The best of Watches & Wonders 2022

By Gabriel Power | 31 Mar 2022 | Style, Design

From Parmigiani Fleurier to Patek Philippe, Watches & Wonders' live-action return following two years of pandemic limbo was replete with show-stopping new models

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After two years confined to the realm of video conferences and Zoom meetings as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Watches & Wonders, the largest horology trade show in the business, has returned to the shores of Lake Geneva as an in-person event.

And with a number of the world's most prestigious watchmakers looking to re-enter the live action scene with a statement (or two), 2022 has seen the launch of an unprecedented wealth of showstopping pieces that has seen the entire convention - and the wider luxury journalism industry - reduced to hushed, reverent tones.

Here, we look at the most exciting, unique releases of W&W '22, from Panerai to Parmigiani and Hermes to Hublot.

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Parmigiani's Tonda PF collection, which launched in September 2021, has a new face for W&W 2022: the Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante. This minimalist design belies the complexity within; this is a rattrapante, also known as a double chronograph, which remains a fiendishly fiddly mechanism to create and is thus seen rather infrequently compared to more basic designs.

And Parmigiani has used this mechanism to create the perfect watch for the discerning traveller. The complication features two arrow-headed hour hands - one in rhodium-plated gold and the other in rose gold - and pressing the pusher at 8 o'clock causes the upper rhodium-plated gold hand dedicated to local time to jump one hour forward, thereby revealing the rose gold hand which displays time in the wearer’s place of residence. 

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A. LANGE & SÖHNE | Odysseus Titanium

The sporty, sleek Odysseus Titanium is a major statement from A. Lange & Söhne; it is the brand's first foray into titanium modelling and features a unique ice blue face never before used by the Maison.

Limited to just 250 pieces, this design's case has a diameter of 40.5mm and a height of 11.1mm, and features a self-winding manufacture caliber L155.1 Datomatic, and its titanium case, when exposed to oxygen, produces a very thin transparent oxide coating that protects the material against external factors and makes it corrosion-resistant. This is cutting-edge stuff from the German watchmaker.

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PATEK PHILIPPE | Annual Calendar Travel Time

Patek Philippe popped over from their HQ in nearby Plan-les-Ouates to showcase their newest creation, the Annual Calendar Travel Time, which sees the brand combine its patented Annual Calendar (that requires a manual correction only once a year) and the Travel Time system for, much like the Parmigiani rattrapante, the display of a second time zone.

The new self-winding movement, which contains eight patents, is housed in a new Calatrava-type case with "Clous de Paris" guilloched hobnail pattern around its entire flank, emblematic of the Patek Philippe style.

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CARTIER | Masse Mysterieuse

One of the most strikingly aesthetic offerings at this year's event was the Masse Mystérieuse from Cartier, which brings together two of the Maison’s watchmaking hallmarks: the mysterious movement and the skeleton. After eight years and five test models, this watch's fascinating Caliber 9801 MC is fully miniaturised into a semi-circle and visible due to the skeleton design, with all components that power the Masse Mysterieuse integrated in the rotor.

This model is available in a limited edition of 30 pieces and has its entrance in platinum case with a diameter of 43.5mm and a height of 12.64mm.

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VACHERON CONSTANTIN | Les Historiques 222

Vacheron Constantin's Les Historiques 222 is the latest in a collection of integrated-bracelet sports watches introduced by the brand in the 1970s, returning to W&W as a cult favourite, originally unveiled in 1977 for the 222nd anniversary of the Maison.

The new iteration of the watch is in 18K 3N gold with a 37 mm diameter, recreating the hexagonal-link integrated bracelet of the 1970s models, while also introducing some subtle changes and updates including the movement. The original model used the ultra-thin caliber 1121 (Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 920), which this new 222 uses Vacheron's own caliber 2455/2.

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GRAND SEIKO | Masterpiece Collection Spring Drive 8 Days White Lion

Grand Seiko's Spring Drive and quartz watches are made in a small studio in Japan where, since 2000, an elite team of the company’s most skilled watchmakers have been creating Masterpiece Collection watches based on the brand's unique Spring Drive technology.

This new model is set with an astonishing 267 diamonds, including 94 on the dial and 11 on the platinum case, within which is house the Spring Drive Caliber 9R01, which contains three mainspring barrels for an 8-day power reserve and an accuracy rating of +10/-10 seconds per month.

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PIAGET | Altiplano Ultimate Concept

One of the world's thinnest watches, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is a fascinating creation from Piaget. As the Maison points out, most timepieces are made up of four layers; the bezel, the dial and hands, the movement and the case back.

However, for the Altiplano Ultimate Concept, Piaget removed this four-layer construction to create a fusion of components with the bridges, dial and hands on one side, and the case back, movement, main plate and bezel on the other, creating a timepiece that is a mere 2mm in height.

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HERMES | Arceau Le Temps Voyageur Hermès

This new, stunning Arceau Le Temps Voyageur from Hermès evokes the spirit of travel, crafted in platinum and titanium or steel. The case, which features the Maison' signature Arceau style designed by Henri d’Origny in 1978, is centred on a map situated on the dial,

Inside, meanwhile, is housed the H1837 mechanical self-winding movement - a 122-component “Travelling time” mechanism developed exclusively for Hermès.

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PANERAI | Luminor Goldtech Calendario Perpetuo

The perpetual calendar, such as the one featured in Panerai's stunning new Luminor Goldtech Calendario Perpetuo, is among the most difficult high complications to master, due to its ability to automatically adjust the day and date of each month while correcting for leap years

This limited-edition model, available in only 33 pieces and whose purchasers will be invited to experience its creation first-hand in Florence, was envisaged by the Laboratorio di Idee in the Italian city, before assembly in the Panerai manufacture in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. 

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HUBLOT | Square Bang Unico All Black

This new offering from Hublot stands as the Maison's own interpretation of the square watch; something the brand has never attempted before. The design was inspired by Hublot's much-loved Big Bang collection, and is one of five new models in the Square Bang Unico collection.

The brand describes it as a "disruptive and unconventional shape" for a watch, which features a self-winding Unico Manufacture chronograph caliber HUB 1280 with 72 hours of power reserve.