Fratello Favorites: The Best Watches Released In 2022 — Daan’s Picks From Cartier, Seiko, NOMOS, And More
This is a special article for me to write simply because 2022 is the year that I started writing for Fratello. It’s nice to look back because boy, did I enjoy it! But I also thought it was going to be a difficult article to write. Choosing the best watches from all of the great releases this year seemed like a monumental task. But actually, when I looked back at them and my own purchases this year, the list quickly filled up. Most of them are fairly unexpected and within reach for most of us. However, there’s also some surprising grail material in there to keep dreaming about in the years to come. Did I say years? Maybe I should even say decades.
Becoming a writer at Fratello has opened my eyes to watches that I would have never paid attention to before. Often, they’re the more complicated, more expensive, and rarer watches out there. Budget-wise, they’re often simply out of reach, so before taking this job, I would have simply ignored them. But one of the things I’ve learned this past year is that you can still very well enjoy these kinds of watches from afar. For this list of favorites, though, I stayed quite close to my own style and budget — well, except for that last one. So without any further ado, here are my picks for the five best watches released in 2022!
Daan’s Best Watches of 2022: Serica 5303-3
Let’s start with a fun one! I’ve been following Serica from the very beginning when the brand introduced its “Wrist Watch Waterproof” field watch, now called the 4512. Jérôme Burgert, the mastermind behind the Serica, knows very well what he wants. He’s also incredibly adept at translating his thoughts into the designs of the watches. Though they are indeed very vintage-inspired, his designs still feel fresh and unique. But even though I liked the brand a lot, I still hadn’t bought any of its watches. And when I saw the first press pictures of the blue version of the 5303, I wasn’t all that convinced…
I thought the bezel looked a bit pale and that the watch lost a bit of the great character that I saw in the black-and-white version. But then the prototype arrived at the office, I was immediately sold. The tone of that blue bezel is so perfect for an immediate shot of summer right through your whole body. And then there’s that dark — and I mean dark — blue dial, which makes it feel like you’re looking directly into the deep blue sea. Everything is so well considered, and the star of the show is, of course, still that unbelievably stylish and elegant micro-mesh bracelet. I received my 5303-3 only two weeks ago, so please stay tuned for a more in-depth review.
The next watch on the list is another watch I added to my collection this year. And yes, it’s also yet another dive watch. But this one is very different from the ever-so-stylish Serica 5303-3 because it is a re-edition of one of the very first dive watches that Seiko introduced in the late 1960s. In June of this year, I was seriously hunting for a dive watch that I could bring on my summer holidays in Spain. For some reason, the simple tool-watch style of Seiko spoke to me, but I couldn’t really find the perfect model. I had previously owned the SPB143 (62MAS-inspired re-edition), which ended up being a bit too bulky. I was also looking at the SPB151 (“Willard” re-edition), but it just felt a bit too big for my 17cm wrist.
And then Seiko decided to launch a re-edition of its 6105-8000 in the form of the SPB317J1. It’s the one classic Seiko diver without a catchy nickname. And yes, it is the least-known of the bunch, but I think it’s the one to have! Its C-shaped case looks very streamlined and curves very well around the wrist. And just like the other two, it’s an absolute strap devourer. So without a lot of pondering, I decided to put out an order even before the official release date, and it arrived right on time for my summer holidays. Of course, I brought it with me, and it was my number-one summer hit of 2022. It was exactly what I had been looking for. Next summer, it’ll have to battle against the Serica for wrist time, but luckily, both are absolute dreams to wear.
Daan’s Best Watches of 2022: Fratello × NOMOS Glashütte Weltzeit “Blue Panda” Limited Edition
That’s enough of my personal acquisitions this year. Now let’s go over the releases that I’ve simply enjoyed from the stands. And the first one I’d like to highlight is actually a Fratello limited edition that we launched together with NOMOS. Last year, when the tuxedo-dial edition of the Weltzeit came out, I was already on the edge of my seat. But when the blue version came into the office this year, it was as if NOMOS had made a travel watch specifically for me. The only thing is that its size, especially the length of those characteristic NOMOS lugs, was not for me.
But even though I wasn’t going to buy the watch because of that, I was still the wrist model for the photos when the watch was launched. And the watch might’ve felt a bit big in person, but in the pictures, it looks like a star! So that’s why this is still a very special release, and it doesn’t surprise me that all of the 100 pieces sold out in no time. Because, even though I really enjoyed my time with the 37mm NOMOS Club Sport, I still think the Weltzeit with that panda dial layout is the brand’s best-looking watch to date.
Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto
Another watch that already sold out is this Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto, but I still think it deserves a place on this list. Christopher Ward has already made some great watches over the last few years. Not only are they well-designed, but they also offer great bang for your buck quality-wise. Yet, for some reason, no particular model ever stuck out to me. And then came the C1 Bel Canto. I was completely blown away by this move, and I think many others were as well, hence the quick sellout. In my eyes, the Bel Canto is a complete revolution, and not simply because it chimes every hour.
It’s also because of the outstanding and daring design, and finally, because of the price the brand was asking for it (£2,995 / €3,895 / US$3,595). Apart from the Meistersinger Bell Hora, I don’t think there has been another chiming watch at that “affordable” price point. But whereas the Meistersinger has a fairly casual design, the Bel Canto takes the styling to a whole different level. It’s a design that you would expect on a watch that costs at least ten — maybe even twenty — grand. I especially love how the chiming mechanism looks like a little bird with a tiny red beak. Hooray for Christopher Ward!
Daan’s Best Watches of 2022: Cartier Masse Mystérieuse
I remember when Nacho asked me to take a look at the Cartier releases for Watches and Wonders earlier this year. The usual Tank and Santos releases were already going to be covered by other writers, and I was left with the Masse Mystérieuse. I didn’t really know what to expect, but when I started reading the press release, I felt myself falling in love with the design and the technical miracle that was unfolding in front of me.
To this day, I still haven’t seen the Masse Mystérieuse in person, and maybe I shouldn’t. The pictures of it in my head look so beautiful, maybe it’s better to just live with the mystery of how that movement actually works instead of having it in my hand and trying to figure it all out. But watches like this from Cartier, even though I will probably never own or even see one in person, make me such a big fan of the brand. It even makes me enjoy wearing my Santos even more than I already did. And that’s exactly what this hobby is all about for me. It is about the love for watches at whatever price level. Bravo, Cartier!
Looking forward to 2023
There are still a few weeks to go, but 2022 is coming to an end, and I’m already looking forward to what 2023 will bring us. I’d love to see where Serica will go next and which of the hundreds of Seiko releases will grab my attention. I want to see if NOMOS will continue in the sporty direction it took this year and how Christopher Ward will keep surprising us. I also can’t wait to find out what beautiful creations Cartier will present to us in 2023. But of course, there are many other brands out there that are already preparing for yet another year full of exciting releases.
What do you think we can expect to see in 2023, and what were your favorite releases of the past year? Let me know in the comments below!
You can also find and follow me on Instagram: @fliptheparrot