Fratello Favorites: The Best Watches Released In 2022 — Mike’s Picks From Rolex, Grand Seiko, MING, And More!
Well, 2022 is nearly over, and what a year it was! We saw a return to relative normality and some seriously nice new watches with it. Admittedly, it was a big year for color variants on familiar pieces, but that doesn’t mean that it was a boring 12 months. Plus, watches continued to regulate towards “wearable” sizes for those of us with smaller wrists (yay!). With those trends in mind, I picked several of my favorite pieces. Were these the best watches? Maybe not, but they did catch my eye!
This year was probably the fastest on record for me. I returned to traveling heavily, and when one goes away for a week or two, time literally flies. As a result, I often found myself viewing new releases from afar and seeing them several months later. There were a couple of other takeaways for me this year. Firstly, if I consider the two big remaining shows — Watches And Wonders and Geneva Watch Days — I recall virtually exiting both with absolutely nothing on my “must have” list. That was a first for me. However, some of the best watches this year were released at other times, which underscores the long-term trend of moving away from an annual “show all” format. So, I still managed to crack the wallet for a couple of items. Now, let’s take a look at my favorites.
Rolex Yacht-Master Falcon’s Eye
My current feelings towards Rolex can be summed up with one word — ennui. I used to look forward to the annual releases from the brand with a relative amount of fervor. However, the last 10 years have been a relative snoozefest for me. Whether it’s the company’s unfortunate trend towards chunkier cases or the stale argument about lack of availability, my “give-a-s**t” gauge has run to an all-time low. Every so often, though, some skunkworks within the bowels of the brand turns out something relatively creative. This year, Rolex gave us the 42mm Yacht-Master in white gold on an Oysterflex bracelet. That’s okay for what I consider to be the brand’s most ostentatious and useless sports watch, but Rolex decided to bring something exotic to reference 226659. The watch contains a dial made of falcon’s eye, which is blue tiger’s eye, and, to me, this is one gorgeous watch.
The falcon’s eye Yacht-Master costs an eye-watering €31,650 and probably requires months of groveling and boot-licking at your local AD. Still, I love exotic dials on a Rolex. Onyx, wood, or lapis lazuli — count me in! Robert-Jan took some hands-on shots of this watch here, and as you can see, the dial is very subtle. In some lights, it’s not even noticeable, but in the right light, it’s a stunner. As I mentioned above, this was a year of color and variants on existing pieces. The falcon’s eye Yacht-Master is no different, but it is one of the best watches of 2022 in my mind.
Grand Seiko SBGW283 “Kishun”
The Grand Seiko SBGW283 “Kishun” is a watch that hit me as soon as it was released this past summer. Grand Seiko has been on a tear with releasing different dial colors for its entry-level mechanical model within the Elegance line. Many have been great, but the SBGW283 with the light blue dial is my favorite. This 37.3mm piece comes with a very traditional round case and an utterly simple dial layout. It is fitted with the 9S64 manual-wind movement, which is a really satisfying caliber to interact with daily. But what is it about this relatively simple watch that makes it one of my best watches for 2022? Well, it’s the dial…
Our local Seiko boutique here in Frankfurt contacted me when the SBGW283 first came in, and I was set to see it. However, I had to travel last minute, and I kept away from temptation upon my return. Last week, I traveled to London and finally tried the watch on at the brand’s newest boutique. What a jaw-dropper! The dial is a wild chameleon that gives off a robin-egg-blue hue in some lighting. In other settings, it’s almost white. For €4,800, this is a relatively affordable Grand Seiko with a lot of panache. Some would argue that the dial color could become tiresome, but I don’t think so. The fact that it changes makes it far more versatile than it would seem. Have a look at the article from our colleague Thor to see his most recent acquisition.
If you’ve read any of my articles here on Fratello, you know how much I enjoy MING watches. I own a few of them and even have a couple on the way. One of the watches that I’m awaiting is the new 37.07 that MING released this past summer for its fifth anniversary. The watch is notable for a few reasons. Firstly, it brings a new case and dial design that is actually an evolution of watches from the brand thus far. Second, it uses a manual-wind Sellita SW210 that has been finished by Schwarz Etienne — I always enjoy manual over automatic. Lastly, it possesses a wild mosaic dial with bits of lume and a depth that really must be seen in person.
Unlike previous pieces, the good folks at MING sent me the 37.07 and would not send any photos. In other words, when I opened the box, it was truly the first time that I had seen it. I still recall that moment and feeling like I was seeing something very different from the brand. I wore it heavily over the space of a week and truly enjoyed how different it looked on my wrist. Will I pair mine with the factory white rubber strap? I’m not sure, but I cannot wait to try some other colors and see what works best. Sure, MING can be a bit polarizing at times, but the brand makes some really creative pieces. The 37.07 (retail CHF 3,250) exhibits this unique quality, making it one of the best watches this year for me.
Omega CK 859
No, I did not go down the MoonSwatch path for one of my best watches of 2022. Was that watch significant? No doubt! Yet, there was an Omega that truly caught my eye, and, surprisingly, it was not a Speedmaster. Omega decided to produce somewhat of a reissue of its ’30s sector-dial CK 859. For 2022, though, the watch gained a bit of diameter but is still reasonable at 39mm wide and just 46.2mm from lug to lug. Inside, the watch uses the manual-wind, METAS-certified caliber 8926.
Sadly, Omega has already discontinued this €6,800 model, but it is available on the secondary market for this price or slightly less. What I enjoy about this piece are the dial and its overall wearability. Omega has a broad catalog that we often forget about in light of far more popular models from the sports lines. A watch like the CK 859 shows that Omega doesn’t ignore its less sporty history prior to the Moon landing. Plus, the brand can revise a watch like this, fusing it with its latest movement technologies. Tempting… tempting indeed.
Serica 5303 in blue
The summer was a good time for watch releases this year, and things started with a bang in June. The Serica 5303 in blue came and followed prior releases in either black or white. With its new hue, the already-unique diver truly stepped things up with a bezel that might be among my favorite on sale today. Serica chose a blue-gray color that I really love. Plus, the watch comes in at a perfect 39mm diameter with a lug-to-lug of just 46.5mm and a thickness of 12.2mm. That makes this watch truly comfortable, and if the mesh bracelet isn’t to one’s liking, the 20mm lug spacing makes finding a strap a breeze. Movement-wise, the 300m-rated piece uses the Soprod Newton automatic, which boasts serious accuracy at ±4 seconds per day.
Serica is a hot brand right now, and this blue version is now a waitlisted piece. However, it will be back in 2023 and can be ordered right now for €1,290, which feels like a reasonable deal for a watch that our team loved having in the metal. I’ve gone back and forth on whether to put my name down for one of these, and it just might happen before the end of the year!
The best watches of 2022 for me
Aside from the Rolex, my picks for best watches of 2022 were all well under the five-figure mark. Also, aside from the unobtainable one, my picks were all below 40mm. As you can see, I chose simple two- and three-handed watches, and that’s not a real surprise. Was this the most exciting year? Maybe not, but the industry made some really good, satisfying watches that should stand the test of time.