New watches are always exciting, but the models that get discontinued each year are often just as important - especially when it comes to Rolex. Virtually none of the brand’s watches are available at a retail level, but as long as they remain in production, the number of examples in existence continues to increase each year, and there is always that faint hope that you might get a call from your authorized retailer. However, once Rolex discontinues a watch, that model is gone for good, and you will be forced to pay open market prices should you wish to add one to your collection.
Additionally, when I say discontinued, I don’t just mean a model that is updated and replaced by a new version - like how the Rolex Air-King was updated this year at Watches & Wonders Geneva from the ref. 116900 to the ref. 126900. Although these models are certainly important, there were a number of other Rolex watches (along with an entire collection) that were discontinued this year, and not replaced by updated equivalents.
Colorful Oyster Perpetual Dials
Many of the ultra-popular colorful dials for the Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection were discontinued this year, despite only joining the lineup a year and a half ago in September 2020. Even when they were first announced, not all dial colors were available for all of the different case sizes, but the number of options has significantly decreased this year. Not only have the Coral Red and Yellow dials been discontinued entirely, but the fan-favorite Turquoise Blue (a.k.a. “Tiffany”) dial has been eliminated as an option from the highly popular Oyster Perpetual 41 lineup.
As Rolex watches became more luxury-oriented, the purpose of the Pearlmaster collection became increasingly less necessary. Originally, the Rolex Pearlmaster was intended to be the brand’s range of timepieces that blur the lines between traditional wristwatches and pieces of jewelry. However, with many of Rolex’s models available in solid gold and set with diamonds or other precious gemstones, it was starting to seem a bit extraneous to have an entire separate line of watches devoted to gem-encrusted versions of the Datejust fitted with a different style of bracelet. Although it makes a lot of sense for Rolex to eliminate the Pearlmaster as a standalone collection, it is still a bit surprising to see the Pearlmaster bracelet also discontinued entirely.
Most Rolex Cellini Models
All Rolex Cellini watches were discontinued this year, with the one exception being the Cellini Moonphase ref. 50535 in solid 18k Everose gold. Previously, the brand offered time-only, time-and-date, dual time, and moonphase models. Additionally, all of them except the moonphase edition were available in either white or Everose gold, and with the option of a handful of different dial colors. As of 2022, the entire Rolex Cellini collection is now represented by a single model - the Everose gold Cellini Moonphase, which is exclusively offered with a white lacquer dial.
Rolex Yacht-Master II - 18k White Gold
Personally, I thought we might see a whole new generation of Rolex regatta timers this year, but instead the only update to the Yacht-Master II collection was the brand discontinuing the white gold reference 116689. As a whole, the Yacht-Master II has never been Rolex’s most popular watch, and the ref. 116689 was pretty much the only Rolex sports watch that wasn’t selling for a premium above its retail price on the open market. Additionally, as the entire case and bracelet were crafted from solid 18k white gold and featured a bezel made from 950 platinum, the Rolex Yacht-Master II 116689 had a higher retail price than any of its siblings. Given that the watch features one of Rolex’s most complex movements and is made entirely from precious metals, it’s slightly surprising how affordable the Yacht-Master II 116689 is compared to other Rolex models on the secondary market. However, that may start to change now that it is no longer part of Rolex’s catalog.
Platinum Rolex Day-Date - Smooth Bezel
Another big release from Rolex at Watches & Wonders Geneva this year was a set of new Day-Date President watches in full 950 platinum that feature the brand’s signature fluted bezel. Historically, Rolex fluted bezels were only ever crafted from solid gold, meaning that all platinum Day-Date watches were fitted with either smooth or gem-set bezels. At a quick glance, a solid platinum Day-Date can look a lot like a stainless steel Datejust when fitted with a smooth bezel, and it makes more sense to have the most premium version of Rolex’s flagship watch be available with the brand’s signature style of bezel, rather than the version that is found on its entry-level collection.
*All watch images courtesy of Bob’s Watches.