The Best Special Editions Of 2022 — Our Top 10 Picks From Zenith, Grand Seiko, Omega, And More
As we come to the end of 2022, we can conclude that it has been a year of many great watch releases. We can also say that limited and special editions are still very much a thing. They have become incredibly popular in the watch industry and are often linked to low production numbers. When we started talking about a list of the best special editions of this year, we quickly realized that any list of five or ten watches would be too short to cover them all. So, as always, let this list serve as a conversation starter, and feel free to drop your favorites in the comments at the end.
One quick thing to address regarding this list is our use of the term “special editions”. Though there are many limited editions on this list, we didn’t want the focus to be on the number of pieces produced. Rather, we wanted to highlight watches that are not regular-production pieces and that celebrate a special occasion, a collaboration, or a unique design or technical solution.
The Fratello special editions
We obviously cannot make this year’s Fratello collaborations part of the list, but we also can’t let them go unmentioned. This year, we had the pleasure of bringing you another string of special timepieces. Among them were the Fratello × NOMOS Glashütte Weltzeit “Blue Panda”, the Fratello × Minase M-3 “Very Peri”, the Fratello × Louis Moinet Memoris Spirit 40mm Chronograph, and the Oris Divers Sixty-Five Fratello Limited Edition that we released this week. And we loved every single one of them!
We decided that they would only get a separate mention instead of tooting our own horns and making them part of this list. Still, it has been an absolute joy to see them come to life, and we can’t wait to bring you more watch goodness in 2023. We already have some exciting new releases lined up that we can’t wait to share with you, the Fratelli! But now, onto the list.
Cartier Privé Tank Chinoise
Cartier releases a string of brilliant special editions every year. This year, I could have picked the rose gold Santos Dumont with the lacquered bezel or the stunning Masse Mystérieuse. But I want to shine the spotlight on a trio representing more than just a reintroduction of the Tank Chinoise from the 1920s. Over the past six years, Cartier has graced us with beautiful additions to the Privé Collection. This special family of watches for Cartier collectors celebrates some of the brand’s most iconic models of the past. We have seen the return of the Crash, the Tank Cintrée, the Tonneau, the Tank Asymétrique, and the Cloche de Cartier. This year, we saw the comeback of the Tank Chinoise, six different models that further prove Cartier’s design brilliance.
The range of Tank Chinoise models consisted of three watches with open-worked dials and three “regular” versions in yellow gold, pink gold, and platinum. These three regular models reveal the incredible versatility of the Tank’s case design. The Chinoise is still very much a Tank, but it perfectly integrates the Chinese style influences of the past. As Nacho explained, the cases measure 39.49 × 29.2 × 6.09mm and are extremely wearable. All three models come with a sunburst dial with the classic Roman-numeral layout that adds an element of style. Inside the case, Cartier equipped the pieces with its caliber 430 MC. The ultra-thin hand-wound movement is based on the Piaget caliber 430P. It operates at 21,600vph and has a 43-hour power reserve. All three limited editions of 150 pieces each sold out in no time, and it’s easy to see why. The platinum version, in particular, embodies understated beauty.
Zenith Chronomaster Original Limited Edition for Hodinkee
One of my personal favorites of this year was the Zenith Chronomaster Original Limited Edition for Hodinkee. As some of you might know, I am a fan of Zenith, particularly the Chronomaster line of watches. Within it, the brand has released some absolute stunners. The Chronomaster Sport Boutique Edition, the A3818 “The Airweight Cover Girl”, and the A384 Lupin The Third – Final Edition are just a few of them. But the one that seriously impressed me was this Chronomaster Original Limited Edition for Hodinkee with its stunning dial.
Technically speaking, this a “regular” Chronomaster Original model, but it comes with an opaline salmon dial and counters in three shades of gray. That combination of colors gives the watch a unique presence compared to the pre-existing models. It features a 38mm stainless steel case that is 12.6mm thick. Inside it, you will find the Zenith El Primero automatic caliber 3600. The movement is visible through the sapphire case back and operates at 36,000vph. The column-wheel chronograph movement sees the chronograph seconds hand go around the dial once in exactly ten seconds. It’s an absolute joy to see in action. All 300 pieces of this limited edition sold out in a matter of a couple of hours for €9,500. With such a handsome look, that comes as no surprise
A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus In Titanium
This is one of those watches that could be classified as “just” a limited edition. In reality, however, it was a great technical first for A. Lange & Söhne. This version of the Odysseus was the brand’s first venture into the world of titanium watches. It showed that Lange, which usually works in precious metals, is also perfectly capable of producing and finishing a titanium watch to the highest watchmaking standards that we are used to seeing from the brand. And as the Odysseus is Lange’s sportiest watch, it only made sense to create a lightweight titanium version of it.
