Make no mistake, 2022 was always meant to be a landmark year on the watch calendar. With Audemars Piguet’s iconic Royal Oak officially turning 50 and OMEGA marking 60 years of James Bond, horology stans were at fever pitch before the year even began, but no one could have predicted what came next. While the world’s eyes were set on the luxury market, a $380 collaboration piece swooped in and stole the chocolates. One part OMEGA, one part Swatch, the MoonSwatch was undoubtedly the biggest watch of 2022 and it simply cannot be understated just how ridiculous the reaction was, but it wasn’t alone.
How Man of Many Chose The Best Watch Releases of 2022
To arrive at this list of products, the Man of Many team went through hours and rigorous testing, implementation and analysis before culling it down to the very best. Over the last 12 months, we’ve worked on curated products that push boundaries and pioneer new fronts, across the automotive, fashion, lifestyle and technology verticals. Sure, we love getting the latest piece of kit in our hands, but being able to point out the benefits and shortfalls objectively is at the heart of what we do.
As a result, the Top 100 Products is primarily comprised of products that we tested in-house and use extensively first-hand. While there are a few exceptions to the rule, generally due to scarcity and availability, we made note of the cultural significance surrounding each product should we not have been able to review it personally.
Best Watch Releases of 2022
Our list of the best watch releases of 2022 includes the following.
- Best Divers Watch: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge
- Best Dress Watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222
- Best Manufacture: Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon
- Best Value: Tissot PRX Chronograph
Now we’ve rounded up our favourites, let’s check out the full list.
1. Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques 222
While there were a number of great watches unveiled this year, one glitzy and glamourous release caught our eye and it hasn’t yet let up. At Watches & Wonders 2022, Swiss horological icon Vacheron Constantin took a look back through the archives, revealing a completely new variation of its unique 222 timepiece. A watch more than 45 years in the making, the Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques 222 arrived with an integrated bracelet, flawless calibre 2455/2 movement and of course, a stunning 18-carat yellow gold aesthetic that looks straight out the 1980s.
At 37mm in diameter, the Les Historiques 222 demonstrated how stringent Vacheron Constantin can be. A key player in the Swiss scene, the brand simply refuses to bow to contemporary design standards, instead, keeping the smaller proportions in line with vintage aesthetics. But despite a somewhat subdued case size, inside the new Les Historiques 222, it’s all business.
Inside the Les Historiques 222, you’ll find the calibre 2455/2 movement, an in-house creation that is equipped with an oscillating weight engraved with the original 222 logo. Offering a decent, albeit far from world-beating 40-hour power reserve, the new movement does the job with effortless class. As we wrote upon its release, the Les Historiques 222 was something completely out of the blue. In an era when vintage style is being exploited, the Swiss Maison has managed to create something that feels of a bygone era, yet is perfectly in place in 2022.
Brand: Vacheron Constantin
Model: Les Historiques 222
Reference Number: 4200H/222J-B935
Calibre: Vacheron calibre 2455/2
Power Reserve: 40 hours
2. Tudor Pelagos 39
Over the past few years, major watch manufacturers had certainly prescribed to the mantra that bigger is better, however, in 2022, things took a turn. In a surprising move that few saw coming, perennial fan favourite Tudor unveil a 39mm Pelagos this year. According to the brand, the slimmed-down version of its best-selling diver sat “between the world of technical diving and urban sophistication”. Looking at it (even now, months after it dropped), it’s hard to argue with that description.
For reference, the Pelagos collection is famed for its militaristic aesthetic and the new Pelagos 39 kept that core DNA intact. While the case is smaller than the standard 42mm version, and at 11.8mm deep it’s also thinner, the latest variation is still made from grade 2 titanium. The satin-brushed finish gives the case an understated look, but in a move away from the utilitarian style of the previous Pelagos models, the matt dial is replaced with a stunning sunray look that is duplicated on the ceramic bezel.
Perhaps most impressive of all was the price. Where other industry-leading dive watches will fetch over $10,000 at retail, the stately Tudor came in at a more than reasonable USD$4,400. One of the best value watches released in 2022, the Pelagos 39mm might just usher in a new era of proportion-accurate timepieces.
Movement: Tudor Calibre MT5400
Straps: Titanium Bracelet and Rubber Strap
Water Resistance: 200M
Price: GBP £3,500 (AUD$6,010)
3. Tissot PRX Automatic Chronograph
Swiss watchmaker Tissot started off strong in 2022, unveiling what many have described as the best value watch of the year. The revamped PRX Automatic Chronograph took the lessons learned from last year’s revival and applied them to an entirely new product, albeit one with a familiar silhouette. The results were outstanding.
