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10/21/2022
 6 minutes

The Top 4 New Watches of 2022 Below the Radar – Rolex, Panerai, and More

By Barbara Korp
Neuheiten-unter-dem-Radar-2-1

“When did they release that?” Have you ever found yourself asking this question about a watch? Sometimes new models come out with very little pomp and circumstance. Suddenly they’re right in front of you without having grabbed anyone’s attention. And somehow you still get the sense that you know the timepiece…right? It’s precisely these models we’re taking a closer look at today. More specifically, we’re checking out the most exciting new releases of 2022 that didn’t get their fair share of the spotlight and/or marketing budget. We hope you’re ready to re-discover the models you already know, and even fall in love with them again. 

Rolex Air-King  

Even though the watch community had speculated about a new Rolex Air-King for quite some time, its release was basically one of the quieter ones, most likely due to long waiting lists and lack of availability. There’s also the fact that the new Air-King is very similar to its predecessor, even though the optical updates are quite good. A 0 was placed in front of the 5 at one o’clock, making all the numbers on the minute track two-digit, except for the inverted triangle at twelve o’clock, and the 3, 6, and 9, which (along with the hands, of course) are now filled with luminescent material, improving legibility in low light considerably. The case now features crown guards as well. 

The 3131 caliber has also been replaced by the 3230 caliber, Rolex’s modern in-house movement that boasts 70 hours of power reserve (up from the previous 48), and which also delivers improved magnetic resistance compared to its predecessor. It also has 100 meters (10 bar, 328 feet) of water resistance, and is “Superlative Chronometer” certified. The Oyster bracelet features an Oysterlock fold-over safety clasp with an additional safety catch, ensuring that the clasp will not accidentally open under even the most extreme conditions. 

As you’d expect from the brand with the crown, the Rolex Air-King was rejuvenated very stylishly. This icon has been given a touch more balance with its distinctive indices, numerals, and Mercedes hands, not to mention its upgraded, modern caliber. What I like the most is that the Oysterlock fold-over safety clasp is now featured on the Air-King, clearly indicating just how much effort Rolex put into this new model. Not was its quality ensured with extensive opening and closing trials, drop tests, and prolonged contact with salt water and chlorine, the clasp was also precisely adjusted to make it sound like the solid, secure closing of a safe door when snapping shut. With its close attention to superb quality and display of affection for detail, Rolex once again proves that it rightfully is the world’s most beloved watch brand. 

Rolex Air-King ref. 126900
Rolex Air-King ref. 126900

IWC Mark XX 

Hardly anyone noticed when IWC released the Mark XX this year. No wonder, really, because upon first glance the watch looks like its predecessor, the Mark XVIII. Upon closer inspection, however, you’ll discover the differences. Its date display is white again, offering better legibility. The hands are rhodium coated with just the right touch of shine. The numerals are also a bit smaller, and the case is now 2 mm thinner, coming in at 10.8 mm and giving the watch a more elegant feel. Like the previous model, this timepiece comes with a blue or black dial. 

That isn’t all. Pilot’s watches are, of course, what IWC is known for. Their Mark line and its three-hand watches with a date display are the brand’s foundational models – as well as their most original, making it more than worthy of tribute. You’ll find the in-house 32111 caliber inside, with an improved accuracy of between -4 and +6 seconds per day, not to mention a staggering 120 hours of power reserve. It’s also water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 feet). And, thanks to the IWC EasX-CHANGE® system, swapping out straps or bracelets is done in a single click.  

If you ask me, it’s only fair that IWC skipped the prime number of XIX to ring in a new era with XX. As far as I’m concerned, this was 2022’s most successful new release. The fantastic stuff about the Mark was kept, and the design remains its usual iconic self. The caliber is still protected from magnetic fields by a soft iron ring, but with the use of an in-house movement, this watch clearly sets itself apart from the Mark XVIII. The solid case back is a bit of a shame, since you can’t see this beautiful caliber performing its work. But hey, entirely perfect is a tad boring, don’t you think? After all, we can’t wait to see the developments the Mark XXI will deliver. 

IWC Mark XX
IWC Mark XX

Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro ESteel™ 

Sustainability is increasingly becoming the major topic in every industry, and Panerai has accepted the challenge. From this has emerged the Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro ESteel™ – a watch made of 52% recycled raw materials. This watch comes with two straps – here, too, you’ll find sustainability in action: one made of recycled PET material, while the other is made of recycled rubber. You’ll find the same outstanding Panerai quality inside, with the Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro ESteel™ powered by the automatic caliber P.900 that features three days of power reserve. It also has 300 meters (30 bar, 1000 feet) of water resistance. Its 44-mm case and characteristic Panerai crown guard give it very noticeable wrist presence, and regardless of whether you choose a dark blue, olive green, or gray dial, all three present an elegant contrast to the stainless steel housing.

As much as sustainability plays a role with this watch, we have to be honest and note that 52% recycled material works out to only 72 grams per timepiece, which may not seem like much. But in terms of the quality of the material required to make this timepiece, a larger quantity is currently not possible. But it’s really the thought and effort that count: resources were not mined to make this watch, but instead taken from materials already in circulation. From this has emerged a watch with the same attributes of the original, including the same chemical properties such as the corrosion resistance found with the original conventional stainless steel model. A diver’s watch is a great way to send a message of sustainability, particularly in light of how much the oceans suffer from humankind’s excessive consumption. Let’s hope this approach to manufacturing takes hold at as many companies as possible, allowing us to continue exploring the seas in the future with a great-looking Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro ESteel™ strapped to our wrist. 

Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro ESteel™
Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro ESteel™

Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 

Oris unfortunately remains one of the underdogs of the Swiss watch world. That’s a shame, because its catalog really does have something for everyone, including a collection of pilot’s watches, all of which are optically and technologically set for takeoff. These were expanded this year by the ProPilot X Calibre 400, which are available with dials in gray, blue, or even pink. At 39 mm, they’re a great choice for smaller wrists. And speaking of smaller (or lighter, in this instance), they are some of the more lightweight watches out there, thanks to their titanium case and bracelets. These watches are powered by the in-house Calibre 400, which you can watch work through the sapphire case back.  This movement delivers a whopping five days of power reserve and is highly resistant to magnetic fields, thanks to its numerous anti-magenetic components. 

Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400
Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400

Oris stands behind the Calibre 400 with a 10-year warranty, while also recommending servicing only once every ten years. It has a stated accuracy of -3 to +5 seconds per day, enough to chronometer-certify it, which has unfortunately not (yet?) occurred. Oris’ affection for fine detail is also seen with the watch’s clasp. Its patented latch works like the buckle of an airplane seat belt. This innovation is proof positive that you really should take a closer look at the Oris collection, and a clear sign that we can expect more fantastic watches from Oris in the future.  


About the Author

Barbara Korp

The moment I learned that watches were a lot more than just simple jewelry, I was hooked; I become enamored with the elegance of timekeeping. But there was one small hitch: most models were just too big for me to wear! That didn't discourage me, however. In fact, I developed quite a niche interest.

Read more

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