Upon its initial release in 2019, the Odysseus was a much-debated watch in terms of design. Its 40.5 × 11.1mm round case is characterized by its protrusive “crown platform” running down the right side of the case. The new titanium version features a beautiful ice-blue dial made of brass. Delivered on a matching titanium bracelet, this watch is 43% lighter than the stainless steel version. Through the sapphire case back, you can view the stunning in-house automatic caliber L155.1 Datomatic. It operates at 28,800vph and has 31 jewels with a 50-hour power reserve. This boutique-exclusive limited edition of 250 pieces sold out quickly for a whopping €55,000. But seeing it again, I am not surprised that it did.
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo 10th Anniversary Models
I was sold when this special set of two Bvlgari Octo Finissimo 10th Anniversary models arrived at the Fratello offices. As someone who worked in design for 15 years, seeing one of my favorite luxury sports watches of today combined with hints of how the design was sketched was pure brilliance. The first of the two is the automatic time-only version of the Octo Finissimo, and the second was the GMT Chronograph version. Seeing them as a set was absolutely wonderful, but the Octo Finissimo Automatic is definitely my favorite of the two. Seeing it with the sketched dial brought the biggest smile to my face.
While this is certainly not a watch for everyone, there is no denying that all the intricacies of the case and bracelet design are a work of art. It takes the eye of a great designer to understand that the dial should complement the complex case with a simple, straightforward design. And that’s exactly what Bvlgari’s Product Creation Executive Director Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani understood. Seeing the stylish sketches connects you directly to the creation of his beautiful timepiece. The watch features a 40mm sandblasted titanium case that is only 5.15mm thick. Inside it ticks the brand’s BVL 138 caliber, which is an ultra-thin (2.23mm) mechanical manufacture movement. It is wound by a platinum micro-rotor and has a 65-hour power reserve and a 21,600vph (3Hz) operating frequency. All 200 pieces of the Automatic version sold out quickly for €14,800.
Airain Type 20 Vert Militaire Flyback Chronograph Limited Edition
As Thomas said in his introductory article for this piece, “Airain re-founder Tom van Wijlick show[ed] his great eye for color in this release.” After the regular-production black dial and limited-edition brown dial both sold out quickly, this was bound to be a hit too. The combination of the legendary Type 20 Flyback Chronograph with the beautiful military-green color simply makes for an absolute hit. That is why it’s no surprise that all 134 pieces of this special green version sold out in no time. But there’s more to it than just the color.
Van Wijlick has shown that he greatly respects the Type 20 and wants to bring back that spirit of the past. With the Airain Type 20, he did just that. Okay, the watch features a 39.5mm stainless steel case that is slightly bigger than the 37.5mm original Type 20. But it does bring it more in line with modern standards and tastes. Inside the case, he fitted a manual-wind flyback chronograph caliber by La Joux-Perret and kept the case under 11mm thick. The movement offers 60 hours of power reserve when fully wound, along with a 30-minute chronograph, per the original. All 134 pieces sold out quickly for €2,800, showing that the watch community is ready for more Airain Type 20 iterations.
Ressence × Alain Silberstein “Carpe Diem”
Next up is another smile-inducing release. The Ressence × Alain Silberstein “Carpe Diem” combines the technical brilliance of the Ressence Type 1 with the instantly recognizable style of French mastermind Alain Silberstein. The result is nothing short of stunning. The collaboration was made possible by Wei Koh, a friend of Fratello and the founder of Revolution. He started a new platform called Grail Watch, and this was its very first exclusive release. The Type 1 features a Grade 5 titanium case, which is 41mm wide and 11mm thick. The case is milled from one block of titanium and features beautifully integrated lugs.
The watch features Ressence’s unique ROCS 1 caliber. The three satellites display the hours, seconds, and days of the week. Silberstein took the liberty to redesign the entire dial to great effect. The rotating matte blue portion in the center has a light blue indicator, which points to the minutes on a peripheral track. The minute markers are executed in white and light blue on the same dark blue background color as the central part. Without a doubt, though, the big eye-catcher is the red hour track with the tulip-shaped hour indicator. The tulip is executed in white, pink, yellow, and red. The third satellite indicates the day of the week. A contrasting yellow triangle points to one of seven indicators, with the yellow one representing Sunday. All 36 pieces sold for CHF 22,500 (excluding tax), getting you one of the most original releases of the year.
Omega Speedmaster Chrono Chime
Just one glance at the Omega Speedmaster Chrono Chime will tell you that this is a very special timepiece. But the looks are not even half the story. Indeed, the movement inside the Sedna Gold case makes this the stunning timepiece it is. As Robert-Jan explained, the watch has a diameter of 45mm, a height of 17.27mm, and a lug-to-lug of 53.3mm. The Speedmaster Chrono Chime is made entirely of Omega’s proprietary 18K Sedna Gold. Yes, the case and bracelet are made of Sedna Gold, but even the movement is too. In total, that’s 326.20 grams of gold for your wrist.