At 42mm in diameter, the Chronograph lands perfectly in that sweet spot, further complemented by the integrated bracelet and tapered case design, which arrives straight from 1978. The satin-finished steel follows the PRX’s sleek, angular form, echoing the hallmarks of true 1970s sports watch style, with a few modern adaptations thrown in. The PRX Chrono is powered by the Valjoux A05.H31 calibre, which provides the design with the classic 3, 6 and 9 chronograph dial layout and an extended 60-hour power reserve.
While there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles including with the Tissot PRX Automatic Chronograph, the straightforward, uncomplicated nature of the watch is precisely the kind of ingenuity watch fans have been calling out for. And with a price tag of just AUD$2,775, you simply can’t go wrong.
Case: 316L stainless steel case
Movement: Swiss Tissot automatic
Straps: Stainless steel
Water Resistance: 100M
4. Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon
One the other end of the spectrum, Grand Seiko delivered a timepiece that was out of this world. Taking the concept of fine horology to the very extreme, the Japanese watchmaker unveiled the Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon, a remarkable feat of craftsmanship and prowess.
The unique watch combined a constant-force mechanism and a tourbillon as one unit on a single axis. Named Kodo, the Japanese word for heartbeat, the timepiece follows on from Grand Seiko’s T0 Constant-force Tourbillon concept that was unveiled in 2020. This time around, all 340 components of the calibre have been re-examined to create the calibre 9ST1, a smaller but more accurate version of its predecessor. Arriving in a case constructed from both Platinum 950 and Grand Seiko’s Brilliant Hard Titanium, the new Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon might just be Grand Seiko’s most innovative timepiece ever. Not a bad effort for your first-ever mechanical complication.
Brand: Grand Seiko
Model: Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon
Case Material: Platinum 950 and Grand Seiko’s Brilliant Hard Titanium
Calibre: Calibre 9ST1
Power Reserve: 72 hours
5. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Edition “Lake Tahoe”
Picking up right where 2019’s Majove Desert left off, IWC’s TOP GUN Edition “Lake Tahoe” delivered a knockout blow in 2022. Taking inspiration from the border region between California and Nevada, where TOP GUN pilots perform various training exercises, the timepiece exudes strength and endurance.
Making expert use of contrast, the mechanical chronograph blends a 44.5mm ceramic case of “Lake Tahoe” with a pitch-black dial, black hands (coated with luminescent material), stainless steel pushers and crown, and a titanium case back. A matching white rubber strap with distinctive embossing rounds out the primary colour motif, whilst a soft-iron inner case delivers protection against magnetic fields. This one is limited to an annual production of just 1,000 units.
Brand: IWC Schaffhausen
Model: Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Edition “Lake Tahoe”
Case Material: Ceramic
Calibre: 69380 Calibre
Power Reserve: 46 hours
6. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge
While Vacheron Constantin and Tudor were willing to go smaller with their releases in 2022, Rolex decided to do the exact opposite, unveiling an absolute monster 50mm Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge. While we’re pretty certain the astronomical proportions weren’t for aesthetic purposes, the weight and heft of this release cannot be ignored. So too, it must be said, for its ridiculous capabilities.
Guaranteed waterproof to 11,000 metres, the new titanium watch is among the most durable timepieces on earth, arriving with a helium escape valve and Ringlock system for professional divers. On the outside, the new watch does look eerily similar to Rolex’s already-established Sea-Dweller Deepsea, however, this model takes almost every element to the extreme. According to the brand, a number of components, including the crystal, were slimmed down while the bracelet extension systems – Rolex Glidelock and the Fliplock extension link – allow the watch to be worn over a diving suit up to 7 mm thick.
In a handy little bit of trivia, you’ll also find a fitting nod to the deep sea explorers of old on the caseback. The Challenge is engraved with the words “Mariana Trench” as well as the dates “23-01-1960” and “26-03-2012” on the case back, in tribute to oceanographer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh’s venture aboard the Trieste in 1960, and James Cameron’s solo descent in DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, in 2012.
While you could certainly argue (as many have) that the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge is 50mm of over-engineered titanium, that doesn’t diminish the incredible lengths the brand has gone to stake its claim on sea exploration. Next time you want to go 11,000 metres underwater, there’s only one watchmaker to call.
Model: Oyster Perpetual Professional
Material: RLX titanium
Case: Oyster (monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown)
Movement: Calibre 3230, Manufacture Rolex, Mechanical movement with bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor
Power Reserve: Approximately 70 hours
7. Richard Mille Ferrari RM UP-01
An interesting subplot that emerged during 2022 was the strange battle of the bulge, or more accurately, lack thereof. Taking the fight directly to Piaget and Bulgari, Richar Mille unveiled the Ferrari RM UP-01, a record-breaking timepiece that measures a remarkable 1.75mm thick, slimmer than a 10c coin.
