Our Predictions In The Men’s Complication Category Of The 2022 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG): Did We Find The Best Unisex Watch Of 2022?
Welcome to the 2022 edition of Quill & Pad’s early Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève predictions in which the team picks favorites and explains why.
The panelists are:
Elizabeth Doerr (ED), co-founder and editor-in-chief
Ian Skellern (IS), co-founder and technical director
Joshua Munchow (JM), resident nerd writer
GaryG (GG), resident collector
Martin Green (MG), resident gentleman
The Men’s Complication category comprises watches that are remarkable in terms of their mechanical creativity and complexity. These watches may feature all kinds of classic and/or innovative complications and indications (e.g., world time or dual time) and do not fit the definition of the Men’s and Mechanical Exception categories.
IS: The rules state that this category is for, “. . . men’s watches that are remarkable in terms of their mechanical creativity and complexity.” The word that jumps out at me there is “remarkable,” so I’m a little disappointed in a few of the shortlisted watches here, which, no matter how good they are, shouldn’t be in the Men’s Complication category at all and have just been shoehorned in on a technicality. There are not enough traditionally considered complicated watches here for my taste. Not enough remarkable watches. That said, one thing I’ve learned from doing these panels is that if a watch is selected, it’s in the running.
ED: There is so much creativity here that isn’t “just” a tourbillon, only one of which I can see that squeaked into the category. I’m loving this category this year . . . but am having a really, really hard time picking a winner as at least half of these watches have jumped out at me as being super interesting in the right way yet entirely wearable for every day.
JM: Now that we’ve reached the Men’s Complication category, we start hitting my favorite part of the GPHG: mechanical awesomeness. There are five other categories that are even more horologically exciting than this one, but it’s where the focus begins to shift from broad appeal to more satisfyingly niche products.
Don’t get me wrong, these watches definitely will appeal to a wide variety of people, but only one would likely be considered to have truly broad wrist appeal independent of the mechanics inside. That makes this category fun and a bit difficult to judge since the jury could have completely distinct views. So I have to put my thinking cap on to try and predict what the jury will value this year.
GG: What a lovely set of watches! And I have to give credit to several of the entering brands for interpreting familiar complications in new ways and with new underlying mechanisms.
MG: Always an interesting category, in particular this year with a great diversity of different complications, and even one watch without one. 😉
Armin Strom Orbit Manufacture Edition
MG: I am not known as somebody who enjoys a date on a watch. I often think it takes away from what could have been a better design. But with the Orbit Manufacture Edition, Armin Strom literally gave it center stage. A clever and fun mechanism gives the perception of the date a new meaning. It is also perfectly integrated with the sporty design of this Armin Strom timepiece.
When I first saw the pictures, I was not sold on the bracelet, but had to set the record straight when I was able to handle the watch in the metal: it is very well designed and comfortable to wear.
ED: This is the most creative date function I have ever seen. And I adore the visuals of this watch. With something of heavy heart – but only because some of the others are really so, so close to the practical mechanical creativity of this watch – I am calling this timepiece this category’s winner. I would wear this in a heartbeat and probably would never stop playing with the fun date function.
JM: My main criteria for the complication category are usefulness, creativity, and innovation and the Armin Strom Orbit has all three. A date complication is often considered the most basic complication to add to a watch since it doesn’t need to require many additional components and can be universally considered useful to most people that choose to wear watches. It is also the most obvious extra information that someone might want on a watch. Armin Strom, as it has been known to do, tried to throw out all tradition when it comes to a date function and think of how it would make sense in the context of the brand’s unique layout.
The result was an on-demand date display that uses chronograph engineering to selectively switch it on and off, keeping it stowed a majority of the time and preserving the visual cleanliness of the dial. On top of that, most of the mechanism is visible on the dial side so that people can appreciate the engineering behind complicated watches can get a better sense of just what is happening. I think out of all the watches in this category this simple addition of a date is the most creative complication of the bunch. It reminds you that you don’t need to cram forty-five complications into a watch to stand out, sometimes all you need to do is do one really well and in a surprising manner.
IS: I was going to start with the “fact” that that the Armin Strom Orbit Manufacture Edition with date just scrapped in to the Men’s’ Complication category on a technicality. It would appear that a watch indicating hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve and date qualifies for inclusion in the Men’s’ Category. However, the Men’s rules state “simple date,” and the retrograde date of the Armin Strom Orbit isn’t simple: it’s a very clever on-demand retrograde date around the ceramic bezel.
