Yes, it’s been a while in the making, but this year we finally launched our inaugural – and very much overdue – watch awards. Rather than relying on our own shortlists, we wanted to make sure that the awards were as open as possible, giving you the chance to vote for whatever watch you cared to. And you did! So, without further ado, here are the Oracle Time Community Watch Awards 2022 Results.
Reader’s Choice: Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon SLGT003
For the Reader’s Choice Grand Prize Grand Seiko’s 2022 opus just about battled to the top of the podium, and it was a tough race. Before we get onto the deserved runner-up, let’s take a look at just what makes the Kodo so special.
The Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon SLGT003 is something many a watchmaker has strived for since the early days of watchmaking; a way to ensure that the same force is applied to the movement regardless of how much energy is in the mainspring, keeping it accurate until its tank hits empty. Grand Seiko have achieved this with a remontoire, a second power source directly linked to the escapement.
However, what makes the Kodo exceptional is that its remontoire has been combined with a tourbillon, integrating them together on a single axis. If that all sounds like a lot of dense jargon, the bottom line is that Grand Seiko have combined two things that are usually separate but have the same purpose – keeping the watch accurate over time.
It’s a cutting-edge level of haute horology that you can see in every open-worked element. And there’s a lot going on, especially at six o’clock where the real action’s happening. Yet you don’t even need to look at the Kodo to know how special it is. All you need to do is listen.
The escapement tick-tocks just like any watch, albeit one at an incredibly high frequency. But the constant force mechanism adds its own once-per-second impulse, too. The result is a syncopated rhythm like a heartbeat, from where the watch takes its name in Japanese. It’s hard to describe in words and definitely something you need to hear for yourself.
Not only is the Kodo Grand Seiko’s first mechanical complication in their 62-year history, it’s the first time a constant force mechanism and tourbillon have been integrated on a single axis in watchmaking’s many-more-than 62-year history. It is, visually, mechanically, and acoustically a masterpiece.
Evidently, we’re not the only ones that fell in love with the Kodo when it was released back at Watches and Wonders earlier in the year. If any watch is worthy of winning our first ever Community Watch Awards, it’s this.
The Runner-Up – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo: While the technical mastery of the Grand Seiko won out in the end, the newest version of Audemars Piguet’s oldest Royal Oak proved it’s still one of the most important launches of 2022. With a few modern improvements such as a better movement like the calibre 7121 and an exhibition caseback to see that better movement through, the modern-day Jumbo is arguably in the best place it’s ever been.
Dive Watch: Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Titanium
Originally designed for the Five Deeps challenge, a dive to the bottom of each of the world’s oceans from billionaire adrenaline junkie Victor Vescovo, the first Ultra Deep was strapped to the outside of DSV Limiting Factor as the submersible sank to the very bottom of the Mariana Trench. It was both a fantastic accomplishment in its own right and a middle finger to Rolex’s attempt with Titanic director James Cameron.
Unfortunately, only a couple of watches were made. Fortunately, it was developed into this slightly less extreme, production version of the Planet Ocean, water resistant to ‘only’ 6,000m. The majority of the new collection was also made from Omega’s new, seriously impressive O-MEGASTEEL alloy.
The bottom line is that nobody who isn’t boarding a science vessel is ever going to take this watch to anywhere near 6,000m deep. Most of us wouldn’t even wear it in the shower. But knowing that you can, and that the Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8912 inside will keep the Ultra Deep (read our review) ticking, is still reassuring.
The Runner-Up – Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Auto: One of the only genuinely affordable pieces at Watches & Wonders, Montblanc’s Iced Sea not only hits above its weight mechanically, but looks good doing it, with a glacial dial and one of the most satisfying dive bezels of the show.
Chronograph: Omega Speedmaster ‘57
Omega didn’t just dive deep into the ocean this year, but deep into their archives, too. Kind of. The Speedmaster ‘57 was actually introduced in 2013 as a retro, bicompax take on the ubiquitous Moonwatch we know and (mostly) love. Despite early Speedmasters, that is, being Tricompax. Faux-historical oddities aside, the ’57 swaps the high-contrast, performance look of the professional line for something slightly cooler for the everyday, something especially true of the new releases from 2022.
