Gear

These 9 New Watches Are Destined To Be Classics

2022 saw a slew of brilliant watch releases. These are the best of the best.

Getty / Fatherly

There’s a pretty straightforward criteria for what makes a great watch for dads: Would you pass on to your kids? This simple question can easily reveal a trendy new timepiece that you impulsively buy from a thoughtful watch you will keep and care for and wear forever. Zach Weiss, the co-founder and executive editor of the digital watch magazine Worn & Wound, agrees. “The considerations for what might make a new watch a future ‘classic’ are very similar to what makes a watch a good candidate as a hand-me-down to one’s children,” says Weiss.

Most classic watches stick to the standards. There are colors, sizes, and styles that won’t go out of style. Push it too far and you have yourself a fashionable splurge — not that there’s anything wrong with that. Take the Billionaire Boys Club’s (BBC) recent Rocket watch, for example. This playful timepiece bends the rules with its moon face, cartoon rocket hand, and large BBC branding. Is it stylish? Just ask Pharrell or George Bamford (yes, clearly). Is it a watch that your great grandkids will don? Probably not.

This is not to say you should avoid all trends. Right now, for example, watches are downsizing (The Rolex Explorer went from 39mm to 36mm this year; Tudor unveiled a smaller Pelagos dive watch reduced to 39mm from 41mm.) It’s a noticeable trend that doesn’t make the watch any less of a classic. Just think subtle, think long-term.

So what were the best watches of 2022? They were new releases like Tudor’s Black Bay Pro, updates like the “Moonshine” Omega Speedmaster, and instant classics like an all-bronze Oris Big Crown. They ranged from Casio to Cartier, and while they followed some trends, more than anything else they have the presence to stand the test of time.

To compile this list, we talked to some of the best watch experts in the world, from writers to executives, to dealers, to find out which modern watches out this year truly impressed them enough to achieve heirloom status. Here are their picks.

Watch Image Courtesy of Tudor/Fatherly

This recommendation comes from Zach Weiss, who purchased this watch for himself. “From this year’s releases, the Tudor Black Bay Pro stands out,” he says. “As part of the Hans Wilsdorf Group, alongside Rolex, it’s built to the highest standards from a company that is about as close to bedrock as a luxury brand can be. The watch itself has a timeless style touching on vintage cues, but is thoroughly modern in execution and has a fairly neutral palette that can be dressed up or down. Inside is a high-end chronometer grade movement with the added feature of a GMT or dual-time complication. Perhaps the most useful function outside of three-hands and a date, which it has as well.” — $3675

Watch Image Courtesy of Cartier/Fatherly

Jeff Fowler, CEO of Hodinkee, the online watch magazine and e-commerce store that has become a nexus of the watch community, was blown away this year by this limited-edition Cartier. “The new Cartier Santos Dumont in rose gold with the beige lacquer bezel and dial would be the watch for me,” says Fowler. “The Santos line captures the pioneering, adventurous spirit of its Brazilian aviator namesake, and I could imagine this watch on the wrists of my sons accompanying them through many of their own adventures in life. More than any other watch released in 2022, this one just has the look of an instant heirloom.” — $12,000

Watch Image Courtesy of Vacheron Constantin/Fatherly

Fowler’s if-money-were-no-object choice this year is the re-issue of a 1970s icon from Vacheron Constantin, an elegant but sporty gold watch with a timeless and unisex 37mm size. “I would feel as though I was doing my fatherly duty if I had the chance to gift my son the new Vacheron Constantin 222 as an heirloom one day,” says Fowler. “It’s a piece of watch design history, bearing the hallmark of famed watch designer Jorg Hysek, and will easily stand the test of time for my sons… and hopefully even for their sons someday!” And while this watch is in a particularly rarefied category in terms of cost, there’s no denying that it is something very special. Signature details of this satin-finished 18-karat gold watch include a Maltese cross on the case front at five o’clock, 18-karat gold hour and minute hands on the gold-tone dial (which elegantly omits a second hand), and an open case back showing off the redesigned ‘222’ oscillating weight of the self-winding movement. — $69,000

