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This year's fair, Watches and Wonders 2022, once again showcased numerous new releases from the world's largest and most prestigious watchmakers. Let's take a look at this year's winners and losers from the Watches & Wonders watch fair!

The Watches & Wonders Geneva Is Back

From March 30 to April 5, 2022, during Watches & Wonders Geneva, the streets of Geneva were once again filled with journalists and watch enthusiasts eagerly awaiting the industry's latest developments in the halls of Palexpo after a long wait. The hybrid format of the fair allowed it to reopen its doors to physical visitors for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

Needless to say, even more interesting than the fact that this year visitors were able to visit the Palexpo grounds were the new products unveiled by luxury watchmakers. Rolex, IWC, Cartier, Patek and Co. shined again this year all down the line, while one or the other new product provided astonishment and puzzlement. Are you as curious as we were about which new developments were presented? Here is a summary of the highlights from Watches & Wonders 2022. That said, there were also some flops and disappointments that we wouldn't want to withhold from you.

News from Watches & Wonders 2022

Which New Products Did Rolex Showcase?

When the doors at the Palexpo opened on March 30, 2022, the crowds immediately headed in the direction of Rolex. That's no surprise, because every year, the watch community awaits the new releases from this luxury giant with a lot of anticipation. Which model will be a new release; which ones will be discontinued; which watches have received updates? The list of questions is long. The developments are especially interesting for the pre-owned market, as the discontinuation of models routinely causes price explosions. But the general ongoing hype around the Rolex brand has also resulted in a crowd in front of its displays.

ROLEX DATEJUST 31 278274 (Photo: Rolex)

A New Air-King

One of our highlights from Rolex at Watches & Wonders 2022was the new Air-King (ref. 126900). Featuring an Oyster case, smoothed bezel and crown guard (a first in the Rolex catalog!), the Air-King not only gets a new case, but also an upgrade to the bracelet with the Oysterlock safety clasp. Additionally, the new Caliber 3230 provides an increased power reserve of 72 hours, as well as an improved resistance to magnetic fields. The latter feature was necessary, as the previous soft iron cage, which the Air-King shared with the Milgauss, which has since been discontinued. However, this doesn't detract from the watch's image at all. Instead, the ref. 126900 comes in a bit slimmer and gets an extra dose of style from the new Bloodhound dial design (yes, that look is here to stay!). Rolex retains the somewhat controversial design of the dial and merely gave it an update. Instead of the number 5, there is now an "05" on the dial and the hour graduations at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock have received luminescent finishes. In our opinion, everything makes for a much more harmonious overall design.

New Additions to Yacht-Master, Datejust, and Day-Date

Rolex also presented new additions to the Yacht-Master Collection. Two new versions of the Oysterflex bracelet have been added to the range. One version is made of yellow gold with a black bezel, while the other is made of white gold with pastel-colored diamonds on the bezel. We honestly didn't expect to see a version of the Yacht-Master featuring diamonds! Additionally, the catalog now includes a new Datejust 31 with a floral-patterned dial, as well as a Day-Date made of platinum with a blue dial and fluted bezel. This is also a new development, as this metal is considerably more difficult to work with and polish than gold, for example.

A Rolex for Left-handers

Rolex certainly surprised more than just us with its next model. As expected, a black and green GMT-Master II was unveiled – but as a destro watch for left-handers with its crown positioned on the left and a date window at 9 o'clock. While the manufacturer's strategy of keeping its cards close to its chest is admirable, we have to admit that we find the new GMT-Master II (ref. 126720VTNR) hard to get used to – even if the crown and date window were located on the right side. However, all left-handed people and fans of Rolex will no doubt be happy about the new model.

Rolex GMT-Master II 126720VTNR left-handed steel watch with black and green bezel
ROLEX GMT-MASTER II 126720VTNR (Photo: Rolex)

By the way, we find the idea to have prospective buyers of the watch write something using their left hand in the Rolex boutiques very creative and amusing!

