WATCHES & WONDERS 2022: SOME OF OUR FAVOURITES (AND NOT-SO FAVOURITES) FROM THE WORLD’S BIGGEST WATCH SHOW

by | Apr 3, 2022 | Style, Watches

Watches & Wonders, the massive luxury watch convention in Geneva, Switz., is currently going on, with almost every major watchmaker rolling out their latest releases.

Related: Watch wind-up: The latest news from Zenith, Chopard, and Omega

It’s the first in-person edition of Watches & Wonders in three years. The show runs through Tuesday, and the sheer number of outrageous new luxury watch releases hasn’t disappointed. Here are some of Regarding Luxury‘s favourites so far (and not-so favourites):

Rolex

The new Rolex black and green GMT is a total miss in my opinion. From a company that prides itself on evolution and not revolution this is a shocking departure. Rolex has developed a reputation for hitting home runs, and I’m afraid the winning streak is over. Someone (or make that many someone’s) should be ashamed of themselves for this release.

I can understand the ideology behind doing a left-handed model. And in doing so making it a truly left-handed with date on the right to facilitate easy viewing on the right-handed wrist. I will give them that. I do, however, find the date window located on the left side of the dial awkward. That distracts from what might be a welcome novelty in the left-sided crown. Something that the Tudor Pelagos LHD does very well with its left-sided crown, but keeping the date window on the right. That has been a popular model for Tudor as a result.

I think many of us are all hoping for Rolex to be more adventurous. I just don’t think this is the kind of novelty we were hoping for. You would think that creating a mirror image piece wouldn’t be so disarming. But it is, in an uncomfortable sort of way. The kind of uncomfortable you feel when you see a high quality replica watch, and notice a small detail that isn’t true to the original.

We did like the new Rolex Platinum Day-Date

More in line with what I would typically expect from Rolex is the Platinum Day-Date now with fluted bezel. Bravo on this one, it’s about time. The smooth bezel for both the Day-Date and Datejust has never made sense to me.

My final comment about Rolex is what they didn’t do this year. And that was to continue producing all the colours in the very successful Oyster Perpetual line. That includes the discontinuation the highly sought after Tiffany blue dial. If Rolex is trying to further alienate their customer base, then they have succeeded. There’s nothing like being on a waitlist for so long, then they stop making the product before you can even get one. Next thing we know they’ll end up discontinuing the Daytona Panda dial next year (you read that prediction here first).

Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT Master

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day Date 40

Rolex in particular with great long-term insight and planning has positioned Tudor as the sport watch entry point. That has replaced where the Submariner, Explorer, and GMT models were at the end of the 1990’s

Colin Potts

Watch journalist

Luxury watch: Tudor

As I talked about in one of my previous articles, I firmly believe Rolex is purposefully positioning Tudor in the price point they have left behind.

The Black Bay Pro confirms this with a Tudor version of the Rolex Explorer II, and the Black Bay GMT Steel and Gold, their version of the two-tone Rolex GMT Root Beer. I think there can be no denying what Tudor and Rolex are doing here. My concern for Tudor is that they doesn’t lose the unique identity and the support of collectors and enthusiasts that they have nurtured through thoughtful designs over the past four to five years.

Designs that acknowledge their connection with Rolex without being consumed by it. With this year’s releases they are they are walking a very fine line. And too much of the same will simply position them as the poor man’s Rolex.  As a result I am feeling a little lukewarm about both of these two releases. If I had to pass judgement (which I am inclined to do) I would pass on the Black Bay Pro. But I feel some interest in the Black Bay GMT, probably as I’m a fan of the Rolex Root Beer GMT already.

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High Horology Pieces

This year, for reasons I am still trying to figure out, I have mixed feelings about many of the limited edition pieces that have been released.  On the one hand I am delighted that so many brands are pushing themselves to create more ambitions pieces, both technically and aesthetically.  But I feel like some of these pieces lack the connection to people, places and things that can make a watch so special and connected to a larger world.

Grand Seiko

Grand Seiko continues to grow as a brand. The real turning point was operating as a separate entity from Seiko a few years ago, allowing them to establish distribution through luxury retailers around the world. The company, it seems, hasn’t taken their foot off the gas ever since. Grand Seiko has become a real driving force in the watch world. And the Kodo Constant-Force Troubillon seems to be a natural extension of that. I feel like the brand has earned the right to make such a technically ambitious piece, and for it to be taken seriously.

Luxury watch: Chopard

Chopard has released three new pieces in a series entitled The Sound of Eternity. Most interesting to me is the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire of this series. Using sapphire gongs and using the sapphire crystal itself as a resonator Chopard appears to be pushing what can be accomplished in the world of minute repeaters. I am impressed that they brought in a pair of musicians and utilized an Applied Acoustics Laboratory in Geneva to realize Chopard’s desire to create a musical instrument.

I feel I lack a clear picture of what Chopard is about though, and that the brand needs to continue to nurture meaningful connections.  However Chopard is moving in the right direction. But for me, despite Chopard’s long history, its modern identity isn’t fully formed yet.

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Luxury watch: Patek Philippe

The new Annual Calendar Travel Time and Calatrava from Patek Philippe this year seem to me to be lacking in the clarity of purpose. What are these watches supposed to be? They look like field watches despite being in white gold. While the rugged grey dial seems to be too coarse in texture to be interpreted as refined.  In a world where we see versatile designs that can fit a pair of jeans as well as a three piece suit I struggle to see how this piece fits.

Maybe I’m still sore over the discontinued 5711 Nautilus. I was hoping to see a pair versatile pieces that could be dressed up or dressed down, equally at home in multiple situations. Instead I see a couple of pieces that I might wear on the weekend … maybe.

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