Watch Image Courtesy of Casio/Fatherly

This Casio is colloquially known as a CasiOak because of its resemblance to the famous Audemars Piquet Royal Oak, a watch released in 1972 with a signature octagonal bezel that many watch aficionados consider to be the most iconic sports watch of all time, and which range in price from $30,000 to mid-six-figures. The resemblance is stronger than ever now that Casio has released this all-metal version. Casio may not be a brand you think of when you’re thinking of iconic watches, but as Matt Hranek, founder of The Wm. Brown Project and the author of A Man & His Watch, points out, “All watches have the potential to become heirlooms because to me an heirloom is about the emotional value, not the monetary value. Handing down your beloved Casio has the potential to be as valuable as your Patek [Philippe], emotionally speaking.” $600

Watch Image Courtesy of Oris/Fatherly

Bronze is an unusual case material for a watch, but one that is growing in popularity. Bronze has one very unique property that aligns perfectly with the vintage watch aesthetic, which is that bronze quickly develops a stable oxidized patina that quickly makes it look like an heirloom. Wristwatches came into popularity long after bronze’s heyday, and it has been little used by watchmakers because it’s softer and heavier than stainless steel. Independent Swiss watchmaker Oris goes went full bronze with its new Big Crown, using a bronze case and a bronze bracelet — allowing it to quickly acquire the patinated character of a classic. It’s also sized at a versatile and future-proof 39mm. Bronze is a specific aesthetic, but it’s less sterile than steel and more rugged than gold, which is a nice sweet spot both visually and in terms of its presence on the wrist. — $2,600

Watch Image Courtesy of Rolex/Fatherly

Eric Wind, founder of the online vintage watch shop Wind Vintage, has a unique vantage point on knowing what new watches will become classics, because not only does he sell vintage watches, but he also chooses watches worn by actors in period films and television shows. He recommends any 36mm modern steel Rolex, such as the Oyster Perpetual or the DateJust. “It’s going to look good on anyone of either gender in the future, so it’s a good watch to hand down. I have two daughters, so I think about that with my own watch collection — the 36mm size you can pass it on to anyone.” Wind is happy to see the tide shifting in terms of case sizes “All these people think they need a 40mm watch, which looks too big on the majority of people.” — $5,800

Watch Image Courtesy of Jaeger/Fatherly

Wind’s other recommendation for new watches with timeless heirloom potential is the unique Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso, an art deco watch originally created in 1931 to be worn by polo players, with a unique function of a reversible face to protect the crystal and dial during matches. When reversed, what you then have is a blank steel face perfect for engraving. “You can have your initials or family crest engraved on it, and automatically becomes an heirloom,” says Wind. — $5,650

Watch Image Courtesy of Omega/Fatherly

Robert-Jan Broer, founder of the digital watch magazine Fratello Watches, looks at new releases he reviews through the lens of heirloom potential. I’ve given this topic quite some thought over the years, as my daughter has been showing quite some interest in watches starting at young age. It made me wonder which watch to ‘pass down’ in the (hopefully) far future,” says Broer. “It should be a watch that she will remember me wearing the most, and in my case, that’s probably my gold Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonshine,’ introduced a few months ago.” The moonshine color of the solid gold dial is a more tasteful and toned-down hue than typical gold. Like the dial, the hour and minute hands are also solid gold, a particularly luxe detail since they’re coated in black PVD and didn’t have to be. The sub-dials have a subtle sunburst patter, and the sub-dial hands are made of diamond-polished gold. Inside the watch is Master Chronograph Certified manual-wind movement. — $28,700

Watch Image Courtesy of Grand Seiko/Fatherly

Broer says that for daily use, there’s another new watch that stands out as an instant classic for him — The Grand Seiko “White Birch” Spring Drive SLGA009. Grand Seiko is the pinnacle of Japanese watchmaking, and was created in 1960 to go toe-to-toe with the finest Swiss watches, which it continues to do to this day. The “White Birch” is understated from a distance, but reveals its craftsmanship when viewed up close. The textured silvery white dial resembles flowing water, or perhaps Japanese woodcut artwork, and the soft lines of the dial contrast with the diamond-cut hands and applied hour markers. The mix of brushed and high-polish steel also creates reflections with different qualities of light. The 40mm case makes it very legible, but the Spring Drive movement allows the watch to be a very thin 11.8 millimeters, so it doesn’t wear big. The Spring Drive movement provides quartz-like accuracy with the endless power of an automatic watch, so you get the best of both worlds — including a five-day power reserve if it’s in in a drawer. You can also appreciate the Spring Drive movement visually, through the sapphire crystal case back. $9,100