These are the best luxury watches of 2022

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Above: The Traditional Perpetual Calendar by Vacheron Constantin


Before Marie Antoinette lost everything from neck to neck, she was in love with pocket watches from Abraham-Louis Breguet. In 1783, the French Queen commissioned the legendary watchmaker to create what is still considered one of the most complicated timepieces ever made.

Imagine a self-winding watch that is both a perpetual calendar (it displays the full date without needing to adjust for leap year), a stopwatch, a thermometer and, perhaps most impressively, a repeater minutes (press a button to hear the rhythm of the chimes sound the hour and minutes). Even by today’s standards it’s a marvel of design, and with so many moving parts it was as complex as the era in which it was made, so much so that neither the Queen nor Breguet only lived to see the final product, as it took over 40 years to complete. Today, the Reign of Terror may be over, but the decadence and architectural ambition of the time are still there.

Watchmakers innovate, rethink and push the limits of the possible. Here, a selection of the most breathtaking complications of the year, the ones that would make Marie-Antoinette lose her mind, er, her mind.


For the formalist

gold and diamond wristwatch with a black dial

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Sometimes dismissing functionality has its merits. To see: the buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright and Zaha Hadid (like her Baku Cultural Center), which can be described as wonderfully
indulgent style for the style. Similarly, Jaeger-LeCoultre Meet Dazzling Star, a watch in every way, adds a healthy dose of chaos and sass to the time-checking ritual: a shooting star explodes across the dial at irregular intervals.

For the functionalist

gold watch with brown leather strap and blue dial with gears

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Everyone wants to know how sausage is made. The late architect Richard Rogers knew this when he placed the “innards” of his structures – pipes, ducts, etc. – outside its buildings. Like at Rogers Centre Pompidou in Paris (designed with Renzo Piano), H. Moser & Cie’s Endeavor Concept Minute Repeater lays bare its tourbillon escapement and chime, wonders to behold that tend to be hidden in plain sight. A minute repeater strikes the hours and minutes at the simple press of a button on the side of the case.

For the avant-garde

silver watch with Roman numerals and a dark gray strap and a red stone on the stem

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In the world of fine watchmaking, coming up with an entirely new type of movement is a unicorn that few brands have the R&D budgets to pursue. But like Louis Kahn or William Le Baron Jenney (steel frame), Cartier is a rare bird ready to put the clock on – nearly a decade on the Mysterious Mass— and resources to advance watch design. It is the first timepiece in the world with an automatic movement fully integrated into the rotor.

For the traditionalist

silver watch with dark brown leather strap and moiré green dial

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Patek Philippe 5270P-014 is a modern green dial – the continuation of the brand’s most timeless historical designs. Both a perpetual calendar and a chronograph, it presents the date without having to set leap years and can be used as a chronometer.

For the classicist

silver watch with light blue dial and diamonds encircling the dial and on the bracelet

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Vacheron Constantin Traditional Perpetual Calendar channels Vitruvius and the architecture of antiquity as well as the Italian Renaissance with its emphasis on symmetry. Diamonds adorning the bezel and lugs, like the acanthus leaf motif of Corinthian capitals (as above), provide an element of glitz that is both shimmering and understated. It includes a perpetual calendar, which keeps track of the time and date without having to adjust for the leap year.


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This story originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE

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