Fratello’s Favorites — Our Editors’ Picks From Watches And Wonders 2022
Picking your favorite watch from a show like Watches And Wonders is something that you simply cannot rush. It’s kind of like making a perfect cup of tea. Your head is a teapot, freshly filled with boiling water. The releases are the tea, which is immersed in the water and must be allowed enough time to fully steep before a perfectly brewed cup can be poured out. If you pour too soon, the tea will be too light, flavorless, and diluted. And if you haven’t had time to see everything and let it sink in, your opinion, like the tea, will be incomplete. After a couple of days of mulling over everything we saw, the team comes together to share our picks. And after only a couple of rounds of Rock Paper Scissors, we all settled on our individual highlights.
In this brief list, you’ll find picks that could easily be the best watches in the show, as well as other slightly more under-the-radar releases. To us, however, all six of these watches are absolute showstoppers. They are the ones we would see ourselves walking out of the boutique with and enjoying for years to come. Though we did perhaps see watches that were more technically impressive, these are the ones we can’t stop thinking about. We hope you’ll enjoy seeing how varied everyone’s picks are. And who knows? Maybe your number-one watch from Watches And Wonders 2022 made our shortlist! Read on to find out! But before we begin…
Making a rare appearance in written form (only her second time ever), a special welcome to our talented and extremely hard-working Social Media Manager — Sinara Isoyan!
Sinara — Laurent Ferrier Classic Origin Blue
I have to admit, picking my favorite watch from this year’s show was quite a feat. I was exposed to a myriad of extremely impressive watches within the entire week that we were there. Yet the watch that made it to the top of my list was one I was not planning to see — the Laurent Ferrier Classic Origin Blue. Call it a twist of fate, as I had not booked a session with Laurent Ferrier, but I decided to tag along with my colleague Gerard to get as much coverage of diverse brands on our socials as possible.
… it can be worn every day because, well, I’d never take it off my wrist.
I often find myself attracted to quiet luxury, and that is exactly what this watch exuded in real life. It’s such a classic, clean design, yet it left me completely speechless. The blue dégradé dial immediately drew me in, while the drop-shaped white gold indices and the light blue accents of the numerals and seconds-dial track pulled the design together. Additionally, the dark blue nubuck strap oozes sophistication, yet the titanium case and the dégradé dial emanate a more casual feel. This stunning combination of elegant and casual elements makes it the perfect everyday watch. Although, in my case, a CHF 31,000 (excl. taxes) watch cannot be defined as a daily beater. But, you get my point: it can be worn every day because, well, I’d never take it off my wrist.
Now, let’s get into the technicalities (I’ve always wanted to say that!). After countless days of wearing my dad’s hefty Omega Seamaster “Schwerty,” the Laurent Ferrier Classic Origin Blue gave my wrist a much-needed break. The Grade 5 polished titanium case and the soft nubuck leather strap further emphasized the feeling of quiet luxury for me. The 40mm case is ideal, confirming the watch as a subtle, yet distinct piece.
RJ — Vacheron Constantin 222
As soon as the doors to the Watches And Wonders 2022 show opened, the Vacheron Constantin 222 was the talk of the town. Not Rolex, not Tudor, not Patek Philippe, but Vacheron Constantin. I’ve tried many Vacheron Constantin Overseas watches, but this is truly something else. The full-gold bracelet is so incredibly well-done in terms of comfort and aesthetics, I wonder why VC ever decided to stop making it. The case only measures 37mm in diameter, but it wears a tad bit bigger due to the shape. In 1977, when Vacheron Constantin introduced the original 222, the size was also 37mm. Later on, the brand added 34mm and 24mm versions. The 37mm version was referred to as the “Jumbo”, something we’ve also seen with the luxury sports watches from AP and PP at that time. The original 222 was designed by Jorg Hysek, who aimed to create an elegant but sporty-looking watch that could fit Vacheron Constantin’s classic and refined collection.
