April 9, 2022
Yesterday, we shared aBlogtoWatch founder Ariel Adams’ thoughts on Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022, the first major trade show that the watch industry, collectively, has attended in three years. aBlogtoWatch had several team members on the ground and, after a week full of seeing new watches from seemingly countless brands, we managed to select some of our favorites here. With Rolex, Patek Philippe, Grand Seiko, the LVMH group, Richemont, and dozens of indies presenting at the show, it wasn’t easy to narrow it down to just a few picks, but we wanted to share some standouts across an array of price categories ranging from a couple thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands. As a team, we actively decided to put on our hype blindfolds, so you may be surprised at some of what we picked (or chose not to), and it’s okay to agree or disagree. Let us know what you think, and please share your own favorites from Watches & Wonders 2022 in the comments!
Just about everyone I spoke with at Watches & Wonders who had seen the new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante walked away raving about it. A remarkably well-designed and -built travel watch with a novel GMT complication that utilizes a rattrapante mechanism to hide the second time zone hand beneath the hour hand when not being used, the Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante oozes horological innovation and craft. As a big fan of the brand, I feel a bit biased immediately naming this as not just holding a spot in my top 10 but sitting atop my personal favorites at the show — but clearly, I am not alone in the feeling.
CEO Guido Terreni bet big with the Tonda PF collection, and the move has paid off, as it feels like the brand is on the verge of a breakthrough with a more mainstream audience. I personally despise gatekeeping, so this brings me nothing but joy for a brand that has long deserved it but lacked a single cohesive collection that will appeal to contemporary buyers. Priced at $28,700, it’s not cheap, but damn, it’s a lot of watch. –Bilal
At a glance, IWC watches did very little that is novel for Watches & Wonders 2022. The brand’s sparse booth was white and filled with black-colored shipping containers, and the entire focus of the brand at the show was more or less the same watch in a few different colors. To enjoy the latest IWC Pilot’s Watches for 2022 is to really just enjoy the IWC Pilot’s Watches that have already been released, but there is a little twist. CEO Chris Grainger is a trained designer, and 2022 was about experimenting with asserting the iconic nature of the brand’s signature aviation-themed chronograph sports watch. A series of new colors in materials such as ceramic or ceratanium are carefully chosen and complementary. They render the classic Pilot’s Watch chronograph in a dutifully on-point way when it comes to current and projected upcoming color trends in the fashion and pop culture market. IWC isn’t trying to reinvent pilot’s watches this year, but rather to make its timeless designs more culturally relevant. It’s a bold step that helped make the IWC products feel exciting and hip at the show, even if underneath the fun new colors, much of what we are seeing is the same. Our favorite of the new watches (with new colors registered by Pantone) is the white and black Lake Tahoe. Set in a 44.5mm-wide white ceramic case, this monochromatic sports watch is inspired by Top Gun pilot white uniforms, as well as the wintry landscape around Lake Tahoe where elite fighter pilot students are known to train. Price is just over $10,000 USD. -Ariel
Sure, we’ve already waxed poetic on the Historiques 222 from Vacheron Constantin, but it bears repeating — this is a really excellent watch. Maybe we love it because it’s just the right re-issue at the right time, maybe we love it because it feels like we’re rediscovering the brilliance of designer Jorg Hysek all over again, or maybe we love it simply because it is the purest expression of what Vacheron Constantin does so well: It’s luxuriously thin, it’s cast in precious metal, and it’s been finished to the nth degree. But perhaps best of all is that this knockout won’t be relegated to a quick disappearance, as it’s confirmed that it won’t be a limited edition and that the 222 is formally back in the Vacheron Constantin catalog as part of the Historiques collection. While we don’t deign to crown anything “best in show” due to the lack of an official panel or formal judging criteria, this is about as close as it comes. Bravo, Vacheron. Price: $62,000 USD -Zach
Although things have been heating up in terms of novel materials used for luxury watches, Hublot has remained in a league of its own when it comes to the variety of high-performance case and bracelet materials. Colored sapphires, scratchproof gold, and uniquely hued ceramics have opened a wide range of possibilities for Hublot, leading to the Hublot Big Bang Integral Ceramic, a 2022 luxury watch novelty. The reason I want to include this on our list is that seeing (and, by extension, owning) this piece I reckon is a celebration of 21st-century watchmaking material sciences: Hublot, to my knowledge, is still the only one to be able to produce ceramic that’s colored all the way through the material and, more importantly, colored to extremely saturated, rich colors. It is unlike anodized or PVD-coated metals, entirely — the closest in terms of depth of color only enamel dials come, in my mind. However, here, all that saturated purple-blue, baby blue, military green, or sand is wrapping around your wrist, through the 42mm case and all-ceramic bracelet. The movement is a smaller UNICO, the brand’s in-house chronograph. Price for the Hublot Big Bang Integral Ceramic is $24,100 USD. -David
There was some discussion among the team as to whether or not a watch’s rarity should exclude it from this list. The Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon is certainly one of the rarer pieces we saw at W&W; it’s also one of the best. Grand Seiko is only releasing a total of 20 of these watches, with only three or four slated for production in 2022. The horological prowess on display is unquestionably impressive, as the Caliber 9ST1 movement is not only Grand Seiko’s first-ever tourbillon, but also the first tourbillon in the world to incorporate a constant-force mechanism on the same axis.