While the dimensions are only slightly thinner than those seen on Piaget’s Altiplano Ultimate Concept and Bulgari’s Octo Finnissimo Ultra, the Richard Mille separates itself in terms of movement. For the RM UP-01 Ferrari, the watchmaker assembled the entire movement (all 1.18mm of it) into the case, as opposed to making the caseback pull double duty as a baseplate. That decision appears to have scaped a few extra millimetres off the final result and perhaps most impressive of all, it hasn’t come at the expense of function.
As we noted in our original reporting, the new RM UP-01 Ferrari features hours, minutes, seconds, and a function selector, all housed within the delicate design. In trademark Richard Mille fashion, the timepiece is skeletonised and crafted from grade 5 titanium, meaning all that beautiful ingenuity remains on full display. Julien Boillat, technical director for cases at Richard Mille confirmed that the innovation was the culmination of 6,000 hours of development, held in partnership with some of the most revered watchmakers and movement houses in the world.
Brand: Richard Mille
Model: RM UP-01 Ferrari
Power Reserve: 45 hours
Water Resistance: 100m
8. Tiffany & Co Patek Philippe ref. 5711/1A-018
For a brief period of time, the Tiffany Blue Patek Philippe was pretty much all you would hear about in the watch world. The limited-edition watch, which was designed to speak to the illustrious relationship between Patek Phillipe and American retailer Tiffany & Co., exploded onto the scene this time last year. Described by many as a ‘grail watch’, the release quickly spread through horological circles and it wasn’t long before it had made its way onto the wrists of the world’s biggest celebrities.
Rapper Jay-Z and NBA star LeBron James each scored an allocation, with one lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) bidder forking out an incredible $3.2 million for the pleasure of owning one.
The 5711/1A-018 features a stunning Tiffany blue dial – ‘double signed’ with Tiffany’s own branding, along with the classic black hands and hour markers. Flip the new timepiece over and you’ll note the sapphire crystal caseback has been printed with an honourary marker of the relationship, stating ‘Tiffany & Co – Patek Philippe 170th Anniversary 1851 – 2021’.
Brand: Patek Philippe
Model: Nautilus ref. 5711/1A-018
Case diameter: 40 mm
Case back: Inscribed on the crystal “170th Anniversary / Tiffany & Co. – Patek Philippe / 1851-2021.”
Bracelet: Stainless steel Patek Philippe bracelet and double deployant clasp.
9. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945
When Jaeger-LeCoultre releases its novelties, the whole world takes note and it’s a good thing they did. The Grand Maison unveiled the Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 this year, a stunning interpretation of its Grande Complication Calibre 945. The unique reimagining was released in two highly limited editions, showcasing either a pink-on-grey combination or the brand’s classic blue celestial theme, each absolutely insane.
Announced at Watches & Wonders in April, the Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 arrived in a large 45mm x 16mm case with a combination of polished, brushed and recessed micro-blasted surfaces. As beautiful as it was, however, the real hero was inside. The rotating tourbillon, along with the complication added a level of watchmaking craftsmanship that was nigh-on unsurpassed in 2022.
Model: Master Hybris Artistica
Calibre: Calibre 945
Power Reserve: 40 hours
10. Longines Ultra Chron
An unexpected winner for the Man of Many team this year, the Ultra Chron from Longines punches well above its weight. Inspired by the 1968 model, which was water-resistant to 200 metres and adorned with a striking red minute hand to match its bold ethos, the 2022 edition took things to new depths.
The 43mm Longines Ultra Chron iteration perfectly toes the line between modern and vintage, with a familiar aesthetic masking an all-new high-frequency movement, but it’s far from a mere recreation. Longines added a new calibre L836.6, a high-frequency in-house movement to the timepiece, delivering enhanced precision and greater resistance to shocks, scratches and pressure.
Best of all, the piece came in at the hyper-affordable price of AUD$5,275 for the brown leather with buckle and AUD$5,600 for the stainless steel bracelet with triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism model. For a premiere dive watch with a movement capable of measuring 1/10th or 1/100th of a second, the latest release represents outstanding value for money. But then again, what price can you really put on innovation?
Model: Ultra Chron
Power Reserve: 40 hours
11. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Reference 16202 Jumbo
Watch fans love an anniversary and 2022 marked a big one. Fifty years since the original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was released, the Swiss independent debuted a modern version littered with an array of incredible features. The “Jumbo” model specifically pays tribute to the original Royal Oak 5402 from 1972, complete with a body of hand-finished steel.