Tudor Is a Surprising Winner

While Rolex is always in the spotlight as the grand seigneur of the watch world, the subsidiary Tudor is adept at putting itself in the limelight as well. We were particularly impressed with two models. The first is a new GMT version of the Black Bay in steel and gold with a black dial and a black and brown bezel. In a way, this is a Tudor "Root Beer" that is strongly reminiscent of its big sibling from Rolex bearing the reference 126711CHNR.

That said, we think the newest addition to the Black Bay product line is even better: the new Tudor Black Bay Pro. With a 39 mm stainless steel case and a design strongly reminiscent of the "Steve McQueen" Explorer II (ref. 1655), it is impressive all around. For well under €4,000, the Black Bay Pro falls in the middle of the previous Black Bay models and modernizes the design of the Explorer II.

Bvlgari and Cartier Showcase Innovative New Products

Another surprise winner from Watches and Wonders 2022 is Bvlgari. The Octo Finissimo is not only a source of excitement with its sketch-style dial. As a limited-run special edition of only 200 pieces each, there is a "time only" version with small seconds and a chronograph with GMT function. With a case and bracelet in gray, sandblasted titanium and an ultra-thin automatic movement (2.23 mm for the "time only" version and 3.3 mm for the chronograph), Bvlgari stands out.

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT 103673 and automatic 103672 watches with sketch dials on a white background

The Parisian jeweler Cartier also joins the ranks of the brilliant and once again proves its existence as a fine watchmaker. After several years of different Cartier Tankand Santos models, the manufacturer remains true to its product line, but is offering an all-new model and impressive, innovative concept with its Masse Mystérieuse. Instead of integrating the oscillating weight of this automatic watch into the caliber as usual, the model in the Fine Watchmaking series simply turns the tables and incorporates the caliber into the oscillating weight. This can be admired through a transparent dial and a likewise see-through case back as it powers the hands of the watch reliably. A true masterpiece from Cartier!

Vacheron Is Back

The most quiet member of the Holy Trinity also spoke up. While Vacheron Constantin long seemed to be overshadowed by Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, the manufacturer has stepped into the spotlight once again this year. With a new edition of the legendary 222, Vacheron joins the field of sports watches with integrated bracelets in a 70s-style look. Initially presented as an all yellow gold model, the Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 dropped like a bomb at Watches & Wonders Geneva. Reminiscent of the 1970s model, the "jumbo" features a case size of a relatively large 37 mm, the Caliber 2455/2 with a 40-hour power reserve, and date window at 3 o'clock. As an original design, the 222 was not designed by Gérald Genta, as is often assumed, but was created by Jorg Hysek. It also skillfully accents the 18-karat yellow gold case with a white gold Maltese cross at 5 o'clock.

Omega and Swatch Present: The MoonSwatch

Omega and Swatch unveiled the "MoonSwatch" on March 26, 2022, which pays tribute to Omega's legendary Speedmaster Moonwatch and features a quartz movement, the sought-after "dot over 90" design on the tachymeter scale, an "S" for Swatch laser-etched into the glass, and a 42 mm Bioceramic case in a total of 11 different versions for 250 € each.

Bioceramic Moonswatch SO33M100 watch with black nato strap on lunar surface

Since the models were initially only available in select boutiques, the queues in front of the stores reached absurd lengths. They were sometimes so long that they had to be kept in check by police cars. But why? So-called "watch opportunists" (the term appeared on social media in the course of the "Moonwatch Mania") were responsible and not at all interested in the watch itself, but only in making a quick buck by reselling it – and occasionally at outrageous prices of several thousand euros. In the course of our research, for example, we found a "Mission to Uranus" MoonSwatch in "Tiffany Blue" for €15,000. In this instance, the seller was trying to capitalize on the hype surrounding the special limited edition of the Patek Philippe Nautilus with a Tiffany dial. This designation does not appear anywhere on Swatch.

Due to the completely crazy start of its sales, the MoonSwatch is not only one of the biggest winners for us, but thanks to the brash resellers and absurd commotion in front of boutiques, it's also one of the losers of Watches & Wonders 2022 at the same time. Apart from that, we think the cooperation between Omega and Swatch is a brilliant marketing coup to open up a new group of buyers to the luxury segment.

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