The finishing on the gold case and bracelet is simply breathtaking, and the gold dial with applied gold indexes and gold hands is majestic. On the wrist, the VC 222 has an enormous presence. I dare say that I was more impressed by it than the AP Royal Oak 16202 in gold. Ticking inside this watch is the in-house caliber 2455/2, only 3.6mm thick and with a power reserve of 40 hours. The rotor has been designed especially for the 222 and can be admired through its sapphire case back. Needless to say, the 1977 version did not have this feature. The original 222 had a different movement, one that was nearly identical to the ones used in the Royal Oak 5402 and Nautilus 3700.
Now, €62,000 already excludes many enthusiasts. However, I’ve been told by Vacheron Constantin that this watch will have a limited (not numbered or capped) production per year and that the orders that have come in during the show will keep them busy for a while. That said, keep in mind that when a brand says a watch is “sold out” during a show, this often refers to what we call “sell-in”. Sell-in is when retailers buy the watches from the brands during these shows and presentations. Selling watches to the end customer is referred to as sell-out. That’s a very important difference. The demand from the customers is already high though, I’m sure. In the end, it’s a matter of patience.
Lex — A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus
What did you think when A. Lange & Söhne dropped the sporty Odysseus in steel in 2019? Did you like it, or did the white gold one on a strap that came later rock your boat? Honestly, I didn’t care much for either of them. And that’s why I didn’t expect anything from the announcement of a titanium version. I saw the press pics, and my brain said, “No”. But boy, was I wrong. And not only did A. Lange & Söhne come up with a great new watch, but the brand also conceived a cunning plan. But before we get to that, let me declare my love for the titanium Odysseus first. It’s the ice-blue dial — not Rolex icy, but still pretty icy — in combination with the gray of the micro-blasted titanium that works like an “industrial” dream. Let me say it like this: the Odysseus in titanium now looks like it was supposed to look from the get-go.
Smart design choices and hypnotic details
The functional gray hue of the Grade 5 titanium case and bracelet comes from a complicated micro-blasting process, which should protect the titanium from scratching too quickly. And this watch certainly needs protection from scratching, because banged-up gray matte titanium does not — I repeat, does NOT — look luxurious. Polished angles also capture and reflect the light, helping bring life to the latest iteration of the Odysseus. In a pristine state, the titanium Odysseus is as outdoorsy functional and aesthetically pleasing as is “watchingly” possible. And at just 104 grams, it’s 44 grams lighter and comfier than the steel Odysseus. The detailing on the ice-blue dial is hypnotic. It’s so intricate, so clever, just so beautiful and in balance with the original layout of the dial. It’s all just mesmerizing. The same goes for the movement and its finishing.
And now I get to the other mesmerizing part — the price. The steel Odysseus costs €33,000. The new titanium version has a price of €55,000. Why? Because titanium is more difficult to machine than steel and the special micro-blasted finishing is costly. Oh, and the fact that it’s a limited edition of 250 pieces. At least that’s what I was told. Hmm… I suspect that the price of the already sold-out Odysseus reflects a would-be gray-market price. Lange is cashing in on the success of the Odysseus. And why not? Lange made the watch, not the watch flippers. And the brand, not the sharks, should make the big bucks. It’s a cunning plan I fully support… Also because I can’t have/afford the titanically cool titanium Odysseus anyway.
Rob — Genus
Well, what a few days that turned out to be. With my attendance in doubt from the very start, I planned on visiting Geneva for just four days of the fair’s run. In some ways, I am glad that I made it home in one piece (after a hellish 13.5-hour journey beset by delays and cancellations at every turn). But, truthfully, I felt such gut-wrenching separation anxiety from my teammates the moment our ways parted, I would gladly have stayed till the death (mine or the fair’s, whichever came first).
In my role as Manager of Partnerships, my task was slightly different from that of the editorial team. I was deployed around Geneva proper to sniff out interesting new brands that don’t get the coverage they deserve on Fratello. In doing this, it’s our hope that we might be able to bring too-often-overlooked areas of interest to you, the Fratelli.
