Tick Talk: 10 of the coolest watches released in 2022

(Clockwise from top left) The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge, Tag Heuer Carrera Plasma, Cartier Santos-Dumont, and MoonSwatch. PHOTOS: ROLEX, TAG HEUER, CARTIER, OMEGA/SWATCH

SINGAPORE – In many ways, the pandemic has been good for the watch industry.

It has forced watchmakers to go back to the drawing board, streamline production, and think seriously about what customers want and what good horology is.

The result? The release of some truly solid timepieces this year – although work on several of them probably began long before Covid-19.

Coming up with this list was no walk in the park, but here are 10 of my favourite tickers for 2022.

1. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge

The 50mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge can plumb the depths to 11,000m. PHOTO: ROLEX

One can imagine Rolex saying “well, try this on for size” when it dropped this 50mm mammoth out of left field in November.

It scores a few firsts. It is, for example, the first Rolex watch fashioned from the ultra-light RLX Titanium – the same material used in aeronautical engineering – and the first said to be able to plumb the depths to 11,000m.

Boasting an intense black dial and large luminescent hour markers, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge is an inspired spin-off from the experimental model that Canadian film-maker James Cameron wore when he dived some 10,908m into the Mariana Trench – the deepest place on Earth – in 2012.

It is a superb piece of engineering, not only a true beast of the deep but also a snazzy chameleon on land. And it is good on the hand for any occasion.

Price: $36,040

2. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Blue Ceramic

This is the first Royal Oak perpetual calendar to come in all-blue ceramic. PHOTO: AUDEMARS PIGUET

The Royal Oak turned 50 in 2022. Since its debut, the ticker by legendary watch designer Gerald Genta has spawned many iterations, but this breathtaking cerulean model really knocks it out of the park.

All the attributes that make the Royal Oak such an icon are here – the slim silhouette (41mm by 9.5mm), octagonal bezel and the waffle-patterned tapisserie dial.

But rendering the entire package, from case to bracelet, in stunning blue ceramic elevates it to a whole new level – especially since ceramic, which is scratch-resistant, is a notoriously difficult material to work with.

Fitted with the 5134 movement, which has a 40-hour power reserve, this ultra-light watch is a piece to behold and a joy to wear.

Price: 129,000 Swiss francs (S$188,000)

3. Tudor Black Bay Pro

The Tudor Black Bay Pro takes its cue from the original Rolex Explorer II. PHOTO: TUDOR

Tudor launched its Black Bay line 10 years ago. It has been on a hot streak since and this offering, not surprisingly, is in high demand.

Inspired by the original Rolex Explorer II (ref. 1655), which was launched in 1971 and produced for about 15 years, this rugged and handsome timepiece boasts a 39mm steel case, a black dial, an orange-yellow GMT hand and a retro-looking 24-hour fixed bezel.

Water-resistant to 200m, the sporty model has an additional hand that points to the bezel with 24-hour markings, allowing you to tell the time in two time zones.

Its heart is the sturdy new in-house MT5652 calibre, where the date display is paired with the local time hand. Another pleasing feature is the hour hand, which makes time-setting a cinch because it can be moved in one-hour increments.

There is a choice of three straps – a steel bracelet, a hybrid fabric and rubber strap, and a black fabric strap with a yellow stripe and pin buckle. A T-Fit clasp allows for an adjustment of up to 8mm either way.

Price: From $5,090

4. Richard Mille RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley

The cheery Richard Mille RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley is fashioned from ATZ white ceramic and red gold. PHOTO: RICHARD MILLE

When you are raking it in and demand for your watches far exceeds what you can supply, it is hard not to suppress a smile.

Perhaps that is the reason Richard Mille has released this Smiley emoticon watch – to show fans and haters alike just how happy it is.

To be honest, it is difficult not to be won over by a cheerful watch bubbling over with whimsy. Smiley conspires with – among other hand-finished features – fluffy clouds, rainbows, a pineapple, a parasol and a beaming sun on the open-work dial to elicit grins.

Far from being merely decorative, they artfully double as bridges holding in place the various components of the intricate movement: the in-house automatic tourbillon Caliber CRMT7.

The case is fashioned from ATZ white ceramic and red gold, and paired with a Velcro-fastened fabric strap in a very happy shade of yellow.

Price: Upon request

5. Patek Philippe 5326G-001

Patek Philippe pairs the travel and annual calendars for the first time in the 5326G-001. PHOTO: PATEK PHILIPPE

There are many things for which Patek Philippe is famous. Chief among these are its marvellous complications, including the travel time and the annual calendar.

For the first time, the luxury watchmaker has paired both – and what a grand idea that has turned out to be.

It takes a lot of hard work to make things simple and the 5326G-001, a wonderful thing to have when you are travelling, bears this out.

It is fitted with the specially developed Caliber 31-260 PS QA LU FUS 24H, which makes it easy to tell not just the local and home time but also the day, date and month. If kept wound, the watch needs to be adjusted just once a year.

Achieving all these, however, required intensely intricate engineering borne out by the movement’s eight patents.

