Watches and Wonders 2022 - The Highlights
Swiss watches are like the Cuban cigars of the horology world – the product of one tiny country, but universally recognised as the best in their class. The beginning of this month saw the first of the year’s major watch festivals, Watches & Wonders, take place in Geneva. Thousands of industry figures and watch lovers flocked to see 38 luxury watch makers showcase their newest innovations and releases, no doubt enjoying a cigar or 2 in the evenings. The artisanship and beauty of the pieces shown were, as usual, extraordinary, and well worth the trip to Switzerland. Here are just a few of our favourites.
The Zenith Chronomaster Open. Image courtesy of Zenith.
As they hold the official license to make watches for Habanos brands, it seems fitting to kick off our round-up with Zenith. Their 2022 highlights included a slimmed-down version of their Chronomaster Open and a fully rose gold edition of last year’s Chronomaster Sport. The Chronomaster Open has been popular for almost 20 years, due mostly to the heart of the watch being proudly displayed through the face, and the 2022 edition sees it revamped to cater to changing tastes regarding size on the wrist. The case has become a more sleek 39.5mm, down from the usual 42mm, and the lugs have been reined to an even more slender shape. Pushers for the chronograph have been rounded to improve ergonomics.
The Zenith Chronomaster Sport. Image courtesy of Zenith.
Following the success of its launch just last year, the Chronomaster Sport is now presented with both case and bracelet crafted fully from 18-carat rose gold, with a choice of matte white or black lacquer dial. The swift rise to becoming one of the most sought-after chronographs in the world led Zenith to their decision to release this ultra-luxury version, returning to a brand tradition which predates even their legendary El Primero movement and reminds us that sports performance and luxurious beauty need not be separated. The result, particularly the black lacquer edition, is a tasteful blend of opulence and style.
The Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski. Image, and main Image, courtesy of Hublot.
Hublot are another Swiss watch brand known for both innovation and a love of cigars – they have built a strong and successful partnership with Arturo Fuente over the last 10 years. Among the revelations they made in Geneva this month was the continuation of another fruitful collaboration – that with renowned French sculptor Richard Orlinski. In 2017 the artist first lent his signature style to the face of a Classic Fusion edition; 5 years later on he has expanded this design to the bracelet as well. Four versions have been initially released, offering choices between black or white ceramic dial and whether or not to have the crisp titanium bracelet pave-set with almost 4 carat weight of diamonds.
The Hublot Square Bang Unico All Black. Image courtesy of Hublot.
Hublot have long been noted for their willingness to break convention, but perhaps surprisingly for them had never released a square watch until now. The new Square Bang Unico series comprises 5 new editions – including the All-Black, limited to just 250 pieces worldwide – which continue the brand history of avant-garde design and experimentation with materials.
The Patek Philippe Annual Calendar in olive green. Image courtesy of Patek Philippe.
Patek Philippe is possibly the most revered name of all in Swiss watchmaking, such is the length of their history and the sublime mastery of their craft. Each year their stand at Watches and Wonders is one of the most anticipated and busiest, and they did not disappoint for 2022. A total of 12 new models were presented to the waiting public, featuring a mixture of aesthetic refreshes of existing favourites and all-new technical advancements. Olive green was the theme of the new colour schemes: the Annual Calendar is now presented with a wonderful gradated green hue to the face, deepening into black at the very edge and contrasted perfectly with the rose gold case.
Patek Philippe Women's World Time in green. Image courtesy of Patek Philippe.
The spectacular complication of Patek’s World Time watch has also been reinvented in green, and with a more feminine touch. The centre of the dial is decorated with a hand-guilloched old basket weave décor, the rose gold case set with a discreet ring of diamonds at the bezel, and the strap presented in sumptuous dark green leather.
The Tag Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition. Image courtesy of Tag Heuer.
Tag Heuer are (rightly) proud of their tradition of collaborations in the world of motorsport, so it seems fitting that among their 2022 announcements was a new version of probably their most famous partnership. The legendary Tag Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition has been revived and revamped, this time featuring an in-house movement at its heart. The iconic colours of the gulf racing livery, made so famous at Le Mans in the 1970s, are the foundation of the design, with modern edits made to the brushed steel case and retro styling seen on the calfskin strap.
The Tag Heuer Carrera Plasma. Image courtesy of Tag Heuer.
As well as their history, Tag have celebrated their future in 2022: the Tag Heuer Carrera Plasma is an astonishing feat of technical creativity and futuristic design. The dark and dramatic case, made of anodized aluminium, is contrasted by an astonishing array of lab-grown diamonds, used to demonstrate the brand’s commitment to embracing the future. The dial is a special polycrystalline diamond plate – crystals grown as one which give an aesthetic comparable to a star-filled sky. The outside of the case is set with unusually-shaped diamonds grown specifically for this project. The show-stopper, however, is the crown: a single, 3.5-carat stone created by pioneering start-up Capsuol and contrasted by black DLC coating of the pushers on either side. If the rest are Watches, this truly is a Wonder.