The visual feast continues with a beautiful blue aventurine Grand Feu enamel dial. Additionally, you will find a Sedna Gold inner bezel and two sub-dials with guilloché engraving. The 18K Sedna Gold bezel is filled in with blue aventurine enamel. Turn the watch around, and you can see the beautiful Sedna Gold caliber 1932. The Speedmaster Chrono Chime is not just any old chronograph, though. It also chimes the elapsed time, which is a first in the watch world. Caliber 1932 is by far the most complicated movement that Omega has ever made, resulting in no less than 17 patents. This stunning timepiece sells for CHF 450,000 (ex. VAT), and it marks a monumental step in watchmaking for Omega.
Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon
We all know that picking just one Grand Seiko limited edition is nearly impossible. When it comes to watchmaking bliss, however, the Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon was another one of this year’s highlights. The Kodo was unveiled during this year’s Watches and Wonders. The brand will only produce 20 pieces of this absolutely stunning watch that went for sale for €370,000! But what you get in return is revolutionary in terms of watchmaking prowess. This piece’s technical tour de force is a movement in which the constant-force carriage is integrated with the tourbillon carriage. As Mike explained, “The result is an impressive pairing of mechanisms that sits on the same axis and, therefore, loses no torque between them.”
“The hand-winding movement has a power reserve of 50 hours and an accuracy of +5/-3 seconds per day. Impressively, the inner carriage rotates at eight beats per second while the constant-force mechanism rotates at one beat per second. Visually, this is a real treat to watch. Furthermore, the Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon is supposedly delightful to hear!” The movement is placed inside a 950 platinum and Brilliant Hard Titanium 43.8mm × 12.9mm case, complete with both Zaratsu polishing and hairline brushing. This stunner truly is something else and one of this year’s highlights.
Have you always wanted to own a piece of Max Büsser magic, but the MB&F timepieces are too expensive for your bank account? That’s where the M.A.D.1 RED came in earlier this year. The M.A.D.1 RED is the production version of the original M.A.D.Edition, previously only available to MB&F’s friends and family. And the buzz surrounding the release was loud. It almost sounded like we all wanted one. And as Ben explained, due to the brand’s limited production capabilities, the M.A.D.1 RED was still unobtanium for most of us. But the people who managed to get their hands on one did get a piece of watchmaking brilliance for “just” CHF 2,900.
The timepiece revolves around the modified Miyota 821A caliber. As Ben said, “Choosing Miyota was key to the aesthetic. The unidirectional winding allows for free spinning inertia in the non-winding direction without a brake to slow it down. The fast-spinning rotor is similar to the Valjoux 7750 with its ‘wobbling’ effect on the wrist and is visually dazzling under the front sapphire crystal.” The movement is placed inside a 42mm stainless steel case, with the crown placed at 12 o’clock and cantilevered lugs mounted from the bottom. This M.A.D.1 RED is both visually and technically impressive, making for one of this year’s most talked-about releases.
Nivada Grenchen × Worn & Wound Chronomaster Valjoux 72
The last piece on this list not only delivers a wonderful and unique aesthetic. No, the Nivada Grenchen × Worn & Wound Chronomaster Valjoux 72 also brings back the namesake legendary chronograph movement. The Valjoux 72 is often hailed as one of the best chronograph calibers ever produced, and this special edition is the full package. To make it a reality, the brand restored 20 Valjoux 72 movements and fitted them in its Chronomaster. The column-wheel chronograph caliber operates at 18,000vph and has a power reserve of 48 hours. But Nivada Grenchen and Worn & Wound didn’t settle for a straightforward presence.
The watch features a 38mm stainless steel case with a 39mm bezel. The bezel comes with a black-cherry-colored aluminum bezel insert, a fog-gray dial, and a racing-style chrono-seconds index printed in khaki on a black outer ring. The sub-dials are also executed in black with khaki indexes and three yellow five-minute highlights on the minute counter. The applied luminous hour markers are a nice combination of white and red. The hands finish the overall aesthetic nicely with a dark cherry color for the hours and minutes and a bright cyan shade for the chronograph seconds. The watch comes with a beads-of-rice-style bracelet and a brown rally-style strap in Shell Cordovan that takes the vintage vibes up another notch. Combined with the iconic chronograph movement, this is simply a very impressive release. All 20 pieces went on sale for US$6,900 on December 8th and sold out in a flash.
Let’s hear from you
There you have it — our favorite special editions of 2022. But these are just ten examples from the multitude of releases this year. I’m sure you have your own picks that would be great for this list, so please tell us your favorite special-edition watches of 2022 in the comments section!