A case band pusher at 10 o’clock activates the central date hand, which works normally until the pusher is pressed again and the hand flies back to 12 o’clock. It’s clever, but I don’t feel it’s complicated enough to win this category.
GG: A tip of the hat to Armin Strom for the Orbit Manufacture Edition, which, like the Parmigiani in this category, has an indication that instantly flies back to its reference position, in this case a column-wheel-driven date indication that snaps between a rest position at 12 o’clock and the date as shown on the bezel.
For me, however, the visual presentation is a bit of a hash, and I’m not quite sure that the complication is actually that useful as taking an extra step each time I want to see the date seems like work to me more than fun.
Quick Facts Armin Strom Orbit Manufacture Edition
Case: 43.4 x 12.6 mm, stainless steel
Movement: in-house automatic Caliber ASB19 with micro rotor on dial side and Geneva-drive constant force barrel, 25,200 vph frequency, 72-hour power reserve, column-wheel date
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 25 pieces
Price: CHF 29,500
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked
JM: Normally we need to give a bit of leeway to the mighty tourbillon in the complication category since technically a tourbillon isn’t considered a complication because it doesn’t add any extra information. It simply is a form of a regulator. But since there is now an entire category devoted to tourbillons (as there should be) I can confidently say that a watch with only a tourbillon is not enough to win this category.
It is a very cool watch with an awesomely skeletonized movement, a modern style and bold color, but not a watch with a complication. You can argue against that, but I don’t really feel there is any more justification needed than “tourbillons have their own category.”
IS: On the plus side, the gold hour and minute hands of the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked are relatively legible against the dial-free skeletonized movement (and that’s not always the case). And while I’m willing to count a tourbillon as a complication if the GPHG insists, I don’t feel a tourbillon (and this may get repetitive) is complicated enough to win this category.
GG: Since the marketing disaster that was the introduction of the Code 11.59, Audemars Piguet has – to its considerable credit – been plugging along with the line, introducing a series of references that hold much more appeal than the set thrown out at us at the initial launch.
The Tourbillon Openworked is the latest of these and, at least from images, looks to be clean and well made, with several interior angles and a vivid blue movement finish. I’ll have to see the watch in person to know whether the thin gold baton hands can be seen, though. Against the other finalists in this category, all of which present an actual complication, a tourbillon-only, two-hand watch isn’t up to the competition.
MG: Like in the Ladies Complication category, a tourbillon alone is not going to cut it. As this Audemars Piguet lacks any other functions, I have no idea what it’s doing in this category: a tourbillon is an escapement style, not a complication.
ED: I can only echo the sentiments of my colleagues on this one. But I am very glad to see it is the only tourbillon that dared rear its escapement here.
Quick Facts Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked
Case: 41 x 10.7 mm, white gold and blue ceramic
Movement: skeletonized automatic Caliber 2948 with one-minute tourbillon, 72-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 50 pieces
Price: CHF 214,400
Bovet Virtuoso V
MG: Such a beautiful and pure Bovet. I always enjoy the brand’s Amadeo convertible system, but in this case the salmon color and relative restraint (for a Bovet) of the dial combine to make an elegant combination that leaves an exquisite, exotic, and dashing impression behind. Most of all, this is a watch that walks to its own beat, something more watches should do.
JM: I have always been a fan of Bovet for many reasons, but the main one is that there really isn’t another brand like Bovet in the watch industry. It has its own very unique take on watchmaking and watch design that blazes its own path proudly. I love the variety and mechanics that come out of Bovet, and the Virtuoso V is an incredible watch.
Retrograde minutes with jump hours is right up my alley, and the convertible case is always awesome. But this is also standard fare for Bovet and has been seen in many models over the years. So while it is very unique in the industry, it isn’t exactly new this year. For that reason, I feel it falls short to take the crown.
IS: By many measures, the Bovet 1822 Virtuoso V should be a shoo-in to win here with its number of complications, including displaying hours, minutes, seconds, retrograde minutes, jumping hours, and dual time on two faces.
And the case is a complication by itself: as well as having two very different looking dials, the convertible case can be worn as a wristwatch, used as a desk clock, or attached on the chain to make a pocket watch. This was a close call for me, but the Virtuoso V is my runner up.
ED: I was able to handle this watch at length and found it to be a beautiful specimen of a Bovet in a convertible Amadeo case. And however fun I find the novelty of two sides that each tell the proper time – whether they be the same or different times – as well as the jump hours and the retrograde minutes, two display types I love, we have seen this watch before from Bovet. And that knocks a point off, much to my dismay.
