Watches And Wonders 2022 — Wrap-Up And Highlights from Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, Cartier, And More
It’s over, ladies and gentlemen. A whole seven days of Watches And Wonders in an unseasonably cold and snowy Geneva. And as unexpected as the sub-zero temperatures and frozen precipitation were, there were plenty of surprises taking place within the beige-cloth-lined plywood walls of Palexpo. Especially in the not-so-plywood comfort of the Rolex booth. But it’s not all about Rolex. Around 38 brands shared their latest creations with us these past few days. And though we were not able to cross the full 38 off our list, we certainly gave it our best shot. As we settle back into a more sustainable rhythm, it’s very therapeutic to reflect on what we saw — the things we liked, those that surprised us, and those that didn’t quite live up to expectations. Admittedly though, items in that last category were few and far between.
You’ve probably already followed along with our coverage of the event. If you haven’t, shame on you! Repent immediately by visiting our WAW2022 landing page here, and catching up with everything you’ve missed. All done? Great! Let’s continue on to check out some highlights of what we saw at the fair. For the purpose of keeping this article somewhat brief, I won’t go into the non-horological highlights. Chopard’s best-in-show bergamot-scented disinfectant gel, Oris’s excellent barista who nailed the off-menu cortado, and IWC’s incredible evening with Hans Zimmer. None of that will make the cut here. This summary is all about the watches, not about the wonders.
Watches And Wonders 2022 — Cartier
The first brand we visited this year was Cartier. The first thing we noticed when approaching the Cartier booth was not only the fact that it was the biggest in the whole fair but also just the bustle of excitement surrounding the area outside the booth. The new watches included technically impressive pieces like the Masse Mystérieuse and flexible-cased Coussin. Classic pieces were also brought back in a new way with the Cartier Privé Tank Chinoise and black-dialed Tank Louis Cartier and Must models. The Métiers d’Art models were also extremely impressive. An enameled and diamond-studded Cartier Crash was the highlight of this collection.
Overall, Cartier managed to pull not just one or two impressive models out of the bag for the show, but a whole collection full of pieces I’ll be lusting after for quite some time. In the case of the Chinoise (particularly the yellow gold model) indefinitely, due to its limited production numbers. However, I could see myself being tempted by one of the black-enamel-dialed Tank Musts. One of those would be a perfect complement to my Roman-numeral Tank Solo. It’s plain to see that Cartier has tapped into something special. And whether it’s the favorable wind of zeitgeist filling its sails, or a precisely engineered plan for success, I was happy to see all of these impressive pieces before anything else.
Watches And Wonders 2022 — Rolex and Tudor (but mostly Tudor)
Where to begin with Rolex and Tudor? Well, I’ll go with Tudor, I think. This sentence does summarize my feelings for the 2022 releases from both of these brands. However, I have to say there are pluses and minuses on both sides. Ultimately it was the more youthful and adventurous tone adopted by Tudor that makes it much more appealing to me. I don’t have the hook-up when it comes to Rolex. All I personally want from The Crown is a “vintage” 16570 — nothing more. Perhaps it’s something I’ll grow into, but for now, I can’t help but remain slightly cynical about the whole availability/waiting lists nonsense. If I want to buy a Tudor (which could well be the case someday), I can do it. There is no greater power that can say otherwise.
And judging by the brand’s targeting of a younger audience, I’d say Tudor would probably be happy about it!
Wow… Things got philosophical fast. What about the watches? Well, for me, the two main releases were the Black Bay Pro and the Black Bay GMT S&G. Personally, I gravitate towards the 39mm Black Bay Pro. I mentioned that I’m ever on the hunt for a 16570 (or more like, ever saving up), so GMTs are certainly on my radar. And, chalk it up to my relative youth, but I don’t mind the fact that this watch takes (a lot) of inspiration from the Rolex 1655. I love that watch. But I’m not going to be in a position to pay €30k for one any time soon.
But €3,800 for a Black Bay Pro (what a name!), is something I’d only have to think about it for a little bit. And with some luck, I’ll be doing just that when we get one in for a proper hands-on review. I did also like the Black Bay S&G, but the Zenith Chronomaster Sport ending up stealing my heart in the two-tone category.
Things took a turn toward Tudor in that last section. And I promised myself to keep things brief… Anyway! What?! A crown on the left-hand side? I tried to make sense of the aptly nicknamed (by Mike Stockton) Green Lantern for quite some time. In the end, I take a slightly less enthusiastic version of Kristian Haagen’s opinion: “It’s weird! …And I love it.” Though I wouldn’t be so bold as to order one for myself (not like I’d even get on a waiting list), I think sometimes it’s worth not overthinking things — kind of like with the MoonSwatch. The Rolex GMT-Master II (126720VTNR) is a watch that I appreciate as an oddball move on Rolex’s part. That said, I’m still not sure I actually get it completely.