Off the beaten path
I had an absolutely wizard time at the Barton 7 showroom on Rue Barton, right next to Lac Léman itself. There, I met with some dynamic brands doing some truly excellent work. Special mentions go to the Schwarz Etienne collaboration with Finnish great Kari Voutilainen (a watch you’ll be seeing more of on the pages of Fratello very soon) and to the first watch to literally raise the hairs on the back of my neck since I first held the Czapek Antarctique in early 2020. I am talking, perhaps surprisingly, about the Singer Reimagined Flytrack Pulsometer.
I’ll cover that piece in greater detail in the future, but the brand I just can’t get out of my head is Genus. Here is a small, fiercely independent, self-funded brand taking its sweet time to make our times sweeter. The time-telling concept is out there, to say the least, and the execution thereof is simply gobsmacking. I was, amazingly, trusted to take these watches outside and able to get some half-decent daylit wrist shots of them. Let us know what you think in the comments below and whether or not you’d be interested in attending an independents event at Fratello HQ at some point in the near future.
Gerard — Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur Dual Time Zone
My choice pretty much flew under the radar at Watches And Wonders 2022. Often, when I mentioned it to colleagues from the industry, they hadn’t seen it yet. But the Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur really intrigued me. It might be its functional simplicity or just its original new way of showing the time in multiple time zones. Operated by a pusher, an hour-and-minute dial satellites along a ring indicating 24 world cities. Moving from city to city, flying over time zones, it indicates the time at the chosen location. A window at the 12-o’clock position on the main dial indicates the time at home in a 24-hour format.
Powered by the Hermès H1837 mechanical self-winding movement, the Arceau Le Temps Voyageur features a 122-component Chronode module exclusively made for Hermès. The complete movement is housed in an Arceau-line case, originally designed by Henri d’Origny in 1978. A map of an imaginary world, imagined by Jérôme Colliard for the Hermès Planisphere d’un Monde Équestre silk scarf, serves as the backdrop of the rotating dial.
The Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur will be available in two variations. One will be crafted in platinum and titanium, measuring 41mm with a black dial. The other will be in stainless steel, measuring 38mm with a blue dial. My favorite is the latter. The size suits me better, and the lack of platinum/titanium two-tone adds to the simplicity of the watch, in my opinion. Prices, respectively, will be around €26,000 and €20,000.
Nacho — Cartier Privé Tank Chinoise
My pick from this year’s show is a small watch which could be found in the biggest booth there. Cartier had quite the roster of new watches on display, including two extremely impressive technical masterpieces — the flexible diamond-set gold-mesh Coussin and the Masse Mystérieuse. However, there was something very classic and toned down amongst the diamonds, enamel, and skeletonization. It’s the yellow gold Cartier Privé Tank Chinoise that still haunts my dreams. And can you blame me? Even brand ambassador Jake Gyllenhaal couldn’t keep it off his wrist at the Oscars, a full two days before the embargo date. But just look at the contrasting finishes on the case, brought together by the deep blue of the hands and the dynamism of the sunburst dial.
The new watch is classic Cartier through and through, yet a significant update from the slightly more square Chinoise of yore. The old Breguet-style hands give way to the maison’s signature blued sword hands, and instead of the classic white dial, a tone-on-tone gold sunburst dial adds refinement and a bit of shimmer to this watch. The 39.49 × 29.2mm case size is elegant, but by no means dainty. To me, it’s a brilliant tribute to one of Louis Cartier’s original designs. And what better time to do this than the year marking the 100th anniversary of the Tank Chinois? Though currently limited to 150 pieces per solid-dial model, I’m hoping the Chinoise will be back to stay soon.
Did your favorite make the list? With all of the amazing releases from this year’s show and our only being able to pick one each for a total of six, there’s a good chance it wasn’t on the list. However, that doesn’t mean that we think less of it at all. In fact, having the discussions that lead to us picking just one each, we really struggled to narrow it down. Either way, we hope you enjoyed our picks, and as we get back to our regularly scheduled program and start to see new releases cropping up in a slightly less cataclysmic manner, we look forward to helping keep you up to date with the latest and greatest.
In the meantime, we’d love to get your take! What did you think of our picks? Did yours make it in? If not, what was it? Share with us in the comments below.
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