6 Super-Cool Yet Relatively Affordable Timepieces From Watches And Wonders 2022
Boy oh boy, it actually felt good to wake up (way too) early each day and leave the comfort of a warm bed for the rainy Geneva landscape just to be part of a live, face-to-face, human-to-human watch event in Switzerland again. It had been way too long – almost three years since the last time a major watch fair gathered everyone from the industry under one large Swiss made roof.
This last time this took place was the now-defunct Baselworld 2019, which has since closed its doors permanently and has been replaced by a larger Watches and Wonders (previously called the SIHH), which now includes some big brands from Basel. The physical Watches and Wonders could not take place due to COVID in 2020 and 2021, so we had to make do with digital editions.
But on March 30, 2022 the watchmaking world descended upon Geneva in a similar way that the wealthy do every year in Monaco for the Formula 1 Grand Prix. I bet every single person I saw was pleased to be there: after all, watches are a physical thing – these are objects you really have to touch and feel to fully appreciate.
Watches and Wonders 2022 hosted 38 brands, some from the former SIHH, some straight out of Basel like Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Chopard.
Seven full days of the fair presented a variety of new watches, some of which you have undoubtedly already read about here at Quill & Pad, including in the Watches and Wonders round table the star editorial team puts together after fairs.
In general, what we saw in Geneva were watches from the higher end of fine watchmaking as most of the participants constitute the haute horlogerie maisons of the world. There were however a few notable exceptions – notable and affordable, which means here I’d like to show you some of the showstoppers from the Palexpo halls that will hopefully not break your bank.
The Tudor booth was my first stop at Watches and Wonders 2022. In all honesty, I just passed by the crowded Rolex vitrines and went straight to the brand that has for a long time been one of my favorites.
A quick glance at one of the displays in front of the booth and my horological heart skipped a beat. There it was: a perfect everyday wristwatch with a very useful complication: the Black Bay Pro.
It helps that its design was inspired by my all-time favorite vintage Rolex, the Explorer II “Freccione” Reference 1655. The Black Bay Pro comes in a lovely 39 mm stainless steel case with a brushed steel bezel, clean black dial with snowflake hands, ceramic-based lume plots, and a yellow GMT hand.
It fits like a glove on the wrist and feels like a charm. I would rock one with joy, be it traveling the world or strolling around my home city Warsaw.
For more information, please visit www.tudorwatch.com/en/watch-family/black-bay-pro.
Quick Facts Tudor Black Bay Pro
Case: 39 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber MT5652, officially C.O.S.C. certified chronometer certified, 70-hour power reserve, variable inertia balance, silicon balance spring, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, second time zone
Price: CHF 3,800
Oris’ presence on the watchmaking landscape has become ever more vivid over the last few years, largely thanks to its focused and charismatic CEO Rolf Studer. He changed a lot by not changing much, choosing instead to improve the quality, design, and variety of this brand’s watches.
Oris now has its own proprietary movement, Caliber 400, which is automatic and offers an impressive 120-hour power reserve. This movement now comes in a casual, everyday watch with what I think is a sexy name, ProPilot X.
The Oris ProPilot X is housed in a 39 mm titanium case on a cool titanium bracelet and comes in a choice of three colorful dials: blue, gray, and salmon-pink. Whichever color you prefer, it is a very interesting and well executed timepiece.
For more information, please visit www.oris.ch/en/collection/big-crown-propilot-x.
Quick Facts Oris ProPilot X Caliber 400
Case: 39 mm, titanium
Movement: automatic Oris Caliber 400, 120 hours power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Price: CHF 3,900 / $4,300
If asked to name a brand that epitomizes “classic” in the best possible way, chances are that many would say Cartier. The French maison offers the ideal of a perfectly dressed gentleman in a way that never goes wrong no matter the circumstances.
The Cartier Tank Must debuted (or rather was relaunched) in Cartier’s 2021 lineup with variety of different models. The collection also included three colorful watches with plain, elegant dials in red, green, and blue. I could not decide which one of those I liked most, so this year Cartier decided to help me out by bringing out the classiest version yet with a black tie-ready black lacquer dial.
