2022 has gone by incredibly quickly and is almost over now, but it’s been another fantastic year in the world of watches. In this article, we’re going to highlight some of the best releases, most incredible stories, and remarkable anniversaries of the year. We’ll also be taking a look at the year’s best brands and look forward to 2023. So, let’s jump into the best of 2022.
The 50th Anniversary of the Royal Oak
We celebrated a number of big anniversaries this year. It started off with the 50th anniversary of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Gérald Genta’s creation was introduced in 1972, and has since grown into one of the most popular and iconic watches ever created. For the model’s 50th anniversary, Audemars Piguet launched an updated Royal Oak collection with newly developed in-house movements and slightly updated designs, dial colors, and patterns.
The most important release was, without a doubt, the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 16202. This is the modern version of Genta’s original creation, but is now fitted with the modern in-house Calibre 7121 and comes with a slightly tweaked dial. Overall, it was great to see that Audemars Piguet has not changed its biggest icon drastically in terms of looks. All the 50th anniversary models feature a special rotor commemorating the anniversary. Starting next year, you will see all the watches fitted with standard rotors. In short, AP proved that the Royal Oak is here to stay and is stronger than ever.
Breitling and Bulgari Celebrate Anniversaries
This year also marked the 10th anniversary of Bulgari’s record-breaking Octo Finissimo line. In honor of the milestone, the brand opted against breaking another record, but instead introduced a number of amazing 10th anniversary models. The first two are the “Sketch” limited editions. At first glance, they look like the standard titanium Octo Finissimo and Octo Finissimo Chronograph, but if you look closer, you’ll see that these two watches feature dials with sketched designs. They also unveiled two brilliant rose gold versions with beautiful brown dials.
Breitling celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Navitimer by introducing an entire new lineup of its megastar. For the first time, all the watches come equipped with Breitling’s in-house B01 movement. There is a wide variety of options available, with sizes ranging from 41 to 46 mm. There is also a large selection of different dial colors that prove the Navitimer is as relevant today as it was 70 years ago. But that wasn’t the only big news from Breitling: They also released a new SuperOcean collection inspired by their famous SuperOcean ref. 2005 Mk2 from the early 1970s. And as always, we have seen a number of fantastic limited releases from the brand, including highlights like the Navitimer B02 Chronograph 41 Cosmonaute.
Tudor Is the Brand of 2022
Another series that celebrated its 10th anniversary is Tudor’s Black Bay line. The brand didn’t introduce any special anniversary models, but impressed with a string of new releases that had everybody talking. The first and most important of the lot is the Black Bay Pro. This GMT watch with its stainless-steel bezel is clearly inspired by the famous first-generation Rolex Explorer II ref. 1655 from the 1970s, but Tudor gave its own spin to the dial design and equipped the watch with the in-house caliber MT5652. The same movement powers the new Black Bay GMT S&G that’s modeled after the iconic Rolex GMT-Master “Root Beer.”
Both models were introduced at Watches & Wonders alongside a new two-tone version of the Black Bay Chrono. Later in the year, we saw the debut of the new Tudor Ranger and the Pelagos 39, both of which were met with a lot of praise. Time and again, Tudor has proven that they know how to pick just the right models and keep them affordable for a larger audience. It’s safe to say that 2022 was the year of Tudor. For the first time, Tudor stole the spotlight from its more famous sibling Rolex.
A Rolex Year Full of Solid but Unsurprising Releases
Speaking of Rolex, the brand with the crown did grace us with a number of less inspiring releases. The most eye-catching was, without a doubt, the GMT-Master II “Destro” with its green and black bezel. A lot of people weren’t that amazed by the watch with its crown on the left-hand side, but true fans loved the bezel colors and didn’t seem bothered by the crown placement. A release that deserved more praise was the new Rolex Air-King, which has a completely new case design and a great updated dial. Aside from that, we saw the introduction of the yellow gold Yacht-Master 42 and the new platinum Day-Date with a fluted bezel, which was something we hadn’t seen before.
Are you ready for the MoonSwatch?
Rolex competitor Omega had many more surprises in store for us. The year started off in early January with the introduction of the spectacular white gold Speedmaster 321 with a black onyx dial. However, the year’s major releases were the new Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep models that pushed the limits of what a modern diver can be. The watchmaker also launched a series of colorful dial variants for the 38-mm Seamaster Aqua Terra, and the new Speedmaster ’57 series debuted with the help of George Clooney. A brilliant release that has remained a bit of a sleeper thus far is the green version of the Seamaster Professional Diver 300M.
