The novelties from this year point to a recovering luxury watch industry. Here are the highlights from Watches and Wonders and beyond

1. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra

0th anniversary of the current generation of Bulgari’s Octo line. The collection is arguably best known as Bulgari’s platform for showcasing ultra‑thin watchmaking and the brand didn’t disappoint—with the Octo Finissimo Ultra, yet another world record in thinness has been broken. At 1.8 mm high, this timepiece is now the world’s thinnest watch and, for all intents and purposes, the same thickness as Singapore’s 20‑cent coin. The Octo Finissimo Ultra is the perfect bookend to Bulgari’s first decade with the new Octo, but also points to the brand’s culture of innovation. Note how the barrel’s ratchet wheel has been engraved with a QR code, which grants access to the NFT that accompanies each watch. This is a limited edition, by the way, just 10 pieces are available worldwide.

2. A Lange & Söhne Odysseus

Before the Odysseus was unveiled in late 2019, A Lange & Söhne’s regular production timepieces had only been offered in precious metals. The steel‑clad Odysseus was thus a paradigm shift for the brand—which the latest reference in titanium has taken even further. This new watch is A Lange & Söhne’s first timepiece in titanium, with both its case and bracelet rendered in the metal. Visually, the titanium surfaces are a departure from the familiar grey of steel in terms of hue. The dead giveaway, however, is the new ice blue dial, which also sports a new set of decorative finishes. On the wrist, the titanium construction lends an almost unnatural lightness to the watch for unparalleled comfort. There are only 250 pieces of this limited‑edition timepiece.

3. Grand Seiko Kodo

Since becoming its own entity in 2018, Grand Seiko has made great strides into the world of luxury watchmaking outside of Japan. Recent timepieces themed on Japan’s natural scenery is one such example, with the brand capturing the international market’s attention (and spending) by appealing to a broad range of tastes. On the other hand, the Kodo, which means “heartbeat” in Japanese, shown here is a technical tour de force that demonstrates Grand Seiko’s expertise. This timepiece sees the constant force mechanism and the tourbillon combined into a single composite device while sharing a common axis—the latter a world’s first in watchmaking—to create even greater chronometric stability. The fringe benefit is the regularity of the Kodo’s sound, much like the heartbeat it alludes to, as the constant force mechanism’s impulse every second matches the eight‑times‑a‑second ticking of the escapement.

4. Tag Heuer Carrera Plasma

Tag Heuer’s penchant for disruptive watchmaking has seen it create various startling timepieces in the past, such as the Mikrotimer Flying 1000 Concept mechanical chronograph that can measure elapsed time down to 1/1,000th of a second. In the new Carrera Plasma, the lab‑grown diamond and its underlying technology have been harnessed to create yet another timepiece that’s quite unlike anything before. It’s diamonds galore here, from the ones embedded into the case to the dial, which is actually a single piece of polycrystalline diamond grown in a lab. Even the crown is a single diamond! What’s especially masterful is how harmonious the overall design is, thanks to the usage of contrasting elements such as the anodised aluminium case and the black ceramic bezel. 

5. Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea

Montblanc has unveiled a completely new line of timepieces: the 1858 Iced Sea dive watches. In keeping with the spirit of exploration that the 1858 collection espouses, the 1858 Iced Sea is, as its name suggests, themed on the glacial ice that’s found in some water bodies. The dials of the watches themselves reflect this, with the reference in blue alluding to the blue ice found in the glacial lakes of the Mont Blanc massif, which originally inspired the new collection. Two other references—in green and black—are also available. On the technical front, the new watches have been fitted with quick‑change bracelets with integrated micro adjustments. Together with other details such as the ceramic bezel insert, this is a bona fide tool watch fit for undersea explorations.

6. Panerai Luminor Goldtech Calendario Perpetuo

High complications are fairly atypical within Panerai’s line‑up, and the brand often offers novel takes on their execution, which makes them extra special. Case in point: the new Luminor Goldtech Calendario Perpetuo, which puts the perpetual calendar in the classic Luminor, with a second time zone display and day/night indicator to boot. The dial remains eminently legible though, albeit without the sandwich dial construction that aficionados have come to love. Instead, the watch’s smoked sapphire dial offers a peek at the underlying movement, with two discs for the day and date. To keep the information displayed on the dial to just the essentials, the power reserve, year and leap year indicators have been relocated to the front (the caseback side) of the movement.

7. Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Purple Sapphire

Calling the Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Purple Sapphire a line extension would be a misnomer. While technically correct, this timepiece represents more than just another new colour in Hublot’s line of Big Bang watches with sapphire cases—this is the world’s first purple‑tinted sapphire, let alone the world’s first watch to be cased in this material. The secret behind the alchemy? A mixture of aluminium oxide and chrome, exacting in both their relative proportions and their distribution with the sapphire block that the case was crafted from. Consider this yet another example of Hublot’s innovation with materials.

8. Tudor Black Bay Pro

Can refinement be found in a tool watch? Tudor’s answer is a resounding yes. The Black Bay Pro appears highly technical with its sharp silhouette and no‑nonsense design that’s focused on legibility, but reveals a keen attention to detail and luxurious appointments upon closer examination. Note the subtly domed dial, for instance, or how its hour indices are solid blocks of luminous ceramic. The hands, too, have been designed for balance while maintaining the aesthetics of Tudor’s signature snowflake hands. The subtle interplay between brushed and polished surfaces on the case is yet another masterful touch. To complement these details, the movement is equally impressive on the technical front, from Tudor’s insistence on precision standards that exceeds COSC’s to the quick‑set hour hand for local time, which also adjusts the date seamlessly.

9. Zenith Chronomaster Open

Following its introduction in 2003, the Chronomaster Open quickly became an important pillar within Zenith’s line‑up. Its claim to fame was its iconic “open heart” construction, which sees a cut‑out in the dial affording a view of the balance and escapement. This feature has obviously been retained in the updated Chronomaster Open, which was introduced at Watches and Wonders 2022. Significant changes have been made elsewhere though, beginning with the El Primero 3600 movement within the watch. With this new movement and a revised dial layout, the new Chronomaster Open is now capable of displaying elapsed time down to 1/10th of a second. On the design front, the line has been downsized from 42 mm to 39.5 mm, with refinements made to its silhouette to make it wear smaller and look sleeker on the wrist.

10. IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Woodland”

IWC has extended the Pilot’s Watch with a range of colourways this year. One highlight is the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Woodland”, which presents a tone‑on‑tone aesthetic with a dark green ceramic case and matching dial. Eagle‑eyed observers will notice that the pushers, crown and caseback are in black instead—these components have been rendered in IWC’s proprietary Ceratanium, a titanium‑based material imbued with properties of both titanium and ceramic. The overall result is a timepiece that’s highly technical and a compelling modern alternative to its more traditional steel‑cased counterparts. This watch is not a limited edition, but production will be kept to just 1,000 pieces per year.

11. Breitling Navitimer

70 this year and Breitling has refreshed the line with some updates to its models. The new iterations retain the signature elements, of course, including the circular slide rule, knurled bezel, baton indexes and three‑counter chronograph layout. What has changed are subtle refinements made to the watches’ details. Most prominently, the slide rule has been flattened while the crystal is now domed, which creates the visual effect of a more compact profile. Other tweaks such as a redesigned rotor, which affords a better view of the movement, add to the overall package without detracting from the icon’s familiar design language. The Navitimer is available in a slew of references across three case sizes—41 mm, 43 mm and 46 mm—and will easily find broad-based appeal with its range of colourways. 

12. Breguet Marine Hora Mundi

Breguet’s Hora Mundi was a revelation when it was first introduced. This dual time zone/world timer hybrid requires its wearer to set just the time in one city, and automatically calculates and displays the time in a second city, with the two time zones toggled using a single pusher. This is both elegant and intuitive, and keeps the complexity to the movement, which requires additional engineering involving two cams, a lever and a differential. The result is a clean and elegant dial—the perfect example of technical watchmaking at the service of convenience. This year, the Hora Mundi has made its way to the Marine collection in the new Marine Hora Mundi watch. Consider this the exciting new chapter of Breguet’s current generation of the Marine collection.

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.