright orange 24-hour hand.

Additional Dial and Bracelet Options

Rolex 2021 Recap 2022 Predictions Datejust 36 126234 Palm Motif Dial

New Dial and Bracelet Options for 2021:

  • Palm motif dials for Datejust 36 watches (available in champagne, silver, or green)
  • Fluted motif dials for Datejust 36 watches (available in champagne, silver, or blue)
  • Meteorite dials for gold Daytona watches (available for yellow, white, and Everose gold references)
  • Oyster bracelets for GMT-Master II 126710BLRO and GMT-Master II 126710BLNR watches
  • Jubilee bracelet for Sky-Dweller 326933 and Sky-Dweller 326934 watches.

In addition to the new Explorer and Explorer II watches that were released this year, Rolex also had several other updates in the form of additional dial and bracelet options being added to existing models within the Datejust, GMT-Master II, and Sky-Dweller collections. In terms of new dials, the most noteworthy additions for 2021 were all-new Fluted and Palm motif dials for the Datejust 36 range and meteorite dials for the various 18k gold Rolex Daytona watches.

Additionally, the stainless steel GMT-Master II and Rolesor Sky-Dweller watches both received new bracelet options for 2021. Previously, both of the stainless steel “Pepsi” and “Batman” GMT-Master II watches were exclusively available with Jubilee bracelets, while the two-tone Sky-Dweller and the stainless steel Sky-Dweller (with 18k white gold bezel) were both only available with Oyster bracelets. Now, all four of these fan-favorite references are available with the option of either Oyster or Jubilee bracelets, which only further expands the appeal of these already ultra-desirable Rolex models.


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