In a steel case it just makes you want to put on that tuxedo and enjoy a night out in Paris. It’s understatement in the finest of forms.
For more information, please visit www.cartier.com/en-us/watches/womens-watches/tank-must-watch.
Quick Facts Cartier Tank Must
Case: 33.7 x 25.5 x 6.6 mm (large model) or 22 x 29.5 x 6.6 mm (small model), stainless steel
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: appx. €2,500 (small model) / appx. €2,600 (large model): exact prices tbd
A brand founded in Belgium by an industrial designer, Ressence is one of the greatest avant-garde watchmaking creations of the last decade. What Benoît Mintiens created in his imagination is unlike anything else out there: it’s so captivating and intriguing it’s impossible not to appreciate it at the very least.
Type 8 is the most restrained creation of the brand thus far, minimalistic to a point you could call it Ressence’s dress watch. The blue dial comes alive with just hour and minute disks, and in watching it you quickly realize there isn’t much else you actually need.
Type 8 preserves the so-called DNA of the manufacture and at the same time offers the most accessible, “simplest” Ressence watch yet. At 43 mm in titanium, it feels great on the wrist too.
For more information, please see Ressence Type 8: You Don’t Have To Wait For The Future, It’s Arrived!
Quick Facts Ressence Type 8
Case: 42.9 x 11 mm, polished and brushed titanium
Movement: modified automatic ETA Caliber 2892/A with patented ROCS module, 36-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: 12,500 Swiss francs
Evolution 9 is the code name for Grand Seiko’s new set of aesthetic codes, ideals by which new watches will be designed from now on – with legibility and comfort as key pillars when designing new pieces. And this was perfectly presented in several references unveiled at Watches and Wonders.
The GMT Spring Drive is one that caught my eye as a perfect blend of sportiness and usability. With its new 41 mm case and bracelet in high-intensity titanium and a choice of either a black or a textured silver-colored dial, the watch is a perfect travel companion.
And on top (or rather inside) there is Seiko’s ingenious Spring Drive movement, which perfectly combines mechanical and electronic parts for high-precision accuracy and the smoothest second-hand glide you’ve ever seen. It is absolutely hypnotic.
For more information, please visit www.grand-seiko.com/global-en/collections/evolution9/v4.
Quick Facts Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Sport Spring Drive GMT
Case: 41 x 13.9 mm, titanium
Movement: Spring Drive Caliber 9R66, 72-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, second time zone, power reserve
Under the leadership of young CEO Frédéric Arnault, TAG Heuer has changed its image quite vividly, focusing for the moment more on the entry level and gaining new fans in watch collecting before heading up the haute horlogerie ladder toward the high end next.
This year’s new products focused strongly around the Aquaracer line, but one piece caught me by surprise. While the orange-dial Aquaracer Professional 300 looks vintage cool and the Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver is a proper tool watch for divers, the Solargraph caught my attention as the first TAG Heuer watch powered by solar energy.
Equipped with a solar-powered movement made by La Joux-Perret for TAG Heuer using Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology – La Joux-Perret belongs to the Citizen group – it is encased in a superb black DLC-coated stainless steel case with a carbon fiber and Super-LumiNova bezel that glows in the dark like crazy. The watch just feels right, cool, and fun and will only set you back €2,800, solar power not included (but of course free of charge).
For more information, please visit www.tagheuer.com/ch/de/event/tag-heuer-aquaracer-professional-200-solargraph.
Quick Facts TAG Heuer Aquaracer 200 Solargraph
Case: 40 mm, stainless steel coated with black DLC, carbon fiber bezel with Super-LumiNova
Movement: solar-powered Caliber TH50-00 by La Joux-Perret/Citizen, Eco-Drive
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Łukasz Doskocz is the editor-in-chief of the premier Polish watch publication www.CH24.pl.