In terms of the Moonwatch, Omega focused on a number of new gold models that further expand upon the luxury side of the model range. The brand also unveiled the brilliant new X-33 Marstimer, which is both visually and technically stunning. But the biggest Omega Moonwatch news was, without a doubt, the introduction of the MoonSwatch. The collaboration between Omega and Swatch turned out to be a huge hit. The series, consisting of 11 different models representing different planets or celestial bodies, is very colorful and looks just like the real Speedmaster. Unfortunately, the watch’s success caused production shortages and logistical problems, which dampened enthusiasm a bit. That being said, it still didn’t completely detract from this brilliant new series that managed to successfully bridge the gap between luxury and affordable watches.
The Magic of Cartier
Another household name that’s been making waves in 2022 – just like in previous years – is Cartier. Cartier probably had the largest number of impressive new models that had people talking at Watches & Wonders. The new Pasha line was a welcome update, the Santos Dumont models with their lacquered bezels are simply wonderful, and the Tank Louis Cartier watches prove that you cannot beat an icon. The yellow gold model of the latter with its black dial and strap is a thing of sheer beauty. The Tank Must models were also a welcome addition to the lineup for those looking for an affordable way into the world of Cartier. And for something extra special, Cartier dug through its archives and added the Tank Chinoise to its exclusive Privé Collection. This set of releases shows exactly why Cartier is so incredible and beloved.
Patek Philippe Without the Nautilus
In 2021, Patek Philippe discontinued the Nautilus much to everyone’s disappointment, and so we prepared ourselves for a year without any new Nautilus releases. During Watches & Wonders, the brand focused on the more classically styled watches in their lineup. The new version of the 5172G Chronograph with its salmon dial looks sensational, as does its more complicated counterpart, the 5320G Perpetual Calendar. My personal favorite came in the form of the 5326G Annual Calendar Travel Time. The beautiful aesthetic paired with the brilliant case design and first-ever combination of travel time and annual calendar complications made for something truly special. The watch was introduced alongside the stunning but simpler Calatrava ref. 5226G – but it didn’t end there. Patek Philippe released a number of watches with green dials, the highlight of which was the 5270P Grand Complications. Then, in late October, seemingly out of nowhere, Patek Philippe introduced the new white gold Nautilus ref. 5811/1G. Does this mean we will also see the eventual return of the stainless steel version? That remains to be seen, but the slightly larger 41-mm white gold version looks amazing with its blue sunburst dial.
Grand Seiko and the Completely New Evolution 9 Series
The lands of Seiko and Grand Seiko are always ripe with new releases. There are simply too many to talk about in depth, but a series that is definitely worth checking out is the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 series. This line was first introduced last year, its highlight being the Hi-Beat SLGH005 “White Birch.” The Evolution 9 series injects both new movements and new case shapes to the brand’s portfolio, which is the whole point of the series. With these Evolution 9 models, Grand Seiko is stepping into the future with more angular, modern case designs and absolutely stellar new Hi-Beat and Spring Drive movements. This year, the collection saw the addition of the Spring Drive SLGA009 “White Birch” and the classy SLGH017 “Night Birch.” Additionally, we got a pair of stunning new GMT models. The first is the SBGE283 with a black dial and stainless steel bezel, but the SBGE285 “Mist Flake” takes the cake with its beautiful gray dial and monochrome look. Grand Seiko also added the SLGA015 diver and two new chronograph models, the SBGC249 and 251, to the mix. All in all, the additions show that Grand Seiko is ready for the future.
Other Stand-Out Releases
As you can see, there have been plenty of great new releases from the big names, but there are also many more that stood out. The reintroduction of the Vacheron Constantin 222 was one of the highlights of the year, and the DOXA Army models were a very nice surprise. The MB&F LM Sequential Evo is the brand’s first chronograph, and a spectacular one at that, and the new red gold H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack is nothing short of impressive. Another manufacturer that deserves a mention is Longines. They presented the brilliant Spirit Zulu Time, the Ultra-Chron Diver, and the Heritage Chronograph, among others. Longines has invested in better quality movements in recent years; combined with their vintage-inspired designs, the brand is now a worthy Tudor competitor. Oris fans were delighted with the introduction of the first regular Divers Sixty-Five outfitted with the new Calibre 400, the same movement that powers the very comfortable new titanium ProPilot X models.
The watches in this article are just a small selection of the many brilliant timepieces that have come out in 2022. It just goes to show that the watchmakers are not sitting still! I would strongly urge you to go back and check out all the beautiful watches that came out this year. With such a large number of releases, it was easy to miss a few. And who knows, you might just find your next watch!