GG: I’m a big fan of jumping and retrograde indications, so it should be no surprise that I quite like the Bovet 1822 Virtuoso V. As the brand says in the text accompanying the GPHG entry, I would indeed be waiting for the top of each hour to see the hour jump and minutes snap back simultaneously. The unusual dial color is something a bit different – and to my eye appealing – and the flexibility of Bovet’s Amadeo case system remains unique.
Quick Facts Bovet Virtuoso V
Case: 43.5 x 15.7 mm, Grade 5 titanium with stainless steel patented Amadeo Convertible system
Movement: manually wound Caliber 13BM11AIHSMR with five-day power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: (jump) hours, (retrograde) minutes; hours, minutes, and seconds on the reverse dial; power reserve indication
Limitation: 30 pieces
Price: CHF 68,500
Remark: comes with white gold pocket watch chain; five-year warranty
Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur
GG: I chose the 38 mm steel Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur as my second pick – by an eyelash – in the Ladies Complication category, and I’m going to promote this larger 41 mm platinum and titanium version to the top slot in Men’s Complications. The wandering local time module is extremely clever, the displays of home and local time are both clear, and the overall design and horse-related “map of the world” make me smile.
JM: We first saw this watch in the Ladies’ Complication category, and I said I loved it but felt the slightly smaller blue version didn’t feel like it was designed with the feminine in mind so it fell short there. That isn’t a problem in this category since it seemed designed without gender in mind, or at least without the fairer gender in mind.
The flying time dial that rotates around the case to follow the time zone as it is adjusted is a very cool use of a planetary gear system. It allows the wearer to get 24 different watches depending on where they are traveling to or where they have set their second time zone. I love the horology coming from Hermès and I am glad that pieces like this are still coming from the brand. I am mixed on what I think the jury will do with their votes this year, however. I think the watch will likely win over many on the jury, and could very well take the win, but I think the complication is less creative and unique (just by a hair) than the simple date mechanism of Armin Strom. I wanted to score this category a tie, but I have to give the edge to a different watch even though I think Hermès launched another fantastic watch.
MG: While I prefer the version of the Arceau Le Temps Voyageur that is competing in the Ladies Complication category in terms of color and use of materials, this slightly larger version has its own appeal. It is a dash more sporty, or at least tries to be. For me, there is not really a need for this as it will never become a true sports watch anyway. What it is is a dashing travel companion that excels in the looks department and offers original features that simply have to appeal to any enthusiast of mechanical watchmaking.
IS: So the Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur, again. After picking the blue version to win the Ladies’ Complication category, to my memory this is the first time I’ve ever picked virtually the same watch (admittedly with difference case sizes) to win both men’s and ladies’ categories. However, my memory of smiling broadly at operating the pusher and watching the hour/minute subdial rotate around the dial to indicate worldtime is as strong as ever.
I prefer the blue version (in the Ladies’ Complication category) over this 41 mm black model; I do not think a second time zone or worldtime is complicated enough, and I’m not sure about voting for the same watch in two diametrically opposed categories. But despite all of that, I’m picking the Le Temps Voyageur in black as both my winner for this category and best unisex watch of 2022.
Complicated and clever – bonus points, it makes you smile.
ED: That is an extremely compelling argument, Ian, and I like it! And I love the idea of unofficially calling it the best unisex watch of 2022. It fits!
Quick Facts Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur
Case: 41 x 12.52 mm, titanium and platinum
Movement: automatic Hermès Caliber H1837 with Chronode module; 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 40-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; worldtime, second time zone
Price: CHF 26,850
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante
MG: No date and an extra hand: this is Parmigiani’s way of creating one of today’s most beautiful and technically appealing travel watches. Along with the Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur, both are very high on my personal wish list as they make travel watches original and fun again, almost like what flying used to be. They are an experience and a fine one to boot.
JM: This is the watch that probably has the widest wrist appeal within the category, and it helps that it has a rather unique take on the GMT function. A secret GMT hand that stays hidden until you are traveling, this watch doubles as a standard two-handed sports watch and a travel watch. It doesn’t need to act like a typical GMT when it tries to be as unobtrusive as possible. I love the mechanical cleverness to make the GMT hand something that doesn’t always need to be used, plus has the ability to hide itself with a single press of the button (the “rattrapante” feature) once your travels (or second time zone needs) are done.
