In fine tradition the WatchGecko Magazine team are sharing their thoughts on the departing year with regards to the world of watches. Kick back and join us as we cast a retrospective, chronometer certified, eye on 2022.
Richard’s thoughts on 2022
It’s been an exciting year for the Geckota Group. We launched many new products via our sub-brands like ZULUDIVER and FORZO, redesigned the website and The Magazine, revived the YouTube channel and attended our first serious exhibition, World Time UK, at LHR. The contacts and business we gained because of this excellent show has reinforced it’s the way to go. Arguably the best outcome of attending was meeting so many loyal customers who seemed as pleased to see us as we were them. We look forward to more of this in 2023.
2022 brought us so many new watches its hard to select a favourite. In this job we are lucky to get hands a myriad of exclusive latest models however my favourite release of 2022 came back in April during Watches & Wonders when TAG Heuer revealed with the solar powered Aquaracer Solargraph.
Image credit: TAG Heuer
I have written many times about solar powered watches but not until this innovation had I the chance to pen words related to a Tier 1 brand. The Tag Heuer Aquaracer Solargraph represents a technological milestone for TAG Heuer which has been achieved with the creation of a new calibre fitted into the latest evolution of the Aquaracer. The TH50-00 movement requires only two minutes in full sunlight to keep the watch running for a whole day. When fully charged, the watch can run for six months. The entire solar system comes with a five-year warranty, so confident are TAG in the new technology.
The dial has Super-LumiNova at strategic points and strontium aluminate has been blended with carbon to make one of the best looking and functional bezels of all time. Protect all this is a black DLC case and you have a stunning watch. When some high end brands think we will be bowled over by a 36mm case it is refreshing to see one of the top 10 stepping boldly into the future.
Unfortunately, I still have not had hands on with the TAG but that was not the case in October when I finally tried on an elusive Helm Vanuatu.
I have long admired Helm from afar and held them in high esteem. They are one of those rare brands who constantly over delivers at a low price. An ISO 6425 watch designed without compromise the Vanuatu is bold and begs to be taken on a serious adventure, either on the surface or deep into the dark depths of the ocean. Wherever you take it, you know this watch will probably survive longer than its owner.
At 42mm diameter and 50mm lug to lug the Helm not big but it has significant presence. It oozes functionality and works hard to cultivate that look. The bezel and crown have a cam wheel appearance with significant ridging on the edges. User interface perfected, we turn our attention to the dial; a design element Helm is most renowned for. It is a paragon of legibility. There is little text which is a welcome change. Only the “H” logo below the 12 mark tells you the brand. Below the hands we are informed that the watch is an ISO certified DIVER’S model. The text is in a subtle graphite colour leaving nothing to detract from the presentation of critical information.
Each glowing indice is reinforced by a lume orange dot to draw the eye. The hands are elongated wide rectangles of pure BGW9. The PVD black bezel also has key elements imbedded with the ability to glow in low light.
I genuinely believe this creation is one of the best tool watches available (a bold statement) and is sold at just $285 from the Helm website. Small wonder there is a huge waiting list. Handling one for the first time I would definitely say it would be worth the wait and recommend you sign up.
Image credit: SpaceX
To round off, one of my greatest highlights of 2022 was to see an Omega go back into space. On 30 May 2020 from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Centre the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off towards the ISS. There was a lot of speculation as to what watch, if any, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley’s would be wearing. On launch day I was delighted to see both wearing Omega X-33s, not the modern Gen 3 Skywalker (although that would fly on a later mission), but ESA approved, Tom Stafford designed, Gen 2s. They even had Apollo style NASA Velcro straps over their weird 60s sci-fi spacesuits. For me, the deployment of Omega on SpaceX channelled the very presence of every previous Apollo and Shuttle flight and to watch it all, wearing my Speedmaster, was as good as it gets.
Sara's Thoughts on 2022
Being new to the watch world has been an eye-opening experience for me and I find that I am continuously learning all things watch related. For me I find it hard to pinpoint my ‘top’ watches of this year as I have only just been introduced but I can certainly tell you which watch first caught my eye.
