This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear, rounding up the most notable releases of 2022. For more stories like this, click here.
Watch collecting tends to skew expensive, and many notable new timepieces often cost in the thousands. But this year was interesting and a bit unexpected as some of the most remarkable releases in 2022 were firmly in affordable territory (relative as that may be). We're talking about watches that get respect from even horological snobs — but which you can buy for just a couple or a few hundred bucks. You likely know which ones we're talking about. If not, you'll find them below along with others that, while perhaps not similarly horological bombshells, also shouldn't be missed.
Seiko 5 Sports GMT
Here you have an automatic GMT with a solid Seiko movement from the same family of movements that powers famous dive watches like the Turtle. Yes, Seiko changed the GMT game when they released the Seiko 5 Sports GMT — and, like the rest of the collection, it's shockingly well-built and thoughtfully designed for the money. Best of all, it's fully got its own great look that doesn't feel like another Rolex wannabe.
Swatch x Omega MoonSwatch
What can be said about the famous MoonSwatch? Despite being so affordable (among watches), it was quite possibly the most notable product of the year for a number of reasons. It's not exactly an Omega Speedmaster for $260, but in some ways it offers a taste of that iconic luxury watch. Even after the initial (but sustained) hype peaked and waned slightly, it's still the type of watch that gets people excited — and is still hard to get, though gradually becoming easier.
G-Shock GA-B2100 "CasiOak"
Do you, like us, love the Casio G-Shock GA-2100 — often known to fans as the "CasiOak?" Well, it got even better this year thanks to a spate of upgrades very much worth bringing to your attention. The new inclusion of the brand's Tough Solar technology, Carbon Core Guard and Bluetooth takes the fashionable GA-2100 watches to the level of a more serious and practical watch — but the best part is, even with these premium features, the CasiOak is still highly affordable.
Timex Marlin Hand-Wound
Following very cool versions of the vintage-styled Marlin with a 40mm case and automatic movement comes a similar design in 34mm with a manually wound movement. We love the manual Marlins for their size and style, and this new variant is one of the best yet.
Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic
That's right, automatic Citizen dive watches. Been a while since you've seen such a thing in the brand's current US collection, right? We'd been hoping for something like this, and they look pretty cool, but we still want to see them in diameters smaller than these 44mm tough guys (like those made for other markets).
Brew Retrograph 8-Bit Watch
Our favorite coffee-culture-inspired New York watchmaker Brew introduced a playful new version of its Retrograph watch with a pixelated theme based on '80s arcade games. Even the chronograph hands have a funky, pixelated execution. You gotta smile at something like this, and the brand keeps it as affordable and wearable as ever with a Seiko Mecaquartz movement and 38mm diameter.
Bertucci A-2A Golden Field
A field watch and a dress watch are made for totally different uses, but they're not so different in terms of features, being typically simple and smallish. Though known for specializing in affordable field watches with rugged specs and aesthetics, Bertucci's latest offers something of a more formal look with its A-2 done up in gold-toned aluminum.
CWC G22 Automatic
It's hard to beat the allure of actual military-issued watches, and those made for Britain's armed forces are legendary. The CWC G10 was among them, and it has the distinction of being the first watch issued for the Ministry of Defense to feature a quartz movement. Now, the same company that's continually produced said field watches is offering a new version with, ironically, a Swiss automatic movement called the G22.
Nodus Sector GMT
Microbrand Nodus's Sector GMT is one of the first third-party watches to make use of the automatic GMT movement Seiko announced this year (see the Seiko 5 Sports GMT above). It's a version of Nodus's Sector series, which has already come in a range of variants — but we'd venture to say that the GMT is the best-looking yet. It comes in two dial variants and an attractive 38mm case sizing.
Luminox Pacific Diver
The new Luminox Pacific Diver is a quite badass, quartz-powered, tritium-equipped, Swiss-made, 44mm chronograph that comes in nine variations from colorful to stealthy. What you get is a watch that's highly capable and durable, but also rather handsome, with 12 colorful variations to choose from. The worthy cause and compelling story (made for an organization helping rehabilitate former Navy SEALs) are just bonuses.
Casio Vintage A1000
For apparel brand Rag & Bone's 20 anniversary, it worked with Casio to produce a couple versions of the brand's classic digital watches. Rather than the resin cases painted to look like metal found on many Casio watches, these feature matte finished stainless steel cases, one in gray and one in black, and both even sporting sapphire crystal. They're a bit more expensive than the more basic digital Casio watches, but significantly less than a G-Shock Full Metal.
Bulova Wilton GMT
Seiko rival Citizen owns both Bulova and the company that made the automatic GMT movement inside the Wilton GMT, Miyota. It almost seemed to come as an answer to the Seiko 5 Sports GMT (above) but isn't an analog to it. The Miyota 9075 automatic movement comes from a more premium tier of movements, and it offers the often valued ability to set the hour hand independently. It doesn't hurt that the Bulova Wilton looks quite handsome, too.