The 41mm wonder is also quite the looker. It boasts a new Calatrava-type 18K white-gold case rimmed with a Clous de Paris hobnail guilloched pattern and has a sophisticated-looking dial with a grainy texture reminiscent of vintage cameras.

It comes with two interchangeable straps – one in beige calfskin with a nubuck finish, and the other in black calfskin with an embossed fabric motif and beige top-stitching.

Price: $101,300

6. MoonSwatch

The $372 MoonSwatch, which combines Omega's Speedy design with Swatch’s bioceramic material, comes in 11 colours. PHOTO: SWATCH

This collection caused not just a tizzy in watch circles, but stampedes across the world when it dropped in March – and for good reason. It is a marketing masterstroke, with Swatch executing a witty take on the Omega Speedmaster, one of the most iconic timepieces in the world.

The winning proposition? For just $372, you get a “legit” iteration of Speedy which, like the Rolex Daytona, is a must-have in any watch lover’s collection, but which costs at least $9,000.

Boasting the same features – including twisted lugs and tachymeter scale – that make the Speedmaster so distinctive, the collection comprises 11 models, each named after planetary bodies.

Made from bioceramic – Swatch’s lightweight and scratch-resistant sustainable material, which mixes ceramic and bioplastic derived from castor oil – the collection comes in a gamut of hues, from red (Mars) to blue (Neptune) to pink (Mars).

Fitted with a Velcro strap, the 42mm MoonSwatch models also get Super-LumiNova for the indexes and hands, with the same lume as that used in Omega Speedmasters.

Price: $372

7. Hermes Arceau Le Temps Voyageur

The Hermes Arceau Le Temps Voyageur features 24 time zones, represented by 24 cities, in a circular disk. PHOTO: HERMES

A timepiece which marries artistry and mechanical ingenuity, this is not just a handsome watch, but a very winsome one too.

A poetic encapsulation of the romance of travel, the Arceau Le Temps Voyageur features 24 time zones – represented by 24 cities – in a circular disk. A subdial telling the local time moves along this disk, like a floating satellite moving over a mystical map marked with equestrian-inspired locations.

The time zone module was specially developed for the French luxury house by a company called Chronode. Bringing to life the sheer ingenuity of the design is the H1837 movement.

Crafted in steel or platinum and titanium, the watch is available in several versions.

Price: $32,700 to $41,780

8. A. Lange & Sohne New Zeitwerk

A. Lange & Sohne New Zeitwerk has a new movement and a power reserve of 72 hours. PHOTO: A. LANGE & SOHNE

The new Zeitwerk – like the long-awaited sequel to a beloved movie – is here.

A. Lange & Sohne introduced the Zeitwerk in 2009, a ticker which bewitched horological fans because it was the first mechanical wristwatch to go “digital” by having hours and minutes with jumping numerals.

The Teutonic handsomeness of the design was apparently inspired by the Semper Opera House in Dresden, Germany.

Although there have been other iterations, this is a new version of the original design. Available in pink gold and titanium, this second-generation Zeitwerk gets a new movement (the handwound 451-part Calibre L043.6) with a patented barrel and two mainsprings boosting the power reserve to 72 hours from the previous 36.

The design has also been updated – there is now a pusher at four o’clock to adjust the jumping-hour display.

Price: Upon request

9. Tag Heuer Carrera Plasma

Tag Heuer Carrera Plasma is a fine showcase of the brand’s mastery of chemical vapour deposition technology. PHOTO: TAG HEUER

If you are looking for a dazzling proposition, the 44mm Tag Heuer Carrera Plasma will probably fit the bill.

Tag Heuer’s most expensive watch to date is a showcase of the brand’s mastery of chemical vapour deposition technology, which allows it to experiment with carbon and diamond designs, as well as cutting-edge light effects.

It has a light case fashioned from sandblasted black anodised aluminium, a black ceramic polished bezel and a crazy “polycrystalline diamond dial” blasted with fine ground diamond powder.

To top it off, the watch boasts 48 dazzlers – totalling 4.8 carats – set in its case and a crown crafted from a 2.5-carat piece of diamond. As natural diamonds cannot be controlled, only laboratory-grown ones are used.

Beneath all that glitter is the in-house Heuer 02 chronograph calibre, which comes with an oscillating weight in the shape of the Tag Heuer shield, as well as a 65-hour power reserve.

Price: $505,450

10. Cartier Santos-Dumont

The Cartier Santos-Dumont boasts an ivory-coloured dial, complemented by a matching beige lacquer bezel. PHOTO: CARTIER

The Santos-Dumont is a perfectly good-looking watch, but this new iteration is something else.

Featuring a rose-gold case, the 43.5mm by 31.4mm timepiece has a hypnotically attractive ivory-coloured dial, complemented by a matching beige lacquer bezel. The combination imbues the watch with both old-world elegance and contemporary classiness.

The look – with features including Roman numerals and a chemin de fer minutes track – is gorgeously clean, but the detailing, such as the concentric square patterns on the dial, is subtle but sumptuous.

It is fitted with Cartier’s in-house manual winding 430 MC movement, which comes with 38 hours of power reserve.

Price: $20,000

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