The best time of the year for the watch enthusiast, from the ashes of Baselworld rises Watches & Wonders! The premier horological fair of the year has come and gone, so why not take the time to recap the novelties of 2022 to see where each of our favourite brands have landed.
Omega was the first brand to really jump out of the gates this year and while they are not officially committed to Watches & Wonders, the yearly novelties are made public in the week before the fair hits full swing. This year saw a slew of “derivative” releases, from a yellow gold green dial Speedmaster, a blue to black gradient Planet Ocean Deep and of course the green Seamaster. These pieces while very well executed seemed a little too familiar to a brand with a crown logo.
While the memes were rolling in suggesting Omega’s creative department were borrowing inspiration from a competitor, nothing could have prepared us for the onslaught of the Swatch x Omega Moonswatch. A concept that the industry has never executed, created lines outside stores around the world and hysteria that the industry has never seen. A plastic swatch in the geist of the coveted Speedmaster Professional we all know and love, there was plenty everyone had to say about it. Most of the insanity revolved around those who waited in lines overnight or at the gates of their local shopping centre at the crack of dawn ready to do their best Usain Bolt impression to reserve their spot at the front of the line. We’ve seen this type of hypebeast behaviour when it comes to sneakers or boxing day, but I was shocked to see just how much buzz Swatch was able to create around the world. The watches themselves are fun, great for the asking price and allow just about anything to get a taste of the Moonwatch. How I would have loved this when I was a student and just getting into watches, or imagine how many parents will buy these for their kids. More watches on more wrists is a win for the industry and enthusiasts, and while many were concerned that the Speedmaster would be devalued or diluted by the Moonswatch, I couldn’t disagree more. The products are entirely separable and its not like there aren’t a million different Speedmaster editions out there already.
While Omega on its own I would chalk down to a lose, the Moonswatch fiasco for Swatch can only be considered a win.
Let’s get to the big show and let’s just jump into the big watch. A left handed GMT with green and black bezel, a watch that nobody asked for and a watch that really didn’t need to be offered. With so much love being given to the GMT over the recent years I was surprised to see yet another update and even more surprised again to see the configuration it arrived in. I’m certain everyone would have lost their mind at the all new bezel colour combination but with the left handed crown and 9 o’clock date aperture, something does seem off about this GMT. It feels crowded and worse, gives the appearance the watch is upside down even when it is the right way up. It’s not for me, but we all know the expressions of interest will be as far as the eye can see.
The Air King received a smarter case, refined dial and latest 3230 movement which was the incremental update we expected. Nothing to write home about and honestly I don’t know why the Air King is around, but hey. It’s a steel sports watch. A number of gem set pieces and top tier offerings were showcased with a white gold rainbow Daytona and Day Date Platinum (now with a fluted bezel) my personal favourites. While I would have loved the smooth bezel to remain on the platinum pieces for continuity and as a distinguishing factor from white gold models, it’s very handsome and there is something very sexy about the ice blue and platinum combination.
The Datejust receives a green dial in 36 and 41mm which is sure to be a hit and spectacularly a number of Oyster Perpetual colours have been removed from the catalogue. While the return of a platinum Day Date (particularly in 36mm) and a new white gold rainbow Daytona is a major win in my books, the rest of 2022’s novelties from the crown leave me indifferent.
Well, the worst kept secret of 2022 is the contemporary re-interpretation of the 222. A stunning piece that has been on the wish list of collectors for some time has some new life breathed into it. Vacheron has seen your Nautilus, AP Jumbo and said we can play at that game too… and maybe better. This watch makes a lot of people happy, enthusiasts (to see the return of an important watch to the VC line-up), the brand (it’s going to be a remarkable success) and probably grey market dealers too. A drop dead gorgeous watch and I hope one day to see it in person.
As sure as the sun will rise, there will be a new iteration of the IWC pilot and 2022 brings us a handful of new materials to add to the pilot’s range. With white and green ceramic coming into the foray, I have no doubt that these pieces will continue to succeed in the Australian market just as the exotic colours and materials have done recently.
Smart additions to the pilot’s line in line with a reliable formula of more pilots means more sales, I can’t see why this is isn’t a win for IWC.
The Octo-Finissimo gets thinner and another world record is set. Bulgari have been knocking down records year after year when it comes to movement thickness (or lack thereof) and to see an even thinner Octo is technically incredible. The NFT aspect? I’ll leave that to the metaverse to decide whether it’s of any worth. Much like IWC, it wouldn’t be a watch fair for Bulgari without dropping a new Octo Finissimo and the sketch execution is unique and suits the titanium grey material quite well.
Business as usual for Bulgari.
I might be in the minority here, but this year’s novelties from Patek left me uninspired and indifferent. There is no doubt in my mind that every single watch they released this year will sell and sell well. But I don’t find myself lusting after any of them, I’m simply not the target market for these pieces and that is okay! I may very well be suffering from Patek Philippe fatigue after all the commotion that was the Tiffany & Co Nautilus, but it was a ‘meh’ year for me.
A perpetual calendar Polaris doesn’t leave me thrilled, but much like IWC, the movement will undoubtedly make its way into any case that can house it. While a perpetual calendar dive watch makes zero sense to me, JLC more than makes up for it by showing off some brand new Atmos clocks. I don’t think we give enough attention to these beautiful mechanical sculptures since they cannot be worn on the wrist. I’m wrapped JLC has put love into the Atmos this year and placed it front and centre at Watches and Wonders.
Cartier continue to go from strength to strength with a number of stunning pieces, from the whimsical Masse Mystery which features a rotating movement to the art deco Tank Prive, the manufacture just can’t miss right now. Every release seems to be a hit with 2022 being no different.
There’s my recap, how about yours? Did I miss anything that should have been celebrated or do you entirely disagree with my comments above? Either way, let me know what you think and what the highlights of 2022 were for you!