‘The Best Of The Rest’ From Watches & Wonders 2022

Watches & Wonders 2022, the watch industry’s most important event and one of the biggest trade shows in Europe, has finally wrapped up, and phew… What a week.

With 38 brands exhibiting at the show in Geneva, Switzerland – including some that used to exhibit at rival show Baselworld and others making their first Watches & Wonders appearance this year – there was a lot to cover. It’s been a veritable smorgasbord for watch lovers.

Of course, DMARGE has been quick on the ball covering all the biggest releases from the fair – such as the exciting new Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Destro’, the mental TAG Heuer Carrera Plasma Tourbillon Nanograph and the sporty A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Titanium just to name a few – but there’s more than a few watches that really caught our eye.

Without further ado, here are a few more of the best watches to be unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2022.

Baume & Mercier Riviera Baumatic ‘Smoky Dial’

The Baume & Mercier Riviera Baumatic (ref. M0A10702).

Baume & Mercier might have had the smallest booth out of all the Richemont group brands at W&W ’22, but that doesn’t mean they had the smallest releases, far from it. We were particularly enamored by the latest iteration of the Riviera, their luxury sports watch offering.

Featuring a cool smoky gray sapphire dial that subtly reveals the inner workings of its in-house Baumatic movement (which boasts an impressive 120hr power reserve), this is a great alternative to watches like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Girard-Perregaux Laureato or Vacheron Constantin Overseas that won’t break the bank.

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Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon

The Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon (ref. SLGT003).

This was Grand Seiko’s first year exhibiting at Watches & Wonders, and the cult-favourite Japanese brand didn’t hold back for the occasion. The big news item was this, the Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon: an extremely dazzling piece of futuristic high watchmaking.

Grand Seiko is normally known for being a pretty conservative brand so to see them come out with such a futuristic, technical piece was a real surprise. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a Breguet or a Jacquet Droz or something at first glance, but nope, it’s a Grand Seiko.

Named after the Japanese word for ‘heartbeat’, the Kodo is the first-ever watch to combine a tourbillon and a constant-force mechanism as one unit on a single axis. The integration of the two mechanisms creates a dazzling visual and auditory effect as the outer constant-force carriage appears to ‘catch up’ to the smoothly rotating inner tourbillon carriage, producing a truly satisfying click that really does bring to mind a heartbeat. It’s truly impressive.

Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Travel Time

The Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Travel Time (ref. 5326G).

The titan of the watch industry had a somewhat subdued presence at W&W ’22. Where virtually every other brand, even the really high-end ones, were keen to have guests come in and out of their booths; mill around and have a drink, Patek kept a very closed shop. Many hoping to catch a glimpse of new novelties were instead told to piss off and go to the Geneva boutique.

But that’s Patek for you: they’re so unassailable, so influential, that they can really do what they want and people will still talk about them. And, of course, exclusivity is luxury…

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Patek’s releases this year were a little underwhelming for my tastes but one standout that’s worth talking about is the new Annual Calendar Travel Time. I love the asphalt-like texture of the dial and how clean the overall design is. It’s very honest and very refined.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante

The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante (ref. PFC905-1020001-100182).

Parmigiani Fleurier might have a name that brings to mind a pub meal, but this unique Swiss brand is definitely one to keep an eye out for. In recent years, they’ve experienced somewhat of a revival, in no small part due to their newest luxury sports watch offering, the refined yet sporty Tonda.

PF’s W&W ’22 releases were appropriately Tonda-heavy, but the most impressive watch they unveiled was easily the Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante. It’s a GMT watch like no other: it’s got a clever mechanism with a pusher at 8 o’clock that when pressed, makes the upper rhodium-plated gold hand dedicated to local time to jump one hour forward, thereby revealing the lower rose gold hand which displays home time.

Then, if you don’t want the clutter of two hour hands, you can press the crown-integrated pushbutton which will reposition the upper hand on top of the lower hand in the same manner as a split-seconds chronograph hand. It’s a deceptively simple and incredibly elegant GMT complication that’s perfect for stylish globetrotters.

Ulysse Nardin Freak S

The Ulysse Nardin Freak S (ref. 2513-500LE-2A-BLACK-5N/1A).

Watchmakers love giving their releases fancy themes or concepts for events like Watches & Wonders. Ulysse Nardin’s theme for last year’s fair was ‘The Vertical Odyssey’ (whatever that means) and this year they continued the theme with ‘The Vertical Odyssey II’.

The pinnacle of this so-called odyssey was the unveiling of a new model within their popular Freak collection, the Freak S (not to be confused with the Freak X – a few struggled with that one…)

The Ulysse Nardin Freak S takes the avant-garde time telling and haute horlogerie of the Freak range to new heights with its new movement, their first double oscillator with a differential with automatic winding, made possible by UN’s ‘Grinder’ system, which is twice as efficient as a traditional winding system.

The inclined double oscillator is quite mesmerising to watch. It’s like some sort of VTOL or spaceship mid-flight on the middle of your wrist. Cool stuff.

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Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222

The Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 (ref. 4200H/222J-B935).

Last but not least we have Vacheron Constantin, which was one of the brands that generated the most hype at W&W ’22. The ‘Holy Trinity’ brand quite appropriately used the occasion to bring back one of their most famous vintage references: the 222 ‘Jumbo’ from 1977.

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For those not in the know, the 222 was Vacheron’s contribution to the 70s luxury sports watch craze; a peer of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus. It’s the grandfather of the Overseas, which debuted in the 90s.

The new 222 is remarkably faithful to the 70s original – right down to that awesome integrated bracelet and its absurdly heavy weight on the wrist – but with a few key differences. The main difference is that the original, the new 222 has a sapphire caseback, which lets you admire the x movement and its ‘222’ engraved rotor.

This thing is a bloody ripper and just screams retro luxury. Its immense heft is actually a real boon – if you’re going to wear a gold watch, you kinda want to feel it, yeah? The bracelet is also surprisingly comfortable and flexible, even though it doesn’t look like it would be. This is definitely one to add to the grail list.

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