One of the big benefits of this model was the stunning Bleu Nuit, Nuage 50 “Petite Tapisserie” dial, which we found to be hugely popular amongst the team. Of course, precision was high on the agenda here, and Audemars Piguet delivered with the new selfwinding Calibre 7121 movement, fitted with the rhodium-toned pink gold “50-years” oscillating weight. As far as celebrations go, this was a stellar one.
Brand: Audemars Piguet
Model: Royal Oak
Calibre: Calibre 7121
12. Swatch x OMEGA Bioceramic MoonSwatch
Some would argue this should be far higher, but we have our reasons. While the MoonSwatch was undoubtedly the biggest and most insane watch collection unveiled in the past 12 months, the actual timepiece itself was lacking in many aspects. On the wrist, the pieces feel a little lighter and cheaper than you would hope, but there were a lot of positives to outweigh it.
Each OMEGA Moonswatch is the same size, features the same Bioceramic construction, and has the same VELCRO strap with OMEGA and Swatch branding. The sizing is also the same across the board and measures 42mm in diameter, 13.25mm in thickness, and 47.30mm in height. Our top pick was the Mission to Mercury, along with the Mission to Saturn and Mission to the Moon. Of course, the hype surrounding these watches was ridiculous and while some may have been disappointed by the build quality, what more could really ask from a AUD$380 piece?
Brand: Swatch x OMEGA
Model: Bioceramic MoonSwatch
Reference: SO33A100 (Mission to Mercury – shown)
Water resistant: 3 bar
Case material: Bioceramic
13. Casio G-SHOCK Full Metal GMB2100 “CasiOak”
In 2022, Casio upped its game again and finally delivered the G-SHOCK watch we’d been begging for. This new release retains the same sleek profile and iconic ‘CasiOak’ octagonal shape but adds a bucket-load of new features and most importantly, a stunning stainless steel case.
The new Full Metal GMB2100 models feature a case 44mm in diameter and made from stainless steel. It’s a beefed-up version of the popular resin-cased CasiOak, but at 12.8mm is still the slimmest full-metal G-SHOCK to date. That higher-end and more luxury aesthetic is reinforced with the matching steel bracelet and exquisite dial. And as you’d expect from a watch that aims to push boundaries, it also features the most up-to-date functionality – this includes Bluetooth connectivity to G-SHOCK’s smartphone app and Tough Solar charging.
Bracelet: Stainless Steel
Case: Stainless Steel
Price: AUD$999 – $1,099
14. TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver
It’s no surprise that TAG Heuer was one of the most prolific watchmakers this year, dropping impressive collection after impressive collection, but it peaked early for us. The 45mm Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver arrived wrapped in grade 5 titanium and a familiar silhouette that TAG fans have come to love.
Arguably the brand’s most robust timepiece, the new Superdiver is water-resistant to a ridiculous 1,000 metres, receiving ISO 6425:2018 certification. It all comes by way of the brand new COSC-certified calibre TH30-00, an innovation that marks the first collaboration between TAG Heuer and movement manufacturer Kenissi. Aside from that, the combo of orange and black on the ceramic bezel and matching dial/hands makes for one good looking piece of kit.
Brand: TAG Heuer
Model: Aquaracer Professional Superdiver
Reference Number: WBP5A8A.BF0619
Water Resistance: 1000m
Power Reserve: 70 hours
15. Breitling Navitimer
Rounding out our list of the best watches of 2022 is the new Navitimer collection from Breitling. Unveiled in honour of the collection’s contentious 70th anniversary, the new Navitimers offered 13 dial options across its refined circular slide rule, baton indexes, trio of chronograph counters and notched bezel.
As we noted back in April, if ever there was a criticism of the Navitimer, it was simply that the dial was too busy. This time around, Breitling has revamped the lineup in 46mm, 43mm or 41mm case sizes, giving the dial a little more room to breathe. Powering the whole collection was the COSC-certified Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01, which punches out 70 hours power reserve. Essentially, an automatic version of the one used in the recent Navitimer Re-Edition, the movement was the perfect way to usher in a new collection.
Water Resistance: 30m
Calibre: Breitling 01
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Is the MoonSwatch available?
The Swatch x OMEGA MoonSwatch releases are available currently. While the initial allocation was exhausted quickly, Swatch confirmed that the timepieces were not limited edition, meaning they will return as stock levels increase.
What new models did Rolex release in 2022?
In 2022, watchmaker Rolex unveiled the Air-King, Day-Date 40, GMT-Master II, Yacht-Master 40, Yacht-Master 42 and Datejust 31. Closing out the year, the brand also debuted the Oyster Deepsea Challenge.