The Most Hyped Watch Releases Of 2022 — Our Top 5 Picks From Swatch, Tudor, Rolex, And More
Last week, we presented a list of the top five releases that flew under the radar. Therefore, it only makes sense to also create a list of the most hyped watches of 2022. If you have kept track of the watch releases this year and the hubbub around them, you can probably guess at least three of the five watches on this list. Did all five of them deserve the attention that they got in 2022? We’ll leave that up to you!
The most hyped releases never fail to spark a lot of discussion and debate. If you like a watch, you can’t read enough about it. If you dislike a release, however, you may call it “overhyped”. We have seen quite a few releases this year that were heavily covered and discussed by watch media, social media, and watch enthusiasts around the world. As with every hyped release, some deserved all the praise, whereas some might have been less impressive. Without further ado, let the discussion about the hype begin!
Omega × Swatch Speedmaster MoonSwatch
Without a single doubt, the MoonSwatch was the most hyped release of the year. We have covered it plenty of times here on Fratello, and it was the cause of an avalanche of discussions. It started with the total surprise of Omega and Swatch teaming up. What was, according to many, a brilliant collaborative move was an unbelievable step (or even “stoop”) for Omega according to others. But the people who could get their hands on a MoonSwatch quickly recognized its brilliance. And it wasn’t just hardcore watch fans that wanted one. The impact of the release was clearly visible outside of the traditional realm of watch media. Furthermore, the lines in front of the Swatch stores revealed the great diversity of people who were interested in the MoonSwatch.
Unfortunately, the initial excitement around the product was soon overshadowed by troubles with supply. While Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek explained that Swatch was doing everything in its power to produce as many watches as possible, the distribution strategy to deliver to select stores and the decision to refrain from online sales quickly took over. The mixed emotions persisted for the rest of the year, with people owning one or more MoonSwatches raving about it. Other people said goodbye to the MoonSwatch but not without letting their voices be heard. It was only last week that Robert-Jan asked you how you felt about the MoonSwatch currently, and judging by the sheer number of readers and reactions, it was the most hyped release of the year by a long shot.
Tudor Black Bay Pro
Another much-debated release and the reason for much internal debate at Fratello was the Tudor Black Bay Pro. As soon as the watch was announced, older watch fans saw signs of Tudor copying Rolex, as the brand had done in the past. Here at Fratello, that would be Camp Lex. At the same time, younger fans did not seem to mind at all that the Black Bay Pro is heavily inspired by the Rolex Explorer II ref. 1655. Those people were part of Camp Nacho, who explained that there was no reason to be sour about the Black Bay Pro because it occupies a perfect place in today’s watch universe.
No matter which side you are on, the release of the Black Bay Pro created long-lasting hype. But it was not just the Explorer-inspired looks that were part of the discussion. Another thing that people had strong opinions about was the thickness of the watch. This is a chunky piece of steel at 39mm in diameter and 14.6mm in height. Furthermore, the way that Tudor designed the sides of the case gives them a distinct “cliff” aesthetic. But, as always, putting the watch on the wrist makes all the difference. The reason for the thick case is the brand’s 7.52mm-thick caliber MT5652. Can you imagine if Tudor could use a thinner movement for its GMTs? It would definitely increase sales, but the hype might not have been quite so intense.
Rolex GMT-Master II 126720VTNR “Destro”
I have to be honest here: I did not understand the hype surrounding the “Destro” version of the GMT-Master II. Now, clearly, every Rolex release will get a substantial amount of attention, but this, to me, was “meh” at best as a right-handed person. But as we could read in the comments, a lot of you clearly found the charm in this Rolex GMT-Master II 126720VTNR “Destro”. But there was more to it than just a crown on the left side of the case. Rolex also decided to place the date at 9 o’clock as opposed to 3 o’clock like a regular GMT-Master II. Lastly, the green and black bezel colors have a certain charm that many of you seem to love.
But the cynics quickly judged this was another Rolex marketing trick. After all, if there is one brand that understands hype, it’s Rolex. Having said that, Rolex seems too serious a brand to make this its most important release of 2022. But as Robert-Jan explained in his review, it’s not the first time that Rolex released a GMT-Master like this. Back in 1959, the Geneva brand developed a left-handed version of the GMT-Master ref. 6542. In that light, the new “Sprite” is not as much an oddity as we would all think. Nevertheless, it was a great cause for discussion in 2022, one that inspired Lex to request Rolex to stop this visual experiment.
Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222
To many, the release of the Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 was the return of a legend. Yes, I am guilty as charged! I listed it as one of my five favorite releases of 2022. The hype surrounding the reintroduction of this 1970s classic sparked various discussions. The first and main one was based on the brilliance of Jorg Hysek’s design. It’s also the biggest reason that I love the 222 so much. While the watch is much more defined by the 1970s than its counterparts from Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, it also brings a charm that many of us greatly appreciate.
Another topic of discussion was the change in the movement. Vacheron Constantin decided to skip the veteran caliber 1120 and install the modern caliber 2455/2. While it offers a higher operating frequency, greater accuracy, and a longer power reserve, it also replaces the beautiful, modified version of the JLC caliber 920. And another topic that came up was voiced in an article that Lex wrote. He stated that the new 222 rendered Vacheron’s Overseas obsolete. Seeing the hype surrounding the release of the gold Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 makes sense. Can you imagine what will happen if the brand decides to release a stainless steel version of the 222? That discussion will become even more intense. For now, the Historiques 222 in yellow gold has been more than enough to get people talking.
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5811/1G
The final entry on this list of the five most hyped releases of 2022 marked another return of an icon. The return of this one, however, came a lot sooner than many of us expected, and many wondered whether the updated Patek Philippe Nautilus 5811/1G was all that special to begin with. With it, we saw the return of the monobloc case with its two-piece construction. As Robert-Jan explained, a clever pull-piece lever system, which is still patent-pending, enables the watchmaker to remove the winding stem from the dial side.
Another update to Genta’s original design was a “whopping” 1mm increase in size, resulting in a 41mm white gold case. Yes, that’s right — white gold, not stainless steel. Additionally, we got an updated blue sunburst dial with a black gradient rim and a new fold-over clasp. Were these inconsequential updates, or did they make a great watch even greater? I’ll leave that up to you. Inside the case, Patek Philippe stuck to the brand’s caliber 26-330 S C that we know from previous iterations of the Nautilus 5711. There is no denying that the new Nautilus got people talking. And with a price of €69,200, Patek made sure that the price was definitely part of the discussion.
Let’s hear from you
There you have it — our list of the five most hyped watches of the year. But these are just five examples from the multitude of releases in 2022. I’m sure you have your own “hyped” picks that would be great for this list. As always, this list serves as a conversation starter more than anything. That’s why I am turning the question over to you. What are some of the most hyped/overhyped releases of 2022 in your opinion? Please let us know in the comments section.