We’re very lucky here at WatchGecko as we have many different watches passing through our doors and it was the MoonSwatch that first drew my attention, the Omega and Swatch collaborative phenomenon that has taken the watch world by storm and also divided the opinions of many. Collectively we have three MoonSwatch models in the office, Jupiter, Pluto, and Venus and it was this timepiece which I first had hands on experience with and could really appreciate and understand. Not only that, but it’s hard for me to find a watch that will fit nicely on my wrist and this was the first one in the office that did just that! The concept behind each design that appeals to me as well as the re-generative idea of the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. The MoonSwatch collection has taken inspiration from our solar system and each is appropriately designed to reflect this. It ultimately looks like a Speedmaster with a few design changes making it much more affordable. It is incredibly lightweight (making it perfect for my wrist!) and the case is Bioceramic, a sci-fi hybrid material which is one third responsibly sourced plastic and two-thirds ceramic.
I feel extremely privileged to have been welcomed into the watch world as a complete newbie and am love that 2022 has allowed me to work alongside an extremely passionate and talented team here at WatchGecko and a huge thank you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone who reads and supports our magazine.
Anthony’s Thoughts on 2022
Santa Claus is a bit politically incorrect these days: who wants to hear about an old man with a particular interest in children breaking into peoples’ houses at midnight, having previously enslaved a colony of elves near the North Pole and abused reindeer by making them work all night on Christmas Eve? But leaving that aside, there are still a few things that I’d like him to pop down my chimney, especially if he’s ram-raided WatchGecko HQ with that sleigh of his beforehand (and does he actually have a licence for that thing, particularly if he’s been riding under the influence, what with all that sherry left out?)
I digress. The first thing I’d like him to bring me is a Tudor Pelagos – and if he can’t quite see his way to that, an NTH Näcken will do nicely instead. In fact, I might even prefer it. A controversial statement? Not really, as the influence of the Tudor can’t be denied, but at the same time, NTH has put its own stamp on this watch that makes it arguably more interesting as well as far less ubiquitous. We’re lucky to have had some great watches here at WatchGecko, but looking back at everything we’ve handled in 2022, the NTH Näcken is still one of the best-looking – and it also wins the prize for the most interesting name.
Something we always pride ourselves on is getting off the beaten track and going our own way. Which leads me neatly to another highlight of the year, reflected in a very special (and devilishly handsome) watch. In June, the small Glickenhaus team from New York finished on the podium in the world’s toughest motor race: the Le Mans 24 Hours.
With a self-built car, operated on a fraction of the budget of their rivals, Glickenhaus put some of the world’s biggest automotive names in the shade – and we were there too, with the FORZO name on the side of the car and a limited-edition watch to celebrate the journey. Everyone who bought the watch got their name on the FORZO sticker accompanying the 007 Hypercar onto the podium: an incredible adventure.
For those who missed out, we still have some of the non limited-edition Glickenhaus watches available to commemorate this giant-killing achievement. For a small company like ours, this sort of association was a real Christmas present come early. So can I have a Glickenhaus Drive King watch too, as a special souvenir of 2022?
Finally, before Santa (which happens to be an anagram of ‘Satan’ – just putting that out there) heads off, I’d like him to bring me a Bremont too. Any Bremont will do, as after our very special visit to Bremont HQ in Oxfordshire, I’ve become a fan. Witnessing up close how all these watches are made in-house to the highest standards is a real source of inspiration, while the story of how Nick and Giles English founded the company is a tale straight out of Boy’s Own.
Image credit: Bremont
We were privileged to get special access and hear everything about the company’s future, which you’ll be seeing more about on the pages of this magazine. Yet the best thing of all about 2022 has been the chance to work with some extraordinary and talented people to put together words and videos that hopefully shed a bit of light on our lives and our enduring passion for all watches.
To everyone who has enjoyed our content this year, a massive thank you: your comments and support are really appreciated. And to those who haven’t – probably including a certain Mr S. Claus of Lapland – what can we say? We’re truly sorry.