Our writer's top picks including new releases from Tudor, Rolex, TAG Heuer and Grand Seiko
After a two-year setback and exclusively digital events, Watches and Wonders 2022 has kicked off in Geneva, back in person bringing together the absolute best in the world of horology. The biggest names in watchmaking and fine jewellery give us a rare glimpse into this year's new watch releases and one-off creations you won't find anywhere else. With the event running from the 30th of March to the 5th of April there is an abundance of exciting new releases from industry powerhouses like Rolex, Piaget, Tudor, IWC, Grand Seiko, Panerai, Patek Philippe, TAG Heuer and many more...
With so much to discover, our writers at WatchGecko have put together a few of our favourite new releases so far. But stay tuned as more is yet to come!
TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph
In the WatchGecko magazine, we have written many times about solar-powered watches and how they make the perfect Field watch. There are very few to choose from yet the watch industry has led this technology for years; long before there was Tesla there was Citizen Eco-Drive. However, the big Swiss brands have steadfastly avoided this method of power in favour of traditionally crafted movements until now, when one of the biggest sports names has finally embraced it.
Enter the Tag Heuer Aquaracer Solargraph. This new model represents a technological milestone for TAG Heuer, with the brand's first-ever solar-powered watch. This has been achieved with the creation of the wholly new calibre TH50-00 fitted into the latest evolution of the Aquaracer.
The TH50-00 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. In similar technology to the venerable Promaster Tough, the Solargraph has a partially transparent dial allowing the movement to be charged directly by the sun. The entire solar system comes with a five-year warranty, so confident are TAG in the technology.
As you would expect from TAG the dial also has Super-LumiNova at the critical points and strontium aluminate has also been blended with carbon to make one of the best looking and functional bezels of all time. Contain all this is a black DLC case and you have a stunning TAG for a new environmentally conscious generation.
TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver
The original TAG Heuer 1000M reference WS2110-2 was a particularly sought-after model in the 80s when I first started buying the brand. Just when you thought your 1000 Series (Submariner look-alike) was the coolest TAG on the market this beast was introduced, and everyone wanted one. The idea of the watch being waterproof to 3330ft was mind-blowing.
Fast forward to Watches and Wonders 2022 and the 1984 Super Professional has evolved into the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver. A watch made to withstand all the eye-watering statistics that come with saturation diving. Unlike its massive predecessor, the new Superdiver is just 15.75 mm thick and is remarkably light being made from grade 5 titanium and ceramic. To complement the new case and design the watch is powered by a completely new COSC Calibre TH30-00 with 70-hours of power in reserve
A manufacturer's extreme dive model is as much about showing what they can achieve in the field of technical excellence as building a superior dive chronometer. TAG has made the new Superdiver completely without compromise and developed a serious player in the saturation dive market which takes the Sea Dweller black bezel, black dial norm and fundamentally updates it. Attention to detail is superb from the hexagonal indices to multi-coloured lume and automatic helium escape valve. At 1000M the water pressure is 1400psi. Just think about that for a moment and let it sink in just how impressive the new TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver is.
Tudor Black Bay Pro
My first pick has to be the Tudor Black Bay Pro. Whilst it clearly draws inspiration from vintage Rolex Explorer II's, the watch is a refreshingly different addition to Tudor's line up. It offers several firsts for the brand that make this watch a real crowd-pleaser. For starters it's the first Tudor GMT in a 39mm case. I think this was a great decision on Tudor's part as it should give the watch an authentic vintage feel that you just don't get from the current Explorer II. It also (somewhat) appeases those of us who've been dying to see a Black Bay 58 GMT.
Another really nice touch on the Black Bay Pro is that the markers are actually 3D lume blocks, which helps inject a bit of modernity into the design, as well as providing excellent contrast and legibility.
The bracelet also features Tudor's T-fit clasp that has a built-in micro-adjustment system. It's a feature that's been sorely missing from the Black Bay collection until recently, and it's about time Tudor started to roll it out to more watches than just the Black Bay 58 Bronze.
Overall, I think the Black Bay Pro fills an obvious gap in Tudor's catalogue, and it's a compelling alternative to the virtually unobtainable Rolex Explorer II. The Tudor Black Bay Pro will be £3,080 on a steel bracelet, or £2,840 on a leather or fabric strap.
Cartier Masse Mystérieuse
My second choice is something that's completely out there - the Cartier Masse Mystérieuse. I'm sure you can see why it caught my eye. Not only is the dial and case back completely transparent, but the entire watch movement is housed within the rotor. The effect that this produces is out of this world, and in the metal I'm sure it will be even more impressive. Try as they might, Cartier's marketing material just can't capture the intricate way that skeletonised movement will catch the light.
Speaking of the movement, it's Cartier's own automatic calibre 9801 MC. The movement has 43 jewels, and beats at 28,800 vph, with a 42-hour power reserve.
I'm also a very big fan of the polished Roman numerals around the edge of the dial. Their traditional design contrasts strikingly with the surreal negative space they're juxtapositioned against. The case is made from platinum and measures a sizeable 43.5mm wide and 12.6mm thick, which means that this watch is most definitely a statement piece. Unsurprisingly, the Masse Mystérieuse is a limited edition of 30 watches, priced at €250,000. Apparently, Cartier will also release diamond-set versions, including one with a platinum bracelet, for €565,000 and €1,200,000
Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Spring Drive GMT Chronographs
Evolution 9 encompasses the new design principles that will represent the future of Grand Seiko watches. We have become familiar with these new design features with the White Birch, made popular by their deeply textured dials. The Grand Seiko White Birch models, which included a High-Beat and Spring-Drive version, along with a few other releases made up the brand's Evolution 9 Collection.