But beyond the remarkable technical specifications, the watch itself is a beauty to behold. Its open-worked design remains highly legible, and while the watch certainly is audacious compared to the brand’s other offerings, the case shape and lug structure of the Kodo remain unmistakably Grand Seiko. It should also be noted that Kodo is the Japanese word for “heartbeat,” and the audible cadence of the movement is a mesmerizing undulation between the quarter-note downbeat of the constant force mechanism and the 16th-note rhythms of the escapement. Simply put, the Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon is a joy to experience in person, even if doing so may be a challenge given its limited production. Price is $350,00 USD, and the watch will be available beginning in October 2022. –Ed
What really sold us on the Freak S watch was how cool it looked on the wrist of Ulysse Nardin’s CEO. In gold mixed with components of black-colored titanium and ceramic, the latest advancement of the brand’s Freak collection builds on the heritage of the silicon-themed product collection that originally debuted in 2001. What all Freak watches have in common is a minute hand which is also where the running train of the mechanical movement is located. This result is a highly distinctive look, but it also bears loads of technical and design opportunities from a creative perspective. The Freak S helps epitomize this ideal by creating an even more futuristic high-end Freak compared to the brand’s previous Freak Vision, and now with a visually stunning new automatic-winding dual silicon balance wheel regulation system that is connected via a novel type of differential system. None of this offers new functionality or performance, but rather a fresh mechanical, visual, and emotional experience that feels very satisfying. With a watch like the high-end Freak S, Ulysse Nardin successfully walks the fine line between spectacle and superfluity expertly well, and it’s hard not to want to wear one. Price is $137,200 USD. –Ariel
A cylindrical hairspring and a one-minute flying tourbillon come together in a three-dimensional package that is distinctly Moser. The Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton is a sporty release from the brand, housed in a 42.8mm-wide Pioneer case that shows off the mechanism, as well as those unctuous curved lines that are finished in black DLC. It’s horological boasting for its own sake, and that’s just so Moser, in the best possible way. I mean, it’s very possible you could wear this as an everyday piece (the 120m of water resistance doesn’t hurt in that regard, either).
Not surprisingly, this Moser isn’t exactly affordable, though neither were the collabs with MB&F that also featured a cylindrical hairspring and flying tourbillon. If you can afford the $86,900 and have a sense of fun along with horological appreciation, then this might also be one of your top picks from this year. –Bilal
While I personally would have preferred the Black Bay Pro in titanium (what could possibly be more professional than an aerospace-grade alloy?), the Black Bay Pro was one of the most attainable offerings in a show filled with spectacular “halo” level watchmaking, so it justifiably ended up on a lot of must-buy lists. Measuring a fan-pleasing 39mm in diameter, its 14mm thickness was a topic of much debate at the show, but all of Tudor’s dive watches tend to skew on the thicker side, due to the slab-sided cases. My initial impression of the watch was that it was neither thick nor thin and that it wore particularly great on the bracelet. More importantly, though, it seems to scratch the itch that the five-digit Rolex Explorer II once did — an all-matte tool watch built around the expressed purpose of utility. More and more, this seems to be the torch Tudor seems intent on carrying — filling in the space that Rolex left in the market as a maker of utilitarian instruments, as the Geneva giant has made a dramatic push upmarket in the last decade. Ultimately, as long as Tudor has sorted out the bugs that plagued the Black Bay GMT, we could very well have a future classic on our hands here. Price is $3,675 USD on strap, $4,000 USD on bracelet. –Zach
Not everything out of Watches & Wonders 2022 needs to be exorbitantly priced or out of reach for most consumers. Oris debuted the ProPilot X Calibre 400 in three distinct flavors (gray, blue, and salmon) and a new 39mm-wide case and bracelet done in all titanium. I think it fits and wears absolutely perfectly, and I was so impressed with the case construction. I know most of the love Oris gets is for its divers and more vintage-inspired pilot’s watches, but the ProPilot X is undoubtedly my favorite offering ever from the brand. With a five-day power reserve delivered by a twin barrel, a 10-year warranty, and a broadly accessible price point of 3,900 CHF, this watch is a no-brainer. I say forget the entry-level disappointments from the bigger brands and at least try out the Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 in the metal. I really don’t think it will disappoint. -Bilal
Titanium seems to be having a moment right now, particularly at the high-end, with brands like Vacheron Constantin, Laurent Ferrier, and many others remixing their haute creations in the aerospace alloy. So, it was only really a matter of time before A. Lange & Sohne offered its inaugural sports watch — the Odysseus in titanium — as well. Limited to just 250 pieces, asking for this boutique-exclusive at this point is almost a foregone conclusion, but like the titanium Vacheron Constantin Overseas “Everest” editions from 2021, it continues to illustrate just how cool the results are when you take a striking, high-end chassis powered by a unique haute horology movement and give it a brooding, ultra-light finish. But with its price of $56,500 USD, it’s also nearly double the price of the standard stainless steel variant. Does that mean it’s twice as cool though? Maybe, just maybe. –Zach
Zenith is doing smart things to sell watches and appeal to today’s collectors and enthusiasts. The Swiss company known for the iconic El Primero automatic chronograph movement is a brand that looks both backward and forward, as well as sometimes sideways to what is hot. While Zenith has the ability to be vividly original when it wants to be, historically, the brand has always been adept at offering its own take on popular themes — which is exactly why the Chronomaster Sport collection has been so appealing. Originally debuted in 2021 with steel models that bore ceramic bezels, the Rolex Daytona competitor watch offers something Rolex cannot: availability. Zenith also offers a slightly (but not much) lower price point and the legitimacy that Rolex actually used Zenith El Primero movements in the Cosmograph Daytona for 15 years. For 2022, Zenith introduces full gold and two-tone versions of the Chronomaster Sport watch in a roughly 41mm-wide case that is such a lovely blend of familiar good looks and brand spirit. The 5Hz automatic chronograph movement, combined with the snazzy looks of a daily wear luxury watch, should help make the Chronomaster Sport collection a continuing success for the brand. Prices are $17,000 USD for the two-tone model and about $38,200 USD for the all-gold models. –Ariel