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.
It happens every year: there are watches released that we just can't forget despite them being generally out of our modest price ranges. You can't blame us for dreaming, though, right? From artistic masterpieces that don't even tell the time well (hey, we don't care) to some of the most deservedly hyped watches, there's no real commonality or cohesive theme between them except being generally awesome. Here are some of the 2022 watches that we're still pining after.
Bulgari Octo Finnissimo Sejima
It's hard to tell by looking at the product images, but nearly every surface on this watch is essentially a mirror, and the dial features a pattern of "metalized dots." Not for everyday wear, perhaps, but it's a rather interesting and artistic rendition of Bulgari's famous Octo Finissimo. Is it easy to tell the time? Will you have to be constantly wiping fingerprints off it? Who cares. This is simply a watch unlike anything we've ever seen.
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5811
The hotly anticipated followup to the discontinued Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 is the 5811, and it's one millimeter wider at 41mm. While its debut model came in white gold rather than steel like everyone wanted, we'd argue that it's just as attractive in this case material: firstly, it looks pretty similar at a glance (white gold ain't gonna look bad, anyway) — and it's not as if a steel version would be any more affordable.
Rolex GMT Master II
Rolex also delivered a double surprise this year: a left-handed GMT Master II in a brand-new green and black colorway. It was an extraordinarily bold move from the notoriously conservative brand and both southpaws and righties are rightfully excited. The GMT Master II is one of the hottest of the hard-to-get hype watches, but these unexpected twists make for something that's bound to be a collector's item down the road, not to mention at present.
Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222
This is one of the 1970s predecessors to Vacheron Constantin's Overseas, but it's really nothing like the Overseas. At just 7.95mm thick and only 37mm across, this is truly a vintage-style watch. The alluring gold-on-gold colorway is accented by the Maltese Cross logo on cushion case's lug, just like the original 222. The world has swooned at this reissue, and it's not hard to see why.
Another example of Cartier's ability to take creative, avant-garde design and somehow execute it in a distinctly elegant way, the Cartier Pebble was born in 1970s London. After a couple of vintage examples auctioned for high prices, the brand offered this modern recreation in a 36mm-diameter 18k yellow gold case. Color us charmed by Cartier yet again.
Zenith Defy Skyline
The Skyline fits into the existing Defy collection with its avant-garde, angular looks and popular "sports-chic" design with an integrated bracelet and faceted bezel. Seeing the watch in person, however, the first thing you'll notice is its seconds hand at 9 o'clock doing a rapid lap every ten seconds (rather than 60) thanks to a high-beat El Primero movement — it's unusual (though not unheard of) to see a time-only (i.e., sans chronograph) version of the famous El Primero.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300m James Bond 60th Anniversary Edition
We appreciate that, at least from the dial side, that this James Bond special edition watch isn't overly in-your-face about its cinematic connection. But it's got a cheeky gimmick up its sleeve: turn the watch over and the 007 theme actually takes a mechanical form rather than just the typical commemorative engraving. A spiral pattern linked to the seconds hand rotates and imitates the movies' famous opening sequences with an animated Bond silhouette appearing and drawing a gun.
Hublot Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
If you're going to spring for a high-end smartwatch, this is just about the coolest you're going to find. All the better if you're a soccer fan, as it offers custom faces to show support of your favorite team — but it's even attractive to non-sports fans, offering the high-end finishing and construction that makes the brand one of the most prominent luxury watchmakers. The brand's smartwatches are also about the most affordable way to get the prestigious Hublot name on your wrist.
Glashütte Original SeaQ Chronograph
Glashütte Original's dive watch comes with the addition of a chronograph for the first time. With a flyback function, it's got a style something like a Heuer Autavia or Nivada Chronomaster but will wear a bit more boldly than those vintage watches at 43.2mm wide. With an impressive build when handled in person, this is what a German-engineered chronograph dive watch should look like.
Breguet Marine Hora Mundi 5557
Breguet’s world time watch, Hora Mundi, comes in a stunning new interpretation. With a creative design packed with details, the brand’s take on the world time function feels fresh. Here's how it works: once the time is set in your current city (displayed at 6 o'clock on the dial) the 7 o'clock pusher allows you to cycle through cities and update the time and date (at 12 o'clock) accordingly. There’s even a little day/night display elegantly tucked in there among layers of hand-executed guilloche and other crafts that form the dial's captivating world map motif.
Price: $72,700 (strap), $95,200 (bracelet)
Louis Vuitton Tambour Twenty
If you don't already think of Louis Vuitton as a serious watchmaker, it's time you did. The Tambour collection is 20 years old, and it gets a grownup chronograph model to celebrate — none of that giant-monogram-dial stuff, just the unique drum-shaped case with a movement based on the Zenith (its sister brand) El Primero and a rich brown dial that'll remind you of the brand's famous leatherwork.
Casio G-Shock MRGB5000
This may look a lot like the iconic plastic watch you can buy for around $100 or less, but its looks are deceiving. It's kind of like a love letter to G-Shock's original watch from 1983, taking the basic design and executing it in materials like "zaratsu"-polished titanium, sapphire crystal and a cobalt alloy called Cobarion for the top bezel. It'll also be rife with details such as functional screws in its titanium bracelet — made to look much like the iconic plastic one. The version with a black finish is most familiar, while a bare titanium version more readily shows of its metallic nature.