But the reason I don’t have this one winning the category is simple, a GMT function is just less useful than a date, same goes with Hermès and the world time function, so I would think it might be less broadly appealing as a useful function. The watch is still creative and innovative, so I would be completely unsurprised if it won, but I think it falls short of taking the top spot this year.
IS: The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante is yet another excellent watch that leaves me scratching my head as to what it is doing here. Yes, a second time zone is a complication, and, yes, a rattrapante (flyback) second time zone is more complicated still, but I don’t feel a GMT is complicated enough to win this category. Yes, I’ve picked a second time zone watch to win here, but there’s nothing in the rules that states that my judging has to be either logical or consistent.
GG: Second-place pick for me is the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante. The instantly vanishing second time zone hand activated by the crown-mounted pusher is a lovely small complication, and the watch itself is slim, elegant, and sits beautifully on the wrist. It would be almost perfect if Parmigiani could be convinced to make those baton markers a bit more prominent or the guilloche a bit more assertive to fill the dial more effectively.
ED: This is quite a watch, and, along with the Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur, made for the lion’s share of the buzz during Watches and Wonders 2022. Justifiably.
However, I do have to agree with Ian that it just isn’t quite enough to take this category, no matter how lovely it is. And, no, my judging isn’t consistent either. 😉
Quick Facts Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante
Case: 40 x 10.7 mm, stainless steel with platinum bezel
Movement: automatic Caliber PF051, 48-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph/3Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes; split GMT with “rattrapante” (second time zone)
Price: CHF 26,000
Singer Reimagined Flytrack Barista
JM: The Singer Barista combines my mechanical idol Agenhor and its continuously innovative Agengraphe core with a completely niche idea to justify an awesome variation on a mechanical chronograph. Continuously timing short events with only a 60 second counter, the Barista has a flyback function to reset the seconds hand on demand (and hold it for synchronization) and it uses it to provide the ideal windows for a variety of types of coffee or espresso. The aesthetics are awesome, the functionality is simple, and the mechanics are still some of the coolest to ever come out of Agenhor. But like with other pieces, I feel this complication is just too niche (even though you can use it to time anything with short intervals) and not as uniquely innovative as it could be.
Since it’s building off a previously designed caliber and just limiting the functions for a focused product (very smart actually), I think it doesn’t do enough to show how this specifically is a functionally innovative change. Not to mention that focusing on brewing espresso (while important for millions, if not billions, of people) with scales related only to that does make this watch explicitly less useful than it could have been with a more thoughtfully designed dial. It is such a fun, great-looking, and mechanically satisfying watch, but it doesn’t seem like the right piece to take the crown.
ED: I have to admit that I really like this idea and find it a very creative use for a chronograph function. And as it’s limited to 30 pieces, I’m sure Singer Reimagined will have no trouble finding 30 people who also find this watch rather charming. However, I don’t believe it’s got enough novel complication with wide enough appeal to take this category.
GG: I’m guessing that most events people time with chronographs are under a minute anyway, so a 60-second chronograph might actually have utility; and the flyback zero reset also allows synchronization when setting the watch to a reference time. The printed scales on the dial corresponding to how long to allow your espresso machine to run for various coffee drinks seems too clever by half to me, though.
IS: I love the ultra-legible Singer Reimagined central chronograph, and this Barista edition looks smart and the espresso machine timing scale is a nice touch. Singer’s first chronograph, the (non-flyback) Track 1, took the prize for the Chronograph category at the 2018 GPHG, and I could easily see the Barista also doing well in the chronograph category where it should be. But it isn’t in the Chronograph category in 2022 and as complicated as an innovative flyback chronograph is, I don’t see it winning here. And why isn’t it in the chronograph category? It’s a pure chronograph.
MG: While I think very highly of Singer, this watch seems to have the gimmick of a Kickstarter brand. An espresso brewing scale would have made a great April Fool’s joke, but as it has actually been executed, it gives me the idea that the brand might have lost its creative touch to come up with something more meaningful. I even find the scale inaccurate as I always make an Americano by making espresso and adding hot water to it, not letting my espresso machine continue to run water through the ground coffee.
Quick Facts Singer Reimagined Flytrack Barista
Case: 43 x 48.5 x 15 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manual winding Agenhor caliber, 55-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph/3Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, (hacking) flyback seconds; Barista scale (chronograph)
Limitation: 30 pieces
Price: CHF 27,465
Elizabeth: Armin Strom Orbit Manufacture Edition
Joshua: Armin Strom Orbit Manufacture Edition
Martin: Armin Strom Orbit Manufacture Edition
Ian: Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur
Gary: Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur