As we approach the second half of 2022, we thought we’d check in with a global coterie of collectors to see what the most discerning watch lovers in the world had to say about the year’s timepiece introductions so far—particularly now that in-person events, such as Watches and Wonders Geneva, have restarted.
The people we spoke to agreed on at least one thing: “After a two-year void, it was wonderful to see creativity on display,” said Roni Madhvani, director of the Madhvani Group in Kampala, Uganda.
Besides their collective excitement about the return of in-person fairs, the collectors we tapped singled out a few timepieces, including Chopard’s L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire watch and Vacheron Constantin’s all-gold 222, that caught their attention this year. Among those who favor the red-hot independent watchmaking scene, however, the promise of what’s to come is even more thrilling.
“Either happily or sadly, I can’t talk about several of the most impressive watches I saw, as they are still cloaked in secrecy awaiting launches in the coming months,” said collector Gary Getz. “But the variety, quality, and creativity of 2022’s new introductions are going to make for a splendid year.”
Los Angeles-based founder of the Neighborhood Watch Club and president of Project Solo
I have always loved Parmigiani Fleurier. They have a unique design that is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. Last year they released their updated designs and from what I can tell from speaking to other collectors, they have been a hit. The standout for me this year was the Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante. Clean lines with a little hidden spice.
The reissue of the Vacheron Constantin 222 was a really nice surprise. I love it when a brand can pay homage to a previous model correctly and this did not disappoint. At 37 mm, it’s right up my alley, although it does wear larger on the wrist, which I’m sure the majority will be happy with.
I am a massive fan of independent watchmakers and am always on the lookout for watches that resonate with me. I have been following the journey of Korean watchmaker Minhoon Yoo for a while now, but it wasn’t until this year that he announced his final prototype. After seeing this piece and speaking with him numerous times, I knew he was someone I want to support.
London-based founder and CEO of Expedition Search
My favorite watch of Watches and Wonders is the Chopard L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire. The aesthetics of the original 2016 Full Strike were not appealing to me, though the technology and sound are amazing. This year’s new sapphire version is absolutely amazing with the same impressive sound and a transparent dial and sapphire case which allow you to fully admire the incredible movement. With its gong carved out of the same continuous piece of sapphire as its crystal, the Full Strike is one of a handful of recent repeaters that are bringing innovation to this difficult and incredibly sought-after complication.
If my favorite new watch is the Chopard LUC Full Strike Sapphire, the runner-up is the De Bethune DB28GS JPS. The De Bethune also isn’t an entirely new watch. Visually there’s a lot going on with this dive watch, so this black version with yellow highlights seems more integrated and wearable. It’s ultra-cool and really called out to me in a way that previous versions didn’t. I loved it. Other highlights for me were the A. Lange & Sohne minute repeater, the Vacheron Constantin 222 re-issue and the Parmigiani Tonda GMT Rattrapante.
The thing that surprised me most is how great it was to be back with friends and industry professionals. I’ve missed it but hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed it. Watches should be tried on and experienced in the flesh, not just pursued on websites and Instagram. Some pieces that don’t shine in photos are tremendous in person (and vice versa) — this is a very tactile hobby.
New York-based author
A watch I did handle and love this year was the Moser Armoury Vantablack collaboration. As beautiful as a dress watch can get. Mark Cho and company really do great stuff with playing with tradition and this is the first time I’ve been a fan of Moser.
Bologna, Italy-based executive and author (a.k.a. John Goldberger)
During the first quarter of the year, the watch brands launched many new wristwatches and I was impressed by very few models. During Watches and Wonders, I visited the Cartier booth and I wore on my wrist the incredible Crash Tigrée Métamorphoses inspired by African wildlife, a reinterpretation of the iconic watch born in London at the end of the ’60s. To create this watch, Cartier’s artisans used a compendium of crafts, including gold engraving, enameling and diamond setting. Unfortunately, the watch is a limited edition of only 50 examples.