Colour was very much on Omega’s slate this year and the trio of Speedmaster ’57 hues in red, green, and blue brought a whole new feel to the collection. The most wearable of the three is the blue PVD, with black subdial scales and minute track. Paired with a gorgeous blue fume strap. The colour though isn’t where the new watch stops. Along with straight lugs, the ’57’s heritage touches include one of the finest bracelets on any Speedmaster., inspired by the Apollo 11 tribute release from 2019.
The Runner-Up – Grönefeld 1941 Grönograaf: The first ever chronograph from the Brothers Grönefeld, the horological siblings have funnelled their distinctive take on high watchmaking into an impeccably modern, layered sports watch. Except that it includes a centrifugal regulator. Because of course it does.
Dress Watch: A. Lange & Söhne Grand Lange 1
There’s a lot of cool, cutting-edge stuff we’re honouring in these awards, but this winner is living proof that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to perfect a watch. This year’s Grand Lange 1 is a gorgeous, slightly tweaked version of the German watchmaker’s flagship timepiece, the definitive dress watch version of their understated style.
The changes appear small at first: a slimmer case to better fit under a shirtsleeve, a new shade of grey for the dial, and a textured look with texturally contrasting subdials, instead of the usual silky-smooth finish. The movement too has been adapted to better fit in the wider, slimmer case and, as ever, is absolutely gorgeous.
The Runner-Up – Grand Seiko Sea of Clouds: A beautifully textured dial in an otherwise understated case can only mean Grand Seiko, and while it might no longer be the newest of their naturalistic creations, it’s one of their most beautiful, with blue clouds contrasting with the ultra-precise Zaratsu polishing.
Travel Watch: Longines Spirit Zulu Time
Building on the success of their retro-slanted (but not heritage) Spirit pilots’ watch, Longines hit a high this year with the Zulu Time. Not only did it make solid use of their new, incredibly successful collection, it let them jump into the archives to prove just how far they go.
Zulu Time is not, as it sounds, the time around Christmas that we gather to watch a Michael Caine classic; it’s simply an anachronistic alternative to GMT. While over the years the term’s slipped out of modern parlance, it still crops up in military circles.
The Longines Spirit Zulu Time isn’t really a throwback to a specific vintage reference, instead using the broad strokes of Longines’ heritage designs. Wrapped up in an incredibly handsome, modern vintage styled watch that’s arguably the most streamlined, wearable travel watch of the year. Plus, it’s backed by a true GMT with chronometer certification and a typically accessible price tag offering serious bang for your buck, there’s a lot to love from Longines.
The Runner-Up – Hermès Arceau Le Temps Voyageur: Frustratingly chic, the Arceau Le Temps Voyageur unique take on world timing takes a similar approach to the Parisian brand’s dual moon phase in that the dial itself moves. Specifically, it’s used to set the time zone in one of the most satisfyingly tactile functions in modern watchmaking. Seriously.
Field/Pilot’s Watch: Breitling Navitimer B01 43
The Navitimer, with its slide rule bezel, is one of the most iconic aeronautical timepieces ever built. After plenty of re-issues of previous, historical models though, it became a certainty early in the year that Breitling would soon be re-issuing the collection. What we weren’t expecting was just how modernised it would be.
Gone is the pleasingly tactile, retro beaded bezel, replaced in favour of a less charming, but more practical notched version. That’s not the only element that’s been changed either. The scale itself has more of a performance look to it with black, white, and red and has been flattened for a more compact profile. The date window has been moved to the six o’clock subdial for a more symmetrical layout and the new range of colours is a candy shop of flavours.
Yes, we still miss that beaded bezel – it was one of the major reasons we loved the classic Navitimer – but at least we’ll see that in more inevitable historical editions. As the new modern face of Breitling, the Navitimer B01 43 is one of the biggest launches of 2022.
The Runner-Up – Rolex Air King: One of the saving graces of Rolex’s Watches & Wonders release slate, the revamp of the Air King makes their most accessible sports watch a seriously tempting prospect, with minor tweaks adding up to a more wearable, mechanically excellent timepiece.
High Complication: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945
Where to start with this? Jaeger-LeCoultre’s release slate this year has been stuffed to the brim with grandiose high complications dedicated to stellar timekeeping. Accessibility wasn’t even on the cards. Yet even among the rest of the mechanically rarefied offerings, the latest Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 is magnificent.