It’s the slightly awkward and unusual nature of this watch that gets a nod and a from me. Let your destro freak flag fly! If you like it, try and get it. If you don’t? There are other options out there. The platinum Day-Dates with the new fluted bezels were lovely. But as I said before, I don’t tend to spend much time thinking about watches that I’ll never buy and that don’t make my (slightly delusional) grail list. I’ll be honest when it comes to the Air-King: I agreed with predictions that it would be discontinued. The upgrade makes sense but doesn’t put it on a list for me. My favorite Rolex release this year? I agree with Mike.
Watches And Wonders 2022 — Vacheron Constantin
Oh yes! The Vacheron Constantin 222. As I write this, I’m having a hard time expressing my own thoughts, as I’m in the middle of a heated discussion in the press lounge between two journalists on this very watch. And as tempted as I am to just start transcribing for this section, I’ll try and just give you my perfectly uninformed take. I really like it. The start of my journey into the world of watches made me somewhat of a sucker for vintage pieces. So, seeing a watch essentially come back from the dead (almost) exactly as it was is pretty cool indeed. Sure, the date window is in an ever-so-slightly different position. Chalk this up to the day-6 fatigue, but who cares? It’s still an absolutely stunning watch.
The VC 222 has everyone talking, and there’s a good reason why: it’s a brilliantly understated (as understated as a full gold watch can be) integrated sports watch. I think it’s safe to say that everyone here at Fratello agrees that it’s a brilliant watch. Another brilliant watch from Vacheron Constantin this year was the salmon-dialed Traditionnelle Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. It’s just a stunning, beautifully crafted watch with some wonderful subtle details. The matching rose gold Maltese cross at 12 o’clock is one of them. And the incredible moonphase disk and white outlines on the dial and sub-dials are two more. It was hard to keep my eyes off the 222, but the Traditionnelle definitely had me turning my head.
Watches And Wonders 2022 — A. Lange & Söhne
It would be unfair to say that any of the four watches Lange showed this year weren’t highlights. But if could pick only one, it would absolutely have to be the titanium Odysseus. The upgrade to the Grand Lange One takes refinement to the next level, from the fractions of a millimeter shaved from the applied numerals to the way in which the hands sit on the pinion. The Richard Lange Minute Repeater is a classic number with a crisp white enamel dial, black Roman numerals, and blued hands. The 39mm platinum case hosts a stunning movement with a clever safety mechanism for the minute repeater. You can read all about it in Daan’s article here.
But back to the best from Lange this year, and the brand’s very first titanium watch — the Odysseus. The wonderfully textured surfaces are truly stunning in person, deeply contrasted by the hand-polished chamfers. On the wrist, it fits incredibly well, thanks to its Goldilocks proportions — 40.5mm in diameter and 11.1mm thick. I didn’t really expect to like this one as much as I did. Plus, you have to give A. Lange & Söhne some credit for directly answering collectors’ demand for a “holiday watch”. And though my holiday watch is usually a G-Shock, I suppose the 250 lucky owners will be pretty happy with this one.
For the sake of brevity, in this final section, I’ll simply list some of the watches we all agreed were highlights from the show. Starting with Grand Seiko and the incredible Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon. Patek Philippe showed off both a youthful side with its Annual Calendar Travel Time Ref. 5326G and Calatrava Ref. 5226G. The brand also gave us some more classic offerings with the salmon-dialed Chronograph 5172G and Perpetual Calendar 5320G. Speaking of tourbillons, Moser’s Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton was truly a sight to behold. Oris introduced a trio of titanium ProPilot X watches. Not only are they perfectly sized at 39mm, but they’re also a lot of fun thanks to the three cool dial colors.
Another watch which generated a lot of buzz was the Parmigiani Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante. Its brilliant execution is only (arguably) hindered by a lack of day/night indicator. I personally enjoyed the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen LE290. Despite its generous proportions, it was a very impressive piece indeed, and one that supports Nimsdai Purja in his quest to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen later this year. The Zenith Chronomaster Open was a pleasant surprise. Supremely wearable at 39.5mm, it’s one I had a hard time getting off my wrist. And finally, another unexpected highlight was the Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur Dual Time Zone.
Final thoughts on Watches And Wonders 2022
Overall, Watches And Wonders 2022 was an excellent show. Not just because it marked a return to the physical watch show, but also because of the almost never-ending stream of brilliant watches released. And this slightly subjective summary of highlights doesn’t even cover half of what we saw. If you did miss any of our coverage of the show, do make sure to browse through all the links included in this article. Alternatively, you can visit our Watches And Wonders landing page here. And as always, stay tuned for more coming your way soon as the Fratello Watches team makes its way back to more Dutch climates.
Please share your thoughts on these highlights in the comments below. What was your favorite watch of the show? What was your least favorite? We’d love to read your opinions.
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