At the Patek Philippe booth, the Geneva company unveiled one of its technical highlights for the year, the 1/10 of a second platinum monopusher chronograph, ref. 5470P-00. This incredible complication incorporates numerous patented innovations.
But for me the most surprising launch of the year was the Bioceramic MoonSwatch collection! A great example of corporate synergy from Swatch and Omega, it included 11 models dedicated to the missions to the most significant planets of the solar system. Affordable chronographs manufactured in an innovative material sold to a wide retailer network with an interesting marketing strategy—Omega democratized its iconic Speedmaster model.
New York-based founder of Massena LAB
As a long-time watch collector, I am always on the hunt for the next big thing. Nowadays, the next big thing is usually among the independent watchmakers and young emerging talents. Raùl Pagés is a Swiss watchmaker who established his own company about 10 years ago but recently introduced a new watch, Le regulateur á detente P1. The watch is a regulator (the hour and minute hands are shown on two separate dials) fitted with a pivoted detent escapement. That sounds complicated and it is. It is the way that the most precise clocks are constructed and to put this in a wristwatch prone to shock is extremely difficult. The design is inspired by the famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier. The watch is everything a watch lover looks for: an obscure construction, an original design and a signature finish. Raùl Pagés will be one of the stars of tomorrow.
Director of the Madhvani Group, Kampala, Uganda
I have 2 favorites from Watches and Wonders and both are Cartiers:
The Tank Chinoise Limited Edition Skelton Lacquer. In my eyes, Cartier has always been about design from its very beginnings and not just watches but beyond. The Tank Chinoise is a stunningly beautiful creation that lives up to the maison and its heart and pulse of creativity. It successfully embodies the past of the historic Chinoise model with its Art Deco roots and brings in modernity and takes the theme of the watch to another level with the enameling, beautifully set in a skeleton movement.
The Santos Dumont steel case/black dial: Whilst there are of course many beautiful watches from all brands at Watches and Wonders, to find iconic and beautiful timepieces that are somewhat affordable was a challenge. The steel case/black dial new Santos Dumont fits the bill and makes a stunning classic available at the entry level for new discerning collectors, which is important for the passion to grow.
San Francisco Bay Area-based partner and CEO of Strategos, and “Resident Collector” at Quill & Pad
My top piece of Geneva watch week, by some margin, was the Chopard Full Strike, now offered in a full sapphire case. The original 2016 Full Strike in rose gold already sounded phenomenal, but in a side-by-side comparison at the show the sapphire-cased version was even better. And as an enthusiast, I loved that the Chopard team was eager to talk not only about their own watches, but to exchange thoughts on a wide range of brands and independents they appreciate.
Big surprises for me came from Jaeger-LeCoultre with their Rendez-vous Star, and Hermes’ Arceau le Temps Voyageur. The former features a shooting star that traverses the upper sector of the dial at seemingly random intervals, and the latter delights by complementing a subtle home time display at the top of the dial with a travel time subdial that quite literally travels around the watch as it indicates the times in the various cities listed around the periphery. I love creative displays of time and unexpected, fun small complications, and each of these watches really hit the spot.
I’d encountered Raúl Pagès and his work previously, but a highlight of my visit to the AHCI exhibit space was the opportunity to handle his RP1. It’s a regulator-style watch with sober dial-side styling, and an ambitious detent-escapement movement that incorporates a patented anti-tripping mechanism to overcome one of the traditional weaknesses of the detent design. This is the kind of project that independent watchmaking is all about for me, and I hope it will bring Pagès some deserved recognition.
I have a few independent watches in the pipeline already that will need to be paid for at some point, so I didn’t go to the show week looking for anything in particular to add to my collection. If you’re paying, though, that green-dialed Ref. 5270P perpetual calendar chronograph from Patek Philippe will do quite nicely, thank you. And I wouldn’t turn down the new Vacheron Constantin Overseas skeleton perpetual in rose gold either. I particularly admired that Patek’s show week introductions were all dress watches, with nary an Aquanaut nor Nautilus in sight.