The Grand Seiko SBGE283 and SGBE285 Spring Drive GMT watches incorporate the Evolution 9 refinements in their design language. This includes the new case, which appears curvier thanks to the new crown guards. The case geometry appears well balanced thanks to the wider lugs which slope nicely into the compact bracelet, measuring half the width of the case (an important aesthetic feature of the Evolution 9 design specs). At 41mm in diameter and 13.9 thick, the high-intensity titanium case has been given a lower centre of gravity for a stabler wrist presence that feels incredibly lightweight. As GMT watches, the titanium bezel has been engraved with 24-hour markers in a more legible font.
You have two dial options to choose between. The SGBE283 comes with a pitch-black lacquer dial that reflects the light perfectly. While the SGBE285 features a misty grey dial, inspired by the misty mornings in the Shinshu region, where Grand Seiko make their Spring Drives. The SGBE285 would be my clear favourite here, reminiscent of the White Birch or Snowflake models that always resonated with Grand Seiko fans. Each dial received additional facets in the hands and markers enhanced with generous coatings of Lumibrite, appearing much bolder and more reflective.
The new Spring Drive GMT is also as Grand Seiko as it gets when it comes to time-keeping, powered by the familiar, if not new Spring Drive Calibre 9R66 under the sapphire caseback. The Spring Drive combines automatic winding with the unparalleled precision of a quartz regulator, storing up to 72 hours of power with an unbelievable accuracy of ±1 seconds per day, or ±15 a month.
Grand Seiko Evolution 9 SLGA015 Spring Drive Diver 200M
Continuing the Evolution 9 collection we have Grand Seiko's newest dive watch since it debuted its limited-edition SLGA001 back in 2020. The high-intensity titanium, 200m capable SLGA015 has a case diameter of 43.8mm and a thickness of 13.8mm. However, thanks to the Evolution 9 design language, this whopping size wears much more wrist-friendly than the sizes suggest. The case utilises a scratch-resistant ceramic timing bezel with a knurled gear tooth finish for a secure grip, with boldly etched minute markers. Its monochromatic look feeds into the dial, which showcases Grand Seiko's eye for detail featuring a wavy texture inspired by the wild tides of the Black Stream.
The Spring Drive Diver also features one of Grand Seiko's most fascinating movements, the Calibre 9RA5. This movement offers an incredible 5-day (120 hours) power reserve, two days more than the standard Spring Drive calibre. In addition, this movement provides a beautifully smooth seconds sweep with an accuracy of ±10 seconds per month.
Rolex GMT Master II
Rolex just solved a problem that (for me) doesn't exist, but I still like what they've done. I've always been left-handed, despite the best efforts of my grandmother who used to love yanking the pen from my left hand, as a youngster, and placing it in my right hand. Sorry granny, but it didn't work. However, I have since adopted some right-handed tendencies, such as wearing my watch on my left wrist. And I know several lefties who do exactly the same. So the world probably didn't need a GMT Master II with the crown (and date) on the left, but the end result looks so different that it's rather cool, thanks also to the new green bezel.
Like every single one of Rolex's designs, it's very much evolutionary, but it certainly stands out - as existing 'Kermit' owners will no doubt agree. Inside is Rolex's familiar 3285 movement and it's priced at £8800 for the standard Oyster bracelet: you'll pay £200 more for the Jubilee bracelet). As usual, it's getting hold of one that's going to be the issue here. Rolex only used to make 'left-handed' watches by special order in the past, but now they might become a lot more common. Possibly.
Rolex Yacht Master
If you can afford a yacht, you can afford a few precious metals to go on the watch you wear when sailing it. That seems to be the logic behind the latest Yacht Masters, one of which looks amazing, while the other one is more challenging.
Let's start with the 42, which is available in this size for the first time, and also available in yellow gold for the first time. Everyone knows already what a compelling combination black and gold is, and the end result is the most handsome Yacht Master yet, set off perfectly by the black rubber Oysterflex strap. You'll need £22750 to secure it, but that will only buy you about a third of the rainbow 40 version. This features shades of blue, white, pink and lilac in diamonds and sapphires around the bezel: around 41 of them in total. The case is in white gold, which is a first for the smaller model. Think of it as a Rainbow Daytona for the water...
Rolex Air King
The new Air King is probably the Rolex that has undergone the most change in the company's most recent line-up, and after years of being relatively unloved, it deserves the attention. The Air King has always been a good-looking watch that I've coveted for years, but now it's got even better.
The biggest changes are the fact that it now has a crown guard - having previously been naked - and the fact that the lugs have been straightened, bringing it more into line with Rolex's other steel sports watches. The numerals have also been changed, with '05' instead of just '5' previously: something that apparently used to bother lots of people but never really made a difference to me personally, being part of what made the watch distinctive. As for the movement, the Air King gets the 3230 calibre introduced in 2020, with a 70-hour power reserve. At £5900, the latest Air King is a positive bargain. And there's a better chance of finding one - from May onwards - than with many other models.
There's more to come
If you're looking for more new Watches of Wonders 2022 releases why not check out our reviews of the new Oris ProPilotX Calibre 400? Make sure to head back to our WatchGecko magazine for more Watches And Wonders news coming soon.