A multi-layered dial mapping out the night sky with labelled constellation – as it would look from the watchmaker’s Vallée de Joux manufacture – and an ‘Atomium’ border acts as a thematic background to the distant star-oriented sidereal time as displayed on the Cosmotourbillon. The pair lend an incredible depth to the watch’s architectural construction.
Because all of that’s just not enough, this is paired with the almighty minute repeater with crystal gongs, tebuchet hammers, and a silent governor. Made from a grand total of 570 components and more hours of obsession to craftsmanship, it’s a lot to take in.
The Runner-Up – A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Minute Repeater: Like an elegant swan with legs churning underwater, there’s a lot going on beneath the refined, pocket watch-inspired surface of the Richard Lange Minute Repeater. A practical, userforward evolution of the complication, this is pure A. Lange & Söhne.
Accessible: Omega x Swatch MoonSwatch
If this one was a surprise, you’ve evidently not been paying much attention to what was without a doubt the biggest watch launch of the year. Or, you know, the excessive global queues outside of Swatch stores.
The MoonSwatch, as the name suggests, is the bastard lovechild of Swatch’s accessible brand of mass-produced watchmaking and the iconic Omega Speedmaster that became a NASA necessity. The overall design leans on the latter, with the tachymeter and general proportions coming across like the Speedy’s fun younger brother, with a price tag that’s very Swatch. The result was possibly the most hyped watch release ever.
Despite promises that the full collection would eventually be sold online (something that’s yet to happen, at time of writing), each of the 11 watches were being flipped for ridiculous sums; rumours of the Mission to the Moon going for 10K abounded. It’s calmed down a bit now, but restocks are still met with dedicated queues.
The Runner-Up: Baltic Aquascaphe Titanium: The coveted microbrand’s latest diver isn’t just one of their best looking to date, but it brings the lightweight practicality of titanium to bear on the collection, while maintaining the appealingly accessible price tag that Baltic are known for.
Innovation: Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon SLGT003
High complication and innovation, despite certain overlapping similarities, are two different things. A minute repeater, as previously shown, is one of the most demanding complications ever built, but it’s been around for centuries and the concept has only really been refined, rather than outright changed.
Innovation on the other hand is about doing something new, something that’s never been done before. Grand Seiko’s Kodo, as we’ve already been over, is definitely new. While it didn’t grab headlines in the way as, say, the Bulgari Finissimo Ultra or Richard Mille RM UP-1 and their battle for slimline supremacy, Grand Seiko opted for a watchmaking angle that nobody else was vying for. Obviously, it paid off, as this skeletonised beauty not only won innovation watch of the year, but our overall Reader’s Choice Award.
The Runner-Up – Cartier Masse Mystérieuse: We love this piece. The idea of shrinking the movement so that it can fit into the space of an automatic watch rotor is already a bold move; making it actually work as a rotor defies all sense. You need to see it moving in the metal to grasp just how insane the Masse Mystérieuse is, even by Cartier’s standards of intense mystery watches.
Sports-Luxe: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin
The biggest trend in the watch world over the past 12 months was the consolidation of Gerald Genta’s unique design style of industrial luxury into countless variations on the theme. Every watchmaker worth the name seemed to be trying to recapture the iconoclastic magic of the 1970s; a frantic few years that saw the introduction of some of the most successful references in the history of horology. Is it something of a surprise then that it was the Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin that won this particular category?
As a runner-up in the Reader’s Choice category, this was always going to be the winner here. Though honestly, we could have predicted that even without the inside track. The Nautilus might be the big fish in the ever-diminishing pond, but the Royal Oak – in particular the retro Jumbo version – is the blueprint from which all of the other fish take their cues. We won’t go over old ground too much here. Needless to say that the definitive Sports-Luxe watch got slightly more definitive in 2022.
The Runner-Up – The Cartier Santos de Cartier: It may have originally been designed as a pilots’ watch, but between the industrial good looks – rivets and all – and its new blued PVD elements, the Santos de Cartier (read our review) is a world apart from the usual militaristic look of aviation watches. It’s sports-luxe and we love it. As do you, apparently.