Every year, once the dust settles after the excitement of Watches & Wonders in Geneva, the search for meaning begins: What are the trends? What is the (mostly Swiss) watch world focusing on this year? Is there a particular dial colour trend? Or is there a particular complication that’s popular this year? It’s all a bit like reading tea leaves to tell the future. After all, new watch releases will continue through the year, and some of those will be more accessible to general watch enthusiasts, unlike many of the limited edition, eye-meltingly expensive novelties on offer at Watches & Wonders. That being said, certain trends did emerge this year.
One big trend was the return of GMT watches. Perhaps it’s an indication of how, after two years of covid-19, international travel is finally on the rise again. After all, unless you live in a country like the US, you wouldn’t need a second time zone complication. So GMT watches were all the rage, with new lines from the likes of Tudor, Grand Seiko, Parmigiani, Patek Philippe. Rolex gave us a left-handed version of the iconic GMT Master II.
When you add to these the spectacular Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur—not a GMT but a world time watch—it is clear that travel is on people’s minds. Especially notable among this slew of releases was the Tudor Black Bay Pro. A gorgeous 39mm black dial tool watch with a steel bezel and a popping yellow GMT hand, it is reminiscent of sister brand Rolex’s classic 1655 Explorer II. But it is also very distinctly a Tudor, and a worthy new entrant to the Black Bay family.
The other trend, as it were, was that, unlike last year, there was no one dial colour that ruled the roost. In 2021, the dominant colour was green, with Breitling, Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Panerai, among others, all releasing green dial watches. It’s a trend that carried on through the rest of the year as well, especially with a trio of Grand Seiko’s limited edition references. And if 2021 was about green dials, 2020 was all about blue. Well, this year, there’s no such thing. In fact, there have been a riot of colours, from green to salmon to black and different shades of blue, pink and purple.
Instead, one ‘trend’ that caught the eye was that of manufactures doubling down on their watchmaking capabilities to produce some breathtaking designs, especially in the vein of open-worked or skeletonised cases. Take, for instance, the skeletonised Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon Ref. SLGT003, a first for the Japanese manufacture. It features a new manually wound movement that combines a tourbillion with a remontoir for excellent chronometry. Encased in a platinum and titanium case, it marks an evolution for the brand.
Elsewhere, Chopard’s three gorgeous new Full Strike minute repeaters, upped the ante on both skeletonised watches as well as the minute repeater complication, often considered the king of complications. These, as well as offerings like Parmigiani’s Tonda PF, Vacheron Constantin’s new skeletonised Overseas and Zenith’s open-worked Chronomaster Sport show that while mechanical watches may be an anachronism in 2022, they remain vital. These were the trends at Watches & Wonders. Meanwhile, here are nine other watches that were the talk of the town.
Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques 222 Ref. 4200H/222J-B935: Vacheron is one of the oldest watch brands in the world with many great designs. This year, it revisited its famous 1970’s sports watch, the 222, with the Ref. 4200H/222J-B935 . Vacheron-constantin.com; $62,500
Parmigiani Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante Ref. PFC905-102000B-100182: In a season of GMT watches, the Parmigiani Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante Ref. PFC905-102000B-100182 doesn’t disappoint. The compact sizing is another plus, along with the clean, legible dial. Parmigiani.com; $28,700
Rolex GMT Master II Ref.126720VTNR: The left-handed Rolex GMT Master II Ref. 126720VTNR was a sensation with its crown and date on the left of the watch. A great example of Rolex’s philosophy of incremental changes. Rolex.com; from $10,050
Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT Ref. SBGE285: Grand Seiko has been on a roll this year, producing some breathtaking watches (and it’s only April!) One of those is this classy Evolution 9 Spring Drive GMT Ref. SBGE285 in titanium. Grand-seiko.com €8,500
A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Ref. 363.117: The A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Ref. 363.117 from the German giant is that rare Lange thing: a titanium sports watch. The Odysseus is a boutique exclusive collection limited to just 250 pieces. Alange-soehne.com; $56,500
Zenith Chronomaster Sport: The classic Zenith Chronomaster Sport chronograph was given two separate lines, one in rose gold and one in two-tone. Featuring the classic El Primero movement, these are winners. Zenith-watches.com; $37,000 (rose-gold)
Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G Ref. M79833MN-0004: Tudor has been cranking out one winner after another every year. This year’s Tudor Black Bay GMT S&G Ref. M79833MN-0004 two-tone ‘Root Beer’ GMT is no different. Tudorwatch,com; from $4,700
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5226G-001: Patek Philippe, the biggest name in global watchmaking, refreshed its iconic dress watch, the Calatrava, with the textured dial, lumed hands and overall sporty looks of the Ref. 5226G-001 Patek.com; $39,033
Mont Blanc 1858 Minerva Monopusher Chronograph Red Arrow: Mont Blanc goes back to the 1940s for this gorgeous art deco monopusher chronograph, the 1858 Minerva Red Arrow. It’s a limited edition of only 88 pieces. Montblanc.com; $30,500
Handwound is a fortnightly column on watches and watchmaking.